I’m sure you’ve all heard his name mentioned about a million times on this blog and our website. Lamour Supreme is an illustrator, sculptor, toy customizer, track bike rider, and just all-around awesome dude to know. We’re truly honored and blessed that his gifted head & hands are executing so many of our twisted ideas. Now we’d like all of YOU to get to know Lamour a bit better and so we present…
5 Questions With Lamour Supreme
1) Give the people some history about you… you know why the hell your name is L’Amour Supreme and how you got started drawing & sculpting.
The name Lamour Supreme came about from me being such a big fan of Coltrane and his album, A Love Supreme. Supposedly he had this spiritual awakening while recording it. Not in the traditional Christian or Islamic sense, but more of an overall revelation of the connectedness of all beings. I definitely feel that listening to his music and that’s something I wanted people to feel when they view my art. I just added a Francophile spin to it.
As far as the history of Lamour Supreme as an artist… Well I got started in the arts pretty early on but got my first taste of exposure when I was 16. I had sent in a letter to Thrasher Magazine with a zombie Batman on the envelope hoping that it would get published. Out of the blue, I got an envelope back from Pushead. He was doing a column in Thrasher at the time called Puszone and basically said he wanted to feature my art in Puszone. That blew my mind as a kid because Pushead was already a legend back then. So I did two drawings for him. One of a zombie Batman swinging from a rope doing a judo air which he published right away, and a second drawing of a zombie Batman & Robin which he published at a later date. I’m still trying to get a hold of those issues as I lost my originals from ’86-’87.
In the late 80′s I started airbrushing tees and denim jackets at the now gone UNIQUE clothing warehouse (Broadway off of Astor Place) to put myself through college. I think I learned more there than I did going to SVA. We had a good tight-knit crew of artists that would always hang out after work, kind of similar to how you guys are over at Mishka. So all those things coupled with my graffiti days of growing up in the Bronx gave me a pretty solid art foundation.
I remember that through Unique, I got hooked up with a band called Low Meato. I believe they described their music as “Cock Rock”. Their logo was a dick with balls wearing an MC jacket playing a guitar. Oh, the stories and fun times with them.
2) So most people don’t realize that you used to illustrate Zen The Intergalactic Ninja. First of all, explain to everyone under 25 who the hell Zen, and how you got to be involved with a character who in the early 90s could have been (but ultimately wasn’t) the next Ninja Turtles.
Zen The Intergalactic Ninja was basically an alien ninja mercenary comic character from the early 90s. He was also my only real taste of the Comic industry. When I was of 22, I had a job airbrushing at the Green Acres Mall. One day Zen co-creator Steve Stern stumbles upon me and asks me to airbrush Zen for him. Being a comic book nerd back then, I knew full well who Zen was and told him that not only could I airbrush Zen, but that I could illustrate the comic as well! Well he took me up on my offer and I started drawing Zen. Although their page rate wasn’t that much, Steve Stern and Dan Cote were great to work with and basically gave me all artistic freedom to pencil and ink the book in pretty much anyway I saw fit.
At the time, Image was just getting started and my drawing style was really influenced by McFarlane, Lee, Silvestri, Liefeld, all the usual suspects. I was also heavily influenced by Manga which I liked to throw into the mix. Remember that this is the early 90s, so the Manga thing wasn’t a household name in the West. Me using it really gave the book a unique feel which everyone seemed to like.
At that time Zen was bought by Surge Entertainment which is the huge licensing giant that took Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles from an obscure black and white indie book to the multimillion dollar property it became. Zen was supposed to be the encore performance for them that never really happened. Aside from some Action figures and a Nintendo game, Zen mostly was relegated to small licensing properties here and there. Zen just never rose beyond being a cult indie comic character. I haven’t worked on Zen since ’95 but Heavy Metal magazine just recently published a Zen story I did back then. Kind of ironic how Heavy Metal is currently owned by Kevin Eastman.
I can’t say I ever regretted working on Zen or comics in general because of how much fun it was, but I can’t see how people would still want to be a comic book artist with pay rates these days. I rarely read any new books but I still love the older stuff from the 70-80s. To me, that was the pinnacle of comic books before the crash of the 90s. After my stint in comics I went on to doing architectural design, which I still do.
3) How did you get from doing Comics to Streetwear and toys!? And how did you build up this impressive army of fanboys? Since opening, we’ve had multiple people come by our shop with “gifts” they’d like us to give you.
When I took on the name Lamour Supreme back in 2004, I had all this inspiration to create art but no solid idea of what I wanted to do nor the audience I wanted to do it for. That was around the time of the vinyl toy explosion in the U.S. which was open and receptive to new blood. However I, nor my work, ever really clicked with the Western toy scene that was sprouting up and I sort of found my niche with Japanese Kaiju vinyl. Super7 was among those at the forefront of bringing Eastern vinyl out West. I practically lived on their messageboard, Skullbrain. Through Skullbrain I was introduced to the likes of RealxHead, Gargamel, Secret Base and Bounty Hunter whose toys were not only rad, but great inspiration. It’s like the toys you couldn’t buy as a kid so you drew them.
After a while I started posting my artwork on Skullbrain and all of the toy collectors were really receptive to it! So I started trading my artwork for toys. The forum was very international so I was meeting some really cool people all across the globe. And they would tell their friends about my work, and so on and so on. Not only did it spread my work but I made some really amazing friends because of it. It’s funny one of your employees bought one of my paintings before I even knew who you guys were. Shout out to Henrik, Skinny Digital!
The Streetwear aspect is something really accidental but very similar. I discovered Mishka through an old client (for architectural design) of mine who used to print your tees. I loved the art and themes you guys were working with as it reminded me a lot of the Japanese Kaiju I was inspired by. This is where John Prolly comes into the picture. He was one of my Flickr contacts who also knew you guys and thought my art would be a perfect fit. This was around the time he first started designing your retail space. He introduced us at your old closet of an office and we all had so much in common that we just clicked!
4) You’re having a pretty busy year with toys. You’ve conceptualized our Mishka x Cure Boogieman, our Mishka Bootleg Kaiju and then of course the Super7 Mongolion (releasing on Friday 4/10 at our shop). What was the process in developing the three and what’s next for you?
So far, ’09 has been a very good year. I always knew it would be though. I’m one of those weird people that believe in the significance of numbers. I just read the Format interview with Joseph JK5 where he mentions how he got the name JK5 and it’s significance. If I had to add a number to the end of my name, it would be nine. Nine is the symbolic reference to maturation and completion. The last single digit number before the numbers start repeating. Nine months that a fetus grows in the mother’s belly. Nine planets in our solar system, etc, etc… Oh shit, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, toys! So the three toys that dropped this year were all very different from each other from concept to finish.
The Mongolion was probably the longest in the making, but the conceptualizing of it was pretty easy for me. The figure was produced by Super 7 for the Snakes of Infinity Line. The sculpting took forever but knowing that legendary sculpter, Cosmo Liquid was going to be doing it was worth the wait. He sculpted that Kaws x Pushead figure as well as a ton of other toys. So the Mongolion is finally being released almost 2 years since Brian Flynn of Super 7 first asked me to design it. WoooHOOOO!
The Cure X Mishka Boogieman collab was another project that was a lot of fun because you guys gave me free reign for concepts to throw at Tossy (Cure). By the time we got together to do this, I had more experience when it came to figure design and knew what you could and couldn’t do and so I designed accordingly. Tossy and crew killed it with perfect execution on the sculpt. Tossy also ended up pulling elements from a variety of our concepts that didn’t originally go together which gave the Boogieman a whole unexpected and interesting dimension from what we first were thinking.
The Bootleg Kaiju was probably the fastest and most fun of the three. You guys needed something sculpted on the fly, like within two days of leaving for Asia. I whipped up the figure’s actual sculpt in two days so that you had something to show Eddy from Adfunture. I had full control with that figure from start to finish which was great because there was no way for me to even explain what I was thinking of doing. What eventually came out of me was everything we had bounced back and forth between one another when we first sat down to discuss doing it. I remember seeing the wax molds and thinking that we were on to something pretty exciting!
As far as my next toy project… well WE have some exciting projects we’re currently working on that are going to be great. Hopefully I’ll get another solo shot at producing a figure as well!
On the streetwear tip, I’ve got some sick designs I’m producing for you guys and then a collaboration I did with Nike SB that should be out later in the year.
5) You’ve seen and been part of so many different burgeoning scenes in NYC that it’s astounding. You have hindsight enough to anticipate what’s next in store. So where are we today and where is this current crop of “counter culture” headed?
Dude, you make me sound like I’m old like the Rolling Stones or something! I’m really not that old but I have seen a lot of music scenes starting and evolving here in NYC. From Hip-Hop to Hardcore, Thrash to House and Jungle all the way to what’s happening now. Damn, I am old.
I can’t say my hindsight can predict the future but I can say that if you’re having fun, creating what makes you happy and are an active participant in furthering any cultural movement, then you’re sure to succeed. Make what you’d like to see made, do it passionately and people will connect with it. Besides, it all ends up in the toilet anyway.
Hope to see you all tomorrow at The Mongolion release at our shop at 7pm!
Brooklyn, NY 11211