DEAD Concept 2003 -
"He who fears death cannot enjoy life."
This is not simply a thought provoking statement to reflect on one's life, it is also the motto for Dead clothing. Dead and its aconcept are the innovation of the Icelandic artist, Jon Saemundur Audarson. On June 16, 2003, Jon began selling Dead out of Nonnabud, a small boutique/gallery just off the main shopping street in downtown Reykjavík. Though its location may have been slightly off the beaten path, it was of no consequence as Dead's popularity spread and in no time you could see the distinctive logo and other Dead creations everywhere. With an ever-increasing demand, Jon decided to closed Nonnabud and opened a new, bigger Dead shop at Laugavegur 29, in the front of his studio.
Not only has the Dead concept permeated much of Jon's artistic endeavors, it's motto comes from a very personal place for the artist. In 1994, Jon was diagnosed HIV positive – a life altering event that led to his realization that death is very much a part of life and that fearing one's death only detracts from one's ability to live life. His artistic direction was then intertwined with this new doctrine and Dead was born. Through his artwork and Dead, Jon hopes to raise the public's awareness to HIV and the fears and prejudices that still surround it.
Over the years, Jon has used his graphics on a variety of items from t-shirts to neckties under the trademark Dead. He describes his collection as visual art; it is art that's "meant to be worn" though it can also be hung on the wall for decoration. Each piece is unique as the shirts are hand-printed with variations in the amount of ink and print placement. This method ensures that no two shirts are alike allowing each person to have a distinctive piece all to their self. Although t-shirts have been the predominant form of Dead designs, Jon is currently working on a full unisex line. It is anticipated to be available early in 2008.
Dead is constantly evolving, as it has taken on a life of its own. Recently, Jon's studio has also become the nerve center to the Dead Record label. Music has always been very much a part of Jon's life and inspiration, and it was a natural progression to form Dead Records to promote essential rock music as part of the Dead design tapestry. Dead Records has already produced its first mini album "SEE YOU IN HELL" featuring The Way Down. The label is also working with Naflakusk, a new teenage art collective on the Icelandic music scene, on its debut release.
Dead has been embraced by people from around the world especially within the rock and roll crowd. Some of its more recognized fans include Anton Newcombe from Brian Jonestown Massacare, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Placebo front man Brian Molko and Pink. Two Icelandic rock bands, Mínus and Singapore Sling, are both avid supporters of Dead and can frequently be seen wearing the clothes on stage. Recently, Hollywood caught on and the clothing appeared in such films as Quetin Taratino's "Death Proof" and Eli Roth's "Hostel II".
Dead is a new kind of virus. One that we hope will spread and infect the whole world, reminding everyone: "He who fears death cannot enjoy life" – the concept is Dead and alive…