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The Fashion Geek Podcast

68 | Sunflowerman Is The Go To Artist For Men’s Fashion

Reg talks with Sunflowerman (IG: Sunflowerman) about finding his way artistically to becoming an in demand artist for men’s fashion and watch brands. TJ Maxx even gets into the story.

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00:00 Introduction and Welcome
01:15 Meet Sunflower Man
02:51 Sunflower Man's Artistic Journey
04:34 Discovering Fashion
07:51 Early Fashion Illustrations
11:41 Exploring Menswear
17:06 Connecting with Fashion Influencers
23:14 The Evolution of Style
26:01 Moving Beyond Book Pages
26:35 Transition to Watercolor
27:18 Challenges of Watercolor on Canvas
28:12 Mastering Watercolor on Paper
29:24 Surrealism in Classic Menswear
30:17 Breakthrough with MR Magazine
32:27 Struggles and Success in Business
34:10 Connecting Through Art and Fashion
40:18 The Importance of Fashion
47:12 Live Event Painting with Brew Watches
51:13 Final Thoughts on Fashion and Confidence

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Sunflowerman [00:00:00]: I started just sketching what I did. I was working at a pizzeria in Atlanta, Georgia, and I dropped out of art school. And so what I I committed, to do a small painting or at least paint every night. So I would work Sunflowerman [00:00:13]: 8 to 10 hours a day at this pizzeria, and Sunflowerman [00:00:15]: then I would go home and paint for about 5 hours a day. And I mean, I was loving life but I was exhausted. But I was just doing because that was my life. We can even go further back than that, but that was when I was trying to discover who am I? Is art my life? Because I'm no longer going to school. I was just exploring all sorts of things. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:35]: I'm Rich Ferguson and I'm a fashion consultant from New York City, born and raised. I've been helping men look fly for years. And, now, I want to help you learn more about menswear, the entrepreneurs, the brands, and top fashion tips on The Fashion Geek Podcast. When I was a kid, I thought I could draw. I would watch my friends at school and they would start drawing and it looked so cool. So I wanted to do the same thing. I would try, but it wasn't as good as my friends. My mom bought me a sketch pad and some cool coat pencils, not a drawer, but I sensed I wasn't close to the school level in Glasgow. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:23]: My mom wanted to confirm it, so she had me take a class at Pratt Institute. She and I would take the train every Saturday early in the morning. I realized after taking the class, drawing wasn't for me. Thank you for exploring the ceiling. Later found out I had other creative writers. Probably, sir. But what is it like to have not only an interest in you, but a skill that you can get paid? Yo. This is Reg Ferguson, fashion geek number 1. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:10]: How are you? Welcome to the ride. Thank you so much for listening. I'm a men's fashion consultant here in New York City and I help fashion challenged men go from confused to confident. Consider me a personal trainer for fashion. If you ever found yourself staring at the closet, not knowing what to wear, or if the idea of shopping for clothes makes you feel physically ill, then this is the show for you. My goal with every episode is to help you learn more about the people behind the brands and the help make looking good, feel easy. If you ever want my help, email me at for a consultation. If you have a friend who's looking to level up his fashion style wardrobe game, please share an episode with them. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:00]: While you're at it, if you dig the show and haven't already left us a rating and review, please consider doing so now. Your shares, ratings, and reviews help us grow the show and help us get the best possible guest and help more men dress their best. Today, we're gonna talk with sunflower man who's in Fort Worth, Texas, and he and I are gonna talk about something that the everyday man should be interested in. We're gonna talk about men's fashion and watches through the eye of an artist. Sunflower man in the building. Sunflowerman [00:03:38]: Hello. Hello. You were just talking about best possible guest, and I think, I think we just peaked. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:44]: Oh, wow. Well, this is the second episode of the new year. So is this downhill? Is that is that what you're saying? Sunflowerman [00:03:55]: No. No. You're gonna level off. You you peak you peak with sunflowerman, and then you just kind of level off. Off. It's not downhill. It's more like a mesa. It's just gonna go steady. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:04]: Spoken well from someone in the southwest. Sunflowerman [00:04:09]: Yeah. Well, yeah, I mean, here in, here in Fort Worth, Texas though, it's all flat. Anyway, there's no uphill or downhill. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:14]: Oh, okay. Well, I tried. I was like, alright. Arizona, Mesa, Texas. Sunflowerman [00:04:20]: You had a little bit west and you you start running into those mesas, those buttes. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:27]: It's a different world out there. So are you keeping safe out there? How's everything? Sunflowerman [00:04:33]: Oh, yeah. I'm I'm I mean, it's Texas. So, I mean, sorry, Reginald. I don't know how much, you consider to be politics or how much you talk on the on the pod, but I'm in Texas, and it's, it's a no mask zone here. Woo. So I basically just, you know, walk from home to the studio and back again, and that's, that's my general life. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:54]: Wow. So before we go into our topic, please tell us, so what do you do? Sunflowerman [00:05:18]: Yeah. Let me introduce myself. I am sunflower man. If you haven't heard of me before, I am an illustrator. I paint with watercolors typically, and, I feature a lot of fashion and watches. Those are kind of my main focus. I don't know. That's just about it. Sunflowerman [00:05:37]: I'm a fashion artist. We'll just leave it there in in all of its, domains. Reginald Ferguson [00:05:43]: I like that fashion artist. That's smooth. Sunflowerman [00:05:47]: It's taken me a long time to workshop it though. Reginald Ferguson [00:05:50]: Well, this is all this is all a path, and it's funny you say that because when I did research on you, I started from your beginnings. So don't be surprised. I'm excited. Yeah. Don't be surprised if I hit you with something and go. To me to me, you have to start with the beginning. That's real. Sunflowerman [00:06:13]: I wanna know how far back you went. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:15]: Well, I'm gonna keep it real. I went as far back as I could. And particularly, if we talk about Instagram, I went from your first post, dog. Sunflowerman [00:06:25]: Alright. Alright. You're gonna have to share that photo somewhere because I can't even scroll back. Like, it takes forever for Instagram to load when you go that far back. So I don't know how you made it. I'm excited to see what that was to. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:36]: Swipe at a time, bro, on my, on my iPad Pro. Just Sunflowerman [00:06:43]: Yeah. Like, 3 hours later Reginald Ferguson [00:06:45]: We're doggid, man. Research is our business. Sunflowerman [00:06:50]: Alright. Are there any any interesting nuggets from, from that far back? Reginald Ferguson [00:06:54]: Well yeah. I mean, let let's let's get into it. Yes. So your first post essentially was I don't know. I mean, like, 2012. Sunflowerman [00:07:11]: Oh, yeah. Early so I accidentally got on Instagram early days. I didn't know it was early days. I had a photographer friend who was like, oh, man. There's this super cool app, and I had an Android device back then. Sunflowerman [00:07:22]: Mhmm. Sunflowerman [00:07:23]: And oh, no. I I guess I guess I was using an iPhone. I had to because early days it was only iPhone. So I probably just I was borrowing my my roommate's iPhone. That's what it was so I could use Instagram. And, yeah. I I'm trying to remember what it would have been. I remember a lot of, posts about the desserts that I was prepping at the restaurant I worked at, and then maybe coffee, and then whatever I was sketching. Sunflowerman [00:07:48]: That's what I remember. Reginald Ferguson [00:07:50]: Your first fashion illustration was March 10, 2012. Just saying. You've come a long way, and you literally have. I literally looked at the progression. Sunflowerman [00:08:04]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:04]: And, you know, this is the beauty of someone on the outside looking in. You're you're in the forest. So but I literally and I'm I wanna be very clear to you much less our audience. I am not an art critic, but I can see the evolution of your style 10 years later. There's no question. Mhmm. You've you've hit for right now, You've hit a groove, and it doesn't mean that you won't again evolve. But you have a very signature style now. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:40]: But back then, you were just trying to find your way. Sunflowerman [00:08:45]: Yeah. I mean, we can talk about that too because I remember hold on one second. I'm sorry. Apologies. Life is being lived here. Yeah. Way back way back when, I had 20 2012. I that might have been right when I dropped out of, art school for the second time. Sunflowerman [00:09:05]: And I remember dropping out and thinking, who am I? What am I gonna do? Right? You go on this journey of you're put in elementary school and then middle school and high school for all of the US audience, and you go on this journey and then you're expected to go into a university. That's the next step. And I remember going into university, art school, which is hardly university. I went to art school, dropped out because it felt like, high school 2.0 except I was paying for it. So then I tried to go to a different school that was, supposedly better and it was. And but I still felt like, wow. I'm paying even more money now and it's still basically high school. I I it didn't make any sense to me, so I dropped out again and I was lost. Sunflowerman [00:09:46]: What do you do when the path is broken, when you're not following the steps that society lays out for you? And so I just started exploring. I started just sketching what I did. I was working at a pizzeria in Atlanta, Georgia, and I dropped out of art school and so what I I committed, to do a small painting or at least paint every night. So I would work 8 Sunflowerman [00:10:08]: to 10 hours a day at this pizzeria, and Sunflowerman [00:10:10]: then I would go home and paint for about 5 hours a day. And I mean I was loving life, but I was exhausted. But I was just doing because that was my life. We can even go further back than that, but that was when I was trying to discover who am I? Is art my life? Because I'm no longer going to school. So I was just exploring all sorts of things. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:32]: So, I mean, I think you just hit on something. You were trying to figure out who you were, who you are through your life experiences. Sunflowerman [00:10:44]: Yeah. Right. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:46]: And you're not the only individual who is an artist that people know that one either don't even go to art school, much less flunk out of art school. Sunflowerman [00:10:58]: Yeah. Because you Well, look, I was a great student. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:01]: College of art and design, and then you went to Atlanta college of art and design. Correct? Sunflowerman [00:11:06]: Yeah. What I wanna know where you found that Kendall nugget because that's not really out there. People don't know that. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:12]: I told you I do research on my We wanna make this worth your while, and I'm glad to have stumped you. Sunflowerman [00:11:23]: Yeah. Well, I I have a guess, but whatever. It's KCAD and then SCAD. That's how we that's how we say it because the words terrible. The acronyms are but but they're so much easier to say. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:34]: They're rough. Oh my god. Yeah. I would just spell them I would spell both of those out. Sunflowerman [00:11:38]: Right. Well, I mean, so it was Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University or KCAD. So I just went with KCAD. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:48]: Yeah. That's clunky, which is funny for a school of art and design. Sunflowerman [00:11:53]: Yeah. Right. You think they would have, kind of streamlined it, made it a bit more, aesthetically pleasing to say, but no. Reginald Ferguson [00:12:00]: Not everyone could be RISD. Sunflowerman [00:12:03]: Well, that's that's true. RISD has the rep for a reason. Reginald Ferguson [00:12:11]: Did you how did it feel to drop out of your first art school? And then how did it feel to drop out of a second art school? Sunflowerman [00:12:24]: The first one was demoralizing. I was the only one in my family going to to post, post, what do you call it? What Primary school. Yeah. Doing any form of higher education. So I and the way I just said that, it seems like I really need that higher education so I can learn how to talk there. But I was the only one going, and so I I was really proud of myself. It was probably a lot of an ego trip, but then all of my friends that I made were now going to school. And I was like, I can't afford this anymore. Sunflowerman [00:12:59]: Slowly dropping classes, so I could afford to be there. And I was like, but I'm I'm I'm great at school. I was always good at school. Top 5 in my class in high school. I had, great grades at Kendall. Even when I went to SCAD, I had great grades. The school part, I I had down. But the purpose part, it didn't make any sense anymore and but it was demoralizing to be the one who's who's not in class anymore and it's I felt lost in a lot of ways. Sunflowerman [00:13:29]: I always knew I was gonna be an artist, like, that was that was in me before I had any conscious choice. But, yeah, demoralizing was how it felt. Reginald Ferguson [00:13:38]: How did so that's how you felt. How did your family feel? Sunflowerman [00:13:42]: Oh, they they didn't care. My parents had had no expectations on us. So me going to school was great for them, me not going to school was fine, like, they didn't care either way. Sunflowerman [00:13:56]: Oh, okay. So Reginald Ferguson [00:13:57]: then how did it feel when this happens a second time? Sunflowerman [00:14:03]: The second time actually felt liberating in a way. I was still trying to find myself afterward. I was discovering what did it mean to be me when I'm not following the path, but it was so much easier to drop out the second time. So much easier. Reginald Ferguson [00:14:24]: I've done this. I could do it again. Sunflowerman [00:14:26]: Right. Right. And and at that point, I had moved to Atlanta. I I was, 20 years old. Moved I drove down to Atlanta. I packed up a Dodge Grand Caravan 96 and had all my belongings in there. 1st night in Atlanta, car broken into, windshield smashed, lost my computer. It was a it was a wake up call to what a bigger real city was like. Sunflowerman [00:14:51]: Right. I was basically homeless for about a month and then one guy I met was like, dude, come come live in this house with me with a bunch of these college guys from Georgia Tech, which basically meant I was in this this kind of subsection of the basement where the owner put up some ply boards and I had nothing. I didn't have a bed. I was sleeping on the floor. I was painting all the time. I knew that was who I was. That's part of the reason I always knew I was gonna be an artist. Even when I had literally nothing, I was still painting and drawing. Sunflowerman [00:15:21]: That was that is the heart of me. But I had all of that going on and then I made it into school back at SCAD. I was like, okay. I I figured that out. I can drop out of SCAD, and I don't have a problem. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:35]: Okay. So to me, there's some interesting timing going on, and you're going to provide clarification. You always knew you're gonna be an artist. Maybe you didn't know what realm, but you knew the actual application. This is this is what you're born to do. So like any person in their twenties, they're trying to figure stuff out. Also at that time, correct me if I'm wrong, from a personal standpoint, it doesn't seem like you had any interest in men's fashion. Sunflowerman [00:16:15]: You could figure that out? Reginald Ferguson [00:16:17]: Well, you know, these glasses work pretty well. Sunflowerman [00:16:21]: Yeah. 0 like, my life now is a complete 180 from my life, growing up in Michigan, except for the fact that I've been drawing my entire life. But I had zero connection to fashion in any way except I was wearing clothes. I was I was wear I had cloth on my body. But, yeah, no no connection to fashion, no connection to watches, no connection to any sense of what it meant to appreciate the qualities of life, and that that's like really well cooked food, well prepared coffee, nicely made clothes, the care and design in manufacturing of a I had zero connection to any of it and, yes, you you pegged me, those early Instagram photos, especially, like, really show off my lack of knowledge. Reginald Ferguson [00:17:17]: So unlike myself, it sounds like you had no family influence in those realms. Sunflowerman [00:17:26]: Yeah. I'm going to say no. I always, you know, hold that like 1% of there was probably something somewhere, but I'm gonna say no. Like, I can't trace it anywhere. Reginald Ferguson [00:17:36]: Right. Nothing apparent. So not like, in my case, it was my grandpa and also my grandma and my mom, immediate constant examples that have led me to pursue what I'm pursuing now. But for you out there in Grand Rapids, not so much. Sunflowerman [00:17:54]: Not so much. Reginald Ferguson [00:17:55]: So how did it start? Sunflowerman [00:17:59]: Yeah. I've tried to trace I've really, I've tried to trace this, and, occasionally, I can I can come up with, like, okay? Maybe this started it and that started it. I have to give my friend Michael McLaughlin some credit. High school friend who's now living in Boston, he was into the Tumblr game, that hashtag menswear universe. This must have been 2,000 11. It's, like, really early on the Tumblr. Mhmm. 2011? 2010? Oh, man. Sunflowerman [00:18:27]: Must have been 2010. Because I remember I was at school and we were we would go get lunch together sometimes. We were at different schools, but both downtown Grand Rapids. And we would get lunch. He was talking about, like, being on Tumblr and finding these interesting suits or whatever. I I don't even remember what it was because I had no connection. I just remember him talking about it. And And then 2 years later, I'm in Atlanta. Sunflowerman [00:18:48]: I drop out of art school. I start painting people I know who were fashionable just cause I wanted to paint portraits, but that seemed interesting. So I painted my friend and his suits because he was really into it and then just other people around Atlanta, people in New York I found who were interesting, and that started me down this road of really investigating fashion in a way I never had before in my life. Reginald Ferguson [00:19:16]: So you're sketching people in, you know, they're wearing classic menswear. What do you think I'm not saying it's one clear cut example or epic of time, but when did you say, hey. Maybe I should get a sport jacket. Maybe I should So maybe I should coordinate an outfit. Like, when did you start trying to fuzzily fill that out? Sunflowerman [00:19:47]: That I can trace that back because I was working at the pizzeria, like I was saying before in Atlanta, Georgia, and they were trying to do some outreach for catering. Catering's big business for restaurants. So I was sent out to go investigate opportunities. So I was going to all these business parks and knocking on doors and I needed to look presentable. So I was like, okay, I'll go to I mean, it was must have been like Ross or TJ Maxx and I got myself a jacket and a tie. Well, actually I was actually working at HomeGoods before I worked at the pizzeria and I was a great employee, so I got gift cards for being a great employee. So I was able to use those to start getting the jackets for the pizzeria so that I could go door to door. Because HomeGoods, TJ Maxx are all part of the same company, so you could take from HomeGoods to go to TJ Maxx and and buy that way. Sunflowerman [00:20:44]: And so, yeah, I was going and buying things. I had no idea really what I was buying. I was just trying out anything and everything that felt like it might be professional. Reginald Ferguson [00:20:58]: So like really all of us, you were flying blind, experimenting. Sunflowerman [00:21:06]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:21:07]: And you're in Atlanta, which I don't wanna disregard. 1 could argue is a fashionable city. Sunflowerman [00:21:18]: Yeah. I think it it's a lot more fashionable than I had realized at the time, especially in the circles I was running in. These were, like, indie hipster musicians who didn't were not part of the world I was beginning to explore. They were they were kind of artistic. Right? They were running in artistic crowds, but they were, usually up super late at bars just wearing, kind of grunge indie clothing, which awesome that I have that exposure as well, but that was the opposite of the universe I was beginning to become interested in. So right. You have Sid Mashburn in Atlanta Reginald Ferguson [00:21:57]: and Sunflowerman [00:21:57]: I'd only ever before I moved away, I'd only ever been once or twice. When I walked in, I was like, oh, Sebastian Ashburn is so cool. I walked in. They could have cared less that I was there. Like, I walked in, tried to talk to people, and they looked at me and basically ignored me. I I do not have look. I respect Sid Bashburn as a company. I could care less to ever go into Sid Bashburn again because my experience was so terrible at that early stage when I was trying to learn more. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:25]: Right. Which would have been a really fertile and great opportunity if they weren't so dismissive. And I'm really shocked and surprised to hear that because he did a pop up here in New York a few months ago. And matter of fact, I'm gonna reach out to his marketing guy because I'd like to get him on the pod, and they couldn't have been more neighborly and welcoming. Sunflowerman [00:22:47]: Yeah. I I mean, I I probably didn't know the right questions. I didn't know anything. I don't I don't know, but I I really felt so alienated. So I I went out and explored other avenues of fashion in Atlanta. And then I started to get to know a couple of people, Rachamal, Bloodman. I have to reach out to him again, but he's he's a cool guy from, not from Atlanta, but he was living in Atlanta at the time. He may still be there and we connected and he helped me explore fashion a bit more and I have to really shout out Marcus Troy because in these early days, I was oh, ways I was finding finding out about fashion was I would find people who are interesting and I would paint them and I would reach out to them and say, hey, I wanna do an illustration of you because I was already good at art. Sunflowerman [00:23:35]: Right? So that part I didn't have a problem with. But for me to explore fashion, I would do it through illustration. And so I wanna do this illustration of you. Is that okay? And so Marcus called me up right away. Marcus, Troy, really kind of an OG in the blogger space and men's fashion up there in Toronto. And he was, like, one of my early entrees into the world and and similarly Angel Ramos was kind of that early entree for me into the world of menswear, very very open and welcoming. So those 2 were kind of like early early for me inspirations to get to get more knowledge. Like, when I went to Sidmash when they could have cared less, but when I talked to Angel and Marcus, they were really down. Sunflowerman [00:24:21]: I think they both saw an opportunity to connect with an artist as well. Like, I I can't dismiss that. But they were they wanted to share what they knew, and I was able to get so much out of that. Reginald Ferguson [00:24:35]: So they kinda scooped you up Sunflowerman [00:24:37]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:24:38]: And nurtured you. And Sunflowerman [00:24:41]: I, Yeah. From afar, I think Marcus more so, I think, actually took personal interest in in care. But, yeah, they were they were both welcoming and open to to helping me learn. Reginald Ferguson [00:24:55]: So citing those 2 individuals And like you said, you, you also, you took initiative, you reached out and they were open. They were receptive. Sunflowerman [00:25:08]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:25:09]: How do we go from there to you deciding I'm going to illustrate well dressed men in this classic men's wear space. Sunflowerman [00:25:24]: Yeah. I think you probably will recognize since you went back on the Instagram. Reginald Ferguson [00:25:29]: I did. Sunflowerman [00:25:29]: Early on, I was painting on these vintage Sherlock Holmes book pages. Sunflowerman [00:25:35]: Yes. I Reginald Ferguson [00:25:36]: thought that was so cool. Sunflowerman [00:25:38]: Yeah. Yeah. That's kind of how I made Sunflowerman [00:25:41]: my name. Reginald Ferguson [00:25:41]: They were Sherlock Holmes. Yeah. He's drawing on these old book pages. Sunflowerman [00:25:48]: I have I have so many. Most they're all well, I'll give you the context, and then, I'll send you some photos. I'll send you one of them. But the the context for these was I was on Tumblr, and I wanted to understand the form of a jacket. I wanted to know how it sat on the shoulder, how it moved in the wind, when somebody tucked their hand in their pocket and and the jacket got pulled back? What is that curve like? How does the lapel move? Right? What happens to the pocket? Is it is it a flap or a or a bezel? And if it's jetted, like, nothing really happens. But if the flap gets half tucked, like, what does that fold look like? And I just wanted to understand all of this, and this is also how I began to understand the construction of a jacket. So I would just go on Tumblr, find images, and do these 5 minute illustrations. Kind of just a brush and an ink well. Sunflowerman [00:26:35]: Draw I would draw it out. And I was using paper and I was just going fast and I was, like, trying to internalize it, and I ran out of paper. But I had this book that was falling apart. I thought, well, I need to keep going, so let me just take this book. And I was drawing on these pages and the book those pages were terrible. But then, I guess, I had this vintage Sherlock Holmes book. So I started ripping those pages out. And it was, I think, from the fifties or sixties. Sunflowerman [00:27:01]: I have to double check. Could be the forties. Anyway, back then, they had a lot more pulp in the paper. Now it's a lot more plastic. But there's a lot of, like, actual pulp in the paper, so it acted more like watercolor paper. And I was like, oh, this is great. So, I could I could move fast. I could do some interesting things on it, and it was beautiful. Sunflowerman [00:27:20]: So, I kept buying these vintage books off of a books and I still have at least one whole one, a couple of half ones. And I just, like, ran through them exploring men's fashion. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:34]: Wow. So first of all, I'm going to keep it real. I wish you would revisit doing the book pages because when I looked on your gram and I saw that your, your drawings, your sketches obviously were more basic than your current style. So just one humble person's opinion. I would love to see where you are now artistically and use that medium again. I just think that would I just think that would be cool. Yeah. I like I like that's very interesting. Reginald Ferguson [00:28:09]: I Sunflowerman [00:28:12]: very specifically moved on. I was getting a name for being the guy who painted on book pages. I had people who were replicating it. Not not that I was the first not that I was the first one to ever do it. I'm not saying I'm the first one to put pay paint to paper. That wasn't I'm not the first. But in men's fashion, I was the the one doing it. And then other people replicating it. Sunflowerman [00:28:31]: I was like, this is too easy. It's too easy to cut this style. I need to be sunflower man and I need to be the only sunflower man. So I specifically moved on. Reginald Ferguson [00:28:41]: And what did you move on to? What was the next iteration? Sunflowerman [00:28:45]: Yeah. I moved on to watercolor. I mean, watercolor has such a I mean, it was all watercolor on the book pages, but watercolor on paper was mostly where I transitioned. And I it was something I fell in love with in high school, so it was kind of a natural transition back to it. But there's a rich history of watercolor painting on paper. So I knew from the history this is something that can live beyond something that's kitsch. Right? Painting on book pages in the long run, that's just gonna be a kitsch thing. It doesn't have the shelf life that I want to have as an artist. Sunflowerman [00:29:20]: So paint on paper, done. So I transitioned to doing that, and that's that's mostly what I'm doing now too. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:27]: Do you ever do your watercolor on canvas? Sunflowerman [00:29:31]: I do. Oh, I I don't do it a lot, but watercolor on canvas is actually very interesting. So the technique to do it, completely different than paper. It watercolor sits on the surface of canvas. It doesn't soak in. So, I can lay down the pigment on the surface of the canvas and I can just add water and move it all to the side. I can pull it up. I can mix a little bit more on top. Sunflowerman [00:29:57]: But it just sits on the surface. It doesn't it doesn't soak in. So it's a completely different technique to do it, but it is gorgeous when it comes out right. Reginald Ferguson [00:30:07]: So the flip when you mentioned paper, watercolor is absorbed into the paper. Correct? Sunflowerman [00:30:15]: Correct. Reginald Ferguson [00:30:16]: And what other what other interesting things happen when you do watercolor on paper? Sunflowerman [00:30:22]: Watercolor on paper is difficult. It is hard to master because the technique is very specific and it's not very forgiving, which for me, I was like, okay, not very many people are gonna be able to do this. And and again going back to the book pages, like, that was an easy style to just cop and do. So I thought okay, Not very many people are gonna do this and if they do, they're not gonna do it that well, probably. There are probably plenty of artists that could do men's fashion watercolor better than me. They just don't care about fashion. So I figured I could be the one to do it. So one of the unique things is it's very difficult to understand how the water is going to act on the surface of the paper. Sunflowerman [00:31:05]: The pigment starts bleeding in all these different directions. How do you control it? I kind of love this chaos that you can put down on the paper and you don't control watercolor. You guide it. Right? You you kind of say, here's what you should do, and then you give it the opportunity to fulfill that that goal that you have. And sometimes it doesn't. Reginald Ferguson [00:31:26]: Every month when something important is going on, I send out my New York Fashion Geek newsletter to my fellow geeks. It drops on Fridays, and it offers a quick glimpse into the world of The Fashion Geek. I offer some tips, and it's a nice breezy read. To sign up, just head over to and fill out the welcome sheet. So you mentioned you're, you're guiding it. You're not really controlling it. So as a result, again, for someone who has no art education, I feel that your current perspective, when you're doing classic men's wear, For me, it has somewhat of a surreal look to it. Is that wholly inaccurate? Sunflowerman [00:32:22]: I would say that is wholly accurate. I I think, depending on which work you're citing, but I I I think I know exactly what you're talking about. It is very surreal. When the hand is out of perspective or the proportions are just odd. This is all intentional, and it is very surreal. Reginald Ferguson [00:32:39]: Okay. Alright. Sunflowerman [00:32:41]: Nailed it. Oh. Done in 1. Sunflowerman [00:32:44]: I don't Reginald Ferguson [00:32:45]: know if I nailed it, but, again, these glasses work. They work pretty well. Sunflowerman [00:32:48]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:32:50]: So I, you know how it is, is the beauty of the algorithm. I don't know how few years ago you came onto my feed. I followed because I said to myself, this is really interesting. And then right around that time, this was a few years ago. I don't know exactly when, when I connected with you, but right around that time, I'm looking at MR magazine. Sunflowerman [00:33:20]: And I Reginald Ferguson [00:33:20]: said to myself, this is that guy. Sunflowerman [00:33:24]: That's right. Reginald Ferguson [00:33:26]: So explain to me and the listeners, please. You kind of muddling around, trying to figure it out. Sunflowerman [00:33:34]: Yep. Reginald Ferguson [00:33:35]: And then all of a sudden names are coming to you to work on commissions. Sunflowerman [00:33:43]: Yeah. This is again where I would say Marcus Troy played a big role. He was facilitating this this, thing at project show, the big trade show, big magic trade show in New York and Vegas called Project. And he was bringing in a bunch of bloggers, and I got roped into that as well as the fashion illustrator. And, it opened up a lot of opportunities. I really can't discount at all the opportunities that came from that. And I I even know that so much of the time the things that happened, somebody I've worked with said, oh, yeah. We met via project. Sunflowerman [00:34:21]: And I doesn't make any sense to me how we met there and then connected much later somewhere else. But yeah. All this opportunity, every 6 months to go to Vegas in New York to be in the scene was hugely pivotal, especially with MR Magazine and and getting that sort of role that I've done with them, on and off over the years. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:44]: So did you reach out to any of these brands or these brands discovered you either through project or through Instagram? How did you how did you start making those connections in an essence level up? Sunflowerman [00:35:00]: Yeah. I might meander here as I go through some thoughts. So, number 1, terrible at business. I think money is stupid. I would do my work no matter what. Like we've already discussed when I was homeless and had no money and no prospects, I was painting. That was my life. Back when I believed in God, I made a pact with God and said, even if I'm homeless, I will be I will be still I'll still be painting. Sunflowerman [00:35:28]: It doesn't matter. That's what I'm doing, and that's not so much a pact with God as, like, a threat, I think, maybe. But so that that's my life. But I'm terrible at business. I I think, most of the time business has ruined the work that I do, and that's the caveat. But I I know I have to make money and this is my life and I I wanna make money with my art. So I've done various things over the years, cold emailing, cold DMing, and sometimes that's good. And I I look back on those times and think maybe not the most productive. Sunflowerman [00:35:59]: Sometimes it was beneficial. Most of the time, I think it was it was aggravating to people. So I've done that, but, also, you know, just getting exposed. Like, I I would illustrate bloggers or influencers, and that will give me some exposure and some connections. And, that was a great way to be in the scene without having to try to be very business y. Yeah. And then, you know, just being one of a handful of fashion illustrators in the menswear space, people know who you are. And I I'm constantly surprised that so many people know who I am even though I feel like I'm this this tiny guppy in a small pond in Fort Worth. Sunflowerman [00:36:37]: It is surprising to me how often people already know who I am. Reginald Ferguson [00:36:43]: Well, we got to let the listeners know how this interview happened because Yeah. So a few months ago, I guess it was Q4, I went to Chelsea Market for an event that had been shut down because of COVID, and it got relaunched. And I took a friend of mine, and the event I'm talking about is called Windup. So that's the war well, I always mess up. Warner wound guys. Yep. I I remember when I literally stumbled onto that. I had some business across the street in Chelsea market. Reginald Ferguson [00:37:23]: I always cut through Chelsea market. I was at Milk Studio. So anytime I'm at Milk Studio, I would go across the street and kinda breeze through, sometimes get something, usually not, kinda people watch, and then leave. And that's what I was doing. And I go through and I see this thing, and I'm like, watches. And I can't remember what cool ass watch that I have on. It's a I'm drawing a blank on the name. It's a Swiss Swiss watch that faces like the clocks in Europe at train stations. Reginald Ferguson [00:37:56]: So I had that on. I went to that booth. Sunflowerman [00:38:00]: I was like, Hey, look who they have on. They're like, wow. And I was like, no, you came for it. I was like, no, I didn't even know this was a thing. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:08]: So, so I checked it out and then followed on the gram and I've gone ever since. And again, we hadn't had one because of COVID. So I'm there with my friend. I dragged him because he was thinking about buying a watch at the time. Big shout out to my boy, Matt Park. And because these glasses work well, I'm chatting up my friend and I see this guy with the brimmer and I went, hey, sunflower man. And what you were probably, Sunflowerman [00:38:39]: what the hell is this? Reginald Ferguson [00:38:42]: But you were very nice. And we wrapped, and we found out that you and my friend had a few things in common. And I was trying to be mister New York, mister New York host because I always feel that way when someone's visiting. I knew you were visiting. And also wanna let the listeners know you had just been on my clubhouse room. Sunflowerman [00:39:03]: That's right. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:03]: Like days before. So I was also shocked. Sunflowerman [00:39:07]: I was like, what what are you doing here? I'm in Texas. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:10]: You're like, well, let's get a look at I have these planes. They're amazing. I flew in. Sunflowerman [00:39:14]: This new technology. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:17]: So I'm trying to be mister host of New York. And I said, hey. Hey. If you need anything or you wanna hang out Sunflowerman [00:39:23]: and you're like, no, actually I'm going Reginald Ferguson [00:39:25]: to the big watch show. And I went, oh, I'm not going to that. I'm I'm going food shopping actually after this. But you were very nice. You were very kind. I said to you, hey. I really would love to have you on. I don't know if you remember this, but you and my friend, Matt started talking because his brother, who I know a little bit, who is in, Japan, found out that, hey. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:56]: He's an artist. You're an artist. Matt is a frustrated artist. My boy, Matt. But there was something that I never forgot in the conversation that the 2 of you had that I'd like you to elaborate on. He said it to you and you totally agreed because his brother teased him because he didn't have the skill. The first line is the strongest. What does that mean? Sunflowerman [00:40:25]: The first line is the strongest. I I might flip this around because I I I think I remember remembering what you're talking about, and I think I remember slightly differently. So I'm gonna I'm gonna say it from the way I remember it. Reginald Ferguson [00:40:37]: Sure. Please. Sunflowerman [00:40:37]: Please tell Reginald Ferguson [00:40:38]: me if I messed it up, I messed it up. No. Sunflowerman [00:40:40]: No. No. And you you I may just be remembering it wrong. That's 90% probably what happened. But the way I remember it because because I I felt like I I connected with it so well is not necessarily the first line is the strongest, but when you're critiquing another artist and when you see another artist's work and you see the way they put lines on paper, you can tell how strong of an artist they are by the confidence you see in the lines. The lines can be 1 of a 1000000000 different ways, but you can see the confidence in a line that an artist puts down. And, I I think that's what I was connecting with them on because it's it's so true. When when I when I'm looking at an artist, one of the first things I I see, and maybe it's not the line, maybe it's the brush stroke, but the way somebody approaches the canvas or the paper can tell you so much about their skill level. Reginald Ferguson [00:41:39]: Sheesh. Yeah. I I have a untrained eye. Sunflowerman [00:41:45]: Yeah. I will Reginald Ferguson [00:41:47]: just be looking around. Sunflowerman [00:41:49]: Yeah. It's like anything though. It's it's worthless to the world because if you're a wine lover, you can talk about the nuances of wine with 0.1% of the population. When you are somebody who can draw well, you can talk about the nuances of drawing with 0.1% of the population. It it matters almost not at all when it comes to marketing, when it comes to selling, when it comes to art appreciation. It's really, like, it's an insider conversation. Reginald Ferguson [00:42:21]: Understood. I just found that so interesting that you guys connected that way, and I just politely listened because I had nothing to contribute. Now listen yeah. No. Please. Sunflowerman [00:42:35]: I I Sunflowerman [00:42:35]: would say I'm I'm in that sort of conversation all the time. I know nothing about most things, so I love sitting near people who are knowledgeable in in discussing something. So I can gleam just maybe a tiny bit of that information. Reginald Ferguson [00:42:48]: I totally agree. Now let's see if I botched this quote. I was doing some research, and I thought you said once, clothes are fashion, fashion is art. Sunflowerman [00:43:02]: That sounds right. That sounds exactly right. I I have I have multiple relationships with fashion and style and clothing, whatever. Art art on the grand scale, and I'm probably hitting those t's too hard and I apologize. Art on a grand scale is the creativity of the human mind. Now, obviously, it's the application of the hand to something, but it's the creativity of the human mind. That's art. It's not painting is not art. Sunflowerman [00:43:38]: Painting is a version of art. Painting is one expression of art, but a chef is an artist, an engineer is an artist, a mechanic is an artist, or they can be an artist. Not everybody who paints is an artist. I I would go so far as to say very few people who paint are artists. Very few people who do anything are artists, but an artist can be literally anyone. So when I say fashion is art, when I when I look at somebody like Denny, Denny, Balmaceda, Denny 623 on Instagram, he is an artist. The way he wears clothing, that is an artist. Every time I see him post, do something, he has a lot of knowledge, but it's his art form, hands down. Sunflowerman [00:44:26]: The way I wear clothes is an expression of me as an artist, but my fashion style is not very artistic. Because I I I don't know if that expresses Reginald Ferguson [00:44:36]: my No. No. No. No. No. No. Actually, no. That I understand you clearly because, usually, I wouldn't do this. Reginald Ferguson [00:44:42]: But I feel, particularly pre COVID, when I'm putting on outfits, particularly classic menswear, but it doesn't have to just be within that realm. I feel to an extent that my expression is artistic in terms of my colors, my coordination Sunflowerman [00:45:00]: patterns. Reginald Ferguson [00:45:02]: Yeah. I, I feel that way. I mean, it's the humblest of brags, but I I I feel that way. Sunflowerman [00:45:09]: Yeah. And I think you should feel that way. I I think anybody who has an amount of knowledge, who intentionally takes that knowledge and tries to apply it deliberately to their life in a new way or in a way to express a specific message, that is art. And I feel like so many of the people I appreciate in men's fashion are artists. Not all of them, but so many of them. And I I do my best to be an artist in this space with my clothing. I'm mostly just copying things in a poor way. Yeah. Sunflowerman [00:45:44]: It it's an art. And then on top of that, the the engineer, right, if you go to Livorano and Livorano, he is an artist. The way he has been able to to hone his craft and have this very specific expression, that is also an art. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:03]: Well, this is another wonderful segue because I don't know how many times you have done this, but you are one of the few people I've actually ever spoken with who has been to Pitiello. Sunflowerman [00:46:19]: Okay. Reginald Ferguson [00:46:19]: Yeah. How did all that happen? Have you gone multiple times? Have you only gone once? And, again, I think here, my memory is sketchy, so please forgive me. Yeah. I think I saw sketches that you did while you were there at least one time. And I said, wow. Sunflowerman [00:46:40]: Well, he's been there too. Sunflowerman [00:46:43]: Yeah. I've been very lucky in life. I I I can't deny it. Right? Those early days back when I was, homeless and aimless, I I love to look back and then say, yeah, I I got to go to Baselworld. I got to go to project. I got to go to Pitti Womo. I mean, for 4 years, my wife and I traveled, and lived down the road. What a great experience and I'm a 100% lucky. Sunflowerman [00:47:08]: A 100%. I took the opportunity, but there's so much luck involved and and I've been blessed in that way to to live the life that I've been able to live. And one of those great experiences is Pitiwomo. I've been, I'm gonna say three times, but I'd have to double check. Wow. The most recent time being January, February 2020 when I also went up to Milan when they were before they realized it in the very beginning of their their, coronavirus. Not scandal, but they there was a time early on March, April, when that area of Italy was the epicenter of the western world Reginald Ferguson [00:47:53]: Right. Sunflowerman [00:47:53]: For the coronavirus. Franklin Moss and I were just there in early February and flew back, and I got very sick after after we got back. And I think that was because I didn't take care of myself, but I can't I can't a 100% rule out that I that I didn't have COVID, way back in February. I don't think it's true because none none of the rest of my family got sick afterward and they definitely would have, But I can't rule it out a 100%. But, yeah, that was the last time I was at pity was that, like, just before COVID took over the world. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:33]: Well well, you're in Texas, so, you know, no big deal. Sunflowerman [00:48:37]: Right. We're free and clear here. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:44]: I couldn't help myself. Sunflowerman [00:48:46]: Yeah. No. It's Sunflowerman [00:48:47]: fine. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:48]: Yeah. No. Again, that's the irreverence. But I Sunflowerman [00:48:51]: live it every day. I live it every day, and and you're a 100% right to, to mock us here in Texas. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:57]: Yeah. I'm going to. I mean and, again, I'm not trying to punch down or look down. It's more about throwing my hands up. Right. Sunflowerman [00:49:06]: Yes. So Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:49:11]: So getting back to bumping into you at Windup, you were and I know you were going to your big watch show, you know, versus the little Sunflowerman [00:49:19]: old one. Sunflowerman [00:49:21]: I was like, hey. You wanna hang out? No. Reginald Ferguson [00:49:22]: No. I've got other things to do. Oh, okay. I'm so sorry. But you, I had a friend, a big shout out to Stella Watches, who had a booth, but you were about to do a live event painting, with Jonathan at Brew Watch. Sunflowerman [00:49:45]: Yeah. Yeah. Love Brew Watches. I love I do do. Watches. Reginald Ferguson [00:49:49]: Jonathan, please come on the pod, and I'm gonna have you help me with them putting you on the spot, Sunflower. Because he said he would, and I reached out to him, and I know he's a busy guy. But I think his story is very interesting. So why don't you do a 2 for 1? Show your love to brew watches, but explain to us and the listeners you doing a live event painting in which you're looking at a watch and you're going to town. Sunflowerman [00:50:15]: Yeah. I, live event painting has has been a big part of the business for for a while. So painting well, step back to my early childhood. I'm one of 5 kids, and I would draw in the van in the living room at church. Like, literally everywhere I was I was constantly, not intentionally, but constantly performing my artistic talent to to the world around me. So that's just been a part of my life. So going to an event like this is is so much fun. So Jonathan invited me out and I said, absolutely. Sunflowerman [00:50:45]: This this is great, an opportunity to visit New York after a couple of years and to do something with Brew because I I love what Jonathan is is doing with the brand, with the products. So, yeah, we just sat down. I pulled out some paper and some watercolors, and we did a a live painting of the brew watches metric chronograph, which at that exact time, he had just done another another production of it and launched the second, production of the metric, and it sold out, like, 15 minutes, something crazy like that. He's about to launch another one. He just posted it on his Instagram, so he's just about to and I don't know when this is going live, so people probably lost it the chance. But, it's about to go live again on Friday. So he's about to do another production. It's gonna go fast. Sunflowerman [00:51:31]: And, Jonathan and I have known each other for years. I was I was he reached out to me really early on over over coffee because I love coffee. I'm obsessed and addicted and, if I could live another life, it would be a coffee life. And we connected over coffee, and watches. And so I've just known him through basically the whole journey of brew watches this last 6 or 7 years. I'm not entirely sure how long it's been now, but, that whole time I've had the opportunity to see him grow and expand and and really just become like a darling of the watch world. Yeah. And rightfully so. Sunflowerman [00:52:07]: Just as a human being, one of the nicest people you will ever meet, sincere, but also remembers everyone's names and, oh my god, what a skill. Because I can't remember anyone's name or face and it's really disastrous most of the time. Jonathan just remembers, and he's so sincere and loves everyone. Just great human being who also has made an amazing wonderful brand called Brew Watches. Reginald Ferguson [00:52:35]: Yeah. I love that watch, man. And I told him that. I had just followed him on the gram. Maybe it's a few weeks prior to bumping into both of you at wind up. And if you recall, because I normally don't do this, I thought what you were doing was so cool. And I've seen you, you know, put up a story, put up a video. I said, well, I'm gonna do that for a little bit. Reginald Ferguson [00:52:58]: So I turn on the phone and watch you do your thing, and then posted it with your blessing. But I just thought that was really that was really cool. I've never, you know, I never saw you really there in your element. So Yeah. It was, it was a lot of fun. Sunflowerman [00:53:15]: Yeah. No. I I love I love doing especially with Jonathan because he's so so easy, but he's like, I just love what you do. Do what you want. I was like, oh, okay. I don't usually get that much freedom. So I just just do what I want. I did a sort of surreal piece, like, I I, am doing more and more, and it was the metric chronograph, with a version of Jonathan wearing it on the page. Reginald Ferguson [00:53:39]: That's cool. Sunflower man, why is fashion important? Sunflowerman [00:53:46]: Oh, yeah. So this is this is where we, we get into areas of fashion that I think people with more knowledge can answer it better. And I can really only speak for myself and say that fashion is important because it's how we express ourselves to the world on a daily basis. Reginald Ferguson [00:54:07]: That is fine. I'm only looking for your answer. What difference has fashion made in your life? Sunflowerman [00:54:14]: Oh, man. I remember going way back to our Atlanta stories when I was wearing jackets and ties, and I was I was wearing it confidently even though I probably shouldn't have been. I was wearing it confidently, and I would sit in coffee shops and people would come in and they would see me and they would smile. And I was that that blew me away because nobody would see me and smile. But they saw I was like, I was wearing a check-in the tie, and I was like, that's literally the only difference, and it happened over and over again. And that that changed my life. I I realized people see you differently when you present yourself in a specific way. And I know it's different in different contexts, but for me, the suit and the tie changed my life. Reginald Ferguson [00:55:00]: Yeah. I understand that completely. What's the top fashion tip you would give the everyday man so he could look his best? Sunflowerman [00:55:10]: Be confident. That's it. Back to that story we just had. I had no reason to be confident except I was exploring and learning and trying to find what worked for me, and I just went out into the world and worked proudly even though I've changed everything about myself from that moment. But confidence is everything. Confidence is everything. Reginald Ferguson [00:55:31]: Yeah. I would agree. I've been confident all my life, I feel. And Yeah. Story for another day. Yeah. Yeah. But no. Reginald Ferguson [00:55:39]: That's real talk. So what does always be fly mean to you? Sunflowerman [00:55:47]: I don't know. Always be fly. Probably a phrase that's not as natural for me. But if I'm saying if I was saying that to somebody, I'm gonna be I'm gonna be very boring and go back to the idea of being confident. Confident with humility. If if like, the one number one fashion tip is be confident. Right? To be fly, I think you wanna be confident with humility. Approach everyone around you with care and love, and just, you know, treat people like people because confidence can sometimes, beget arrogance, and I I don't think that's very fly. Reginald Ferguson [00:56:29]: No. No. It's not. Sunflower man represent the DFW and really the world. Sunflowerman is using his artistic skills in the realm of men's fashion and men's watches. He has a distinct style that clearly sets him apart. Striking, colorful, and vibrant. You can find him on Instagram as sunflower man, all one word. Reginald Ferguson [00:57:02]: I wish him well in his endeavors. I wish I could afford him. Well, that's a wrap. Thank you so much for listening. We hope you had fun and are down for another one. Please tell a friend who could use some fashion help about the podcast or share an episode with them directly. If you enjoy the show, please give us a rating and review on Apple Pod. Lastly, if you constantly struggle putting an outfit together and are looking to turn that confusion into confidence, I'd love to talk about how we can improve with it. Reginald Ferguson [00:57:35]: Check me out at and email me at reg at for a consultation. A special shout out to us for our producer, Serge, and everyone down with the Fashion Geek podcast. If you have a story suggestion, you can email me at or hit me up on the insta at New York Fashion Geek. And remember, always be fly.
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