In keeping with the city’s past, art plays a prominent role in this year’s Vans Downtown Showdown. Former Paris resident and graphic artist Mambo not only designed the event artwork, but will be joining other internationally respected artists such as Rich Jacobs, Kev Grey, Nicolas Thomas, Jay Howell and French, amongst others, as they apply their signature style to the iconic Vans “Off The Wall” logo in a show of style and creativity, and in celebration of Vans’ 47 years of skateboarding and street culture.
Mambo was born in Chile, in 1969, from his French father and Hungarian mother. He grew up in Latin America. He started his artist carreer in Paris. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Mambo has exhibited in galleries and museums around the globe, such as Centre Pompidou, Magda Danysz Gallery, Agnès B. Gallery or Seven Gallery in Paris, Biennale Arts Le Havre, Sao Paulo’s Biennale, Speerstra Gallery in Geneva, Watanabe Gallery in Osaka, Helmet Gallery in Munich, Kinsey Desforges Gallery in Los Angeles, Texan French Alliance in Houston, to name a few.
He is part of collections such as Centre Pompidou, Duran Ruel, Rose Bialek, Speerstra, Thierry Froger, Agnès B, Kinsey Desforges, Nao Naussbaum.
He also collaborated in creative projects with Prada, Canal Plus, Samsung Crooks’n’Castles and Vans.
Since first picking up a skateboard at he age of nine years old, Jimp instantly connected with the lifestyle of skateboarding culture, which continued throughout his youth in the 80’s and 90’s. He lives and works in Cornwall, where his work is now heavily influenced by the legacy of the skate graphics of this time. The pioneering graphic illustrators such as Jim Philips and Marc Mckee as well as comic artists like Robert Crumb and Raymond Pettibon have been key inspirations.
The quiet comedy in the low-fi production of Jimp’s work, taps directly into our juvenile selves, exposing us to the emotions & curiosity of our adolescence. The jokes are multilayered and droll, as the banker and the vicar revealed in their gauche awkwardness, stumble in emotional confusion, threatened by their imaginary ancestors, humiliated by their descendants. The artist shines a spotlight into the anonymous seething masses: each individual struggling with his own self-consciousness – a kind of exorcism, open, spontaneous, bloody and raw.
We are all there captured in his world view, the wise and the frail, the social bully and the outcast, caught with our pants down in front of the crowd.
JIMP is the penname of Jim Hollingworth. His work can be seen in international collections, live performances and doodled on the back of telephone directories. He has recently shown or performed work in The Saatchi Gallery, London, The Barbican Centre, London, and Aeroplastics Contemporary, Belgium.
Born in the late seventies in a small village in Holland as a child of a teacher and a garage owner. Started skateboarding at the age of 11 and got interested in graffiti and painting at high school. Moved to Rotterdam, studied graphic design and gradually started skating less and painting more and more.
“Painting graffiti has been one of the best times in my life. I got to meet a lot of different people, visited places all over the world and got into countless adventures. Later, illegal graffiti moved into the more accepted street art and in that form I have been a part of the Lastplak Crew for over ten years now. We’re like one big family and share a huge passion for painting, drinking beers, travelling and just having fun. Made some friends for life!
Today, I still work as a graphic designer and as an illustrator for Projekt C in Rotterdam and try to get out to paint as often as possible. This means that sometimes I’m painting in between meetings, dressed in a suit and tie.”
French is a freelance Artist & Illustrator based in Walthamstow, but from the garison town of Aldershot, Hampshire. He graduated from Staffordshire University in 2002 with a degree in Fine Art, after spending a stint of his degree studying at Kansas Univeristy, Lawrence, Kansas USA. Once graduated he worked as Artist in Residence at a Kinross Wolaroi school, Orange, Australia from 2002 – 2003.
Since then he has lived in London and worked as a Freelance Artist / Illustrator. A great deal of the illustration he has created has been for the skateboard industry, as well as Music (Heavy Metal mainly) Advertising, Print, Fashion and Publishing. More recently he has been art directing and also curated a number of exhibitions.
French also runs a skateboard company Witchcraft Hardware, currently selling in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Japan, Canada, Austria and New Zealand, with an international team of riders.
Jay Howell is an all around kind dude that lives in Los Angeles with photographer girlfriend Ruth Swanson and a dog named Street Dog. When he’s not illustrating for Vans or drawing skateboards he can be seen on the streets fuckin’ around and sayin’ classic shit. Jay designed the characters for Fox’s hit show, ‘Bob’s Burgers’.
He is currently working as an Executive Producer, Co-Creator and Art Director on ‘Sanjay and Craig’ an animated children’s show for Nickelodeon.
Since the late 1990′s Kev Grey has made black and white illustrations that merge his graffiti, comic book and tattoo imagery influences resulting in a crisp, bold, eye-catching style of drawing. He is also known for painting graffiti using the tag PISE.
Kev’s artwork has been exhibited within the UK, Europe, Australia and America and he has been commissioned to produce artwork for a variety of companies and clients across the globe including Lost Art Skateboards, Vice Magazine, Schecter Guitars and SABBC to name a few.
Kev lives and works in Liverpool, England.
Russ Pope has been an artist since he was able to hold a pencil. He drew through many days at school when others were doing schoolwork. As a teen, art and skateboarding first collided when skateboard companies began to use some of his art. During these years, he worked and rode for SmallRoom Skateboards, traveled to skate spots around the US and worked in a skate shop in San Luis Obispo, California.
Since then, skateboarding and art have continued to sustain Russ’s drive to create. During his college years, he ran SMA Skateboards, started Creature Skateboards and took art classes at night. In 1995, Russ moved back to San Luis Obispo and started Scarecrow Skateboards.
Russ’s commitment to skateboarding has continued for 20 years, as has his dedication to his art. After stints at Black Label, Duffs, Myrtle and Fallen, Russ finds himself at Vans.
When one looks at Russ’s art, it is easy to see that his painting is as integral to his life and sanity as food, water, music, skateboarding and family. The rawness of his work can be felt by viewing the large brush strokes, thick lines and colorful backgrounds of many pieces. One senses music and movement through the application of color, image and brush strokes. Elements of culture, politics, animals and celebration pop out of the base of his art. It is easy to feel freedom, chaos and release when one views Russ’s pieces as a body of work, these feelings are fundamental to his life and work. –J. Bostwick
Russ has shown his work both domestically and internationally in: San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Laguna Beach, Seattle, Utah, Boston, Chicago, New York, Brooklyn, Miami, Austin, Washington DC, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Vancouver, Whistler, Hawaii, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, and Japan.
Rich Jacobs is an artist / curator living & working in Oakland, California. His work fits mostly into 3 primary forms – Figurative (including his signature Faces), and abstraction (pattern and non-representational works), and Lettering and Handmade Script based works. Also known to paint large scale murals that sometimes include all three elements.
Jacobs has shown his work in Galleries and Museums globally, and on a wide array of surfaces and products such as Record covers, many printed materials like magazines, artist books, zines, stickers, prints, and posters, skateboards, snowboards, clothing, shoes, household objects and walls. He feels grateful and lucky for each day he has to be able to make his work, express himself and enjoys sharing it and the works of others (in his curated Move Large Group Exhibitions). Jacobs is very interested in music and runs a small independent record label, always trying to hear new sounds and plays guitar often.
Jay Croft has been drawing since he was a little kid. His grandfather was the one who encouraged him to draw something new everyday. He drew pictures of animals and the typical comic book hero but he always created characters of his own.
At the age of 12 skateboarding came into his life, and he continued to draw everyday. But instead of drawing animals and his comic book heroes he started drawing all of the skateboard graphics that he saw between the covers of Thrasher and Transworld. He would eventually go on and work for several skateboard companies and draw graphics for the Alien Workshop, Vans, Element and countless skateshops across the United States.
When he is not skateboarding, drawing or painting he enjoys spending time with his wife Julie, their daughter Maeve and their dog Jimmy.
Jay has shown his work all over the world in such cities as: London, Bristol, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Laguna Beach and Columbia, South Carolina. He currently publishes streetcanoe.com. More information and artwork can be found at jaycroft.blogspot.com.
Born December 1, 1974 in the town of Annecy in the Haute Savoie region of France, Nicolas Thomas glided into “board culture” with no idea that one day it would
bring him more than the simple joy of cruising on concrete or snow. A passionate skateboarder, then snowboarder, scribbler since before he can remember, painter because “it’s hard to find paper bigger than size A3,”the link between his work and these sports developed naturally and Nicolas’ personal style quickly became a part and parcel of board culture.
Nourished by the aesthetic of the numerous U.S. products presented in board magazines and skate shops, the imagery and graphical codes of this universe were as many art galleries from which Nicolas drew his inspiration.
He chose the medium of skateboards and snowboards as his means of expression on the street and in the public eye. Nicolas has a style all his own, combining pictorial techniques using flat colors and transparency with typical graphical arts methods derived from the world of comics and design.
Situated between painting, drawing and engraving, his work revolves around grand recurrent themes: portraits, more or less abstract landscapes and genre scenes. His
totemic characters, at times organic, mineral or even human-machines, are all at once mutant and multiform.
At times melancholic or droll, the spectator travels through a waking dream, yet the subjects at its heart are anchored in reality. Dream of reality, reality dreamed…
this duality keeps Nicolas on alert and ready to capture whatever crosses the threshold of his senses. Obsessed by the number 4, Nicolas learns four times more, listens four times harder… For him, everything is a source of inspiration. Everything he touches is recycled, digested, interpreted and put to paper. His sketch books pile up and accumulate; so many ideas made into images; thoughts reserved, ready to regain life on the canvas…he just needs four times more time, like us all.
NICOLAS LE BORGNE
Nicolas “Odö” Le Borgne has been drawing from earliest childhood and was born holding a pencil so to speak… From his deep-rooted seafaring origins he has kept a strong affinity for the sea as well as the precision and discipline required for navigation.
From his closeness to the ocean and mountains springs his passion for surfing and riding and for tattoo art. Drawing his inspiration from the heart of popular culture Odö also tackles and reinterprets the world of cartoons. Walt Disney as well as Matt Groening (The Simpsons, Futurama) are targeted and their characters get a beating.
The artist also exhibits an almost irrepressible need to use detailed line work. This aspect of this work, which is completely abstract, aims to perfect the study of movement and also translates into figurative works that are the result of hours of work.
Wisps of smoke, sinuous hair, or mysterious matter oozing from an amputated limb, those interlacing lines are always op-art works of art that weave themselves in a completely organic manner into the drawings; the same optical art so commonly seen in the artist’s background work as well.
The small size of Odö’s works correlates with his incredibly finely drawn lines. Nicolas uses the most unusual dry points and paper is his favorite medium, the older the paper, the better. No need to age the paper with tea or coffee, the parchment is already heavy with history and the sweep of time. Even if Odö wanted to hide this side of himself, time asserts itself in each and every one of his works. Time is his task master and he will spend dozens of hours on a small drawing and over one month on each of his larger pieces.
As an artist Odö is both a workaholic and a meticulous esthete, and every detail in his works is brought to perfection, from the least conspicuous meeting of two lines to the slightest color gradation. And the eye is not fooled, even though our minds need time to process all the visual information we receive to make sense of the work in its entirety to the point where we can really SEE.