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MONA KUHN INTERVIEW

Guillotine s’est récemment entretenu avec la talentueuse photographe brésilienne Mona Kuhn. Internationalement reconnue pour ses portraits créant un dialogue entre le corps humain et son environnement, Kuhn élargit depuis quelques années son champ d’intérêt et projette son regard vers le désert, avec sa flore et sa lumière intense produisant toutes sortes de réflexions et de transparences, la conduisant pour la première fois vers la photographie abstraite. L’artiste revient pour nous sur son parcours, ses inspirations, ses passions, ses récents ouvrages et expositions immersives, ainsi que ses futurs projets. Mona Khun sera présente au Jeu de Paume (1 Place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris) le samedi 10 novembre 2018, pour une séance de dédicaces organisée par Stanley / Barker. La Flowers Gallery (UK) présentera quant à elle des images de cette série durant ParisPhoto (du 7 au 11 novembre 2018).

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MAGNUM PHOTOS SQUARE PRINT SALE 2018 – FREEDOM

À l’occasion du cinquantenaire des évènements de mai 68, Magnum explore comment la notion de liberté se manifeste dans le travail des photographes de la célèbre agence, à travers des clichés choisis par les photographes eux-mêmes et accompagnées de textes personnels. Les photographes explorent le thème dans sa dimension politique et historique (avec les images de Paris en Mai 68 par Bruno Barbey, la libération de Paris par Robert Capa, Tiananmen Square par Stuart Franklin) mais aussi culturelle (le festival de Venice Beach par Dennis Stock, le périple de Cristina de Middel sur les traces de Legba, un esprit Yoruba au Nigeria…) parmi d’autres. Pour cette nouvelle Square Print Sale intitulée Freedom, plus de 70 images sont maintenant disponibles en ligne au prix unitaire de 100$ par tirage (format 15,2cm x 15,2cm), de qualité muséale, signées ou tamponnées par l’estate, et ce jusqu’au vendredi 8 juin minuit.

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MARK MCNAIRY – F**CK IVY AND EVERYTHING ELSE

Le designer new-yorkais Mark McNairy (voir ici) vient de publier un nouvel ouvrage intitulé F**k Ivy and Everything Else, aux éditions Harper Collins. L’ancien directeur créatif de J.Press, fondateur du label Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, directeur créatif pour Woolrich Woolen Mills et directeur de la création des lignes Bee Line et BBC Black nous offre avec ce livre sa vision particulière sur le style masculin. Le livre de 176 pages se divise en trois parties principales: Wardrobe EssentialsClassics et Good Guys, Good Advices, où l’auteur passe en revue et examine tour à tour les pièces et éléments de style intemporels du vestiaire masculin. À la fois drôle et acerbe, Mark McNairy prodigue ses conseils en matière de bon gout et de style. Le livre comporte de nombreuses images classiques de mode et de films d’époque qui comprennent des icônes du style tels que Cary Grant, Paul Newman et Steve McQueen, des exemples de streetwear et vêtements de McNairy, ainsi que des références à la culture pop. L’introduction est quant à elle signée Nick Wooster. Ce volume divertissant et intelligent au ton très direct séduira à la fois les non-conformistes et les traditionalistes de la mode. Le livre est maintenant disponible sur la boutique en ligne des éditions Harper Collins ainsi que sur Amazon.com.

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BRUCE GILDEN INTERVIEW

Guillotine s’est récemment entretenu avec le photographe new-yorkais Bruce Gilden. Membre de la prestigieuse agence Magnum depuis 1998 (il en fut le vice-président pendant deux ans), il est à la fois controversé et considéré comme le plus agressif des photographes de rue de sa génération. Bruce Gilden nous parle de son enfance à Brooklyn, de sa famille et de ses choix qui l’ont progressivement amené vers la photographie de rue. Il revient sur la polémique de son projet Face (Dewi Lewis – 2015), son inspiration, sa vision de la photographie contemporaine et ses futurs projets.

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BEAMS PLUS – S/S 2013 COLLECTION LOOKBOOOK

Le label japonais Beams Plus vient de dévoiler le lookbook de sa nouvelle collection Spring/Summer 2013. Intitulée Go Back To The Origin, cette dernière réexamine le concept original du label fondé en 1999 et propose des réinterprétations modernes de quatre styles basiques: american traditional, sportswear, military wear et workwear.

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FUTURA 2000 INTERVIEW – ENGLISH VERSION

For many reasons, France means a lot to you. What’s your special relation with our country?

Well my wife is French, so this is pretty interesting. I’ve been coming here since my first exhibition in Paris in ’81 and I get excited every time I get a chance to go back and I was here only 5 weeks ago for the Agnès B. show (see here), so here I am.

Agnès B. played a crucial role in your comeback in the nineties when she bought a few paintings from you, allowing you to get a new studio in New York. Can you explain us how everything happened and what’s your relation with her today?

Well, I mean Agnès has always been very supportive of street art, this whole movement and I was very fortunate to meet her in the late 80’s. Yes, she did help me very much by investing in my work and as a result I was able to continue painting. At that period I wasn’t really focusing on art so much and she did help to kind of get me going and then helped me with the studio, gave me a condition in Paris. I saw her when I was here for the show a few weeks ago and yeah, the relationship is amazing. She’s such a beautiful person and I’m grateful of her support. If there were not Agnès, a lot of what’s happening in Paris for our movement wouldn’t be possible. And it’s from her heart, it’s genuine love and this is rare you know… it’s very rare.

You presented brand new works last year at your Strategic Synchronicity Exhibition in LA (see here) and it was a huge success. Is that something that surprised you back then and do you plans to do more big solo shows in different cities?

Well I mean I was surprised! We had this work, we created all this work for this show, like kind of a pop-up show, it was very well received. With that group Krunk who was working on that project, we also did a little something in Dubai (see here) which you mentioned, kind of a Part. II of my working with them. Recently there has been some difficulties with that group, for whatever reason, it’s totally cruel. I did this thing in Germany (see here), which was kind of a small version of that pop-up show, but they were friends of mine in Berlin, they had that space and it was pretty easy. In December, I’m going to do something in Stockholm, similar to Germany expect everything will be new. Berlin was more the continuation of paintings from L.A., paintings from Dubai, new works… Now what we’re going to do is just move forward, do some new paintings, new drawings. Similar in that it will be an outside of the gallery sort of space event. I will also for the first time properly exhibit some of my photographs, which I’ve been wanting to do. I’m going to create some light boxes to display the photos, to kind of make them a little more aggressive. That’s exciting! But as far as future shows, I mean not really, not on a bigger scale, I like that pop-up idea. It’s pretty good because you can make the work for the show more or less and that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to continue the show with the works or whatever…

You’ve said in many occasions that you used to feel manipulated and exploited by the gallery scene in the 80’s. How did the situation change today?

Well, as far as the economics go, it’s still the same principles: 50/50…ok. The problem was that at that time I thought… you know… “I’m manipulated”… whatever, I didn’t completely agree with that thing at that time, what can I do? Today I’m a bit in a position where for example, if someone’s going to produce that show, the economics can be discussed, it’s not like written in stone. So probably they’d say: “For your involvement, you will get 40%”. If I can change the dynamics, because now I’m sort of doing an art show, but I’m not in the Art World, so it means I can change the rules a little bit. It becomes less about the space and more about the works. So, yeah I mean, this is not a formula for the future, it’s not something like “Yeah I’m going to eliminate the Gallery”, no, not at all, it’s just a situation of timing and of what was happening. This is my feeling 25 years ago. Today if I have a real gallery, someone who wanted to represent me in some way, perhaps I would consider that, but we’ll see, I mean… the future is… weird.

You started writing your name as a graffiti writer out of a strong desire to communicate. What’s driving you 40 years later?

I still want to communicate, I really do, yeah! It’s just that today it’s not happening that way. Today it’s happening online. What I’m trying to do with my Flickr, my own site, which is just, you know, nothing special, is share my personal experience, which I think is just as interesting as my work, maybe more actually. I mean today it’s easier to communicate that we once did with a marker and spray paint; it’s not limited to writing on the wall. Everyone’s doing it in a different way. Some people communicate through their sense of fashion, some people are writing, some people take photos. I’m trying to make a creative medium. For the moment, I find myself really into this whole photographic period.

You’ve seen a massive evolution of the graffiti art form since your start in the 70’s. What’s you opinion of the scene nowadays?

There are few things happening in the streets right now. One of them is this real sort of “push it”, new people coming on into the street, doing works in the street and this is what I would call real street art, somebody like BLU, there’s one sort of muralistic style. And then, there’s also C215, it has become a central community with many different characters. There’s been this sort of traditional graffiti community and it’s becoming like in “Back in the Days” at the beginning, with taggers… So you have two worlds now. We had like the Very Good and the Very Bad. I’m less in touch with street art as I once was. But the one I can see, the energy of all of this city is being transformed by those artists, and there’s more street art now than there ever was, even when it was only graffiti writers, it wasn’t artists thinking “Hey, maybe I can do something new using the public space!” So yeah, I’m in support of the beautiful muralists and the kind of vandals using scratching.

You said in the past that your inspiration came from your mood… How does the international climate affects your mood and how does it reflect on your work?

In my opinion, nothing reflects into that. That’s just personal experiences. In graphic and in certain imagery, yeah you can make an association to something political or something that’s happening. I’m not really that person so much. My mood now is way more positive. By the middle of this decade I was really depressed thinking about the world, I was depressed in the early decade about other things, you know, bad things… And now we’re coming on this economic period that is supposed to be very bad, but I mean I’m optimistic though. I still think there’s time for a change, a good time and we have Obama so I’m very happy.

You said you were putting commercial collaborations on the background for a bit. Is that something you really want to do when you know how successful a collaboration with yourself can be?

I know! What I meant by that was I’m not going to work with like every fucking company… Like everybody in New York that I know… (Glltn: “Wants to work with you?”)… Yeah exactly! So I think I went through that year of like, “OK…” And it’s not like I’m married to Nike but you know, I have my relationship with them, and I’m always going to have something happening with them, whether it’s the Lance Armstrong project now that I’m part of so maybe we’re going to have things coming, or future shoes… Hopefully next year I’m going to come back to Le Tour de France and be part of that again. So yeah, what happened is that I got to saturated out there with too many different things and I mean, yeah, I guess everyone feels like “Oh we do a project with Futura, it will be OK!”. Usually those things were always kind of limited anyway so it’s just like it’s too easy you know. But in the end, I don’t really benefit from that thing, you know what I mean? I’m more like hooking up somebody. So it’s like ok, stop, stop.

You have a very strong relation with bike culture. You were a messenger in New York, you have been following Le Tour de France since the 80’s. You even worked on the Look Ma No Brakes event organised by Colnago with your good friend Stash. Do you still have the same passion about bikes today?

I mean you know, I love my bike! I have a road bike of course also, but I don’t bring it up so much, but yeah, I love the fixed! It’s just that easy sort of… the operation is still the easiest, so I love the facility. It’s just like “yeah, come on, let’s go!” But I used to be so aggressive, I used to be so like so hardcore… (Glltn: “The Superman Syndrome?”)… Yeah, like “Oh my God, get out of my way!” And now I’m more like really “tranquilo”. It’s like everybody’s jetting, I’m in the back, not trying to win now…

What about the Pointman, one of your most iconic figure? You said it was time to let him rest but it’s still popping here and there?

It is! In Germany, what I was trying to do was… and it’s so funny because people were like “Oh my God, a Pointman!!!” No, no, it’s not, it’s like there’s not one Pointman in there. It’s funny how people gravitate to him and it has become this symbol of my work… He’s awesome but if I wanted to sketch some other things, I could probably do it so, I don’t focus on him anymore, it’s not like “Oh my God!” And the reality is that I never really, really… I mean I wasn’t like in love with that guy anyway, so you know, it’s like, people always go “Pointman! Pointman!” But now I’m trying to like just slowly let this thing… you know, it’s like drugs: you can’t just quit immediately, you have to slowly get off. But yeah I want to get off this drug, I do.

Part of your success comes from your longevity. You said with time, artists get trapped in their own work and can eventually become victims to it. Do you have the feeling that’s happening to you?

Hmmm I don’t think so because I understand this idea. My elements, my icons, my comics, all of these things… to make an association to something that exists… I mean I feel like I can still create art without using all of these things that represent me. The only problem is people will say “Oh but what about Pointman? What about your atomic?” So it’s difficult to get people to kind of accept a new style, but I think I will always find something new… I hope…

Your brand Futura Laboratories is extremely successful in Japan and is considerably growing internationally. What part do you play in the brand? Do you make all the designs?

I submit all of the Futura content, whatever it’s like: my work, a lot of graphic ideas that I’m generating. We also have designers, we have artists working for the company. Everything is approved by me. But for the most part, as far as specifically, like: “we’re going to make a belt, we’re going to make a bag , etc.” No, I allow the company to make those decisions based on whatever the popularity of an item is, what’s so special to them. But one thing about FL I’m really happy about, and I love my guys there, they work really hard for the brand, is doing great collaborations. We’ve done some with Clarks, with Descente, in the past we had a program with North Face, so we’ve done some cool collaborations. Some being sold exclusively for Japan or whatever… So I’m doing the brand out of Japan but I’m not trying to make it a really international brand because then it’s going to become too big for me to kind of control, and we’re doing well so… We’re a small company, we’re in Fukuoka, you know, we’re not in Tokyo. So the development of the company, well for 4 years now…hmmm 5 years, it’s going very well, you know, gradual, very gradual.

You are a Flickr heavy user and you share your pictures on a daily basis. Has this new medium strengthen your relation with your fans?

It’s weird I mean… It’s funny because it’s the only place… I’m not on social networks: I’m not on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, I can’t do all of that but through the last 10 years, I’ve been putting photos on the web, whether it’s on Recon, 5th Dimension, you know, whatever my mystery of online presence: “Oh Futura is there!”, “Oh he’s putting photos here!” You know, I always liked that whole idea. And so Flickr is the most amazing in that… I mean I will always answer comments, so I’m a little bit surprised that… you know I think when you get people they watch, it’s more like voyeurism than participation but I honestly want them to participate because for the moment this is where you can get me, this is where you can actually get me, you know. And if you really say something about a photo I will comment back and if you say something interesting then we could start a dialogue. It’s not like, I don’t have some people doing this shit for me, it’s ME! I’m sitting there, I’m the one! You know, everyday I’m uploading! Come to me! Flickr is interesting because, you know when I first joined I was trying to be in groups. I see how the program works, the application, but I want to change it, I don’t want it to be the way it is. I want to remake it , like my kind of version. And the thing is that groups, when you’re joining these groups, you get bullshit comments. Say something really, don’t say “Great capture!”. There are always clichés like “Great photo!”, “Awesome light!”, blablabla. It’s like, no dude, tell me a story! Engage me so that we can have the feeling that… So I want it to become more like that, like this is the secret place where if you know about me and you think you know about me… you can almost pretend to really know me by having this thing with me. So I think it’s intimidating, mostly I understand. My son is telling me “Dad, you’re giving them way too much! They can’t deal with the content.” It’s probably true but we’ll see… I like the medium. I’m trying to make my son to design something that looks like Flickr, but it’s not Flickr and it’s not Flickriver either. We want to make a Black Flickr! So there’s one kid we know, he can do it, this guy is amazing, a programmer, so we’re kind of working on that. We want to do our own version! And maybe even make it like our own social network; we want to create our own social network! We’ll see, it’s kind of in development right now, but that would be fun, yeah!

Are you still working with your son Timothy mcGuire? What are your projects together?

Yeah, of course I mentioned we have some Nike stuff coming out and he’s going to help me with some support images. He’s working with me obviously, but at the same time, things we do we don’t like to… you know, we don’t want people just to think “Oh yeah, your father…”, you know what I mean? It’s a bad position for him… (Glltn: “Who cares what people think?”) … Of course, of course, but we care and he cares. It’s funny because… I’m sure you know about Tabatha (Glltn: “Yes, your daughter!”). Well, you can meet Timothy, talk for one hour, he would never mention me, it would never be mentioned. Tabatha, you could talk for one hour… within one minute she would say it: “Oh you know who my father is, right?”, this kind of thing. So it’s weird how they both are and it’s something we discussed when we were growing up. It’s going to be more difficult for the boy. Different personalities… But like I said, I’ve always told my son: “Dude, you’re not gonna get a fair break…”, you know what I mean? “They’re gonna be rough on you…” So we have to make sure what he’s doing is kind of disconnected. I don’t want people thinking it’s because of me. But anyway, he went to Japan, he lived there four years, came back and he learnt the language. I mean I love Timothy, I think he’s very talented.

How did you hook up with Jakuan of 360 Toys Group and how was the process of making the Nosferatu?

Jakuan! I love Jakuan! Jakuan, we go back many years, I’ve known Jak for a long time, after all of the Pointman toys, the Unkle version, Nigo, all of this kind of stuff… I wanted to have more control over making a toy and Jak was sculpting and doing his own stuffs. He did something for Warhol, he had a toy store… But in the end, I think we made too many. No, I know the problem, there was a huge problem with the original delivery. You know how they do: you sell a certain numbers, you receive an advance, you say this is the day we’re going to deliver… and we got delayed more than 3 months from when we promised delivery. And all of this stuff was handled by Jakuan so the realisation of this thing never really worked: the timing was wrong, the cadence was wrong, it was just wrong. And the money was kind of not handled right and in the end it was not a good project. The toy was awesome, I loved it, but the business of that project was horrible! As a result he’s over there, I’m over here, you know what I mean? But it’s totally cool. It’s just unfortunate.

Would you like to do a new 3D rendition of your work? Any sculpture?

No, no… no! I mean, the Nosferatu was the Kiss of Death, (interesting choice of words). That was it. I’m not Kaws. I’m not somebody that wants to manufacture toys. Like, it was totally cool in the beginning. The first toy was kind of interesting but then I don’t know… We sort of started eating that whole thing… I don’t know, I don’t want to do that. What I’d like to do is a sculpture, you know what I mean? I don’t want to do a toy, I want to do like a fucking big sculpture. So the idea of creating an image in third dimension, yeah! But not a commercial project, you know. An art piece at that point.

One of your dream collaboration was working with Apple, Sony, or BMW. Will that happen some day?

Sony… Take Sony away! Off my list. I’m very angry with Sony! Apple is like hmmm… I mean I’ve said these things because I’ve invested so much money in the products, you know what I mean? At that point, I don’t want free shits, I’m not looking for anything free, I’m already giving you guys like crazy money! You owe me a small project! Give me a project! Sony, no, goodbye, over. Apple, like yeah, whatever. And BMW, yeah man, what the fuck? What are you waiting for?

Can you tell us a bit about your future projects for the months to come?

I kind of mentioned the Sweden event, it’s my next immediate thing. We’re working on a book right now, but not a Futura book. A book about all those baseball games that I went to. Last year and this year, I went on a crazy mission and I just finished like, last week! But I’ve been to every stadium so now I have like an arcade of work, a lot of stuff. I’ve been organizing the book, I’m working on the book right now. Hopefully next summer, I’ll get it together. I’m designing it and Timothy will do the layout for me. I’m going to do this book as Lenny McGuire, using my real name and not Futura because what I will hopefully do is find an audience for that content, not for me. I mean, once it’s out there, everyone will find out, but it won’t be Futura on the book anyway. So that’s exciting because it’s a kind of project outside of my world and I’m very passionate about that, I love baseball clubs. It’s almost like, even though I did this trip in the last 15 months, the whole idea of that is a lifelong dream, since I was a child, the idea that you could do that, you know. And not only did I do it but I got so many, so it’s even more crazy for me. Now that I’m seeing the entire collection, I’m like “Man, I did it!” I’m very proud of that. It was a big project. And if anybody likes baseball… then BOOM, you know, it’s perfect! So I’m going to try to use Nike to help me also to do the bridge to make it more baseball. I want to find a way to present my book to them. But I’m figuring right now: do I want to do this myself? My own distribution? We will work out the idea. That’s something I’m interested about. I’m making The Tour next year if possible. You know, Lance is coming back, he’s got a new team: RadioShack, a huge American team. No more Astana. Contador went with Garmin! Contador went with the enemy! So Contador is really like gnarrr… So this should be fun you know and hopefully, perhaps, I will get a visit with Mr Parker! (Glltn: “Helicopter rides?”)… Maybe! I’m not sure, maybe!

How long are you staying in Paris and what do you plan to do here ?

Well the only thing I really want to do, tomorrow morning, I’m going to Notre Dame, just because I want the Gargoyle photo, I need that shot. That’s like an early call. There are some like touristic things, there’s a few shops I want, the Eiffel Tower at night, I’m going to have to go tomorrow at night, you know, the hourly craziness, I need that. You know, I’m a tourist, really, I’m doing touristic things.

Thanks to Patrick Lerouge for his kindness and his precious help.
© Guillotine – www.glltn.com – November 2009

ART BASEL MIAMI – F.A.M.E. & VANGUARD EXHIBITIONS

The corner of 23rd Street and Park Ave. proved to be one of the most crucial spots to be in Miami during Art Basel this year. Here, lucky visitors could take in both the F.A.M.E Collective (a private exhibition curated by Josh Liner of Lineage Gallery and housed in an impressive four-story house), and Gen Art’s Vanguard exhibition (assembled by Miami artist and curator Francesco LoCastro).

Both events helped set the bar for years to come, operating completely independent of the traditional art-fair circuit and playing host to some of the best parties alongside the backdrop of the most progressive and sought after artists of the contemporary/lowbrow pop movement. Thanks to Jeff from At Arms/The Art Collectors.

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GUILLOTINE INTERVIEW – AKROE (ENGLISH VERSION)

Can you tell us about your childhood, your youth and how this time of your life influenced you and your work?

When I was adolescent, I wasn’t in the local norm, especially in the place where I grew up: Le Jura, it was more playing rugby, football, drinking, riding motorcycles, wearing Doc Martens, light blue jeans and bomber jackets. I let imagine the life of an overexcited tagger in this context, I wasn’t feeling so confortable. My strong memories are linked to graffiti, that was my youth’s freedom and lightheartedness. I spend so much time on railways, industrial waste lands to find walls to paint on, those places, the equipment, all the details of this discipline and also many feelings left me a very strong memory. I still do graffiti, less often than before, but all this universe doesn’t leave me, today it’s a working topic, I peel my vision, it’s really interesting.

On the professional side, it’s funny but when I think of it, I was customizing my audio tapes, tagging my clothes and my shoes, basically all my stuffs… well now it’s still the same thing today with album artworks, clothe collections etc, it’s just got to an industrial stage.

What was your first job (in relation with art or not)?

First job, I was 16, was selling hot chichis (ndlr: long doughnuts) on the beach for holidays, but it was super-boring, so I was shouting non-sense and after a while I got really successful. No, but more seriously I promised myself I would never waste a summer working at the factory, I started very young with commissioned works, commissioned graffitis for shops, clubs and events, I wasn’t doing that bad.

You come from Jura (countryside in eastern France) but you’ve been living in Paris for many years. How has the capital influenced your work? What do you think of the evolution of Paris those last years concerning street art?

I know little about Paris and it’s difficult to assert a love for a city for which one has only few memories, I live there for only 7 years, but made there some very good friends and the cultural richness is incredible there. I think that my friends and my experiences in Paris also influence my work and my universe here.

Regarding street art, it’s in my opinion a much too global term to describe a phenomenon, rather than a school or a movement, everyone gave it a try with ones personal style, it was a little bit like a trend, like there have been trends of styles in graffiti. I don’t have the feeling that it does challenge the population anymore, maybe something new will come in the streets, tagtonik perhaps?

You share your studio with your friend, artist KRSN. How did you know each other’s and do you still work together?

Krsn is in my top best friends, very very well placed, and he’s also a great artist, always surprising and sincere, I don’t get tired of watching his images, he kills it!

It’s been a few months we haven’t worked together, we’ve both been very busy each one on our side, but we’ll collaborate soon, I can’t wait for that, it’s always very cool to compose together, very instinctive, each time I have the feeling we’re doing telepathic and it works very well!

What are you usually listening in your workshop?

Classical music and I wonder naked in a mauve silk dressing gown. I’m very very classy concerning music.

Music plays an important part in your work. Have any artists or albums influenced some of your artwork?

There always was music in my life, it’s quite a funny thing actually, but when I was small, I could hear people singing by the window, in my mum’s office who is a speech therapist, I now live close to a music academy, I also hear people singing, and my atelier is located right next to a music school… it just never stops. Then I don’t know if music influences my work, maybe it gives oneself an attitude, or it allows you to do more crazy things, but I don’t believe it plays that much on your visual directions.

On the other hand, the artists you meet and their universe make you to evolve, it’s in the effort of adaptation that you discover directions you would have never even considered, but it’s actually not only true with music, all the projects are more or less like that. I think that a similar question would much more interesting: the importance and the influence of the image on a musician.

Could you please describe us your typical day at work?

I never stop working.

Apart from art/graphic design, what are the other things you enjoy doing when you have some free time left?

Spend some time with my wonderful family.

What was the last book you read?

I usually read several books at the same time, there was a monograph of Charlotte Perriand and another one of Tallon, a few repertories of design and I lately started reading again an old book from Tschichold from my library that had irritated me, to check that my vision of typography had evolved a minimum. I’ve also just started a pretty big book about Italian Renaissance, with the same aim.

Who are the French and international artists who currently inspire you?

There will always be the great classic designers and graphic artists; I also find the work of Tobias Rehberger really interesting, even if I’ve been interested in his production for a long time. Swiss artists also make cool things, Fleury, Decrauzat and also a French woman, Delphine Coindet, who makes really beautiful things.

Regarding your new exhibition Hooked which took place in Montreal this summer, could you give us more information about the contents, on what you focused and how comes you choose Canada? Do you have other exhibitions planned from this side of the Atlantic?

“In the mess over there, behind the fence, stuck to the walls, after the carpark, under the bridge, below the road, in the grass, between remains and trashes, metal sheets and cables, right in the middle of the brambles, behind that wall, in the color and the action; it’s there, at age 14, that I got hooked on graffiti. That’s a little bit the key sentence of the exhibition, I try to symbolize the relationship between danger and game in a space, by composing the room with vivid colors and playful forms and an installation made of iron bars equipped with sharp spades. It’s a little bit like a hyper funny solid mass of brambles. Dangerous places are an undeniable component of doing graffiti, it forms part of the ritual, and it’s even what’s exciting for some taggers. Moreover the gallery is called Off The Hook, and that was an inevitable coincidence, just like being called Akroe ; Hooked.

Apart from that, I haven’t planned anything else here, but I have a great desire to return to Montreal, I made great friends.

Did you know Canada already? Apart from the show, what are your plans here?

No, I didn’t know Canada, it’s really cool here, I had so much fun, people are very welcoming and party, party, party all the time!

With your busy schedule between clients and shows, do you still have time to create artwork in the street?

I’m organized…

Which currently takes more of your time: commercial artwork or personal artistic creation? How do you manage to make the balance between both worlds? Do you think one of them influences the other?

Time spent on personal artistic creation still depends a lot on client projects. It’s also thanks to the orders I get that I can sustain my activity of artist. It means lot of efforts on both sides, but I believe I’m not doing that bad with this organization for the moment. And yes, it’s undeniable that my researching work has an influence on my commercial work, more and more, and I’m very happy about that, I think the opposite would be less interesting.

To celebrate the launch of The Simpsons – The Movie, the Parisian store Colette asked some artists, including you, to customize a Bart vinyl toy. What is your opinion about the designer toy world, which is a movement that has been growing extremely fast in France for the last two years? Could you plan to release a 3D creation out of vinyl?

No, no, no, toys are a pain in the arse, I love the idea to create series of cool and crazy things, but I can’t get used to the models, formats and plastics used for the moment. I customized the Bart Qee for Colette because people used to compare me to him when I was younger, with his attitude and his face, I found that funny. I created something respecting the spirit of The Simpsons and giving the totality of the selling price to the Mc Donald’s foundation. But I don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon, in general I tend to oversize…

You work with Sixpack France since the very beginning of the brand. Can you tell us the origin of this adventure and the on-going projects that you have with them (new Akroe mini-collection)?

They are friends for life; there will always be many new mini-collections coming!

What are your favorite streetwear brands and the ones that influence you?

Sixpack, Rated Rookies and Freshjive, you know why!

Are you interested in sneakers? Do you own many pairs? What are your last pairs of sneakers you purchased and which are your “jewel” pairs?

Honestly, not really, but still I’m interested in the matter, I like to see the new tendencies, but I’m not an over-excited shopping addict nor am I a collector. For my clothes in general I’m always attracted by traditional, beautiful traditional well made clothes. Concerning shoes, I always enjoyed simple models, black and white. I own several pairs of the same model, all in a different wear conditions, I’m straight, I can’t believe it.

On the other hand, I’m very attentive to the couture and haute couture, especially for women obviously, I am always amazed by the profusion, the creativity and the ease of fashion designers. Obviously I’m more receptive to more graphic collections and then I always admire the quality of the image of luxury brands, the concern and intelligence of the detail. So classy.

What can we expect from Akroe for the next months?

Two books, a second version of the Design&Designer book by Pyramyd and “Deadline” at the Lazy Dog, with a deadline for…

And finally an update of my website, I receive so many emails of people irritated because I don’t do it, it’s insane.

PROJECT S2DIO #062 – EWOK

Ewok, AKA EwokOne, AKA Ewok 5MH est né en 1976 à Jersey et a grandi à New York. Il déménagea à Brooklyn pour étudier au PRATT Institute d’où il sorti diplômé d’un BFA en animation traditionnelle. Durant sa jeunesse dans les années 80, il fût très vite inspiré par le graffiti après avoir vu le livre Subway Art et en voyant les murs à travers les vitres de la voiture familiale dans les années 90. Il est passionné par le graffiti et en réalise depuis 1990, mais il s’intéresse à l’art et à l’écriture depuis sa plus petite enfance. Ses œuvres, qu’elles soient plus artistiques ou street, ont été exposées dans les galeries et évènements à travers le monde, aussi loin qu’en Indonésie ou au Japon. Beaucoup d’entre elles font maintenant partie de collections privées.

Pour plus d’informations sur le travail d’Ewok, vous pouvez consulter son site, www.mr-ewokone.com, qui contient également un blog mis à jour fréquemment ainsi qu’une partie photographie, style “day in the life”, pour se mettre dans la peau de l’artiste. Grand collectionneur, Ewok est aujourd’hui fortement impliqué dans le processus de conception de vinyl toys avec la sortie récente de Horselington, qui apparaît aussi sur son site.

Bonne visite !

Ewok, AKA EwokOne, AKA Ewok 5MH was born in Jersey in 1976, raised in upstate New York, again relocating downstate to Brooklyn to attend PRATT Institute and graduating with a BFA in traditional animation. As a youth in the 80’s he became inspired by graffiti after seeing it in the book Subway Art and out the window of the family car during trips downstate up into the 90’s. He has been engulfed in actively writing graffiti since 1990 but was interested in art and scribbling as far back as he can remember. His fine art work as well as street level work has been displayed in galleries and venues world wide as far as Indonesia and Japan, and is featured in many private collections with a strong underground following.

For a deeper look into the work of Ewok you can view his website www.mr-ewokone.com which also features a regularly updated blog, and a “day in the life” style photography page that allows you to temporarily step into his shoes and see the things that catch his interest on a daily basis. Ewok is currently heavily involved in the design process of vinyl figures with his recent release of “Horselington” which is also featured within his website.

Enjoy your visit !

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