At Complex Con in conversation with Chris Pyrate


We met a lot of interesting people at Complex Con and one of them is Chris Pyrate, an artist who frequently works with musical talent. Here is the insightful conversation that took place at the event.

Nathaniel Windisch: From a young age, did you always aspire to be an artist, or was this something brought to fruition later in life?

Chris Pyrate: I never really had ambitions to be an artist, it’s just what I was. One of the first things I was called was an artist, so it’s just who I am. I kinda would go with the flow of where life would take me and always try to incorporate art into whatever I was doing and it always worked out for me.

NW: Did you always gravitate to street art when you were first starting?

CP: I always gravitate to that, even in fashion. I was first hired by a streetwear company, to design. I was skating heavy at the time, and this was when skate culture was first coming into streetwear, so they sourced me a lot for ideas, you know what I mean? I’ve always been adjacent. You know, I’m from DC, I’ve always been a city kid, come from the streets so that’s where I relate everything to.

NW: What made you gravitate to the floral patterns? This has become somewhat of a calling card for you, what inspired it?

CP: Since I’m from DC, cherry blossoms are a big deal. DC has the second largest cherry blossom population outside of Japan, we have huge cherry blossom blooms. I grew up on Japanese streetwear and anime, so it was an interesting connection between Japan and DC. I started the floral designs when I was away from home and realized I had probably been missing DC at the time.

NW: What is your favorite part about being a designer?

CP: The fact that I can do what I want and receive critique on my art, I like critique. I can fine-tune it live in the flesh, and everyone may not like everything, which is fine. But it’s like a little experiment with my own brand. I get to see the manifestation of my work in real-time.

NW: What was I like bringing designs to the NBA and off the court with some NBA players?

CP: I’ve been a Wizards fan forever and they were terrible forever. I grew up through a lot of eras and I always imagined how it could be better. They let me do what I want and being able to pull from those ideas that I had and influence the team, the branding and the merchandise has been really fun, it’s amazing.


NW: Are there any celebrities that you’ve really enjoyed working with?

CP: Right now, Jordan Pool is on the Wizards. He’s very interactive and engaging. So much so that the team is surprised – they’d be like ‘When did you design this, we could have gotten some content’, and I’m like no, we designed this on the phone. Even after a game, he’ll send me an idea.

NW: I know you’ve worked with a few streetwear brands like you’ve mentioned. Are there any streetwear brands you’d like to work with in the future?

CP: I’ll be straight up, outta nostalgia and homage, I’d love to work with Bape and Ice Cream. That Japanese streetwear era really inspired me when I was younger and skating-heavy. Bounty Hunter, it’d be a dream.

NW: Do you still skate at all these days?

CP: Somewhat, it’s dangerous for me because I paint, and you fall with your hands. It’s not healthy to skate scared, so it’s tough because I’m so cautious with my hands now. So, the last time I skated was probably two months ago.

NW: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

CP: I want to do more creative direction. I want to bring more artists into the fold and kinda curate and facilitate a bit more.

NW: Are there any notable designers that you look up to, either now or when you were younger?

CP: Nigo, Nigo for sure. What he’s doing with Bape. Bape was one of the first times I saw my two worlds colliding. I like animation, I like anime, I like anything super creative, and seeing that combined with apparel and having a youthfulness to it, I’d definitely have to say Nigo.

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