The Brilliance!

HTTP://WWW.THEBRILLIANCE.COM/

#INTERNET Ah, we're back! Like we said, we were just "chilling out" for like 3 years. Feels good to have the team back writing. Still us three: Chuck, Benjamin, and Virgil. Got new interviews coming up, and hopefully we'll be posting on a regular basis, who knows. We also interviewed each other, check: CHUCK, BENJAMIN, VIRGIL...

Interview! > Futura!

I first spoke with Futura via e-mail, then a few days later on the phone. Almost instantly I was taken by his down-to-earth attitude and his interest in talking with me not only about this interview, but just life in general. Family, friends, art, work, basketball...Everything. Not only is Futura a legend and an inspiration, but he is real. He is genuine and honest, and I am proud to have met and interviewed him. He also put me in touch with his son Timothy who runs http://www.13thwitness.com - we decided it would be a great idea to do a father/son thing, so make sure to check out his interview too. So without further ado, THE BRILLIANCE! interview with Futura.

THE BRILLIANCE! > Futura! What’s the good word??

FUTURA! > impetuous.


TB! > We are dying to know what you had for dinner last night and what you had for breakfast this morning. Fill us in…

F! > last night. miso soup. one dozen Malapeque oysters. jumbo coconut shrimp with mango and avocado salad and (2) Tsingtao’s. [http://www.tsingtaobeer.com/index.htm] breakfast? I never eat breakfast.


TB! > You don’t really need much of an introduction, but for any newcomers or amnesiacs, give us a rundown of who you are and what you do. A little background/bio.

F! > google me. or get lost here: [http://www.futura2000.com]


TB! > So many people (rightfully so) view you as iconic and legendary - is this something you ever expected to really happen? When you first started out, did you have any idea that your name and prestige would grow to the level it is at today?

F! > obviously not. a lot of [x] factors. in getting me to——> here. yes. I was looking for identity and some form of recognition. but no, I could never have imagined that/this. and btw, I am still [a work in progress]; thos e levels adjust accordingly.


TB! > You started with graffiti in the 70’s and were one of the first big names in that whole scene - are you still involved with that or at least with the people you grew up doing it with?

F! > from that era. yes&no. and for the record I would consider myself from the second generation of NYC writers. meanwhile I did have an Odwalla [http://www.odwalla.com] with STAY HIGH 149 yesterday, and I do see some of the old timers at various events and exhibitions.


TB! > We already mentioned that people view you as iconic or legendary - what people do YOU view as iconic or legendary? Either in the world of art, maybe your own personal life, or otherwise?

F! > Neil Armstrong vs. Lance Armstrong. [http://www.lancearmstrong.com]


TB! > Tell us a bit about your family. In one of our phone conversations it was very apparent to me that you love them all very much and they play a huge role in your life…How have they affected both your life as Futura and your life as Lenny?

F! > those lives are one in the same. the roles of artist/father/husband/person are fluid and have cause and effect. the second half of my life has been about losing my family and creating a new one. I have two children: Timothy [http://www.13thwitness.com] and Tabatha; who will be 21&15 respectively later this year. they are the foundation to the architecture. without them this would be a shallow facade.


TB! > You spent 4 years in the military in the 70’s. In your book “Futura” you’ve got a section with photos and paperwork from that era - is it still something that affects you to this day? Was that a pretty important time for your life then and now?

F! > those years were well spent. and I learned a lot about life and the REAL world. about responsibility - patience and professionalism. also peeped out: self confidence - time management and decision making. qualities that unless force fed at an early age don’t fully develop. I’m still on a mission.


TB! > So let’s go back a little ways. I’m very interested in your relationship with The Clash - I bet not a lot of people even know you worked with them way back when, but it sure is an incredible bit of history to talk about. What was the scope of that relationship? How did it come about?

F! > in retrospect that was the dawn of my career. it was 1981. I was invited on tour with the group to paint live on stage behind them. damn. what I shocker. I didn’t even know who they were, but there I was. I was very impressed with/by Joe Strummer and for a few years he was a bit of a mentor/father figure. I have never admitted that. too much to consider on this topic.


TB! > You listen to The Clash now? While we’re on the music topic, I’ll ask my favorite question - if you could organize a concert with ANY 5 musicians/bands you wanted to, who would they be?

F! > re: THE CLASH [http://www.theclashonline.com] sure I do. check {the LEADER} an all time favorite. hmm, a concert. ODB. the CANTINA BAND. BILLIE HOLIDAY. SEX PISTOLS and JIMI HENDRIX.


TB! > Back to that era - I’m also very interested in Dondi White as well as your relationship with him and that whole crew. I know you and Stash are still close - anybody else from that period stand the test of time?

F! > I had an amazing friendship with DONDI. style master. I could describe him as a; naive genius. ZEPHYR of course is another very important person in my re-introduction to graffiti. made official in 1980. with the whole car I rolled out from a DONDI layup at Utica Ave in Brooklyn. DONDI, ZEPHYR and myself would eventually become the best of friends, traveling to numerous countries together over the next 5 years. LEE QUINONES a king who has no contemporaries. his body of work is; perpetual. KEL FIRST my original partner in crime, has always been a visionary for me. noteable: RAMMELLEZEE your basic genuis maniac, his manifesto kills it. and last but not least TRUE, the artist formerly known as PHASE TWO. if I did have a sensei, he’d be it. pearls, wisdom and knowledge. one word: ABSORB.


TB! > Would you say Dondi was one of the most talented and inspiring artists around back then? Who else would you put right up there with him?

F! > in my opinion what Mr. DONDI White did in/with lettering styles and spraypaint; was never quite equaled. RIFF 170. PHASE2. STAN153. PEL. KASE2. TKID170. NOC167. to name the selected few.


TB! > Moving on a little past that era, I hear you worked at Kinko’s a while back. That’s kind of funny, but it makes sense…What other kinds of odd jobs have you done?

F! > from age 13. Gristedes. grocery bagboy. [http://www.gristedes.com] McDonalds. grillman. Owens Corning. delivery driver. NYC T&LC. driver. United Airlines. airframe and powerplant. ELITE. messenger. [fixed] U.S. POSTAL. mail sorter. and yeah KINKO’s. color copyop.


TB! > I read in another interview that the three things you avoid are arrogance, complacency, and greed. Not sure how old that interview was but does this still stand true? Anything you would add to that list?

F! > AMBITION.


TB! > You are part of many different backgrounds and cultures - due to the variety of backgrounds you and your wife have as well as where you’ve gone in your travels with work and art. How important are those roots for you even today?

F! > without giving away the entire blueprint; I am very happy to have found that cultural diversity in my family setting as well as the positive benefits of such constant world travel. my kids are bilingual dual nationals, a certain advantage in our global society.


TB! > What is your favorite country you’ve traveled to? Favorite state? Favorite city in the US? Favorite member of the Rolling Stones?

F! > the former Soviet Union. NEVADA. [when the speed limit used to be; unlimited] NEW YORK CITY. MICK.


TB! > When I first got a hold of you, I asked who your favorite basketball player was. It’s a great question for some reason. Since I already know the answer, why don’t you share it with everyone else?

F! > PETE MARAVICH. [http://www.nba.com/history/players/maravich_summary.html]


TB! > Speaking of questions like this - do you get tired of people asking you about artwork and ‘what’s next for you’? Do you feel that when you meet and talk with people, they overlook that fact that you are more than just “Futura the artist” and you have other interests and loves in life?

F! > what’s next? good question. really. and I will certainly avoid it. but getting back to the first question; I never expected that, the legendary status. sometimes I think; don’t put that on me. but it does go with such territories in our world of public access for the hungry and thirsty. in my circles I cannot escape that. so I am trying others. testing out the non Futura model. being myself.

TB! > While we’re on the topic of loves and favorites too - what are some of Futura’s favorite brands? Who has got it down to a T these days? (any kind of brand..fashion, cars, food, insurance companies..whatever…branding in general)

F! > I’m a closet sports guy, always have been. crazy into stats. and anyone who puts up BIG numbers. but over a long period of time. and always a case of “what have you done for me lately” a lot of analogies here. ok in short order. ROLEX. BMW. APPLE. SONY. NIKE.

TB! > You’ve kind of created a ‘brand’ for UNKLE - really given them a defined look and feel and done it very successfully, translating into things like the Nike UNKLE Dunk which is highly sought after by sneaker heads and collectors. You’ve also created and developed FL Futura Laboratories and Recon as a brand. What’s the best part about branding something? Is it something you fully enjoy?

F! > Best part. Seeing the logo in the public eye. It’s what graffiti draws inspiration from. UNKLE: nola contendere. FL: what was once a few tees is all grown up. RECON: a design collective with long time collaborator STASH.


TB! > What are some brands you just aren’t feeling…For example, if the company’s CEO was reading this interview, use this opportunity to make them want to change things up a bit.

F! > ATMOS - ZOO YORK.


TB! > Back to FL and Recon - tell us a bit about both companies. I’ve visited the Recon in NYC and the Recon in SF and enjoyed them both very much. What’s the story behind them?

F! > RECON [http://www.reconstore.com] grew of out PROJECT DRAGON aka BSF. Bleu/Stash and myself. the brainchild of STASH: which is now R3CON with a third shop in Harajuku.


TB! > Tell us a little bit about your work with The North Face.

F! > a typographical motif that came about via an unmentionable connection. and only good things came to the end. the products even included tent - sleeping bag and a ZEPHYR bag. I called upon my favorite [Sherpa] Tenzin Norgay to guide me to this summit.


TB! > If you could collaborate with any artist or brand in the world, who would it be, and what might you do?

F! > I want to make a Coca Cola commercial. with animated 8oz bottles.


TB! > What kind of markers do you use? What are supplies could you just not do without?

F! > I prefer the ZEBRA [McKee] extrabold markers from Japan. foam brushes. rulers. tape. x-acto knives. spraypaint.


TB! > Who are currently some of your favorite artists? Who is really doing their thing, some next-level stuff?

F! > I HEART FAFI. she has a certain . . . . . je no sais quoi.


TB! > I know I knocked this question earlier, but what is next for you? Do you have plans to keep doing galleries and artwork for public display? Keep on doing things like that?

F! > even though my last exhibition was supposedly successful, there are no gallery plans. I am about to drop something HUGE. ok here’s a hint: tour de france, NOT the KRAFTWERK song.


TB! > How about the figures? The Futura Nosferatu is out mid-May…is that a pretty vital part of your arsenal of work and endeavors?

F! > NOSFERATU hmm. more like a weapon: to get to the point man.


TB! > I’ve got a favorite Futura quote I want to bring up. You’d really have to dig to find this one, it’s on a page in the book “Futura” put out by Booth-Clibborn editions and it’s fairly hard to read white-on-white text. Goes like this: “ALWAYS resist being one-dimensional and look for other means of creative outlet. The dilemma seems to be that once you’ve established yourself, you’re locked into creating the work that people are familiar with. References to your own past by duplication. Eventually, that’s insane.” I love this - so true for all artists. Just wanted to see if you could expand a little on this?

F! > it’s like being MICK, and having to sing SATISFACTION. I just think artists get trapped in their own work. and can eventually become victims to it.


TB! > Also in that book I see you like Gran Turismo, Blast Corps, Syphon Filter, Silent Hill, and more. You play a lot of video games? I like Halo 2 and NBA Live 2005.

F! > with multiple gaming consoles and various other home entertainment platforms you might say that. lately a fly on the wall in these spaces might see (6) heads playing RIDGE RACER. wireless on PSP’s. [http://www.us.playstation.com/psp.aspx]


TB! > Random and out of place, what have you done with Nigo and A Bathing Ape? I know you’re pretty close with him - how do you feel about the recent mainstreaming of the brand? Is his house as beautiful in person as it was in the issue of DUB Magazine he was featured in a while back?

F! > it all comes down to timing. therefore meeting NIGO and working with ABA was a turning point for me in terms of a catalytic event. I was highly inspired and immediately motived. coupled with the/his connection w/James Lavelle and the eventual support both would give to me and my work. this was (10) years ago. the brand today . . . an epic empire. his {cribs} his {whips} don’t even get me started.


TB! > What is your relationship with Brian/KAWS? Have you worked with him in the past? Any plans to in the future?

F! > Brian is a friend and an amazing talent. he’s setting that creative diversity bar pretty high. we’ve been in a few group shows together and he’s real cool people. I could definitely see a FUTURA vs. KAWS campaign on the horizon. vinyl wars.


TB! > Going to wrap this up here…Anybody you want to give some love to? We’re bringing back the term ‘shout-out’s’ so do it here.

F! > I want to give a shout out to my boy Carlos. a sniper [http://www.snipercentral.com/m24.htm] somewhere in IRAQ. keep your head down . . . . . bitch.


TB! > What do you think of THE BRILLIANCE!? What made you say ‘yes’ to this interview?

F! > because the BRILLANCE is in the passing lane.


TB! > Any final words or things you’d like to say?

F! > plastic keys with arrows.


End.

> Website: http://www.futura2000.com/