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Louis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz are giants. Not only do they sculpt giant things, they also live a giant life of artistic freedom. They aren’t burdened by the restrictions imposed upon the creator who creates for business. They’re free to make whatever it is they choose, and what they make is sold for gigantic sums of money. This is not a career that anyone can have. These two artists don’t work with brands, but I wanted to see what they thought of advertising. 

1. Do you think the creation of art should remain a personal endeavor or become a more collaborative field? 

We don't see a difference. Whether you are working alone or in a collaboration, you are still using all your skills talent and creative abilities to make art.  

2. Why do you do what you do?

What else are we going to do.  It is all we know how to do, and it is all that we want to do.

3. What role does art have in society? What role does advertising have in society? 

The role of Art in society is to help us see our common humanity and help us recognize the beauty that surrounds precious it is, and how we must preserve it.

The role of Advertising is to promote a product and encourage people to purchase it.

4. How do you know when you've achieved success in an individual project? How will you know when you've achieved success in your career as a whole?  

You never know.

You have achieved success in your career when you can't wait to get there every morning.  When your career is what you love to do…not just a job.

5. What do you believe is the difference between creating something commercial and creating something personal? 

There is no difference.  Everything you create is personal.  It becomes commercial if it happens to sell.

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Like a renaissance masterpiece, a Supreme product resells for more than its original value.

The Supreme brand, originally a small clothing boutique making t-shirts for skaters (that used to tell customers they had nothing in stock if the customer was a loser) has exploded into the next mass phenomenon. It is, in every essence of the term, a lifestyle brand, and furthermore, it has done what every lifestyle brand should aim to do. Supreme, the brand, has created a cultural phenomenon akin to that of the rise of the next famous art superstar. They exist, like Basquiat did, in that glorious place where everything they touch becomes desirable and very, very expensive. 

The making of a superstar isn’t about hard work, talent, and luck. It’s about branding. Notice, if you will, how nearly every massively famous artist is both talented and beautiful, intensely creative and intensely alluring. There are very few art superstars, especially in our Instagram and Snap Chat era, that are respected solely for their work. They, like successful lifestyle brands, have become cultural phenomenons. They are like angels amongst mortals, people who are honored like gods because they seem so unexplainably next level that they must be from a higher plane. Of course, those beliefs are not even remotely true. All people are just people, but, the cultivation of that phenomenal otherworldly effect is what drives sales, in art and advertising alike, and Supreme is a company that has built its own godliness with next-level-better-than-NIKE branding. Now, everything they put their logo on turns to gold, and, because they can do that (like NIKE), they can sell things that communicate the soul of the brand in the same way an artist sells things that communicate the soul of their body.

For example, Supreme, a skateboarding company, sells a hammer.

The supreme hammer is, to begin with, a wildly overpriced hammer that is not purchased to do any hammering whatsoever because the target market that buys Supreme doesn’t hammer shit (really, they don’t work at all and they buy supreme with their parents $$$$$, but that’s another subject entirely). This hammer’s purpose is to express the consumers values and interests. It’s valuable more for what it stands for than what it does. This makes it very similar to a work of art. For example, An artist makes a hammer out of clay to communicate the symbolic value of a hammer as a vehicle to communicate what’s inside them. Supreme does the same. Their brand is about “be tough as nails-bash that motherfuckers head in-crack open a skull-badassness”, so they produced a hammer to communicate this, and then they sold it. 

The similarity between the Supreme hammer and a work of art goes beyond the un-useability of a utilitarian brand’s product. It also says that a branded item can become a work of art, but more importantly, it says that a brand can be an artist. 

When Jean Michel Basquiat rose to fame, like most artists that become cultural phenomenons, everything he touched turned to gold; literally! anything that had even the slightest marking made by Jean Michel Basquiat immediately became a work of art, and therefore an item with a price tag. For example, from a show in which his notebooks were separated and exhibited page by page, there was a page that simply had the word “art” written on it. My memory might trick me, but I believe there was also an empty page set in a frame and hung on the wall as well. And, even if that was a false memory, it would have fit in the exhibit! This is not an atrocity against art, in fact it is a massive statement on the artist as a brand. In other words, just like Supreme, which can put its logo on anything and immediately sell it for eight times the expected price and count on its resale value to skyrocket once it’s no longer in stock- Jean Michel Basquiat is such a cultural phenomenon that people want a piece of him as much as they want a piece of his work. This is truly masterful branding at its best. 

So, what does it mean when a clothing brand sells a hammer for $290? It means that commercialism has become art. The Supreme hammer is cool, not because it can probably hammer a mean nail real good, but because, like a work of art, it stands for something. The Supreme hammer fits into the branding of Supreme in the same way that a piece of paper with the word “art” written in Basquiat’s child like hand fit Basquiat’s brand.

In essence it is the skater mentality expressed through a tool. It is, in every way, a work of art, and it is, in every way, a commercial product.  Even the photo of the hammer would be cool to buy and hang on the wall because it’s the meaning behind the product that matters, not just the product, and it’s the meaning behind the brand that matters, not just the brand. 

Really, this hammer is telling us (or banging on our heads trying to wake us up and tell us) that the future art star isn’t a human. The days when the next new art phenomenon is a human is over. The next art world darling isn’t be a cool cigarette smoking rebel. It’s a corporation of hundreds of cool cigarette smoking rebels, which, by all accounts, is a lot cooler.  

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Forever 21 told me

There’s something more 

A couch in the field 

Friends kissing in the trees 

Fog over the water 

A bed on the beach 

In dresses that feel like wind

The sand is gentle

But the fire pit rages through the night

And the fireworks burst 

over the black ocean 

We dance

Even if it isn’t real

Spinning in billowing dresses 

With flares in our hands 

Until the edge of night 

In the blue hour 

Where today becomes tomorrow

We kiss and kiss and kiss

Until our lips are sore

And there aren’t any more dreams to chase

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Amy hamlet is a painter. She studied painting at Boston University, and she’s been painting for many years, having shown in galleries and sold many pieces.

She’s also a designer. She studied graphic design at The Massachusetts College of Art and worked as a senior designer for over a decade. Her view is very interesting in that she has studied and created in both the art and the creative business world.

1. Do you think the creation of art should remain a personal endeavor or become a more collaborative field? 

I don't think there should be any 'SHOULD's' in art. I think what's important in art is that it is original, and that can be in as many different ways as there are people. And by original that doesn't mean it was created in a vacuum or was not influenced by other artists. That being said, art is a very personal endeavor whether it is created by one artist or a group of artists. The mixture of personalities creates something that is unique. The work Warhol did with Basquiat was certainly different from his individual work, but it represented both their personalities.  But I think artists are by nature not very collaborative people and have very big egos so most art will continue to be predominately individual.

1.B) And vice versa; do you think the creation of commercial work should become a more personal endeavor or remain a collaborative effort? 

I don't believe commercial art can be very personal, it has to meet too many external criteria. So it usually requires the input of more that one person. But again, the very best commercial art is original and still achieves its purpose, which is either to sell something or communicate something that the company paying for the work has determined. 

2. You have created a deep catalogue of work in both the corporate world and art world, what would you say is the major difference between the two worlds? 

It's purpose is the major difference. 

3. What would say is the major difference between the creative process in both fields? 

In commercial art the process starts and ends with the purpose and criteria established by the client. The designer has their own ideas and design process but they must ultimately meet the client's to be successful.

Fine art starts and ends with the purpose and criteria established by the artist. There may be work that is commissioned that must meet certain requirements but ultimately it is the artist that determines the outcome.

4. Do you think these worlds could ever merge? Or are there distinct barriers that cannot be changed? 

I think they do sometimes. Warhol is a good example of fine art merging with commercial art. He called his NYC studio "The Factory". And there is commercial art that integrates fine art into the design. 

There is design like fashion, furniture, and posters that you will see in art museums, so these pieces have transcended their commercial use into the realm of fine art. 

5. What are the barriers that currently separate art from commercial work? 

The limited vision of clients and the egos of artists.

6. What role does art have in society? What role does advertising have in society? 

Fine art should motivate the viewer to see and think beyond his or her normal existence.

Commercial art should motivate the viewer to want something they didn't know they wanted or help them understand something they didn't know before.



Santi is graphic designer/art director at IRIS in Atlanta. His work is absolutely mind blowing. He’s someone that’s as gifted as he is hard working, and his ability to create great work in the business world was not stifled by the restrictions that the business world puts on the creator. I spoke with him to see what it’s like to break free from the restrictions of the corporate world while still creating work that inspires the client.  

QUESTION: unknown

ANSWER: So, the barriers of approval are kind of there. It's not to limit creativity, but for example it's to make the work more thoughtful. So we could crank out an instagram (Reebok) J.J. Watt within the day, but its ultimately better if you have kind of like rhyme and reason, so j.j. Watt he can blast out stuff on his Instagram kind anytime he wants I mean he's got like 17 million followers, uhm, so, so that's covered, but if you're gonna hire an agency to put stuff out, generally people want a strategy of what are we putting out, why are we putting it out, uhm, a content calendar, like when are we going to deploy it so it has relevant impact, you know like, if they don't have like, currently the j.j. ones (shoes) are sold out. So we can't hype this shoe up anymore now, because it's like, it's just a waste. As soon as they get a new shipment or the next color way releases then yah, then we go blast stuff out and we make sure that that sells out, but we could make a super cool vine piece or you know or even whatever you want, print piece, e-mail, and it's not gonna sell more shoes at the moment, so it's kind of like an inefficient use of your creativity, and that doesn't mean that it's wasted because we've got several other clients that we can throw our brains at you know? So I guess that's part of the world of applied arts. Like it's never art for arts sake or for messaging our own thoughts or our own creativity. It's always art for a specific purpose in mind, and almost always it's a problem solving mechanism so we use creativity to solve a problem that a client has and if there is no problem or we don't have a problem that's been addressed to us we don't necessarily fire anything off because that's what were paid for. We’re using our means and the staff that we have which is more creative than our clients have on staff to create things that solve their problems. 

QUESTION: what do you think is the difference between art and advertising? 

ANSWER: I think that relates to the ad idea of being a problem solver. You know in applied arts you are using your craft with someone else to reach a specific goal for a specific audience that's not you. Where as I feel like art that you do for yourself, which a lot of people in this industry do, and I appreciate art tremendously, a lot of times that's more reflective of the artist themselves, like they're expressing something they feel they need to get out or they trying to progress a thought forward that they have and it may not have a clear goal it might be just for creativities sake, it might be for their own means which no one else is invested in, which is fine, you know sometimes you make something great just because you wanted to make it or you felt inspired to make it, which is obviously for the betterment of all humanity I would hope that everyone can agree that art does that, but that's the difference. 

QUESTION: why do you do what you do? 

ANSWER: yah, that's a funny one. So, my mother was an architect, and me and my older brother always drew, and I got into art school straight out of high school, so it's kind of one of those things like it was always just there ahead of me, and I kind of chased it, not with a ton of thought. I actually don't remember how I netted out graphic design except for that I liked the web design class at my high school. And I guess I've just always been following that interest like I was and still am interested in websites and web design, and then from the drawing background I'm also interested in all sorts of static imagery so I'm very technical in photoshop, I used to teach an advanced class in New York and I do that not necessarily because it's, I mean its beneficial to my job but I would do it anyways. I feel like I just instinctively create things, and I feel like sometimes the ad world is a way to monetize creativity. I don't think creativity needs the ad world. I think creative people just make things because they want to make things and they're driven to make them, and because I've kind fallen into this world that finds a purpose for them that I like I mean I like advertising obviously if I didn't I would have that creativity energy still but I would be using it for so sing else but I guess I found a world that could utilize the fact that I like creating things, that I like seeing new things, learning new skills and then you know put that out in the world for me 

QUESTION: is their personal expression in your advertising work? 

ANSWER: I think that goes a little bit back to that problem solving angle, uhm so you've got - the way you solve problems creatively is divergent problem solving so it's not the obvious solution and I think you take a lot of personal pride in finding a solution that works or a solution that you find to be entertaining or inspiring or just clever and I think you have to be invested a little bit in the quality of your work to put up with all of the layers the come with advertising. I don't think anybody could maintain a creative career if they weren't proud of the work that they put out. It's way too much work to just kind of be doing it for the paycheck 

QUESTION: Do you think collaboration is better for creativity, or do you think individual exploration is better? Or, do you think they're each better in their own ways? 

ANSWER: I think collaboration is pretty much mandatory, and it's not just because you can get more done when you work with more people but even if you look at great artists that we consider geniuses they all come from a background where they were sharing their ideas, whether it's like coffee shops in Paris in like 1920 or I mean Michelangelo came from a guild he was educated amongst different people so I can't think of one alone genius that's actually an alone genius. If you actually scratch a little beyond that you realize that everybody, somewhere along the line was bouncing ideas off someone or reacting to people even if they weren't discussing it. I feel like that's almost like a turbo charger for your creative process. If your just in a vacuum you might come up with something cool, but if you bounce that idea off something else, then something else, then something else, and it led to something somebody hadn't thought about. So it's up to you how you collaborate, but I think collaboration is pretty crucial. 

QUESTION: how do you feel about the stealing, copying, and appropriation of other peoples work? 

ANSWER: so like picasso, for example. He didn't come up with cubism. So that kind of tells you it's wrong to steal an idea from somebody to try to create or even diminish their contribution. I think its good to appropriate work if you feel like you can come up with something new or exciting. And I do feel like there are people who will steal work and not push it further, and they can make a dent, but that's a very; that's a short lived ad life you know? Because of some bodies done it before, at best you can do it bigger or in front of a bigger audience, but it's not that exciting. Eventually your art directors and people in the industry are gonna realize this guys kind of a dud. So I feel like the creative community, whether it's artists or applied artists in graphic design, advertising, film, I think there's a natural filter for that so I don't sweat too much when I think about other people stealing stuff.

QUESTION: do you find work and appropriate it? 

ANSWER: I think so I mean, if I'm 100% honest, yah, even on subconscious levels I'm sure I do it a lot because that's part of that collaborative process of bouncing ideas off people and sometimes your bouncing ideas off of something you saw on Pinterest or tumblr or something like that, but you think oh that thing they did kind of opened your eyes to something that you could do and hopefully that's when you make that creative decision to mold it and enhance it for your purpose, not just kind of rip it off.

QUESTION: what does the word concept mean to you whether it's in art or advertising? 

ANSWER: I think concepts are huge in advertising because you’r trying to find something that resonates with an audience. So I think at best concept finds you a little truth that people will relate to and understand and then that helps you get your message across with some level of authority or authenticity. And if you look at the art world now you've got artists like Jeff Koons who I like a lot. He doesn't make any of his stuff but he's got great ideas behind why he has other people make them, and that in itself is interesting. People can think about it, discuss it, and enrich their lives through conceptual art, and people can do the same thing, on some level with advertising. They can relate to a brand or feel like a brand can speak to them in a unique way and that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

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A Short Story for OFF-WHITE c/o VIRGIL ABLOH™ /// FW20 Menswear Collection

My little brother says he wants to be a lifeguard just because Tubok is one

Yea, I’m going to be a lifeguard one day, too

I heard this old guy went up to him outside a store and went on his knees and kissed Tubok’s toes cuz Tubok saved his sons life.

Yah I heard that. I heard his son was swimming and he cramps up and freaks out and swallows water then has a seizure and starts seeing colors then Tubok stands up, calm cool and collected his black muscular chest glistening in the sunlight and all that. Lol and everyone’s watching because they see the boy screaming and going crazy obviously and then and tubok jumps off the guard chair thing like a beautiful angel and dives in through the crisp blue water.

And Then, I also heard that that guys husband was the owner of this major fashion brand in Paris and they saw his bod saving a life and were like oh shit. So then they made an entire fashion ad campaign with him as a lifeguard wearing their clothes.

I think he’s weird sometimes he wears those goggles that old pilots used to wear you know like the pilots that flew the planes without a roof and had their scar blowin in the wind those kinds a goggles and he wears them while he’s

Di d he go to school? Well yea, but I don’t think he went to college. Why not? 
Cuz he’s Tubok. He doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t wanna do.

He’s smart enough already

Nah, I heard he has a house already. A nice one too.

I like when he comes to school wearing those hella short shorts. He mightt be gay. Prolly. girls love him either way. he’s not nervous around girls and he always respects them not tryna like just get in their pants and shit. Yah that’s cool.

Do you have that comb with the pink handle?

Yea lemme get it


And I heard his parents are dead


Woah. Are you serious.

he doesnt have parents?

Well I think they died, but they left him that house so he just has a house to himself. And money.

Excuse me?

You thinking what I’m thinking?

Empty house? Tubok? Money

Tubok’s body



Lol Chelsea you’re dumb as hell sometimes



Black as space. Deep as the universe. He came in through the window. As wind becoming. The room shaking. dust rising from the books, in the project stairwell the ghouls sit perched like gargoyles; elevated. Inhaling life. Exhaling souls. Set free from the hole of fear in the center of the body sucking sanity in, a body falling, perpetually dropping but never hitting the concrete, until his body hits like crack and everything burns. The wanderer in the ocean of flames, smoldering — but some things are only dreams. His moist black eyelids and eyelashes flutter into the sunlight, until they open and look at the wind gently blowing the curtain in soft undulating waves that match the calm of his home.

His fingers play in his black crown of tight curls.

Ladera Heights is always warm in the morning.


What does it take for you to fucking listen. The glass shatters against the cabinet.

Fuck you nigga! Fuck you! she slumps. cries. Grabs the pill bottle. Drops 23. swallows 4. No water. Chews to a powder. then swallows dry. chokes. coughs and gets up. weak legs and light rushing in. 

He tightens. Yells. Hits the wall with a fist that breaks through plaster.

Get out bitch. Get the fuck out.

Where umma go? Huh nigga? Where the fuck umma go?

you come here again I’ll cut your fucking throat

She switches. moves close. Her tongue licks the air like a hooker. Eyes glassy red. Pupils like needle points

Fuck me daddy. Huh! Fuck me daddy. That’s what you want. Yea? C’mon daddy. c’mon. pulling down her bra.

Huh? C’mon daddy. Fuck me.


Up from the Louis sheets like a goddess she rises into sunlight.

He puts on the long Gucci t- $4,000 on his torso and “it looks old” she said. no chain today. Just a ring, kenzo pants with the RAF Panneled runners and the all-black off-white shades

Then, the gun.

A clear green plastic barreled squirt gun with a neon orange nozzle and a blue double finger trigger. Placed under his bathing suit and towel in the translucent green Virgil abloh Louis Vuitton duffel

“How old are you really? Her hands go up his shirt. Holding him from behind  .whispering “You fuck like a man.”


I heard he’s only 17.

I thought he was 25?

Nope. 15.

How do you know?

He told me


Yea, ok.

He did.


when you were in his bed gettin’ it? Lol


You wish. shit.

No lie.

Are you serious?


He picked me up

Which car?

The mercialago



No way.

Prove it

Look at this

Nah. that photo’s not real.

Damn, he looks even better naked.

What’s he like? 
he’s actually really quiet. He’s soft spoken, but eloquent when he speaks, and he’s gentle. Really gentle.

And those big ass lips?

They’re soft.

Lol. I would never.

How big was it?

I don’t know. I didn’t sleep with him.

Are you going to?

I don’t know… maybe…

LMFAO that’s grosss

I would never

You wouldn’t?

No way

Me neither

I might, but I don’t know

No. I wouldn’t. Fuck that.

Im not trying to die. Lol


When darkness has been destroyed

Where does the hatred go?

I does not disappear

It becomes the light

But she is strong

Her heart beats

As powerful as night


The iron weights raise from his chest

The golden chain

Thin, glistening in the sunlight on his black neck

sweat, beaded like rolling crystals

The music is everything

It shakes the walls

It always will


And the gang straps up, 4 deep in the g-wagon

Abioye with the 70 oz. Floodinator water blaster on his lap

Kenji with two XShot stealth soakers, one in each hand

Tumi’s driving, but there’s a Microburst 2 Blaster on his lap and the Monster XL, a super heavy C.P.S. Blaster with a bipod for stationary fire in the trunk as well as the Super Soaker 300 with 3 tanks on top and an external double tank backpack

And Tubok with the pistol tucked in the duffel -


Tubok, you only have a pistol?

Yo, Tubok you need more than a pistol

They’re gonna wet you up, yo! 

What does that even mean?

 lol I don’t know haha… make you bloody? I think the actual term means to make someone bloody, but in this case it fits nicely because we’re actually wetting people up, lol

Yo, do you know who invented the super soaker?

No. Who?


Lonnie G. Johnson

Word. That’s cool.

He’s black

Oh, damn. Really. That’s real cool.

Yea, that’s dope.

Whatever motherfucker, let’s smoke these niggas.


One day, bullets and blood became water

Flowing from the waterfalls glittering 

This is what they told us 

From the beginning to the end 

Our angels are below us 

As the ground we walk on

The solid paths 

That guide us and birth the trees that give us shade 


The 1st annual water war 

At Aniya’s manor

To start at 10am and go as late as they want 

22 young black bodies

Arriving in cars parked on the gravel horseshoe driveway

Opening doors and stepping out in sandals and bathing suits 

With big colorful guns 

The grounds erupt in war 

Hidden assassin’s behind big bushes 

Gang shootings in the field

Close range pistol combat on the veranda 

Tubok kissing Efia in the greenhouse 

In the end everyone hangs in the pool 

in the deep end, they splash and laugh

No one holds the edge 

Plunging under water with goggles on

Squirt guns floating on the surface

A splash war erupts 

Guns loaded. Triggers pulled. 

exploding water

Until it calms 

and Tubok floats on his back with a snorkel on

In the middle of all his friends  

His black eyes staring up at the blue sky  

His arms out and his chest up

Like a boy lifted to heaven