Yep | Top Chumps: Art collective

Top Chumps: Art collective

You’re nobody in east London these days unless you’re in an art collective. These gaggles of “artists” – who have names that make very little sense, like Golden Mirage or Neon Futurism – skulk around like twee Malcolm McLarens, thinking they’re part of a decade-defining movement, when all they’re doing is putting on exhibitions with grown men who draw pictures of stuff like an alien playing a guitar. Although their look is quite understated, they are very easy to spot since they all have the appearance of someone who has been dressed by their parents for a day trip to see their grandfather in the countryside in the spring. Read below to find out how to get the look while it’s hot.

Hair: Short, cropped and very neat – like a child on their first day at school. Some of the more adventurous/posher devotees have shaved sides and a quiff.
Hat: Rolled-up beanie that sits on the crown on the head, almost like a skull cap. Must be worn at all times, all year round.
Tattoos: A big no – these guys were never into hardcore, since it doesn’t have a funky enough bassline and has no discernible connection to Africa.
Jacket: The waxed Barbour used to be a defining feature of practitioners of the art collective look, but since this garment wriggled into the mainstream it has been dropped in favour of stonewash vintage denim jackets and sand-coloured American hunting jackets.
Top: T-shirt with one of their own illustrations on the front or a denim shirt buttoned all the way up. In the winter, expect to see them wearing a cast-off from Bill Cosby’s jumper collection or one of your dead gran’s cardigans.
Trousers: Beige Uniqlo jeans or chinos rolled up above the ankle to show off their quirky choice of socks.
Favourite phrases: “Come to the launch of our new T-shirt range at the opening of our secret pop-up gallery in Dalston. Free (warm) booze all around!” “Have you read my new blog post on the unappreciated electronic mood artist Jironechi Sushimunchi?”
Footwear: Lace-up Vans (any colour), (black or white) Reebok Classics or Clark’s desert boots.
Accessories: A tote bag filled with CD-Rs of their latest favourite genre: African chip-disco. Vintage thick-rimmed glasses they bought off a convicted paedophile on eBay.
Girlfriend: A fellow “artist” – often a Scandinavian – who claims to be an illustrator but is unable to draw anything without tracing.
Plaid shirt? Used to be almost essential but they are slowly being phased out in favour of the more quirky and creative Aztec-print shirt.
Fixed-gear bike? Very likely. As long as it’s retro it will do, though.

Words by John McDonnell
Illustration by
Dan Freeman