Danielle Bonnet, aka Dani B, is a neon artist based in Los Angeles. For this project, she created a 4' x 4' neon sign of an eagle that speaks to her views on money, power, and freedom in America. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and introduced to the art form via grandparents who ran a commercial neon repair shop, Dani is evolving the family craft with her own creative approach.
Christopher Martin is a multidisciplinary artist exploring the African American diaspora through his artwork. Chris works in tattoo, illustration, and handsewn banners—all connected by bold imagery that tells his story of African American culture and history in America. For this project he created a short film based on the key themes and iconography driving his practice.
Based in Los Angeles, Annabell Lee’s work is defined by a handcrafted aesthetic, a flashy ’80s palette, and her self-styled assemblages. For this project, she created a collection of hand-painted and handsewn pillows. Hovering within the realm of DIY fashion, Annabell focuses on making hand-painted garments and paintings using dye, and often fluctuates between the roles of painter, designer, and photographer.
Anthony Acosta is a professional skateboard photographer from Los Angeles, Ca. His work has been featured in magazines worldwide and has been a staff photographer for Vans for 13 years. For this project he worked with a group of friends to build a fully functioning darkroom to process and print film at home.
Karla Almendra is a textile artist living in Guadalajara, Mexico working with natural fibers and dyes. For this project she used a variety of botanicals to extract their colors and pigments to create collection of naturally dyed, canvas banners, apparel, and footwear.
Eloise Dörr is a skateboarder and artist based in London.For this project she created a triptych of painted skateboards. Her work often features skateboarding characters, sometimes big, sometimes small, and sometimes somewhere in the middle. She takes them on journeys doused in curiosity and wanderlust, based around both solitude and community.
Alex Jenkins is an illustrator and cartoonist from South London. Alex’s work often explores satirical and critical subject matter through a distinctive and vivid style. He tries to avoid pretence and just wallow in humour, whilst touching on the absurd and surreal. For this project he brought one of his characters to life as a six foot tall fiberglass sculpture.
Start From Zero began as a street art crew in Hong Kong and have since evolved into streetwear and woodworking art collective. Along with streetwear and home goods, they create handmade wood pieces for retail signage and the greater creative community at large. For this project they created a patterned biscuit stool.
Rewina Beshue is an illustrator, graphic designer and digital artist based in San Francisco, CA. She started teaching herself graphic design in high school and eventually went on to study design and visual communication at San Francisco State University. Her work explores ideas of memory and time, referencing theories of the 4th dimension in her geometric drawings.
Chris Johanson is an artist currently splitting time between Portland and Los Angeles. Johansonʼs work plays between the techniques of figuration and abstraction, as he sees these two modes of working as interconnected expressions of strong beliefs in environmentalism, compassion and peaceful co-existence. For this project, he collaborated with the students at KSMOCA (King School Museum of Contemporary Art) in Portland, Oregon and created a collection of cement sculptures inspired by their drawings.
Erma Fiend is a multimedia animation company featuring the work of Giphy artist Lee Friend Roberts. For this project they created a looping, animated self-portrait.
Lalese Stamps is a ceramic artist and graphic designer currently based in Columbus, OH. Her recent collection, 100 Mugs in 100 Days, showcases her diverse designs. She is the founder of Lolly Lolly Ceramics and for this project she created an oversized ceramic vase.
Gaudmother is a self-taught studio experiment based in West Philadelphia led by Brit Rodriguez. Through Gaudmother, Brit hopes to lead by example and encourage anyone interested to make whatever they want, with whatever they have, as soon as possible. Art is medicine, and we’re running out of time to get well. For this project she created a handmade rug.
Hyunjun Koo is a skateboarder and artist from Seoul, Korea. Easily identifiable by his colorful and expressive approach to both art and skateboarding, Hyunjun can be spotted at local skateparks often laying down complex skate tricks made famous in the 1980s. His love for metal and punk music, and anti-establishment culture as a whole, is a driving force in both his artwork and skateboarding. For this project, Hyunjun created a one-of-a-kind piece of grip tape art.
Su Wukou is a fashion designer living in Guangzhou, China. With a background in architecture and urban design, Su is known for his thoughtful and calculated approach to his work in fashion. For this project, Su created a zine highlighting the story and collaborators documented as part of his recent “Year of the Ox” product collection with Vans.
In late 2019, just before Covid-19 shut down live performances worldwide, we invited the crowd at House of Vans London to get creative and help create a music video for JPEGMAFIA. Over 500 people, with 500 different perspectives, all contributed their piece into something bigger. With hundreds of hours of content captured, the crowd’s images and footage was taken and combined into a music video that moves us fluidly through the crowd and performance. It’s our belief that everyone has a creative side just waiting to be unlocked, and this video brings that idea to life.
Kelly Breez is a multimedia artist based in Miami, Florida, whose work spans illustration, sculpture, tufting (yarn/textile design), woodworking, painting, and mixed media 3D works. She examines the lives, stories, and influences behind the seedy secrets and characters that make South Florida such a special tropical wasteland. She puts this anti-glamour side of life on a pedestal and honors it artistically. For this project, she created a large-scale, hand-tufted piece using acrylic and wool yarn.
Franco Rivas, aka Pepe, is 28-year-old surfer from Mar del Plata, Argentina. He runs a video production company and art collective with his partner, Amantes Del Fin de Amantes del Fin de Tarde (AFT), whose focus is on surf, plastic arts, music, yoga, and sustainable tourism. For this project, he decided to create a “Reclaimed Surfboard” from the leftover waste that occurs from the initial surfboard shaping process.
Beatrice Domond, Justin Henry, Cher Strauberry, and Corey Glick all share at least two things in common: their love for skateboarding and making zines. They live and reside all over the USA, and are part of the Vans Skateboard Team. Each of them has their own unique aesthetic and style, so for this project they worked individually on their own skate zine, which was then compiled into a limited edition 4-pack of zines.
Helena Garza is a visual artist living and working in Mexico City, Mexico. She started her artistic career in classical music, painting, and analog photography, before beginning to work through different media such as murals, graphic design, animation, and VR. Her most recent project is called RAUDO. *Raudo creates immersive experiences generated by sonic exploration and VR installation with the musician Bernardo Pérez.
Tuck Wai, aka Mister Tucks, is a Singapore-based artist and founder of the Temple of Skate. Temple Of Skate is a place that allows him to express his creativity through illustrations, and share it with the world in the form of prints, apparel, zines, and more. For this project, he created a woodblock print.
Muzi, also known as “The Zulu Skywalker,” is one of the most revered and talked-about musicians coming out of South Africa today.The proudly Zulu artist hails from a township in Empangeni, some 140 km north of Durban. These roots play a significant role in the music he makes, expertly blending the influence of cutting-edge urban and electronic music with local genres like Maskandi, Kwaito, Iscathamiya, and the bubblegum pop of the ’80s and ’90s.
Zhao Hao Sen, aka Candy, is a professional illustrator, animator, and owner of CANDYMADE from Chengdu in the Sichuan province. He is is the creator behind every aspect of his animations, from initial concept to final animation and character voices. His sense of humor and unique characters populate a colorful and quirky universe.
Jennifer Williams (b. 1982) is a self-taught artist born and raised in Philadelphia. Fantasy rock and punk bands are a significant theme in her art with a special interest in a group of her own creation called The Raven Call. Jennifer’s artwork is simultaneously a direct documentation of the world and things she likes and weavings from her imagination. Jennifer is a past member of the band Wonder Abyss and current member of The Soapbox: Community Print Shop & Zine Library in Philadelphia.
Wavy is a clothing designer and visual artist from Korea. He is the founder of Padotagi, a clothing brand that is heavily influenced by the chunky graphic tee’s of the 90’s. Wavy works with local celebrities to create true one-off designs. For this project, Wavy used an iconic shot of Steve Caballero and infused it with Eastern aesthetic to make an original Cab t-shirt.
Starting with 2018’s “Controller,” Channel Tres has blended the drive of Detroit techno and the silky smooth grooves of Chicago house with the snarl of West Coast rap. His music is no longer the little secret that dance DJs maybe had wished would stay. For the last two years, Channel has toured the world to sold-out arenas, and found fans in everyone from Elton John to Tyler the Creator. For Channel, music is about reconnecting with his own history, whether it’s in his lyrics, or through the influences and musical history he uncovers in his productions. For this project, Channel created a spoken word poem.
Peter Sutherland is a photographer and mixed-media artist from Salida, Colorado. For this project he created a POV film in which he documents and explores the many parts of his photographic practice.
Lei-Mai LeMaow is an artist and designer from Liverpool, living in Manchester and painting worldwide. With a background in graffiti which sparked a natural love for lettering and painting walls, a love for illustration, and a history of working with clothing and footwear, her work is an unapologetic mixture of medium, modern styles, and techniques.
Denzel Curry is a rapper, writer, and comic book artist from Carol City, Florida. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. For this project, he created a poster with artwork from his upcoming comic “Hail Trials”, and his custom Old Skool™ collaboration.
Orion Sun is visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After her family lost their home in 2015 she lived in hotel for almost a year before she struck out on her own, crashing at friends' houses along the way and creating music. Philly Sound Exchange brings youth from diverse cultures together for collaborative songwriting/recording projects centered around Social Justice. The goal is amplify student voices in conversations around race, equity, and social justice by providing platforms for youth from divergent backgrounds to collaborate through the arts. For this project Orion Sun helped mentor and workshop with two members of Philly Sound Exchange on Act 1 of Flowers, a visual album that over 30 students had collaborated on during the pandemic.
Chloé Bernard is a tattooist, graphic designer, skateboarder and painter from Marseille, France. She attended the Academy of Art in Marseille for four years before she was (nicely) kicked out. For the next five years, she created an art collective with two of her girlfriends, during which they made exhibitions about paintings and skateboarding. Chloé has skated since she was 15 years old, and traveled the world over. With a background as both an organizer and judge, she is currently working as a skate instructor for girls. For this project, Chloé painted a large-scale, three-dimensional mural in an old, abandoned footbridge.
How long did the mural take from initial idea to completion?
Chloe Bernard:The painting job was exactly ten days of work. But from the conceptualization and finding the place to make it, etc ... it took me one month to put it together.
Where is the mural located and can people check it out in person?
Chloe Bernard:The mural is in an old footbridge. It’s closed, in the middle of a wasteland called La Friche in Marseille. You need a key to check it out, so people can’t technically go themselves.
Is this the first time that you’ve painted something this large?
Chloe Bernard:I’m used to painting big things. Skateparks, murals … but for sure it’s one of the biggest, especially because it’s in three dimensions. Floor, walls, and roof.
Is there something happening in creative culture that you are most excited about right now?
Chloe Bernard:Meow Wolf.
Is there a message or feeling that you want people to take away from your art?
Chloe Bernard:I think I love to project my mind in fantastic spaces ... and I might try to do it myself through what I create. I’m trying to make these surreal landscapes come true. With the three-dimensional mural, you have the feeling of being part of the craziness, because you actually stand in the middle of it.
Do you have any other projects coming up that you’re excited about?
Chloe Bernard:I always have and we must always have projects, ideas, fantasy in life. Just to look forward, to see further. Right now I’m tattooing in a shop and I’m putting together a painting exhibition with big canvases. It was supposed to happen a year ago, but the COVID situation made it really hard. So, hopefully soon!
Passion for adventure seems to throb in Norma’s veins. She is a skateboarder, mountain biker, photographer, gardener, and social media marketer all rolled into one. Originally from Mexico, she moved to Canada in 2009 and fell in love with British Columbia. Her fun-filled journey ultimately led her to reignite her desire to ride a skateboard. After moving to East Vancouver in 2015, she found her skateboarding community. Since then, Norma has carved for herself a prominent role in skateboarding media. She is committed to documenting skaters and shedding light on lesser-known communities around the world. For this project, Norma created a photobook focused on the skate scene in Mexico.
How has the skate scene changed in Mexico from when you lived there?
Norma Ibarra: In the past few years, the amount of skaters has really increased, with tons of crews, community groups, and inspirational people doing incredible work. I love how the community is uniting, creating their own events, their own reality, despite the situation and challenges in Mexico. I feel so privileged to experience it, to be part of it, and to capture some of the current history of skateboarding in Mexico. When I was young, I didn’t see myself in skateboarding. Now when you go to a skatepark in the big cities of Mexico, there are so many people who look like me that I can relate to the community and finally myself as part of it. It’s so inspiring!
Do you have any favorite photos or sections from the book?
Norma Ibarra:I am really excited about my section on Nayarit. I had always wanted to visit this area—it has beautiful beaches and incredible surfing spots. The Shore Skatepark that’s showcased by the end of the book has this incredible bowl with some cool natural spots around the Nayarit region.
Is there a specific camera you enjoy shooting with the most?
Norma Ibarra:For the past two or three years, I have been inspired to mix film and digital photography. I always carry both my digital and film cameras when I am out and about. I am more excited at experimenting with old cameras I found online or at thrift stores lately. I am also very excited at the idea of filming and editing videos of my friend skateboarding, something new I would like to try this year.
Is there something specific happening in skate culture that you are most excited about right now?
Norma Ibarra:I am really excited about the evolution of skateboarding, how many members of our communities are working towards safety, equity, and diversity in skateboarding. I am really eager to see the progression and knowing the youth have people to look up to. Also, I am thrilled to see my friends getting support from brands, turning pro, coming up with new brands, videos, or events, to see them thrive. I can’t wait for the future generations to enjoy a more inclusive scene and have mentors and role models to look up to when they start skateboarding.
Do you have any other photography projects planned?
Norma Ibarra:Yeah! I am working on a few collaborations with other artists. I also continue shooting my community in Canada, my friends, and collectives; hopefully to have a nice showcase at the end of the year. For this year, I also want to do more videos and mixed media projects.
Quispiam Habilis is an art and design studio based in Korea. Its attention to detail and love of craftsmanship is what make its quirky and imaginative creations so beloved. The studio’s members all employ different skill sets, allowing them to bring virtually any idea they have to life. For this project, they created a ceramic turntable that could beam music into outer space in hopes of communicating with alien life.
Where did the idea to make this turntable come from?
All of our members have a lot of interest in music as well as crafts. With music, there was an interest in turntablism, so we decided to make a turntable using our skills, and we thought it would be nice if the equipment we made would not simply play music, but be a communication device to communicate with anyone in the world.
Where did the name Quispiam Habilis come from and what does it mean?
‘Quispiam Habilis’ is Latin for ‘people who make things with their hands’ or ‘things made with the hands.’ This is the name that expresses our desire for the craftsmanship that we consider most important.
How many different people worked on the turntable and what are their names?
There are five members in our team: Seung Heon Yoo (Director, Ceramic Craft), Joo Ho Lee (Metal Craft), Young Gyun Kim (3D Printing), Chang Hee Seok (Graphic Design), and Jae Hwan Hwang (Animating, 3D Modeling). Additionally, “DJ Redef” was the DJ in the video with us.
How long did it take to create the turntable from the initial idea to the finished piece?
It took me a short time to come up with the idea. However, due to the nature of the craft genre, it took a long time to make it. In particular, it took a long time to coordinate the design of the equipment for actual operation and the internal devices for mounting the design, so it took more than two months to build it.
Can you describe the process a little bit? Was this made with a 3D printer?
First, we designed mechanical devices for operation. Based on that design, we continued to add design elements in the process of designing and producing external frames. After finishing the ceramic with the main frame, metal and 3D printing parts were continuously modified and supplemented according to the size of the ceramic frame. The slip mat was designed according to the concept and made using a silk screen. The video showed a signal to an alien creature using the final manufactured communication equipment, and the signal was worked hard by DJ Redef.
Where do your ideas come from when it’s time to make something new?
Basically, we are naturally inspired by the interests we like and enjoy. In the meantime, we look back on handicrafts from the past and weave them into their present sensibilities. Or imagine images that might be in the future. The most important points in working on a new task are the exploration of crafts from the past to the present, and the concerns of future crafts.
Do you have any plans to play the turntable live for people to check out?
If possible, we also want to show the public the act of communicating with the alien using the turntable we made. It may be dangerous...
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY CONTACT BACK FROM THE ALIENS YET?
We can’t tell you in detail because it’s confidential. But we’ll just tell you that we’re in a good relationship with them. Ha ha.
Noah Humes is a Los Angeles-based multimedia artist. He received his BFA in Communication of Arts with an emphasis in Illustration from Otis College of Art and Design in 2017. His art manifests his thoughts and interpretation on political and social issues that occur throughout the world around him, and explores and revisits the convergence of experience, memory, history, and expression. He uses his experiences and memories to fuel his passion, painting figures and sharing personal moments that are recreated and designed to live within the canvas. For this project, Noah painted a portrait inspired by this past year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
How long have you been painting, and why are you attracted to it?
Around the age of four, I drew a vase that my parents were in complete awe about due to the level of execution. They began to pay very close attention along with supporting my will to hone this passion I was showcasing at any available moment. A year later, one of my teachers shared this same reaction, and I was enrolled in classes at Brentwood Art Center, placed in rooms with kids from ages 10-13. After graduating high school I attended Otis College of Art and Design, where I received my BFA in Communication Arts with an emphasis in Illustration in 2017. This was apart from creating a foundation that grounds me artistically, where I fully immersed myself in imagined and actual content that continues into the present day.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you created for this project?
I wanted to touch on what I was witnessing in the flesh and through a screen in regards to how 2020 was beginning to unfold with an explosion of necessary uproar and Black Lives Matter protests.
Given the events and climate of the past year, did you find yourself painting more or less than you normally would?
It was a mix of taking a few breaks away to decompress from what was going on, along with the duty of what I personally deemed necessary as a creative to document through my expression of the current social climate.
Did you find that the subject matter or the approach to your work changed?
It remained the same—I have much more content to share in regards to it. The light has never been brighter on us and the subject matter.
Is there a message that you want people to take away from your work overall?
I love the allowance of formulating your own interpretation as the primary and a reevaluation as the secondary, and the last is the comprehension of what the artist actually meant with their work. Those first two steps is being an artist as well, with a true and honest connection.
Is there anything specific happening in creative culture recently that you find inspiring?
Nothing that specific, but there are some artists out there who produce work I feel, and kindles my creative nature.
Triple B Records was started by a then17-year-old Sam Yarmuth in the fall of 2005. Since then, the label has released over 150 records for bands spanning the punk, hardcore, metal, and indie rock genres, including Mindforce, Candy, Fury, Terror, Bane, and many others. Triple B is currently run out of various tiny apartments with no windows in Brooklyn, Boston, and Aloma, Florida. For this project, Triple B created a compilation album of over 40 bands with new and exclusive tracks.
On a scale of 1-10, how hard was it to put out this compilation record during a pandemic?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as the previous AHC comps! I think with the pandemic, everyone was kinda looking for some sort of creative outlet, so the comp gave them an opportunity to not only practice as a band, but also continue writing.
How often did your wi-fi go down during the process?
Honestly, so many times. Our internet connection in Brooklyn is TRASH (Optimum, I hate you). Sending and receiving big files for this made me pull my hair out of my head way too many times.
Are you ready for live shows and tours to get going again?
YES x 100. I have enjoyed the break from shows and tours though. It’s the first time in over ten years I’ve been able to really have “me” time and try new things. Having a lot of free time has been nice, but I do miss shows and touring so much, and I can’t wait for them to be back. I think by early 2022, everything will be back in full force.
Any tips for up and coming bands looking to get some records made?
Just be yourself! Write what you wanna write, do what you wanna do. Don’t get caught up trying to do what you think will get you further. Authenticity is the most valuable asset a band can have.
You don’t have to name them, but any stories about difficult bands involved with this project?
My own band, Warfare, couldn’t get a song done, ha ha. We live on opposite coasts, so the timing just didn’t mesh. Honestly, no band was really difficult to work with at all. We did have some problems with our artist, Kyle Niland, but you can see that in the video, ha ha.
Where can people find the record and when will it be out?
The record will be available through our direct website (www.triple-brecords.com), Evil Greed in the EU, and at most local distros/record stores. If there’s a record store in your area that you would like to carry our releases, email us their contact info!
Olivia Krause is a multimedia artist based in Oakland, California, who explores abstracted moments of the human experience. Olivia uses photography, painting, textiles, and installations to freeze feelings and fleeting moments into a still frame. Through expressionistic and colorful recordings, they tell a story of gathered experience. In photography, Olivia hopes to capture the personal worlds of their subjects. In painting and textiles, Olivia works in a range of different mediums including paint, bleach, and airbrush to record and erase emotions and images so that time and change are embedded into the pieces to showcase that nothing is permanent. For this project she painted two skate ramps, which she then donated.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the type of artwork that you make?
My name is Olivia Krause and I am a multimedia artist. I make abstract paintings and custom, one-of-a-kind clothing. I also practice photography and love capturing captivating portraits. I am inspired by the fleeting moments of vibrancy found in nature, like the colors of ripe fruits, deep sunsets, the feeling of love and movement of flowing water. I like to combine these moments together to create abstract compositions and juicy imagery.
For this project, you painted a series of skate ramps. Was this your first time painting on 3D objects?
This was one of the first times I painted on 3D objects, and I found it very fun and challenging. I have done murals and wood cutouts, but painting the ramps was like a combination of all of those things.
Did you run into any issues due to the shapes?
I didn’t have any major problems besides moving the large and heavy pieces around and flipping them around because they were very hard to lift and shift myself. I was nervous to build them, but that ended up being quite fun.
What made you want to place your artwork onto skateable objects?
I love skateboarding and I practice skating often with lots of friends. I wanted to make something that other people could use and enjoy, so when I saw the ad for a GoFundMe for the Apache Passion Project, I thought that I could make something for that cause. Vans as a company, to me, has always been associated with skateboarding, and I wanted to explore what I could do with that! I usually skate with women, nonbinary, trans, and queer skaters in the Bay Area, and I wanted to make some ramps that were more aesthetic to my taste as a member of that community. Sometimes I think that the art and graphics used in skating and other sports is centered to attract to only cis straight males.
Do you normally start with a sketch, or do you start painting directly?
I do some light sketching and collaging when I am thinking of ideas for my artwork. I pull together source imagery and ideas that I want to combine to make a unique piece. I let the painting process guide me to make the marks and color choices I want. A lot of the magic happens through the process of making a painting.
Is there something happening right now in creative culture that you’re most excited about?
I am really excited to see what artwork people have been creating during quarantine and the past year and some change. I think that isolation pushes us to go deeper into ourselves and explore in new ways. I think it will be really beautiful when we all get to share our introspective creations together.
Daniel Barreto is an experimental artist from Mexico, who has established a unique, identifiable style with his use of abstract shapes and vibrant colors. His works show great interest in repetition and how light affects objects. Barreto’s work is versatile and multidisciplinary. For this project, he created a large-scale illustration, on top of which he then projected his own animation.
How long have you been illustrating? When did you start projecting onto your pieces?
I have been illustrating since I was a kid. Illustrating in a more professional way since 2015. I started video mapping projections in 2014. I first made a video mapping projection for a digital art festival in Guadalajara, Mexico. I projected on top of big leaves of a plant. The latest one was two years ago, and it was a very simple projection on top of an acrylic painting. For this project, I wanted to take it to the next level. Having the previous understanding of how it looked on a painting, I knew this piece would be a challenge, but I also felt confident with all my materials.
How long does each part of the process usually take you? Illustration and then animation?
On average, a month or two weeks—it depends on the type of animation I want to make.
Is the process of calibrating and aligning the projector a complicated one? How does it work?
It is complicated, or at least it is every time I start. I feel there’s no way I’m going to be able to match the surface or the image to the projection, but it all works pretty well after a couple of minutes. I use a video mapping software called Mad Mapper. I love it because it lets you deform and shape the image in any way you are thinking, and you can get very precise with it.
This piece feels pretty large. Is this the normal scale you work on? Would you ever want to go larger?
I have worked on big scales before, but never with projection. I do want to go larger. Maybe even projecting on a large mural or any other format.
Is there anything in creative culture that you find really inspiring right now?
I get inspired by all the new creative culture that’s happening right now, from music to visual arts. The good side of technology advancements is that everyone can be a musician right now, or animator, and produce everything from home without having to buy all these expensive gears, studio hours, etc. You just need to put on some hours to study things and learn from your experiences. I’m really inspired by code-generated art, but I won’t go into it. Saying that I really like Michael Kozlowski lenticular screens and code-generated art.
Bailey Hikawa received a BFA in Painting and Textiles from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California. Her work has ranged from painting, sculpture, art direction, theatrical set design, immersive installation, surreal sculpture, and experimental performance. All experiences contribute to the way she thinks about functional and sculptural objects. Living and working in Los Angeles, she launched her design studio, Hikawa, in late 2019 with the release of Kame, a line of sculptural and ergonomic iPhone cases. For this project, she created a set of checkerboard-inspired phone cases.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you started making the cases and other accessories?
I studied painting at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. After school I began working for a theatrical scenic designer, which totally blew my mind. This led me to work in film, commercial, and television doing art direction and props. But over the years, I’ve always kept an art studio—a place where I could go and make anything I wanted for its own sake. It was here I made my first sculptural phone case, an object that toes the line between art and function. I realized then that when I went into film and TV after art school, I had actually been looking for a creative outlet that touched people beyond the white room of a gallery or museum. When I found the phone cases, I knew they were my path forward.
These all feature a bit of checkerboard pattern. Have you worked with that in past designs?
My first solo show in 2012 was an immersive installation wherein I tiled the floor with a checkered pattern that accompanied the paintings and sculptures. Graphic patterns have always been a tool for my work, whether it’s a painting, prop, or installation. I also have a pair of checkered pants that I wear a lot, and a checkered mug I drink coffee from every morning. So I was excited to have an excuse to focus on the checkered pattern for Vans.
Where do you draw the line between something being considered functional, as opposed to sculptural?
I ask myself: Can I use it everyday? If the answer is yes, then it’s functional. If the answer is no, it’s sculptural. But it’s where the line gets blurred that I get most excited.
How many individual cases do you think you’ve made since you started?
At this point, I bet a few thousand!
What is the most extravagant phone case that you have made so far?
Ha. Aren’t they all a little extravagant? Okay, but the most extravagant case I’ve made is an extremely heavy marble block that I carved a space for my old iPhone 4 to live in. I see it as a “coffin case” for my beloved old phone.
What does your daily driver phone case look like?
I am constantly switching my phone case! I like to have a phone case I am testing on my phone. For material, color, durability. I see my phone as real life R&D. For example, for the past few weeks I’ve had a new 3D printed prototype I’ve been testing out to see how the material holds up for future designs.
Is there something happening right now in creative culture that you’re most excited about?
I’m excited about the culture moving in a direct-to-artist direction. What I mean is, the internet and social media make it possible for people to find artists and makers whose work they can directly interact with. Artists have needed a middle man since what feels like the beginning of time, and finally it’s just about the relationship of artist to enthusiast. You like the work? Cool, you get to decide how you want to interact with it.
Liz Hernández (b. 1993) is a Mexican artist based in Oakland, California, who works primarily with topics related to her upbringing. Inspired by the magical realism movement in Latin America, she uses imagery from memories of living in Mexico City, adopting supernatural elements and symbolism to address modern life subjects. Hernández’s practice focuses on painting and sculpture, and, most recently, murals. She has exhibited work in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you made?
I painted a jacket with symbols of protection and good luck. At the time I was working on this project, I was also planning a big mural for SFMOMA. With all of what had been going on since the beginning of 2020, my focus was already on ideas of healing and protection. I felt a little lost, hurt, and I desperately wanted to feel safe, calm, and hopeful. While researching amulets and rituals, I kept thinking about my grandmother who is a very spiritual woman. She is always wearing amulets on her neck and clothes, and I felt very inspired by her while making the jacket. I love that the act of wearing a symbol can be powerful and can offer us a sense of safety. With the mural, I was able to see these symbols and text come together on a wall and on a big scale, which was impactful. With the jacket, I wanted to bring some of those symbols closer to my body, and I wondered how must it feel to wear them and feel the weight they carry.
When did you begin illustrating and painting? What do you like about it?
I’ve always liked making art, but never really took it seriously. I went to college and got a degree in Industrial Design, and it wasn’t until 2015 when my boyfriend at the time (who is my husband now!) pushed me to try it. We would hang out and draw together with no real intentions of it being serious, just something to enjoy together. A year later, we suddenly got invited to have an art show together at Good Mother Gallery in Oakland, and that’s when I started to develop an art practice. As cliché as it sounds, making art is very therapeutic for me. It allows me to process thoughts and emotions through making. It also offers me an opportunity to tell stories, which surprisingly resonated with people of very different backgrounds. That was something I never expected. I am so grateful to be able to make art, and even if no one ever saw it, I’d still be making it, because it truly comforts me and helps me navigate the world.
Have you always worked with clothing and textiles, or is this a new medium for you? What about it do you like?
I did, but that was many years ago! I wanted to make some textile patterns to paint on my clothes, so I partnered with a boutique in Berkeley that wanted to collaborate on some clothing. We made three different prints on dresses that turned out great. They were all handpainted!
This time it was different because I approached the jacket with a more conceptual vision which made it more difficult. I had to be more intentional with the symbols and words I was using. The images in the jacket were more detailed than the ones on the dresses I made, and painting them was harder. I like that art can be experienced by wearing it, and it is not confined to a wall or pedestal. Creating wearable art also offers a more accessible way to own art, and that is something I want to explore more.
What is it about iconography, talismans, and amulets that inspired you to begin illustrating them?
I have always been intrigued by rituals and magic. Growing up in Mexico, all of these things were not considered too out of the ordinary. Perhaps it was just more present in my family, but I think the connection to rituals is more present in Mexican culture than in American culture. I find it very inspiring how simple objects and images can become powerful by simply believing they are. I am also inspired by events that are beyond rational explanations. They are exciting to me because they serve as a reminder of how humans cannot control everything. It reminds us of how small we are in comparison to other greater forces like nature, for example. Sometimes we think we know it all, that there’s always a logical reason for everything, but when unexplainable things happen, it reminds us of how small we are.
You’re based in Oakland now. Do you still get to visit Mexico City often?
I used to visit way more often, spending a good portion of the year at my parents’ house, but now I don’t do it as much as I’d like to. I have not been able to visit Mexico City for over a year now due to the pandemic, but I am planning on going as soon as I’m able to travel again. I do want to spend more time with my family and spend more time in a place that is still very important to me. I miss it now more than ever.
Is there something happening right now in creative culture that you’re most excited about?
I love that everything happening in the art world was forced to slow down. For many years, things were moving way too fast, and now we are realizing that maybe that isn’t a good thing. For too long, creative labor has been abused and not valued enough. I am hoping we learn from what we are going through! I wanna believe that we as artists and creatives are becoming more intentional and shifting into a more sustainable way to create.
Yuri Murai is a skater and skate filmmaker from Tokyo, Japan. She started skating 15 years ago and filming it about 10 years ago. Yuri has released skate films almost every other year including Restart and the Joy and Sorrow series. Noticing the ubiquity of plexiglass being used everywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to create a skate film where plexiglass is used as both a skate obstacle and a medium to film through.
When did you start making skate films? What is it about them you like so much?
I started shooting 10 years ago, so of course I like making cool videos. We know sometimes it’s difficult to make a street skate video, but I like working with friends to find good spots, selecting tricks, and discussing for a long time. I like it the most when we finish filming, and watch it with friends along with the joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure it brings.
When did the idea of using a piece of plexiglass first occur to you?
We see it in many places in Japan from a COVID-19 protection standpoint. We have to wear masks, have to live with plexiglass. I am worried about how much longer we have to keep at it, so I thought I can try to make the negative a positive through skateboarding when I got this project with Vans.
Do you think it’s been harder or easier to find great places to skate during COVID-19?
I don’t think it’s changed where we skate, even during COVID-19, but it’s definitely getting difficult to skate on the street because the Olympics are coming.
We noticed many times you filmed through the plexiglass. Do you feel like it gave you a new perspective in capturing tricks?
I think that skateboarding is freeing, so we can have a lot of fun with many different ideas.
Is there anything going on in creative culture that you find interesting or inspiring right now?
During the pandemic, online contests and videos are getting popular and being judged. So now people can make more videos with friends, which help us build better friendships. I am also inspired by people doing the same thing that I do.
Any advice for young or aspiring filmmakers?
It’s not important who you are shooting, it does not matter if they are a pro or famous skater, or if you have a high-spec camera. You can shoot any skater, with any camera. It’s more important that there is a good relationship between filmer and skater, which is what will make the video much better. You really want to shoot that skater? Skaters really want you to shoot them. When it’s hard times, we can support each other, and I think making videos with that in mind makes for real fun skateboarding videos.
Deaton Chris Anthony, aka DCA, is a musician, artist, and fashion designer from Los Angeles. As someone who constantly has the need to be making, he’s often found sampling sounds for his music, stitching together new pieces of clothing from his sweatshirt collection, or creating one-of-a-kind rugs (or as he calls them, Wugs). He grew up bowling, and in the past year rediscovered his passion for the sport. In his usual style of combining unexpected things, he decided to create a new track from sampled bowling sounds for this project.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been making music?
Welcome, this is Deaton Chris Anthony. I have been told that, as a child, crayons were hidden from me because as soon as I’d find one, I’d go straight to the wall and scribble everywhere. Nothing has changed, except now nothing is hidden and my crayons are music, clothing, and bowling.
You seem to really enjoy experimenting with different sounds and instruments. What is it about that that you find so compelling?
As a student of the internet, I find it interesting how I have the ability to consume the entire spectrum of sound instantly. The World Wide Web has given me this perspective, and I find the new age of music in the modern day is nostalgia.
Tell us a little bit about your obsession with bowling. Do you remember your best score?
Welcome 2021. The year I bowl. I have bowled for as long as I can remember. When I was 12, I had the highest score in my hometown. My highest score is a 300, and I will one day bowl a 300 on national TV.
Music isn’t your only creative passion though. What are the other creative outlets that you enjoy most?
I find inspiration comes from music when I’m making clothing. Perspective comes from clothing when I’m making music. I’m not interested in perfect music or perfect clothing. I’m interested in a perfect balance of the two.
Any advice for young or aspiring artists?
Solve a problem in your art. This has never failed me. My best ideas come from taking something apart just to put it back together.
IDLES is a British rock band from London known for their passionate, yet darkly comedic, music. In a musical landscape that has become too safe and sanitized, IDLES is a bolt to the arm of the norm. They’ve been recognized with numerous awards, and headlined sold-out tours around the world. For this project, IDLES singer Joe Talbot performs a monologue titled In Defence of the Arts.
Are there similarities or parallels between writing a spoken word piece like this and song writing?
The main differences between writing for songs is the cadence—I listen to the music as many times as it will take for the song to push me into a rhythm, and then the song writes itself. With any other writing, including poetry, I try and free myself from form and just write. I then look back and cut the shit with the motive always being what I want the reader to feel.
What is it about art that you believe is so important to support, preserve, and protect?
Art is the path of empowerment for the individual to feel a part of the world, and that is imperative to everyone’s purpose no matter how creative they think they are. Everyone is capable of beauty.
Is there anything going on in creative culture that you find particularly inspiring or interesting right now?
I guess since lockdown started I’ve used reflection as the key to my creativity. Instead of just moving forward with my art, I’ve stood back and breathed to appreciate how lucky I am and what traumas have got me here.
Connor Insula has been collaging for nearly four years now, and doesn’t see himself stopping any time soon. As an artist from South East London, he doesn’t make his art with money in mind—rather it’s all from the heart. Sometimes he finds it easier to express himself through his art than through words. He originally started collaging on boards, but transitioned into working on cardboard, ceramic tiles, and wood. For this project, he created an interactive bookstand.
Can you tell a little more about your injury, and it why it inspired you to start Radius?
It was the beginning of summer, we was at Crystal Palace and I was getting a new trick and I was having a good time with the homies. Then out of nowhere, I slipped out in the bowl going ’round a corner, and took the whole impact on my left wrist. After getting the operation that meant drilling a fork into the radius bone to support it, I was exhausted. I was also quite low because I was just getting into my groove on the board. I thought about how I could lift my spirits, and decided to collage on a spare deck I had with some old Thrasher magazines. I shocked myself and was over the moon that I had just discovered a new skill. From there I never looked back, and thought the name “Radius” was appropriate. It’s been three years since Radius began, and I am proud of the accomplishments we have hit, but I know this is just the beginning.
Is there something about bones or skeletal structure that makes you gravitate toward them in your work?
From a young age I was always intrigued by the skeletons they would have in biology class. I was curious as to what lies beneath the surface. We often forget about how complex our bodies are. I’ve always enjoyed getting my x-ray taken, as I’ve broken or fractured four bones in total (collar bone, finger, shin bone, and wrist). I’m no rookie. But my wrist was definitely the worst. But it was a blessing in disguise, because it allowed me to tap into my artistic juices.
What inspired you to create the bookstand, and what type of creative items do you want to showcase?
I wanted to make an interactive sculpture that is functionable and in keeping with the radius x-ray theme. I’d always wanted to work with plaster cast and jesmonite, so incorporated it into the design. The jesmonite bones replicate the ulna and radius bones you find in your wrist. The lightbox will be used to display the latest publications and announcements. The calling cards will be there for the people to draw a li’l throw up and get creative. These will be used in a zine later down the line.If you’re from the UK ,you must know about the old school, blue National Lottery stands. That is what inspired the functional side of things—the display with the latest numbers, the shelves, and the curves.
Where do you see it eventually living?
It’s been two years since I threw an exhibition in London, so it would be great to show off all of the new pieces in the vault and give this sculpture a proper reception. After that it will live in Bankrupt Store in Shoreditch. However, it would be nice for it to have a holiday at the Vans store.
You collaborated closely with a prop maker to bring the bookstand to life. Is that something you’ve done a lot in the past, or would like to do more of?
When it’s comes to the art side, it’s usually just me in the driving seat, but working with Jake Haynes was great. Jake works in the theatres as a prop maker building pretty much anything. He was a real professional, and literally brought my designs to life. Coming from a skateboarding background, he had the right mind for the job as well as the tools. I often work with my friends, but the last time I collaborated with anyone was to make the Radius x Depop x Vans shoe, which turned out amazing, one of my proudest achievements.
Is there anything going on in creative culture right now that you find really inspiring? What makes it inspiring?
My boy, Tworise, who runs Tar Street Sports, is tearing up London right now. His products are all solid and he continues to throw sick parties. My friends, Apex Mafia, inspire me … always out here getting fire skate clips and constantly progressing. My guy, Krish, calling the shots in big blockbuster films as well as making tight music videos for the mandem.
What advice would you give to younger creatives or artists just starting out?
There’s nothing you can’t do. Use the most of your day by waking up early (I’m not always so good myself). Try new techniques and styles within your medium, experiment! If you are a collage artist like me, I’d say go to car boot sales and charity shops, because the older the book is the better. Don’t judge a book by the cover … you never know what will have some hidden gems. Keep your workspace tidy and have fun.
Artist, musician, and surfer, Alex Knost has been experimenting in surfing’s subculture for over a decade through a wide range of artistic mediums. Much like his imaginative, eccentric surfing techniques, Knost’s artworks challenge relationships between texture and color while breaking the regiment of art forms. For this project, he created a film of surfing and the exploration of dissonant sounds.
Can you give us a little more insight into the title of the film?
The Re-usable Bag started as the title of a painting, and reached outward towards improvisational ballet and jazz in the mallard of Costa Rica.
You seem to have a pretty eclectic collection of instruments. Any of them a particular favorite?
I am a guitarist. Kassia is seen and heard playing a gong and bowls individually tuned. This soundtrack is a collaboration between her “sound baths” and my curiosity to explore noise, drone, and dissonance on electric guitar.
What was the thought process or inspiration behind the music you made for the film?
Improvisational collaboration alongside the reverberated sounds of the jungle.
Do you see many parallels between surfing and creating music?
In the way that they are rehearsed, but never recreated. Always reactionary and instantaneous, no soundwave the same.
Is there anything going on right now in creative culture that you find interesting or inspiring?
Any advice for young or aspiring artists?
Keep going and maybe flip through How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz.
May Kim, aka Gucci May, is a multidisciplinary artist from Los Angeles, California. Often inspired by the people she meets and conversations she has, she channels these encounters into pieces of digital art. As someone who describes herself as naturally shy, she uses her artwork to extend her personality and ideas beyond words. For this project, she created a collection of animations inside a short film.
How long have you been creating 3D art? Were you trained in it, or self-taught?
I first started working with 3D programs in 2018 for a 3D scan fashion editorial project with Dazed & Confused Korea. I fortunately had some time to teach myself 3D tools via YouTube, so most of the projects were done on my own without professional training.
Is there a specific tool, process, or software you use to create your work?
I mostly use Cinema 4D with Octane Renderer, which I find the easiest to use. Sometimes I work with other artists using Blender, which is useful for animating with simulation.
When creating a new piece, where is it you look for inspiration?
I’m personally really excited about meme culture. They have been around for a while, but I find it interesting that millennials and Gen Z talk about heavy sociopolitical things with light and fun images. My personal stories drive me to make new works. I want people to linger on my works and to reflect onto themselves.
How long does it typically take you to create an animation?
Working on graphic works could take only a few days or months, depending on how complex the design is.
Any advice for young or aspiring artists?
I would advise them to not be afraid of other people’s thoughts! When I first started my art practice, I cared too much about what others had to say about it. I would say get more personal, and say what you got to say with your works.
Maomao is an independent director and Vans-signed photographer who lives in Shanghai, China. With an appreciation for the analog, he prefers to shoot film when possible. For this project, he created a short film as a “How To” style guide for skate videographers.
What inspired you to create a “How To” video?
Although the film may seem like a “How To” it is actually a skateboarding photographer’s inner voice. Skateboarding has become a unique, attractive sport, but not without skateboard photographers in the background quietly paying attention. Skating looks easy and elegant, but, in fact, skaters and photographers through time have polished it out. As a photographer, I can understand how hard it is, but also to enjoy it. So I’m going to use this “How To” guide to show the moments I’ve had with skaters, and what’s going on inside me.
There seems to be a lot of insights from filming your friends skateboarding. Any funny or crazy stories?
What I find most interesting is that every time I shoot an action, or a line, everyone knows skaters need to warm up to be at their best. But photographers need to warm up also—trying different angles to find the perfect combination of the skaters’ movements. The motivation to try again and again comes from this, to get the best angle of the skater.
Do you think social media has changed the way people watch and share skateboarding?
I think the popularity of social media has greatly changed the perception of skateboarding, both for good or not. The advantage is that we can see more and more content and exchange learning opportunities, so that styles become more diversified. The bad thing is, it’s not always focused on a skateboarding skills or actions. Because all the content is passed so fast, it is difficult to have another skateboarding long form film that can attract every skater’s eyes.
Any extra advice for young or aspiring filmmakers?
If you want to be a skateboarding filmer, make friends with skaters first!
Favorite pair of Vans shoes?
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