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Visiting Artists Program (VAP) Resource Guides

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The Visiting Artists Program resource guides contain upcoming speakers' biographies, articles, video and audio content, related publications in the Flaxman Library, and additional online resources. These guides may be used in the classroom in preparation for the event, research, or post-lecture discussion.

Whitaker Malem: Tuesday, March 14, 6:00–7:30 p.m.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Fullerton Hall, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

This event will be live captioned by Communication Access Realtime Translation services.

Join us in person for a lecture by designers Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem followed by an audience Q&A.


Photographic portrait of Patrick Whitaker and Keir MalemPatrick Whitaker and Keir Malem have been together professionally and personally for more than 35 years. Renowned for their leatherwork, the self-proclaimed “pop artisans” have spent more than three decades obsessing over the human form and crafting what they describe as body-based sculptures that occupy the fantastic realm between art, fashion, and costume. Their influence on popular culture encompasses various creative fields and has led to involvement with many leading visionaries.

Fashion collaborations have included Alexander McQueen for Givenchy haute couture, Hussein Chalayan, Christian Louboutin, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Giles Deacon, and more. Whitaker Malem’s creations have been photographed by David LaChapelle, Ellen von Unwerth, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, Rankin, Terry O’Neill, and Tim Walker and featured in iconic fashion editorials by Herb Ritts for British Vogue, Pierre et Gilles for Vogue France, and, more recently, by Rafael Pavarotti for Vogue Italia. Pop music artists Madonna, Mick Jagger, Janet Jackson, Cher, Paula Abdul, Gloria Estefan, Paloma Faith, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tove Lo, amongst others, have all worn their designs.

Over the last 20 years, the duo have also worked on numerous movie franchises such as James Bond, Harry Potter, and Fast & Furious and notably created more than 100 armor costumes for Wonder Woman (and her Amazonian world). Other productions include Aquaman, Eragon, 300: Rise of an Empire, Clash of the Titans, and more. They have also created superhero suits for Captain America, The First Avenger, and Batman: The Dark Knight.

Whitaker Makem’s first solo exhibition in 2017 at The Gallery Liverpool consisted of a retrospective of work and introduced Transmorphic Superpeople, an optimistic exploration of the multiple possibilities of fluid sexual identities. Their work has also been exhibited worldwide in various group shows. In parallel, for the last 25 years, the duo has enjoyed working closely with celebrated British pop artist Allen Jones, dressing many of his hypersexualised sculptures.

This presentation will explore maintaining an authentic working practice as independent freelance designers/artisans and offer insights into their inspiration, evolution, processes, and experiences across the varied worlds of fashion, film, and art.

Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Fashion Council and the Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the University of Michigan.

Portrait credit: Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem. Photo: Frederic Aranda

Artist Website

Whitaker Malem’s website


Whitaker Malem — Pop Artisans 
Nini Barbakadze | Metal Magazine | August 6, 2021

In Conversation With Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem: Re-awakening leather craft, the British Way
Alina Ferraro, Guilherme Ferrari and Matthew Burgos | french fries | July 26, 2021

Whitaker Malem
Megan Bormann |  VOL•UP•2 | June 5, 2021

Leather Loves x Whitaker Malem
Mike Adler | Real Leather. Stay Different. | July 10, 2020

Designer Artisans Whitaker Malem on the fetishization of craftsmanship
Teuku Ajie | Dew Magazine | March 2, 2020

This duo makes nude bodies out of leather
Osman Ahmed |  i-D Magazine | February 26, 2020

On fetishizing your own process
Ambrose Mary Gallagher | The Creative Independent | November 6, 2019

The Wonder Woman Effect
Melanie Abrams | New York Times | August 3, 2017
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Visiting Artists Program Lecture Recordings from the Archive
SAIC Visiting Artists Program video and audio lecture recordings (1977–present.) Available with SAIC login credentials.

SAIC Digital Collections: Visiting Artists Program
SAIC Visiting Artists Program publicity archive and audio recordings (197798).