I learned a big truth about ten years ago that has been a continual surprise to me as I get older and scoot around to different places. Simply put, the truth is to look for and engage in what is "vernacular" in the area you visit, live or pass through. Look for the local cuisine, the local industries, those things that the locals take for granted and that are the essence of what is different and special about the area. When we lived in New York City, it was great working in the design world related to the fashion and beauty industy, something that is intrinstic to NYC (as much as working in the financial, publishing and entertainment businesses). It was pure New York--with the business being the magnet for very talented, eccentric and the most Manhattanite of all the Manhattanites. When we visit Pittsburgh, we delight in the Pirates with their dancing pirogies while we down Iron City Beer and devour these baroque sandwiches made by Primanti Brothers, a place that used to open around midnight and close around noon.There is a great website that celebrates Pittsburgh, the sports and the attitude that pervades the Burg. When we lived in Philadelphia, we partook of pretzels, cheesesteaks and Mummers-- along with taking in as much American History, old buildings and the world that surrounds that.
So, now with this long lead in-- I get to the point. One of the most exciting and least expected charge from our visit to LA was visiting the various beaches accompanied by these lovely plazas that point at the beach--chock a block with skate and surf shops. Wow! To go deep into the look and feel of the surf/skate community is unique to LA (and probably south and west to Hawaii)--and it's an aesthetic that in natural in context, but at Nordstroms in NJ or stutting down Broadway in NYC doesnt make sense at all. The palette is neutral/earth tones with screenprinting on everything often tone on tone with cool calligraphically inspired graphics replete with the skull thing, crosses, and images that are old engravings etc. Secondary inspiration from Mexican imagery (Day of the Dead),Black letter/"old english" typography, heraldic references,tattoo imagery.Lots of weathering both in the graphics and illustration but also fraying edges, inside out tees etc. Tattoos make sense within the context of this decorated world--where the sun shines 365 days a year and folks dress for that. Plus, the surfers go to where the waves are great--so there is a transience in the look and feel that is built into the graphics and general presentation. After this surf and skate immursion, it was great to people watch and see how it all plays out--the lovely girls with long skateboards tucked under their arms on the way to the sidewalks along Venice Beach, the boys with the entire skate rig complete with the funny, dun colored knit caps with brims (sideways)shuffling alongside-- And the complete sporty surf brothers--shedding this street ware for layers of high tech neoprene from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet and everything in between--leaning on each other to snap this black skin tight over themselves. The easing and squeezing of oneself into the winter rig takes almost as much time as the actual surfing.
This aesthetic makes sense in LA--and to that, so much of the art artwork that is seen in Juxatoz is surf/skate derivative or better, flows from commercial to gallery and back again. Shephard Fairey's work is for one. More later.