Denzel Currie (aka Currie Goat) is the real life Tanjiro Kamado of all things orthodox, slaying and defying the art space with his unconventional and extraordinary designs. Drawing inspiration from a rich tapestry of influences ranging from mythology and anime to thrifted fashion and Japanese culture, Denzel evolves into a storyteller, crafting a saga through his lively mixed mediums that weave narratives transcending the boundaries of “traditional” fashion and homeware. From fantastical hide rugs to intricately embroidered jeans and reworked designer bags, Denzel's work redefines the mould of customary forms of expression. Effortlessly infusing a touch of his signature style across his animated social media content, Denzel's art doesn't just captivate; it transports audiences into fictitious realms where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.
Like the Air Jordan 1s, Denzel stands out as an unconventional icon. Bold and daring, the Jordan Ones rebelled against convention, attracting controversy and adoration for their banned black and red design. The Air Jordan One was unapologetically different, mirroring Michael Jordan's fearless spirit on and off the court. What now pinpoints the making of the iconic Jordan brand and a point of change in sneaker culture, the Air Jordan 1’s birthed a movement that transcended sport and into the fashion and culture realm. From basketball courts to concert stages, the Jordan One legacy persists, embodying the power of individuality and the art of standing out in a world that demands conformity. But Denzel is more than just a defier of norms as he unfurls his talents and passion for art in schools through outreach programmes and workshops, inspiring budding artists to start their creative journeys.
From the depths of his creative essence, Denzel’s abundant inspiration from Japanese culture is delicately sewn into the fabric of his British Jamaican heritage, artfully showcased with his profound understanding of upscale and thrifted fashion. Swatches of Japanese folklore like the Kitsune and the Ryū are sprinkled across his jeans and tufted pieces in immersive colours, playing on his interest in anime as a point of connection to his audiences, “I embrace my weirdness. Leaning into my weirdness left me with strange combinations of things showcased in my art. I like anime and painting. I like fashion and thrifted clothing. I like trainers and I like moulding all these things together and making something from them”. When queried about his artistic eye, Denzel indicated that the ever-evolving creative landscape of London didn’t halt his “explosive” growth, “being a black face behind all this was the crystallisation - that point where my identity in my work formed”. Regardless of the medium, Denzel’s capabilities extend beyond a single canvas, “there’s creativity in everything. I pretty much do what I like in all forms creatively”. With his ideas constantly evolving, Denzel notes no specific moment that drove him to embrace his artistic identity, “I think certain labels are for people to bestow. I can't tell you that I'm an artist because art for me is like an expression of human emotion. If I make something that makes you feel something, then in that moment, I was an artist”.
Denzel's journey as an artist, however, had its challenges. He candidly shares the evolution of his creative journey, emphasising that his enjoyment and passion played a more significant role than relying solely on his natural abilities, “I think it was just the only thing that I was good at, to be honest. I've never been an academic person. I worked as a graphic designer for four years but I was never as good as the people around me. There was the moment where I thought, okay, you know what, I'm actually not good at this but I'm just lucky that I'm here”. Being “unconventionally creative” in the digital space knows no bounds for Denzel to which he highlights, “there's a way to be creative when it’s mixed in with what you can bring as an individual. Like, this is the way that YOU draw. This is the way that YOU paint. This is the way that YOU wear Jordans or wear certain types of clothing etcetera. When you think of all these things that are going on in London, all the different people that are doing everything in the art space - you have to embrace your individuality as well as your connection to everybody else. That's the piece that makes your work something that people can find interesting. I think it's hard to stand out because everything has been done but it’s your unique combination of the specialities that have already been done that will make you stand out”.
Gaining a substantial following online, Denzel communicates that art is more than the face behind the canvas, “when I first started, I was doing thrifted clothing with like, anime slash music slash Japanese-inspired stuff, which doesn't even sound like it makes sense on paper. But it worked because it was just a weird combination of things I liked and made into this cohesive thing. Lean into your weirdness because when it comes to social media a lot of artists find that with any sort of online content or even art in general, when you do something that the audience doesn't associate with you, it tends to flop online because they're like, no, we want this style not this thing. There are a lot of artists that have tried to rebrand or do something new and then have brought themself into irrelevancy”. Encouraging developing artists to concentrate on curating an identity that targeted to themselves, he clarifies, “when it comes to social media, do your research on the platforms and make sure that you know, what you posting and why. I used to write out a list of everything I wanted to post or make because I was my target audience. It takes time though because you have to know yourself and be critical. The best way to do that is literally to write everything about yourself down. What you like and what you don’t like, what you want to avoid or don’t want to lean into and then post it on a wall so you can see it every day and remind yourself to do certain things or not do certain things in your work”.
Though Denzel reminisces about a particular stage where his lessons of branding and individualism were restricted in the corporate sphere, “a lot of those moments while working for companies made me think I need to take charge of my creativity and my work”. He emphasises that the restrictive world of business stunted the crux of his expression, “it got to the point where I was working so hard, I was getting in the office an hour before everybody and leaving two hours after everybody else. Especially for a raise that was pennies. And I thought you know what, yeah, if I'm gonna kill myself, it's gonna be based off of my shit. I'd rather die starving trying to make my thing work than die of exhaustion for these people selling my work with their name on it. I told myself that if I'm giving away my creativity, it needs to be with my name signed on it”. Further adding that the importance of taking ownership of your creativity comes with benefits, he adds that “in this new world, where it's hard to connect with people compared to online, you can see someone's trainers or outfit and be signalled that oh, this person might be my tribe, we could probably get along. Your individuality is a good way to identify communities that you could be part of and it has been that way forever if you think of subcultures like Punk”.
Denzel’s message of allowing your identity to flourish naturally comes from his conviction that art is a manifestation of human emotion and the “things that give life meaning”, reminding us that anything we are passionate about is connected regardless of the style of fashion, art or music we engage with. His hopes for his art remain part of the view that he will expand his journey through gallery projects while maintaining the “blessing” of working on pieces he enjoys daily and nudges artists alike to do the same.