Art + Design

Visual Artist Cole Is Dr. Frankenstein Meets Warhol.

Joey A.X Kicks It With The Artist Who Made Yoda Into A Sneaker, + A Sneaker Into A Car.
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The hypebeast world is just a culture compendium. Maybe compendium is the wrong word. That word suggests it’s almost a collection of similar things. The hype beast world mashes different cultures, and is equal parts hiphop, street art, high art, skate culture, and more. It’s high class and low brow all at once.

It’s both elite and open, but it all somehow works. It reflects subculture’s revolver picking up turnstile speed, launching into mainstream society. It’s convergence culture in a capsule that’s far more expansive than the term capsule suggests, and can be scumbag luxe TMZ fodder and Greenwich art show catered by Wolfgang and Mario all at once. Bringing all this together is what “streetwear” reflects. My homie Greg Selkoe calls it “Verge Culture” – crafted by the kids brought up on the internet, born in the 80’s, raised in the 90’s – and progressed by it’s second wave of millennial babies.

In this world the 4 eyed man is king, and the Gods have more in common with Dr. Frankenstein and Andy Warhol than a traditional “white bearded one”.

The lines have been blurred. Warhol’s “pop art” movement that started decades back is the only genre of art that exists, because it’s so fucking expansive.

Graphics have always been a key ingredient in this mix – it began with skate lines sold in CCS in the early 90’s, stickers and patches and one off rad shit you couldn’t even get unless you got it.  Supreme was one of the first of this wave, made by and for the Manhattan and borough kids who grinded the rails and listened to punk and rap. Asia set it off in the late 90’s with BAPE and EVISU, NYC’s hiphop wave went next, with rappers putting out lines and drops pretty frequently. The graphic T-shirt has eventually become synonymous with streetwear. Sneakers, especially basketball ones, were the next wave of this, with humanity clamoring for the rarest Jordan sneaker across the globe, and paying top dollar for the ideal set.

Enter designer Jeff Cole. Cole, from the Chicago area, is exactly the kid I’m talking about. He  is bringing pop culture references into the fold in a new way, blending sneaker designs with the most recognizable characters from movies, television and video games. And a lot of it is 90’s based.

A designer and artist by background, he’s been responsible for Dr. Frankensteining Verge Culture in a way that evolves Warhol’s “pop art” in the perfect way. YEEZY Lamborghini – the final results are intricately made, visually compelling, and completely perfect for Instagram. Cole’s account is garnering quite a bit of attention from kids who love seeing his original Air Jordan x Superhero mashups, but also celebrities who want to hang his work in their walls, and brands like Nike / Jordan who are interested in how he is re-imagining their products.

Cole and I chopped it up this week. Now you can be a fly on the wall of that discussion. He’s dope as hell, and this is just the start with us. Ladies & Gentleman, here’s the official interview with the mad scientist himself.

 


 

1. Cole! what’s up brother? Give me a little backdrop capsule on you- where are you from, and how did you grow up?

Whatup! Appreciate you taking the time. Well first off I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. Age of 7 my parents put me in private art classes after my preschool teacher told them to start saving my art. From there I studied all mediums of art. From painting, sculpting, illustration etc. I was incorporating pop culture in my art at a very young age which definitely helped with people relating to my ideas. I did all the art shows growing up. It wasn’t until college I started self teaching myself digital art where things got a little more interesting.
 
2. So would you say what you do now stemmed from your childhood influences and the elements of such that really engrained themselves?
 
Oh ya for sure. By the time I was a teenager, art was like walking. I didn’t go one day without creating something. I was big into sports and music. I used to draw michael jordan and his logo on a daily basis. 20 years later doing the same thing just with more experience and bigger distribution channels. I still have all the artwork throughout the 90s.
 
3. There’s a famous quote in the art world that goes – “Success is when the checks don’t bounce”…In your “artist come up” what type of jobs did you take? What was the shittiest commissions? And what type of stuff did you dig doing the most?
 
So I started “selling” my art around age 11. I would draw all the top NBA players and put them on shirts and sell at art shows. My art teachers would pull me out of class and give me books on how to make money with art. So early on I knew I was going to make it work. I started clothing brands on Karmaloop.com, I did album covers for def jam, merch for music artists, package design, UI/UIX for tech start ups, product designing for brands, freelancing, corporate design, start ups. I tried it all. Looking back at it I am more of an art entrepreneur. As soon as I studied the business and marketing side of it all that’s when everything clicked. Art was the easy part for me I had decades of practice conceptualizing creative. How to get it in peoples hands was always the struggle. We as creatives are fortunate in that we can push a button and unleash whatever we want to the world.
 
4. Did you find the “streetwear Culture” – or did it find you?
 
I found it. Its always been apart of my DNA. Luckily I got my dad into it so he would amplify my consumption.
 
5. What one piece really broke you, so to speak, as in the way a “single” would break a music artist? 
I wouldn’t say one piece did it. It took 20 years of tinkering and experimenting and pouring my mind into art to get to this point. I don’t believe in luck. I knew that if I was going to reach my goals I couldn’t hope that one piece just blew up. We can’t control that part of it. The only thing we can control is our work ethic. The harder I worked I knew it would come. But the one design that kinda went viral was the kanye head made from yeezy boost 350s. That’s when I knew this type of work had potential to reach the masses and get my name out there.
 
6. In many ways, you’re the evolution of pop art. If Warhol took pop culture and canvassed it- you’re taking intrinsic elements of various culture pallets and using them to develop something that’s equally inspired by, and unique and individual- in that regard, are you more Dr. Frankenstien than Andy Warhol? 
 
I’ve never thought about it in that way. His impact is something I try and strive for. Evolution and inspiration are directly tied. The stem of creation is inspiration. Without inspiration their would be no creation. The idea of creation is intoxicating.Taking something that only is a thought and then developing it into real life for people to enjoy is the ultimate euphoria for me.The challenge for all artists I think is developing something completely unique and relatable. I’m a huge Sci-Fi buff so yes I would have to say I’m more Dr. Frankenstein. If you look at my work there’s a lot of surrealism and Sci-Fi type themes.
7. Be arrogant here.. give us name drops on the most high profile clients you’ve created pieces for?
 
Some projects I’ve been most proud of were collabs with Jordan Brand, Nike and Adidas…but in all honestly I’m most proud of what I built for myself. Not to go off topic here but digitally I really pride myself on grabbing peoples attention and obsessing over the behavior of the user. We live in a fast paced scrolling world. So breaking that habit and slowing down people’s attention is something I’m really proud of.
 
8. Who or what is your dream colab/colaborator? 
 
Directly collaborating with Michael Jordan and Kanye West. Those two directly influenced me in so many ways. Being from Chicago that would be a dream come true. I’ll throw in Tinker Hatfield, Pharrell, Shepard Fairly and Banksy.
 
 
9. What type of music do you listen to when you design and create?
 
Music doesn’t get enough credit in what I create. I’m usually listening to rap. In I was the only one bringing in bay slappers and trap music to the lunch table. It always resonated. i was always searching for new sounds. But rap and the hip hop culture has always given me that added edge and irrational internal confidence. That’s really important. Manifesting what you want to happen..law of attraction. When I’m trying to go deep into a concept though and connect the dots I’m listening to instrumental soundtracks.
 
10. The 95 Bulls or the 2015 Warriors play a game in a time altered universe, where all 10 starters are in their prime. Kerr is still in the red and black, so the Warriors will have a replacement coach. Let’s even give them a legendary coach, too. Popovich from the San Antonio Duncans lets say. Who wins? 
 
The intensity in Jordans eyes at tipoff would make the Warriors forfeit before the series started. There will never be competitors like that ever again. It mattered too much.
You can shop all Cole’s amazing artwork at https://ikonick.com/ and stay locked into Wanderset for more on Cole.

Joey A.X is a recording artist, producer, and creative entrepreneur who hails from New Haven CT who has always had an eye for fashion and culture and art. He joins The Set as the voice for "Wander". He digs vintage black leather jackets, crude humor, thin crust pizza, speakeasys, film noir, Liverpool Football Club, and doing hood rat stuff with his friends.

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