The popularity of the iconic figure, Dready, as created by local author and artist Shane Aquart, is growing, as the character and his entourage of style and verve heads to new markets in England, Puerto Rico and Antigua. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull reports.
Dready art has been cropping up in our Cayman lives, on postcards, t-shirts, collectable fine art prints and original art, for the past two years and the success of that has seen the art and the character dready travel overseas with merchandise in Antigua, Barbados, BVI, Grenada, Jamaica.
Dready creator, Shane Aquart says: “We’ve been having our ups and downs like everyone else, our tourist products have been pretty flat to non-existent, but dready art’s been a growing concern, with original pieces and prints and shirts going all over the world and original commissions, corporate and private growing along nicely.”
In a big leap forward dready art has recently been commissioned by Portsmouth Football Club in the UK to decorate some of the Club’s souvenirs. “It happened through a friend of a friend, who saw dready art and really liked it,” Shane explains. “And so here I am creating two designs for the Club, football-orientated of course; they’ll be starting reproducing the designs on t-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise very shortly.”
For those of you who don’t know, Portsmouth is a team in the Barclays Premiership league of British football, akin in popularity and fan support to a team in the American NFL.
“I’m naturally very honoured on many levels; premiership football is one of the most exciting sports on the planet and the opportunity for the growth of dready, through association with a club like Portsmouth, who have a long history, a long association with the Caribbean and a great, enthusiastic fan base is interesting to say the least,” Shane states.
Although we tend to think of dready as an iconic symbol of the Caribbean, with his quirky take on life, dready is, according to his creator, becoming an everyman.
“Dready is a character and a style of art that people seem to enjoy and so if we let the art, the whimsy and the observations on life shine through then we can transcend cultures … this is what makes a dready-Portsmouth image possible. We are also moving away from the focus on one single character to a focus on the art around the character, creating dready art instead of just dready.”
On that note, Shane has also recently received a commission from the Bacardi Corporation to do a dready art original of their Bermuda headquarters office.
Shane explains: “This is a prime example of what you and I are talking about. Mr. Bacardi was visiting Cayman last year and we met. He liked dready art and at that time commissioned a piece as a gift for his wife, a piece that included dready characters. Then recently he got in touch again and commissioned another dready, on behalf of Bacardi, of the group’s Bermuda headquarters building. It’s big and colourful and unique; cool.” The commissioned piece has no dready characters in it.
“I’m over the moon at the commission,” Shane says. “Bacardi’s a big, big company and could have had any artist they wanted to do a rendition of their headquarters, but chose dready art to hang on the wall; that’s nice cudos.”
The third big thing for Dready this year is a 22 foot mural in Antigua.
He says: “I’ve just finished the art and wow! The art’s a scene of ‘traditional’ Antiguan buildings and represents a big step forward in dready art. Shading, depth, contour all kind of new to dready art; the idea, is to give it a little subtext … evolution, you know!”
Shane smiles as I try to press him for more information: “As soon as it’s up on the wall and all the other love around it has happened, I promise to come back and tell about the whole project and the customer for whom the mural is for.”