THE CULTURE: THE STORY OF THE CUSTOM TIMBERLANDS

Photography by : Milli G

Text by : David Sabastian

March 30, 2014

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WE AS A GENERATION HAVE IDOLIZED LOGOS FOR SOMETIME. WE IDENTIFY WITH CERTAIN BRANDS LIKE WE IDENTIFY WITH RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS. CERTAIN LOGOS THAT WE GREW UP EXTOLLING LIKE THE ROC-A-FELLA LOGO – THAT TO ME WAS AS PROMINENT IN MY CHILDHOOD AS THE CRUCIFIX. WHENEVER WE SEE THESE LOGOS WE INSTANTANEOUSLY FIND A CONNECTION WITH THEM. IT BRINGS US BACK TO A CERTAIN MOMENT IN OUR LIFE WHEN WE CONNECTED TO IT. IT HAS BECOME SO ENGRAINED IN OUR DNA THAT WE ALMOST CAN RECALL THE VERY FIRST MOMENT WE EVEN SEEN IT. USING THE ROC-A-FELLA EXAMPLE, I REMEMBER SEEING THE “THROUGH THE WIRE” VIDEO AND JAY-Z CROWNING KANYE WITH THIS GOLD PENDANT. IT REPRESENTED ROYALTY TO ME. SEEING JAY-Z WEAR A PINK DIAMOND ENCRUSTED ROC-A-FELLA CHAIN AND PONDERING IF I WOULD EVER BE RICH ENOUGH TO AFFORD ONE. I REMEMBER WANTING ONE SO BAD! LIKE WHEN I FIRST SAW THE STATE PROPERTY MOVIE AND BEANS HAD ONE FLUTTERING AROUND HIS NECK. ROC-A-FELLA REPRESENTED A DREAM. A DREAM OF RAGS TO RICHES. THAT A DRUG DEALER FROM MARCY PROJECTS COULD PUT ALL OF HIS FAMILY ON AND BUILD A DYNASTY.

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I GUESS THIS TYPE OF SYMBOLISM IS WHAT KIND OF INSPIRED ME TO DRAW LOGOS ON TIMBERLANDS. THE IDEA THAT PUTTING THESE LOGOS WOULD SIGNIFY THE CULTURE AND MAKE YOU AND SPECTATORS FEEL A CONNECTION, BRING YOU BACK TO A TIME WHEN THESE LOGOS WERE PROMINENT IN YOUR LIFE. OBVIOUSLY ROC-A-FELLA NEVER MADE TIMBERLANDS AND IF THEY DID THEY DAMN SURE WOULDN’T HAVE HAD A NO LIMIT LOGO NEXT TO THEM BUT IF THEY DID HOW ILL WOULD THAT BE? THE NO LIMIT LOGO MADE ME WANT TO SELL CDS OUT OF MY TRUNK AS A KID. IT MADE ME WANT TO HUSTLE AND IT GAVE ME HOPE. HOPE THAT I WONT FALL VICTIM TO MY CIRCUMSTANCES BUT I COULD MAKE IT OUT LIKE MASTER P. I WAS IN FRONT OF MY MIRROR SHIRTLESS WITH ALUMINUM FOIL IN MY MOUTH SCREAMING “MAKE EM SAY UGHHHHHH!” THAT LOGO WAS SO ENGRAINED IN MY YOUTH THAT IT PROBABLY HAD MORE OF AN EFFECT ON ME THAN MY SCHOOLING.

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THE REASON WHY I CHOSE TO DO 90′S RECORD LABEL LOGOS IS BECAUSE I FELT PEOPLE WOULD NOT JUST CONNECT WITH THE LOGOS AESTHETICALLY BUT CONNECT WITH THE FEELING THEY HAD WHEN THEY FIRST CONNECTED TO THEM EMOTIONALLY! I KNOW WHAT THAT N.W.A LOGO MEANT TO A KID WHO GREW UP IN LOS ANGELES IN THE MID 90′S. ART IS ALL ABOUT PULLING EMOTION. IF YOUR ART MAKES PEOPLE FEEL NOTHING THEN IT ISN’T ART. I DRAW THINGS FOR THE CONNECTIVITY BETWEEN ART AND THE CONSUMER. THE MOVIE BOYZ IN THE HOOD WAS A STAPLE FOR THE CULTURE AND I KNOW HOW IT MAKES PEOPLE FEEL TO REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME THEY SAW IT. TO ME, MOVIES LIKE BOYZ IN THE HOOD OR FRIDAY HAVE THE SAME RELEVANCE TO ME AS MUSIC DID IN THAT ERA BECAUSE THE MUSIC WAS THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE MOVIES WE WATCHED. I REMEMBER FIRST SEEING SOUTH CENTRAL AND MY MOTHER SHUTTING IT OFF AND SAYING I COULDN’T WATCH IT BECAUSE IT HAD TO MANY CUSS WORDS. I REMEMBER STAYING UP TO 4 IN THE MORNING AND WATCHING IT WHEN MY MOTHER WENT TO SLEEP. ALL OF THESE EMOTIONS COME BURSTING OUT WHEN I SEE THAT LOGO ON A PAIR OF TIMBS. THE BOOTS BECOME A PORTRAIT OF MY CHILDHOOD.

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SOME PEOPLE MAY CALL IT BITING WITH THEIR LACK OF INSIGHT AND INTELLIGENCE. BUT WHAT I’M DOING ISNT BITING. WHEN WOULD YOU EVER SEE KEITH HARING FIGURES NEXT TO A DEATH ROW LOGO? HOW WOULD THAT COLLABORATION EVER COME ABOUT? HOW WOULD YOU SEE PICASSO NEXT TO A HOOD BY AIR LOGO? THE COLLABORATION OF THESE TWO BRANDS ARE HISTORIC BECAUSE IT REPRESENTS WHAT COULD BE. WHAT IF BASQUIAT WAS ALIVE RIGHT NOW, WHO WOULD HE COLLABORATE WITH? HOW WOULD THAT LOOK? WHEN I PUT THE PRESTIGE OF A ROLEX LOGO NEXT TO A WU-TANG SYMBOL I CREATE SOMETHING THAT WOULD HAVE NEVER EXISTED. WHAT IM REALLY DOING IS MAKING YOU FEEL EMPOWERED, WEALTHY, HOOD, GUTTER, HIGH FASHION, BOOTLEG, AND GANGSTER ALL AT THE SAME TIME. YOU LOVE THEM BECAUSE IT IS ALL APART OF YOUR DNA. YOU ARE ALL OF THESE THINGS.

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AS AN ARTIST MY JOB IS TO CREATE A WORLD THAT DOESN’T EXIST. THESE BOOTS ARE A TESTAMENT TO THAT IDEA. THE IDEA THAT EVEN THOUGH THESE LOGOS REPRESENT DIFFERENT WORLDS AND DEMOGRAPHICS THEY ARE ALL RELATED WHEN THEY ARE PUT SIDE TO SIDE. THAT GANGSTER WHO WAS BUMPING N.W.A SELLING C.D’S OUT OF HIS TRUNK BECAUSE MASTER P WAS HUSTLING TO BUY THAT ROLEX OR THAT GUCCI. THEY ARE NOT BUYING IT FOR THE QUALITY, OR EVEN THE DESIGN, BUT FOR WHAT THE LOGO REPRESENTS. IF YOU’RE FROM THE HOOD YOU KNOW DAMN WELL YOU COULD THROW A GUCCI LOGO ON SOME CHOPSTICKS AND THEY WOULD SELL OUT! THE KID WHO GREW UP ON WU-TANG AND LEARNED THAT CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND HIM WAS ALSO A BIG ART ADVOCATE GROWING UP IN NEW YORK SEEING HARING’S ARTWORK ON TRAINS AND SUBWAYS. THESE THINGS ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED. THEY ALL COME FROM THE SAME PLACE. THE CULTURE. THE CULTURE OF JUXTAPOSITION. THE CULTURE OF YING AND YANG. THE CULTURE OF GRIT AND LUXURY. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT GUCCI OR LOUIS VUITTON WOULD HAVE EVER BEEN AS COOL IF ONLY SNOBBY, OVER-CAFFEINATED WHITE WOMEN IN THE HAMPTONS WORE IT. AS MUCH AS THEY MIGHT LIKE TO SAY “NIGGAS” KILLED THEIR BRAND I THINK IT’S THE OPPOSITE. IF IT WASN’T FOR ALL THESE RAPPERS BRAINWASHING KIDS TO BELIEVE THEY NEED THESE LOGOS TO BE COOL YOUR BRAND WOULD BE IRRELEVANT.

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THE REASON I DECIDED TO TITLE THIS STORY THE CULTURE IS BECAUSE WHAT I HAVE DONE HAS DIRECTLY INFLUENCED OUR CULTURE. I GET DOZENS OF PHOTOS A DAY FROM PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD THAT SAY I INSPIRE THEM. ARTISTS WHO FOUND A NEW OUTLET OF EXPRESSION WHEN THEY CAME ACROSS MY WORK. A FATHER ON INSTAGRAM SHOWED HIS TWO KIDS DRAWING ON SOME TIMBERLAND BOOTS BECAUSE I INSPIRED THEM. THERE IS NO GREATER FEELING FOR ME THAN KNOWING I AM INSPIRING PEOPLE TO CREATE ART. SOMETIMES PEOPLE TAG ME IN OTHER PEOPLES’ POSTS AND SAY THAT OTHER ARTISTS ARE BITING ME. I DONT LOOK AT IS AS BITING AT ALL. TO BE QUITE HONEST, IT’S FLATTERING. I LOOK AT IT AS SOMEONE BEING INSPIRED TO CREATE SOMETHING THEY SAW THAT THEY COULDN’T OBTAIN. I KNOW I DIRECTLY IMPACTED THE CULTURE WHEN I GO ON TUMBLR AND SEE PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD DRAWING ON THEIR TIMBS. THERE ARE KIDS SENDING ME PHOTOS EVERY DAY AND SAYING THAT I AM THEIR HERO. THAT IS A BIGGER REWARD THAN ANY CELEBRITY BUYING A PAIR OR ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY IVE EVER MADE SELLING CUSTIMBS. IF I HAD ANY ADVICE TO GIVE TO ASPIRING ARTISTS WHO WANT TO USE TIMBERLANDS AS A CANVAS IT WOULD BE TO FIND THINGS THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT AND DRAW THEM. CREATE YOUR OWN WORLD.

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WERE VOTED THE NUMBER ONE TREND BY COMPLEX MAGAZINE AFTER THEIR DEBUT WITH 424 ON FAIRFAX. THAT WAS THE POINT WHEN THEY BECAME POPULAR. WHEN THEY BECAME THIS “THING” THAT PEOPLE WANTED. ALL OF A SUDDEN I WAS GETTING HUNDREDS OF ORDERS FOR A PRODUCT THAT WAS MEANT TO ONLY BE MADE IN LIMITED QUANTITIES. BEFORE I KNEW IT I WAS CONTACTED BY DOPE® AND ASKED TO DO A COLLABORATION WITH THEIR STORE. WE PUT IN A DOZEN CUSTIMBS IN THE STORE AND WITHIN 2 WEEKS THEY COMPLETELY SOLD OUT! THAT WAS MONUMENTAL FOR A KID LIKE ME WHO INITIALLY ONLY STARTED DOING CUSTIMBS BECAUSE I COULDN’T AFFORD A NEW PAIR OF TIMBERLANDS. THIS IS THE ORIGIN OF THE CREATION. I HAD A BEAT UP PAIR OF TIMBERLANDS THAT I BOUGHT A COUPLE MONTHS PRIOR THAT I WANTED TO WEAR FOR A VIDEO SHOOT. IF I HAD THE MONEY I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT A NEW PAIR BUT I HAD TO WORK WITH WHAT I HAD. DING! I HAD AN IDEA! IF I DRAW OVER THE SCUFFS AND DIRT MARKS THEN THEY WOULD LOOK FAIRLY NEW. I STARTED DRAWING ON THEM AND MY PLANNED WORKED. I TURNED A DILAPIDATED PAIR OF TIMBERLANDS INTO A WORK OF ART. THATS HOW IT ALL BEGAN! THE MOST BRILLIANT IDEAS COME FROM THE NEED OF THE SOMETHING. THE VOID. THE LIGHT WAS CREATED BECAUSE THERE WASN’T ANY. THE AIRPLANE WAS CREATED BECAUSE WE NEEDED A FASTER WAY OF TRANSPORTATION. CUSTIMBS WERE CREATED BECAUSE I COULDN’T AFFORD A BRAND NEW PAIR OF TIMBERLANDS. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT SWIZZ BEATZ WOULD HAVE BEEN MY BIGGEST SUPPORTER? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT RIHANNA AND DJ MUSTARD WOULD HAVE BROUGHT A PAIR? I WOULD NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS THINK THAT MY FASHION IDOL PHARRELL WOULD BE SO INSPIRED THAT HE WOULD DRAW ON HIS OWN TIMBS! THATS PRETTY AWESOME, AND IT’S ALL BECAUSE I TURNED A NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE. IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD SOMETHING THEN CREATE IT. IF YOU CAN’T CREATE IT THEN DESIGN IT. IF YOU CAN DESIGN IT THEN THINK IT. IF YOU CANT THINK IT THEN YOU’RE FUCKED.

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IN CONCLUSION, YOU CAN CALL MY CUSTIMBS ART, OR YOU CAN CALL THEM A TIME MACHINE. YOU CAN IDENTIFY WITH THEM AND FEEL PROUD TO WALK IN THEM. YOU CAN GET STOPPED 100 TIMES A DAY BY PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY WITH THEM AS MUCH AS YOU DO. YOU CAN REMEMBER A TIME WHEN YOU FIRST WERE INTRODUCED TO THESE BRANDS AND SINCE YOU CAN’T HAVE THAT TIME BACK YOU CAN WEAR THESE TO HAVE A PIECE OF WHAT WILL NEVER BE AGAIN. YOU CAN WEAR THESE TO THE CLUB TO STUNT BECAUSE YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON IN THE PLANET WHO HAS THEM ON. YOU CAN CALL THEM FASHION OR YOU CAN CALL THEM YOUR CHILDHOOD. YOU CAN CALL THEM BOOTLEGS, RIP-OFFS, OR EVEN “FAKE.” YOU CAN CALL THEM COOL, DOPE, TRILL, RAW OR YOU CAN CALL THEM THE CULTURE.

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BROUGHT TO YOU BY

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  • Shea Reiswig ANTI

    Holy shit…

    Beautiful.

    Such a great post. So inspiring.

    I love the line “IF YOU CANT THINK IT THEN YOU’RE FUCKED” haha

  • Peter Coultas

    Very nice article David. Still waiting on mine haha.

  • junkthedragon

    As an artist we punch holes in to reality called art that is the manifestation of one manipulating space and time with there own soul.

  • houtan

    This is some middle school level writing. Never knew someone could write so much bullshit about some “custimbs” that you drew on with sharpies.

  • Kamyron Alston

    i want to know how and what to use to custom timbs myself

  • Raphel Young

    My nigg. Beautiful piece