For many, Dead Dilly is the mysterious being behind some of the most memorable and influential graphic art creations in 2014. Whether he’s working on personal projects, or being commissioned by Complex and other prestigious online publications, Dilly somehow produces inspiring art every time. His versatility has been on full display this entire year and he hasn’t been scared to experiment with refreshing ideas as well. His consistency in 2014 has proved that he has the passion and determination to be one of the elite artists in this emerging culture and with 2015 looking us straight in the eye at this point, expect many substantial things from Dilly in the new year. Read below as we interviewed Dilly about many things relating himself and his art, in his first public interview ever.
Kadeem: To begin with, where did the name Dead Dilly come from?
Dilly: Billy Pilgrim called himself Billy because there were no other grown men around him called that. It made people see him as a friend. Vonnegut wrote that. I’m very much an advocate of protecting innocence in my actions and creations. Dilly was my childhood nickname.
By adding Dead I acknowledge that I’ll never have that same spark I had as a child but I still hold on to how I viewed and valued creativity.
Kadeem: The group that you’re affiliated with, the Young Astronauts, could you tell us more about them?
Dilly: By definition, we are an interactive media production company. However, much more than that, we are a collective of creative people dedicated to doing as many cool and forward things as we can while on this planet.
Kadeem: You’ve done some amazing visual projects this year but #SneakerMelt was definitely one of the more groundbreaking, if not the most groundbreaking one you delivered this year. What was the inspiration behind all of this and do you think it’s something that’s needed in our culture today?
Dilly: I used to sketch pieces of my favorite Dragon Ball Z characters together when I was young. I cut them out and mixed them up and then glued them to cardboard pieces and played with them in the back of my aunt’s restaurant. Creating new things out of a variety of things I already like is not new to me, and I’m sure we’ve all done it at one point in our lives. Sneakermelt was a way for me to create dialogues between me and my followers, while commenting on the increase of brand-mashing that is starting to infiltrate the culture.
Kadeem: #SneakerMelt is probably one of your favorite works of the year but what else would you say was your best work this year and why?
Dilly: I probably put out my first viral project about a year ago this time. I’ve had a really busy year. My favorite thing to work on was definitely the tour poster and merchandise for Childish Gambino. For me, besides making millions of dollars, nothing is cooler than having your favorite rapper ask you to work for them. I have massive respect for all of the Royalty team and I’ll never forget the feeling of getting that job. Thank you, internet.
Kadeem: 2014 is just almost over and I know you’ve been working on upcoming projects to release in 2015. Could you give us any information on what you have planned for the new year?
Dilly: I am terrible at holding my ideas hostage. If I had an effective release strategy I’d probably be a lot wealthier than I am. But I love to share, so my plan next year is to keep on sharing. What that means specifically, I’ll let you know when I do.
Kadeem: You did many commissioned works in 2014 but you also did a collaboration with Marshawn Lynch. How was that experience and what did you take away from it the most?
Dilly: First of all, Marshawn Lynch is a f*cking beast. I have never spoken to him personally, but I am grateful to have been able to create something that pushes his brand. Sports give my crazy passion a home to rear its psychotic head in. Everything I do is inspired by sports, in some way. This won’t be the last time you see me working in this field.
Kadeem: As it stands, what is your overall opinion of the graphic art world at this point? Do you like the direction it is heading in? Is it a lot of pressure knowing that you are one of the leaders of this new wave?
Dilly: I don’t see myself as part of a movement in any direction. I just do what I feel like doing and I guess going viral includes me in a new wave of young designers. I’ve been to design school for a year and I didn’t connect to the idea of a group of people working on the same thing then, and I still don’t now. I only feel pressure to provide for mine.
I am glad to contribute to the culture, but I am not really worried about the direction of the “graphic art world”. Individual creative greatness will always exist.
Kadeem: Do you think as an artist the things you create should be of greater importance than you? Or do you believe in a balance and do you think you have found that balance?
Dilly: There is a reason most people would first talk about a Banksy stencil over a hyper-realism painter whose paintings look like photographs. In the current creative landscape people respect the blatantly creative mind over the obsessive technical mind. So I try to make everything I create serve a greater purpose than “just-a-cool-shoe” or “just-a-cool-jersey”.
I try to create a commentary even if it means my execution is not perfect.
I’d hate to be so good at my job and no one knew I existed. Human error makes us noticeable. I’m not sure if I answered your question.
Kadeem: Who are some artists you may adore or draw inspiration from and why?
Dilly: This is, obviously, a loaded question. I don’t want to be part of a circle-jerk of shout outs so I’m going to leave this question unanswered.
We should all understand that nothing is pure or innocent anymore.
Follow me on Twitter: @KadeemPrime