Darren Cullen is from Leeds but says he lives in London because he's shit at fighting. He also makes these mildly thought provoking, but attractive pop art t-shirts and can talk for hours and hours and hours, and people who make clothes you can talk about for a long time make much better interviewees...
Vice: I really like your sense of humor and I think the supposedly hidden, but actually pretty blatant subversive messages your t-shirts carry are pretty deep, you know.
Darren: That's not a question, but thanks. I only know about things that get me mad, really. Anger is a great motivator. I originally went to art school to study advertising but as I learned more about it, its techniques and what it does to people, I realized the whole business is essentially an industrial-scale human misery machine. I thought I'd rather make art and be ignored than make some advert on prime-time TV that slowly erodes the happiness of people I've never met.
Yeah, but you're selling t-shirts dude.
I know. I could be accused of commodifying anti-consumerism with these t-shirts, but I like recursion; the idea of buying something that tells you not to buy things. It's not like I'm completely against capitalism either, it's just the idea that buying things can make you happy or can define who you are. These t-shirts won't make fuck-all difference to your happiness in the long run. The only thing they'll do is help me pay my web hosting.
Can you explain why your favorite saying is "Genitals of the Universe?"
Okay then, er... I really like the theory that black holes are the genitals of the universe and that the singularity of each one is like an egg that can potentially start a new big bang and a new universe. It makes sense to me, although there isn't any evidence for it at the moment.
You said these t-shirts are meant to subsidise your web hosting, for what exactly?
I have a website Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives where I put all the guff I do, mostly drawings, and then there's the science blog I do called Brain Meat.
Do you remember that comedown when I was terrified that my entire existence was meaningless and I decided I should just fuck having a career or a family. You told me every existence was meaningless and we only exist to carry genes. I was devastated.
Well, we do add our own meaning to existence, but it doesn't mean that existence is taking any notice. But I find it hard not to think about those type of things. We aren't alive for an infinitely long period of time and then all of sudden, here we are. The most important thing we could ever do is find out why the fuck any of this happened. But it wasn't God, I mean no one gets to be agnostic about Zeus, because he's so blatantly made up.
PHOTOS: JESS COLE
TEXT AND STYLING: HANNAH LOGIC