123Klan, the Quebec-based husband and wife graffiti duo of Scien and Mrs. Klor, have been wielding spray cans for more than twenty years, picking up lessons in branding along the way. They’ll be bringing their game to Miami Beach and the ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design, where they’ll lead a hands-on workshop that will blend tagging and typography in exciting ways. In this interview from the latest edition of ADC Magazine, we headed up to Montreal to chat with Scien about his craft.
You and Klor started practicing graffiti in France back in 1992, but even back then it had a link to graphic design for you…
Yes, very early in our careers we were influenced by the work of the famous designer and typographer Neville Brody. I remember
reading The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 2 and it made me realize that we were doing similar things with different tools.
Graffiti is mainly letterforms occupying a certain space, and Brody was a master of that in his own world.
With our interest in design piqued, we started trying to do vector form graffiti on an old version of Illustrator for practice (laughs).
What was it like to move your craft to computers?
Actually it was a lot of fun. When you think about it, the motion of clicking a mouse is the same as using a spray can. And working on the computer introduced a very futuristic style to our work, because now we could have perfect strokes and gradients.
Of course being on a computer meant being on the internet. We launched our first website in 2001, not so much to show off our own work but to get in touch with other tech-minded designers. This led to our style getting a great response, first from designers, then from publishers, and then from our first clients. And with more and more clients asking us to make things, that’s when we decided to make an actual business out of it. Who knew people would pay us to do something we already loved doing? (laughs)
“…it’s so much better to be the first all-original you than to be the second Picasso.”
What can Festival attendees expect from you and Klor at your workshop?
Well graffiti is a totally non-academic activity, and so our workshop willinvolve teaching things that are almost never taught in schools, even art schools.
One of the cool things about graffiti is that anybody can write. You don’t have to be a great illustrator. And everybody also has their own unique writing style, so by default you’re already further along at being a graffiti artist than you think you are. Of course it’s a lot more complex than that, but we have a lot of cool activities planned to bridge the gap between street art and commercial art.
If there’s one lesson you hope Festival attendees will take away from your workshop, what would it be?
That it’s so much better to be the first all-original you than to be the second Picasso.
123Klan is leading one of the many workshops at the ADC Festival in Miami Beach, April 27–29. For more information please visit festival.adcglobal.org