PART THREE: THE POWER OF NUMBERS
“It’s massive,” says Futura of his Hennessy collaboration. He’s smoking a cigar before dinner in the conservatory of Chateau de Bagnolet. On one side of the room Arik Levy’s most recent sculptural bottle design for the brand towers above perfectly set tables. “Sometimes, when these type of projects appear…” he pauses, searching for a way to put it all in perspective. He remembers one in particular where he teamed with Philadelphia-born, New York-based letter master Steve Powers (aka ESPO) on another large corporate engagement. “We all did a Calvin Klein bottle, but it didn’t have my signature. For me it’s all based on that tag.”
As a writer, he says, he was never one to blanket the streets. He chose his spots carefully, thinking critically about both longevity and visibility. Tagging 360,000 bottles gives him plenty of both. “Getting up is not the main thing,” he says, “but it is a great perk.”
Something like this [Hennessy collab] is a door-opener. My goal is to present myself and let them determine if I am worthy of their time.
For all the graphic design work and global success, the lure of art for Futura remains the same as it did when he started writing on 103rd and Broadway —for him it’s a mode of communication, a chance to interact with people.
“Something like this is a door-opener,” he says of the bottles. “Needless to say I’m going to open up my audience. My goal is to present myself and let them determine if I am worthy of their time.”
Of course, another door opener is the current fervor for street art, which has never been more popular or respected. “Banksy, Shepard Fairy, Swoon,” Futura says, ticking off the names of street art’s new generation. “Any of the contemporary people who are blowing up right now and giving art more visibility and more credibility, it really allows me to appear and say ‘Hey—what’s up guys? I’m here.’” At this point he’s as much an old master as Rembrandt.