Friday, December 12, 2008

Questions, Concerns, Comments: Jeff Hamada for Converse!

I had the chance to shoot the breeze with Vancouver-based graphic artist, Jeff Hamada, for a Q&A feature for the online edition of Hollywood Life Magazine. 

Hamada was chosen as one the artists for Converse's 1HUND(RED) Artist project to help fight AIDS. 

Thought I'd post it here on COAFF as well for you all to enjoy before the weekend!

Haute Hippie

Fashion Inquisition: Jeff Hamada for Converse

Converse, creator of the famous Chuck Taylor sneaker, joined (RED) forces with U2's Bono for the 1HUND(RED) Artists project to help raise money to fight AIDS.

For the initiative, the iconic show brand reached out to artists in different genres across the world to submit designs for shoes that reflect a message of "AIDS relief, famine and saving people." From the thousands of entries Converse received, one hundred were chosen from Tokyo, London, Germany, New York and Los Angeles.

Among the illustrious group is Vancouver-based graphic designer, Jeff Hamada, who has done work for the likes of streetwear brands 3Sixteen and FAM and currently runs the world wide web's newest on-the-pulse site,

HL: How did you get into graphic design?

JH: Actually, I have a bachelor degree in film and media from Emily Carr in Vancouver. In my third year, I left and thought I'd try to get a job at EA because I wanted something different. I got accepted there based on a co-op for a few months, which got extended into full-time work as a graphic designer for a year. I was so close to finishing my bachelor degree that I really wanted to go back, so I asked if there was any way I could go back, finish school, then return to work for them [...] The ironic thing was I came out of school and they didn't have a job for me. It was a mixed blessing -- the upside was now I was free to do anything I wanted, so I went right into freelancing for a shoe company called 3Sixteen out of New York, which I still work. I'm also freelancing for Endeavor Snowboards.

HL: You also did a collaboration with Soul Assassins, right?

JH: With 3Sixteen, I started going out to the trade shows in Vegas, like MAGIC. That was helpful in terms of meeting people. It was like one trade show might result in six months of work contracts -- I just made sure to get a lot of business cards and followed up with anyone I could afterward. It was a chain reaction. I met DJ Muggs and the other guys from Soul Assassins in Los Angeles. When I heard DJ Muggs wanted me to do work for him, there was no way I was going to say no.

HL: How did you get hooked up with Converse?

JH: A friend of mine from L.A. had two friends coming into Vancouver from Boston, so he asked if I minded showing them around. I took them around to a couple restaurants, and we did the touristy thing. It wasn't until after, maybe a month or so, one of them -- Damian Silver, an artist in his own right working for Converse -- said the company had this project with artists coming up and asked if I would like to be part of it. They told me about (RED) and how funds go directly to fight AIDS in Africa. It was definitely something I wanted to be a part of, so I started drawing these hands.

HL: What was the reasoning behind your design?

JH: The idea behind the artwork is hands reaching out for help and helping hands reaching out for Africa. They're all different shades and the little bit of blue at the top [represents hope]. This was a new experience for me, getting into designing shoes. I didn't know what I could and couldn't do, so I kept it simple but asked to have it on canvas, kind of like a painting.

HL: What's next for you?

JH: Right now, I'm working on my new website, Each "o" is coordinated with each of the seven categories on the site, so every one is color-coordinated to a category. It started off as a hobby to inspire myself to do work. In the last six months, it's really exploded! I really like networking with artists -- it's been an amazing tool for meeting people of all different disciplines and talking on a really personal level. Another thing I'm doing in the next year is trying to align with galleries. I'd like to have it where there's a spot [on the site] where artists can submit their work, I go through the work and then that work can end up in a local gallery. I know it's a hard thing for students coming out of art school -- like some of my friends -- to get their work seen. I'd like to provide an avenue for people to easily submit their art.  

HL: Of all the inspirational, artistic cities out there -- London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm -- why do you choose to remain in Vancouver?

JH: I love Vancouver. It's pouring rain right now, and it's what I'm used to. I love snowboarding -- we take it for granted living next to the water and having the mountains half an hour away. Every time I go away, I come back and realize I really like being here.

I'm Lovin' it: Being a plus-one. Tonight, I served as Mikey's date to his JJ Barnicke Christmas party, which I also had the privilege of attending last year. Nothing is greater than seeing old-timer commercial real estate agents get tanked and try to live out their younger days at some McMansion shindig. Plus the free-flowing food and Stoli are enough to keep me coming back for more annually. Too bad my Modern Vintage heels looked so damn good, but hurt so damn bad now that the night is over. It's flats or bust tomorrow fo' sho.

I'm Lovin' it, Part Deux: I ran into my buddy Hugo tonight while out on the town!! He currently lives in Abu Dhabi (that's Dubai, y'all) doing urban planning, so I don't get to see him too often at all. A nice Friday night surprise. Aw, Huges is SO damn cute.

I'm Over it: It's 3:48 am. Oh, I'm too embarrassed to admit it. Sorry. Oh yeah, and I just at some pita with baba ganoush. What a bad, bad idea. Garlicky breath before bedtime. Not good.

Track of the Day: "Slow Show" by The National. Enjoy.

* Photo property of Jeff Hamada and is used solely for commentary purposes


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