‘A fusion of the two like never before seen’
In 2016, ‘streetwear’ has an obtusely broad meaning, with brands from Supreme, Fear of God, Vetements, Ralph Lauren and countless others all finding their place in the fashion world. A certain staple of the 21st Century is also the diverse definition of art too, an area that throughout history has traditionally focused on hand drawn or painted work. The availabilty of technology to aid both the art and fashion industries has also paved the way for the fusion of the two like never before seen.
Now obviously, there is a history of streetwear brands collaborating with artists, some of the most prominent examples of recent times being Supreme x Damien Hirst, Uniqlo x Kaws and Supreme x Mendini. However, where I believe this blend of art and streetwear really thrives is when we take a look at some of the up and coming names making their mark in both fields.
As such, I’ve chosen three members of Facebook streetwear community ‘The Basement’ to feature and examine how their work is both exciting and necessary.
Some of you may know Daniel through him being a Basement member, others could recognise him as the guy who released the floral box logos or if you’re a grime fan you may know him as the artist behind Chip’s custom shoes last year. Daniel formerly worked for Harrod’s in London but now he’s making the jump to becoming a fully freelance artist, and until the end of August you can catch him with an stall in the LG Mens department of Harrod’s offering bespoke sneaker customisation. After this, all throughout September he will be set up with a small table in Adidas. Daniel’s talent is apparent but unexpectedly he’s only been working on his art in this form for the last few years; having merged his love for art with his sneaker obsession for a personal project, he has had growing commercial interest ever since.
His signatory style is a colourful floral pattern that has been done across Nike AF1s, Yeezy Boost 350s, Adidas Ultraboosts and even a pair of Balenciaga Arenas. His bespoke customisations range costs-wise from between £100 and £800 depending on the level of detail and time spent on the shoes. His Instagram is a fantastic showcase of his varying styles, as he changes from the traditional floral to more specialised commissions such as a pair of shoes inspired by Kanye West’s varying album artworks and a custom pair of West Coast vs East Coast Hip Hop Vans.
Interestingly, Daniel started as a more traditional artist inspired by streetwear rather than delving straight into sneaker customisations. At the start of 2015 his Bigcartel was full of prints and original canvasses of various hip hop legends including Biggie Smalls wearing his trademark Coogi and a print of the Wu Tang Clan logo, made up of real dollar bills. The real step into sneaker customisations came during that year when his name became more known and he started to earn a a good reputation for his work, getting him noticed by music artists such as Chip and The Game.
The only trajectory for Daniel is upwards. With a stall in Harrod’s co-branded with the huge store and with his work getting noticed by streetwear enthusiasts and musicians alike, the most recent of which being MC Ren of NWA fame, his already solidified reputation is rapidly growing, backed up by the unmatchable quality of his work. He’s now fully booked up with work for the forseeable future, but he’s certainly someone to keep your eye on.
Conal Brady – CeeArts
Conal Brady of CeeArts is certainly the most Eastern-influenced of all the artists featured in this article, with plenty of his work blending anime characters and visuals with the streetwear brands that we all know and love. His 2015 and early 2016 series of t-shirts are a prime example of how his digital art style could incorporate streetwear in a fresh and interesting way, with my personal favourite depicting Trunks, the Dragonball character, wearing a Supreme bogo and camo trousers. As well as the tees, which have been featured in various WDYWTs on The Basement, posters were released too and Conal found an important niche market.
Now the earliest stuff on his website mainly features sneaker artwork, and it becomes blaringly obvious that the go-to shoe for him is the Jordan IV. The clean and classic silhouette makes up the large part of his art, with a few others thrown in there for good measure. His latest work online are a series of hip-hop based prints showcasing his versatile talent to be able to switch up art styles without a drop in quality. The most exciting area of his work is what is still yet to come.
The second half of 2016 is looking to be a huge step up for CeeArts as more and more is ploughed into developing clothing. The first season of clothing launches with a pastel shades based collection named ‘Come Chill?’ dropping on September 10th, 2016. Lowkey designs with a hand drawn vibe certainly create a nice aesthetic for the clothing; with caps, tees and hoodies there is something for everyone. The style is very reminiscent of the understated fashion trend coming through the scene currently. Catch some of Conal’s already released items in BeneCulture in Birminham or head over to his website when the new clothing collection drops.
I can promise that at least half the members of The Basement know Kam Oh. I also suspect that those who do know him, likely know him due to his insightful paragraphs written in the group or his fantastic Bape collection. What really drew me in to Kam was seeing these little cartoon-style digitally illustrated characters wearing various streetwear brands. The aesthetics are inexplicable as he manages to somehow show both incredible detail but still stay true to the comic influence that has obviously had an effect on his work.
If you bought The Basement’s ‘Burning BMW’ tee or the ‘WHAT R THOSE’ badges at Crepe City in 2015, you’ve owned one of Kam’s creations. That is simply where his impact on the streetwear world begins, with him having a stall at Solebloc in Glasgow earlier this year, where a stall was also run by The Basement. His original drawings and paintings more often than not incorporate the streetwear brands that he loves. His Etsy store showcases his diversity, with differing levels of realism in the creations (with the signature plain white of his characters usually unchanged). My personal favourite piece of his is the ‘We Get It, You Bape’ drawing that depicts a character head to toe in some of the most sought after Bape pieces and exhaling an impressive cloud. Regardless, one of his unique pieces of art would compliment any hypebeast’s wall.
Whilst the streetwear influence is a huge part of his work, Kam is fairly multifaceted. He’s deeply involved in the Scottish graffiti scene and often showcases friends work in this area through his YouTube channel, crafting videos that show various art forms being created in front of your eyes, including a body painting video and a collaboration with Scottish artist Rakem. The eagle-eyed viewer will even spot various different pieces of Basement merch in the video as well as a sticker from the aforementioned CeeArts collection, but you don’t have to be watching carefully to know that the talent he exuberates is phenomenal. The reality is that Kam lives and breathes the creative industries, having a keen eye and skilled fingers across several different aspects of media and art. Keep watch on his YouTube and Etsy as he picks up even more speed in his young career.
Words by Paul Barr | Lexicon
Instagram: @eazypza @lexicon_writes
Edited by Daniel Hawksworth