Tuesday, 18 May 2010

123 klan

The world famous Canadian design and graffiti collective 123 klan are a 7 person force, but primarily, husband and wife team "Scien" & "Klor" run the show. They are an enormous inspiration to me, successfully bridging the gap from their illegal activities and becoming major players in commercial design, fashion, street and digital arts. Colour is a key weapon in their arsenal of work with a sparing approach used throughout, the palette never contains more than two colours plus a black or white. This combined with pop slogans, punchy type and whimsical characters creates a defined boldness of colour/shape and a tongue in cheek humorous quality.

"The Klan was formed in 1992 but when artist Scien and Klor discovered the typographic work of Neville Brody, graphic design became an extension of their graffiti output. They were the first to mix graffiti and graphic design on the web - making this platform not just a space to be seen but also a true creative tool. Likewise, the influence of graphic design is visible in the canvasses they continue to craft around the world".

123Klan pioneered what has now become the overused and incredibly cringey and genre of graffiti inspired graphics, which now is anyone's to clumsily pick up and knock out some cheap trainers or a website with. Which is unfortunate because what they produce, they do very tastefully and maturely with the end result looking very polished and cared for, a far cry from their many pastiches. Ultimately though this has given everyone's work a bad reputation i feel, and it is harder for those few gems of artists to shine through. Or easier, which ever way you look at it.

"Society still has an ambivalent attitude to graffiti. Multinational corporations pay graffiti artists to perform live writing events in building foyers, while their freelance counterparts are getting their collars felt for tagging the outsides of the same buildings. It’s a question of ownership.

The French duo known only as Scien and Klor has come in from the cold. Together, they founded 123klan in 1992, christening their graffiti writing outfit with a name that is now as much a design practice as it is a street culture totem. Their client list includes the likes of Sony, Nike, Adidas, Carhartt and Stussy.

Nowadays 123klan still does live graffiti exhibits around the world, but also produces books, customises toys and generally makes the world a better place to be. “We used to be wanted by the police,” says Scien. “Now we’re wanted by clients.

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