André Saraiva x Uniqlo
Hello André, congratulations on your collaboration with Uniqlo, what attracted you to this collaboration with UT Uniqlo?
I’ve always been a big fan of Uniqlo! Back in the days when they were only available in Japan, I always used to get my t-shirts there when I was in Tokyo, in the early 2000s. Since then they’ve been doing very cool collaborations with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and so on. They were also working directly with the States and had a nice attitude with the artists. Now, they have a new art director NIGO who’s someone that I love and someone that I’ve worked so when he asked me to do this collection for women and kids, I said yes.
UT Uniqlo claims that a simple t-shirt can say a lot of things. Do you agree?
Yes! I usually paint on walls but I was also very happy to paint on t-shirts. Its just another surface to me, another surface to express myself.
What message do you want to deliver through your art in general?
It depends on the mood of the day. For the collection I did with Uniqlo it was all about the idea of being together in the same world – its a peace and love message, a joyful one. And of course, Monsieur A was there, he’s the kind of guy that’s supposed to be nice.
What the story behind Monsieur A?
I still don’t know. It was years ago, he came up early 1990s late 1980s. It was a bit like, instead of signing my name, I started to come up with a drawing, like a signature style but with an attitude and and a face. That’s how Monsieur A came to life, but then I’m not sure really sure.
You’ve gone a long way. What does it feel to have your work exhibited on the streets of the world?
It feels good and I’ve worked hard for that, I’ve put my life at risk for those things! So yes, it feels good. It’s also very interesting to visit and to discover all these different countries, cities, and people. Graffiti is not just a result, its a process and an action.
How many countries do you think you’ve drawn in?
We should look at my passeport and count all the stamps… I don’t know I would say more than a 100.
What attracted you to street art versus “traditional” art?
Back then I didn’t even know what was “street art,” I didn’t even know that what I was doing was “art,” I just liked it very much. I enjoyed drawing on walls and that’s how it came up. I didn’t know that what I was doing was art, I didn’t care about all that, I was just happy to paint. I started when I was in pre-school in Sweden where I was born.
"Things can go fast, sometimes too fast to adopt something and also too fast to forget… That’s the only thing that annoys me sometimes in fashion, but otherwise it’s interesting."
You seem like a multi-tasker, from graffiti artist to night-club owner. What pushed you to try out different jobs? Do you need different platforms to fulfil yourself?
I’m not a night-club owner anymore, that was another life. I think that today, people spend there time telling you things like “oh you do this, but like you also do this,” and I didn’t feel confortable with that. Graffiti gave me the freedom to paint anywhere, in places I was supposed to paint, so I applied this idea fo whatever I do. If I’m interested in something, I just do it, I don’t wait for people to give me the permission to do it. I always have fun as well. My night-clubs were like a big painting, a big canvas where I expressed my vision of what a night-club should be.
As a graffiti artist is still a taboo to draw in the public space?
As a graffiti artist it’s not a taboo, it’s just part of graffiti, to paint on public, forbidden property. It’s still dangerous and you still put yourself at risk doing that, but the risk is part of the whole thing. It’s not just a drawing you see on a wall, it’s all the process, the risk of getting caught, of going to jail or just to find some angry people passing by. The rebellious part in graffiti is also very important, going against the system, that’s what I liked and still like today.
The “Encyclopédie Universalis” still defines graffiti as “non official drawings made on a particular supports”. Does the term “non-official” make you cringe? Why?
I think it’s perfect. I don’t like what is official anyway so I’ve always said that graffiti is not vandalised, it’s a beautiful thing.
You left L’Officiel Hommes’ editor bout two years ago, just as male RTW was booming. Where you getting tired of the fashion industry?
I had a very short career in the fashion industry, I was an art director for L’Officiel Hommes. I liked the fashion world, I think it’s a world that’s very open to artists and collaborations. Things can go fast, sometimes too fast to adopt something and also too fast to forget… That’s the only thing that annoys me sometimes in fashion, but otherwise it’s interesting.
What’s next for André Saraiva?
I’m going to have a drink with Bambi and then have diner. Back to New York in a couple of days… I don’t know we’ll see what’s next, I’m always ready for new adventures.