What do you get when you cross a Californian psychedelic-pop aesthetic with one of Europe’s most luxurious mountaineering and skiwear fashion brands? For the Los Angeles-based artist Steven Harrington, it’s a chance to meld his dreamlike color palette with an iconic Moncler character for the opening of their new flagship store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Harrington, best known for artwork characterized by a sun-soaked Golden State aesthetic, seems a natural fit for a collaboration with the Italian brand. In celebration of the new boutique, the artist lent Moncler’s The Pupazzo art toy a dose of his California “chill,” merging whimsical and childlike iconography with the brand’s “mountain spirit” mascot.
A Southern Californian native who grew up in the ’90s, Harrington’s upbringing was immersed in skate and music culture, and these influences have seeped into his work. “Being born and raised in LA, color is a really big part of my practice,” he explains. “I’ve found throughout travels that coastal climates are less afraid to express themselves through fashion. That’s a big part of the colors I use in my paintings.”
From Los Angeles’s ubiquitous palm trees to the mountainous terrain of Griffith Park or Santa Monica’s ocean breeze, the city itself provides endless inspiration for Harrington to draw upon. In the case of Moncler, The Pupazzo was no exception. Harrington’s version sports a laid-back look that borrows from the surrounding landscape: the mascot’s jacket patterns are reminiscent of Venice Beach boardwalk beachwear and clothing incorporates elements of the warm weather, clear blue skies and natural beauty of Southern California.
At first glance, Harrington’s dreamy worlds seem innocent enough, but upon closer examination, even technicolor landscapes catch on fire. Although marked by a certain playfulness, Harrington’s cartoon universe also serves as a way for him to address heavier subject matter that ranges from politics to environmental concerns to personal dilemmas. Relying on animation’s approachable nature in order to draw viewers in, it’s also a way to “speak to audiences regardless of location, religion, sex or even race,” he explains.
Even The Pupazzo’s sunglasses symbolize a deeper meaning, referencing “personal anxieties that we all share,” Harrington says, as a way to shield oneself from the outside world. “We’re always seeking balance within our own life. I find myself constantly returning to that duality.”
Not limited to one medium or process, Harrington’s practice encompasses everything from large-scale paintings on canvas to sculpture and prints. With a background in graphic design and illustration largely influencing his work, all his pieces begin with a drawing then translated into other forms. “It’s where I find the most inspiration, serenity and happiness. I constantly try to get myself back to that white page,” he says of his creative process. “The finished form is in a sense, a drawing. If you can draw it from any perspective, it’s a successful sculpture.” For Moncler, the artist returned to a motif he has often explored, the palm tree, which manifests as a massive sculpture for the brand’s new Beverly Hills shop window. Beyond serving as an icon synonymous with Los Angeles, the palm tree has become symbolic of Harrington’s work as well, which he credits to a byproduct of growing up in the world of branding. “I realized the power of repetition within art. The icons and imagery I use are about that repetition and letting the art evolve,” he says.
At the end of the day, Harrington’s fascination with Los Angeles never ceases to be his ultimate muse, and it’s certainly evident in the new collaboration. “I’m an optimist at heart,” he says. From the sun-bleached colors of the natural landscape to research trips spent driving around, the city’s palette finds its way into his craft. “I love the outdoors. A lot of my inspiration comes from getting out into the world. If I never get out of the studio, I end up making art about art.” To see the Steven Harrington short film and learn all about The Pupazzo and the new Moncler Los Angeles store visit this link.
Craving more culture? Sign up to receive the Cultured newsletter, a biweekly guide to what’s new and what’s next in art, architecture, design and more.