Although 12-years-old in the heart, SCIEN, a Parisian who recently moved to Montreal with his wife, KLOR, SCIEN is a successful graffiti writer turned graphic designer who knows whatâ€™s hot on walls and Adidas sneakers. â€œWe did take some elements that look like graffiti, but to me it is graphic design, because graffiti has to be spray painted on the wall,â€ says SCIEN, adding that Adidas contact him through London sneaker gate keepers, Crooked Tongues.
The Adidas End to End Project came with some controversy when streetwear bloggers and graffiti forums made a huge deal over the mysterious GHOST throw-up. â€œSMART did that GHOST throw-up over his piece. People were saying, â€˜U.S. went over Europe.â€™ Itâ€™s stupid,â€ he says, adding that bloggers did not check their facts and tried to created a situation over nothing, â€œand that is what makes a difference between journalists and bloggersâ€
SCIEN loves his haters, without them, he would not feel successful. â€œFirstly, we donâ€™t give a fuck about those people, because most of those people are toys,â€ he says, adding that being honest with his creations are how he holds his head high.
“these guys have new skills and they know everything, but without their T-shirts, their kicks and their New Eras theyâ€™re really naked”
Format: How old are you?
Scien: Iâ€™m 12-years-old.
Format: In your heart?
Format: Recently, you moved from France to Montreal. What brought on your move abroad?
Scien: Itâ€™s very simple, firstly, we speak French and for the kids itâ€™s easier, and all our clients are based in the U.S..
Format: Youâ€™ve wanted to come to North America for a while?
Scien: Yeah, especially New York, a lot. Then we discovered Montreal. It was good for us as French people and it is easier for us to go to America. I think if you want a green card you have to be American already, because itâ€™s too hard to get it!
Format: You have several sneaker collaborations with Adidas. How did your relationship with Adidas materialize?
Scien: They got in touch with us through MySpace, because we work really close with Crooked Tongues from London and they were in charge of organizing the project. It was a graffiti collection specifically for Foot Locker, but it included Champs Sports in America. Adidas got in touch with Crooked Tongues to see who were the best to go with for their collection and then Crooked Tongues got in touch with us.
Format: How was the process of the design?
Scien: It was really simple, because we went three days in London to design the collection with the crew, but I think, at the beginning, Adidas thought we were only graffiti writers so they sent their creative direction in London to work closely with the line, but they found out we were already graphic designers so they just assisted us. We were free to do what we wanted, except for the second winter collection, as we had to respect some color specs and we could not choose the shoe model. It was fine with us.
Format: Do you collect sneakers?
Format: Do you notice differences between sneakers that are worn in North America compared to Europe?
Scien: Now with the Internet, it is pretty hard to say, because everything is spread the same way, I guess. I love sneakers from way back, but now, Iâ€™m just wearing them. I buy some sneakers I like, maybe to match with a T-shirt or stuff like that, but Iâ€™m not crazy to collect them all. I think it was the same thing with the Adidas collection â€“ they just needed cool sneakers and people would collect them if theyâ€™re from Europe or America.
Format: What did you think of the end result of the End to End project?
Scien: Itâ€™s not bad. Some of the models I donâ€™t like that much. Thing is, with Foot Locker, we have to be mainstream â€“ itâ€™s not made for sneaker heads, even if itâ€™s a limited series. Even if itâ€™s a big production and not really limited for certain people like sneaker heads, about 80 per cent of the people that buy our sneakers are going to destroy them. Only a few pairs will be saved and kept as a collectable item.
Format: Your newest pair, the Decade Low, is only available in Europe. Why is that?
Scien: This collection is not that good for the U.S., but Iâ€™m not sure whatâ€™s not that good for Adidas, because it went really well. Maybe they wanted to sell millions more, Iâ€™m not sure.
Format: Is there anything specific from graffiti writing that youâ€™ve taken from making these shoes?
Scien: Itâ€™s totally graphic design. We did take some elements that look like graffiti, but to me it is graphic design, because graffiti has to be spray painted on the wall.
Format: When you had the event in New York, there was some controversy. Blogs reported that GHOST jumped over railing and did a throw-up over someoneâ€™s piece. Can you clear up what exactly happened?
Scien: It wasnâ€™t like that. It was a really big joke. Most of us come from Europe and weâ€™re really good friends with some old school writers from New York. We were really touched that all those guys came to that event to say hello to all of us, just to give a shout. SMART did that GHOST throw-up over his piece. People were saying, â€˜U.S. went over Europe.â€™ Itâ€™s stupid. Itâ€™s just bloggers bullshit, once again â€“ they donâ€™t go through the right information, they just spread what they thing and that is what makes a difference between journalists and bloggers. Thing is, all the kids believed that and itâ€™s just bullshit! It was really funny. I had a lot of fun with SMART when we saw all those bloggers talking shit about that. It was really funny, because when we started that event, the first people that arrived were the vandal squad and theyâ€™re like, â€˜Yeah, we like sneakers,â€™ but they were all dressed like citizen cops. You can see from two miles away that those guys were cops. They were wearing L.A. Gear stuff. Iâ€™m also a part of KD, Kings Destroy, but that crew is really wanted in New York and that is why I wrote KID DOLLAR for my piece. Many people from Europe and the U.S., even, had to paint their pieces almost masked. We had to watch out what we were saying about the collection, too, to journalists and television.
Format: Are the laws more relaxed towards writers in Europe compared to America?
Scien: No, I donâ€™t think so. Itâ€™s almost the same thing everywhere. The only difference is that New York was the first place to create laws against graffiti back in the mid-`80s, but now Europe just copies America. You really have to watch out what youâ€™re doing. We used to do a lot of illegal stuff, compared to back in the days, we got graffiti imported from America, but we donâ€™t come from ghettos. Iâ€™m a well educated kid. We did a lot of illegal stuff for the love of graffiti, but it wasnâ€™t about destroying stuff, we just wanted to paint something. Today, kids love bombing and they name themselves hardcore bomber and stuff like that, but itâ€™s weird, to me, because we did stuff that like that, too, maybe worse. Of course it was illegal, of course we racked our paint and all that shit, it was just natural, but, today, it seems really high-bar to just mention that the stuff you did was illegal.
Format: Around what point in your career did you notice you could not paint illegally without being known?
Scien: Itâ€™s because itâ€™s the only thing weâ€™re best at! If I didnâ€™t do that I would work at McDonaldâ€™s or something like that. In the same way, we got interested in graphic design, because unconsciously, we did that while painting. Graffiti is all about laying out elements on a space and you learn about marketing, too, by choosing places. For example, you donâ€™t have to do a million tags to be famous, you just need to do one in the right place and youâ€™ll be famous. Now, we make a living doing this weâ€™re not doing illegal stuff, we have nothing to prove anymore. Itâ€™s fun when youâ€™re a kid. We know how to do a piece. Itâ€™s not because itâ€™s illegal that your stuff is going to be better, if you do crappy shit it will suck.
Format: Youâ€™ve done work for Stussy, too. How did that relationship materialize?
Scien: Weâ€™ve been working with them for three years on all their T-shirt designs. Stussy is a cool client. They just got in touch with us. They sent us an e-mail and said they wanted to work with us. We asked what they wanted and they said do whatever you want. They picked the ones they liked the most and itâ€™s really cool. They understand the way we create. They work like that with everybody. If weâ€™re free to create what we want we will give 100 per cent of our capabilities and they will use 100 per cent of our skills. We give them the best. When we work with Stussy, they never ask us to change it. Maybe, theyâ€™ll change the color, but not the design.
Format: It can be argued that, within streetwear, males display feminine characteristics: trolling blogs, lining up outside retail stores and taking photos of clothing. How would you characterize these activities?
Scien: I think itâ€™s really interesting how the Internet affects young people. Itâ€™s really weird, because these guys have new skills and they know everything, but without their T-shirts, their kicks and their New Eras theyâ€™re really naked. They look cool, but everyone looks the same. Back in the days, people used to go to a certain store, because they knew they had the brands. Now, with kids, they discover the stuff six months before itâ€™s in the shop. I think those kids buy less than back in the days, because they know the stuff already.
Format: Did you meet your wife, KLOR, through the graffiti community?
Scien: No, definitely not, just on the beach like average people!
Format: And it just so happens that she is a writer, too?
Scien: I started two years before and she started her own way. We were really young, at that time. I saw a wall and I was like, â€˜Who did that piece?â€™ and it was her piece. She got really good, really fast. Back then, it was not crews of vandals or bombers, it was hip-hop crews that all hung out together, because only a few of us knew about that culture. Today, everything changed.
Format: You do work with Zoo York, too?
Scien: Yeah, we just did a board for them on the first artist series and weâ€™re going to work again with them for a special on Europe, but we still have to plan everything.
Format: Whatâ€™s your relationship to the website 12oz Prophet?
Scien: We know the people that made it, because weâ€™re good friends of Grotesk and heâ€™s friends with AKA. Itâ€™s a big community, but we know the main people. We were asked to do stuff with them, because weâ€™re friends.
Format: What is your opinion on graffiti forums and message boards?
Scien: Itâ€™s a human thing. Itâ€™s always easier to destroy than to build. You can go to any forum and itâ€™s always the same shit, â€˜Oh, I donâ€™t like this design,â€™ but they guys that say that canâ€™t do it! Graffiti is the same, itâ€™s just bullshit. The thing about the Internet is that you donâ€™t have to show yourself in reality so people donâ€™t give a fuck. Itâ€™s a part of graffiti since forever.
Format: As you became more popular more people started hating on you. How do you see past the hate?
Scien: Not in the beginning. It was like people thought they were the first to discover you and then they get to know you and criticize you like, â€˜I used to like them back in the days,â€™ because they get a certain image of you. People are like that, but we have to get past that and create our stuff. Firstly, we donâ€™t give a fuck about those people, because most of those people are toys. Secondly, we need to do it and weâ€™re honest with our work, and not ashamed of it. Haters are here forever!
Format: In the last 18 months, talents like Uffie, Fafi, Justice, Kavinsky and more, have been recognized by America. Why did it take so long for America to see acknowledge this talent?
Scien: I think it was discovered by those guys a while back, because Busy P is the Daft Punk manager, but heâ€™s also a DJ and main guy of the Ed Banger people. Europe is really small and if youâ€™re in Paris you have to hangout with those guys and those guys are close to people like Pharrell Williams. Itâ€™s a small crew of people and they move a lot and I think itâ€™s a due of their hard work. We used to do the same thing. For example, the first book we did, it was printed in Asia and the last country to distribute our book was France! Same thing with Daft Punk, because they got popular in France, they got popular in the U.K. and America. Today, electro is really big. A-Trak has a part of it, too, maybe you know, but A-Trak is the little brother to Dave of Chromeo and they used to hang out with DJ Mehdi. Itâ€™s just like a small family.
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