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July 30, 2023 3 min read

Part of the inspiration and impetus behind “Plays Well with Others” was the desire to explore collaborations with other creatives; particularly to showcase those artists whose work we’ve long admired, those with a style so individual that the designs are inherently hallmarked and the artists’ aesthetic is introduced to our audience in an engaging and immersive way – through wearable works of art.

A lifelong student but a far cry from teacher’s pet, Bruce Lee Webb was admittedly more of a rebellious wunderkind who first fell in love with the sound and spirit of punk rock and then discovered that creativity flows from folks in a multitude of mediums, and he found his first forte doodling on old band tees.

“I was kind of a troubled teen,” he admits. “I was sort of on the cusp of being a rocker kid that was into ACDC and Rush and had really long hair. And then a guy moved down the street from me from Southern California who was really into punk rock, and suddenly, I was exposed to a kind of Southern California punk rock. We would carpool together from Richardson to Downtown Dallas, and it was such a contrast to going somewhere like Reunion Arena or a stadium and seeing Rush or someone like that, when you’re physically so far removed from the artist and the music. It literally kind of changed my life, discovering punk rock and that individual expression.”

Webb and his now-wife, Julie, started a punk rock fan-zine called Bad Karma in the early 1980s that they would distribute at shows and record stores. It was both an outlet for his artistic exploration – he would take photos of bands at their shows, “Xerox them and fill them in with India ink” and then cut-and-paste them with other images into abstract art – and an avenue into a creative community that blossomed at the conjunction of skateboarding and Southern California music.

“I grew up in Richardson, so coming to Waxahachie to visit my grandparents, I was always kind of fascinated by the old town square and the old buildings and really the whole kind of small-town thing,” Webb explained. “My mom was a passionate antique collector, and some of my earliest memories were my mom taking me to antique shops with her and telling me not to break anything,” he laughed. “I started collecting weird stuff. My parents started a setup at the Canton Flea Market, and that really had a huge influence on me becoming an antique dealer and an artist. I always say I have a ‘flea market education’, and by that, I mean you really have to train your eye to seek out that cool thing that you’re looking for amidst tons of debris. It’s almost an intuitive sense.”

In 1987, he and Julie moved to Waxahachie themselves and Webb channeled that intuitive eye as an antique dealer; they opened an antique shop which has evolved into the gallery as it exists today.

A true fan (and personal owner) of his art, DDR Creative Director Cheryl McMullen approached Webb about a collaboration for Cowpoke U, and after a few days in his studio settling in with the idea of what it means to be a cowpoke, Webb presented a whole cast of cowboy characters and those faces have now made their foray into fashion.

“As a teen, I was constantly going to thrift stores and buying old shirts and doing artwork on the shirts,” Webb said. “It seemed like so many kids started doing art on their clothing, so when Cheryl asked me to do some designs that could potentially be turned into fabric that people could wear, it all kind of circled back into my punk rock youth.”

A man of a million influences, Webb is like a rolling stone with a sticky side, picking up a little bit of inspiration from everywhere he goes, from every creative he meets, from every song that speaks to him, and from studying centuries of artistic expressions across continents and cultures; still, he says the key to effective art is within us.

“We should all tell our own story. That would be my advice that I give to any young artist, is to tell your own story. I think you’re always on the right track if you do that, and I try to keep that in perspective of the stuff that I’m working on.”

Guess what! You have the opportunity to engage with this awe-inspiring artist at the Ft. Worth flagship store on August 25th & 26th. We’ll be hosting a Bruce Lee Webb trunk show, showcasing more of his artwork and he’ll also be signing commemorative prints of a few of his cowboy characters from the Cowpoke U collection! (Prints can also be purchased online if you’re unable to attend the event.)

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