Common by association, art and fashion is always invariably linked and in a world of collaborations and hybrids there have been some certified classics. Take Thom Sachs teaming up with Nike, Warhol adorning some YSL ready-to-wear or even Damien Hirst applying his medicinal eye to some trusty Levi’s.
But it is safe to suggest that one brand has nurtured this connection more than any; adidas. Collaborating with a myriad of artists and designers, the sportswear giant have worked and reworked their archive with mesmeric results. However, it is possibly the more independent and, perhaps, more credible side of things that intrigue us most.
With the first instalment of the classic adidas City Series due for rerelease, the Bern OG, we were reminded of the stirling work of one artist who absolutely nailed what the product and its consumer were all about.
We caught up with illustrator Marcus Reed to talk work, inspirations and future plans…
END.: So, tell us a little about yourself?
Marcus Reed: Well, I was born and raised in Newcastle, which still holds a great affinity with me, even though I’ve lived in London for almost 18 years now. I studied at Nothumberland and Newcastle College’s which was fantastic schooling, before taking the bold step of moving to the capital. A place I love too, it’s an amazing city to develop and expand creatively, so many influences from varied backgrounds.
Deep down, I’m just a working class lad at heart, love my family, love my friends, love my clobber, love my Saturdays!
E: What are the inspirations behind you work?
MR: That’s a tough one, as they vary quite a lot, from peers and colleagues, to every day things, photos’ places, books, films, people, etc…. Just taking in what’s around you is always the most influential, that’s why I ditched using the tube about 8 years ago (I use it only when necessary these days) You see a whole new London when you’re on foot.
Shapes, symmetry and colour are really my thing. So the 60′s/70′s minimalist stuff really works for me, it’s underrated I think, the obvious outlook is, because it looks so simple, it must be a piece of piss to do. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s very easy to overwork things, but very difficult to strip artwork back to it’s simplest form and make it look great. I hope I’m close to doing that.
E: Do you have an illustrative/design heroes?
MR: As far as creative influences, there are so many and new ones happening all the time. There’s a great creative future for the UK in particular I think, there’s some amazing young talent around at the moment. And also with the world getting smaller via the web, some huge talent worldwide too.
Personally… Stanley Kubrick, Peter Saville, Stephen Shore, Massimo Osti and, of course, Adi Dassler!
E: How did your City Series work come about?
MR: It started as a personal project initially, I was developing a new style at the time and I’ve always been one for doing things in sets (call it OCD if you like) so a City Series of at least 14 worked well for me, plus it’s always good to illustrate about what you know…
I’ve followed on with the Island Series and America Series, so hopefully they’ll get as good a response as the city series versions.
E: Because of that, can we take it you’re a serious adi-head?!
MR: You can… haha! I’m well in to my numbers, I tend to buy vintage these days, Hawaii’s, Olympia’s, Alamo’s, Universal Spezial’s, Dublin’s etc to name a few….. still keep on top of re-issues though.
Jackets are another achilles heel, 43 (not adidas) at the last count. I keep telling the missus they’re investments, but she’s not convinced!
What are your plans for the future?
MR – Just to keep on keeping on I think, I’m so lucky in what I do, as every day there’s something different to do, a new challenge. I wouldn’t change it for the world to be honest.
I’m in an exhibition which is currently running at Somerset House in London, then a UK tour until September next year, which is cool. Followed by a participation in a collaborative book called ‘Share’ which is out next month. And finally my own coffee table book which is out in the spring next year, featuring all my work to date, plus a host of new projects.
Apart from all that, just to be happy…. that’s my plan.
You can check out illustrator’s work in greater detail by visiting Marcus Reed’s personal website.
The first installment from the adidas City Series, the Bern OG launches 25th October 2014 online at END.