Alexander Campaz is a designer based in Brooklyn, New York. His work is focused on geometry and color blocking. Alexander’s latest project is titled My Bro. It is a series of 32 athletic jerseys designed for dogs inspired by the FIFA World Cup.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Alexander Campaz. I was born in Colombia but raised in NYC. I grew up working with my parents in their sewing studio, so since I can recall I have been creating things. I taught myself how to screen print at the age of 12 and made soccer uniforms with my father throughout my teens. I graduated high school thinking I wanted to be a stock broker and quit after taking my series 7 exam and decided to make shirts and sell them at markets. After doing that for two years, I went to art school and received my BFA from Cooper Union where my interests were mostly philosophy and art as social practice. I spent the next couple of years launching several clothing and art projects, which has led me to my most recent project titled My Bro: Athletic jerseys for Little Champs. It is an athletic brand for dogs using the same fabric, printing techniques and sewing used to manufacture professional jerseys.
How has living in New York City affected your work? I grew up in New York City. I remember the old Times Square, the Bowery of the early 90’s etc. I even remember seeing Rocky 4 at the Old Victory theater. All of this shaped me and my work. What I can say is that New York City is a hard place; it has changed at least three times since my youth and every new version is more antiseptic than the last . At the moment I feel there is an exodus of creative talent happening and with it a great deal of the character and influence New York City has had on culture. In many ways, New York City has taught me to adapt, to be resourceful, and to stay focused. But I love this city and you just have to work with what you have. Maybe when I am done here I will move to a nice tranquil house in the south of the Czech Republic and start writing poetry again.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? There are a lot of things influencing my work at the moment. Tons of new music coming out that friends are sending me. It’s the stuff that keeps my energy going well into the night. I am also a production manager at my friends studio in Midtown, so I am influenced by the work happening there. We are doing product development for several brands and this keeps me very focused and pushes my work. I am influenced by the types of fabrics we are working with at the studio as well. I love mixing high and low end fabrics so to me it’s interesting to mix a $50 a yard silk, with a $2.50 a yard micro mesh, and a $10 chiffon or crepe and make active wear out of that.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? At the moment I have a new project titled My Bro. It is an athletic brand for dogs inspired by the World Cup happening in Brazil this coming June. I have designed 32 authentic jerseys of the qualifying teams and all of these jerseys are for dogs. In many ways this is a full circle, and I have gone back to my earliest love of soccer design, printing, and my constant love of dogs which have always been a part of my life.
What designers are you interested in right now? To be honest I am feeling some of the stuff I am seeing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is just some stuff in there that is timeless. But I am also feeling the latest collection of Antonio Marras. A lot of texture play and blocking, and I always love polka dots. Band of Outsiders for everything they are doing with polka dots, stripes and gradients. I would say almost anything that Haider Ackermen showed for AW 2014. Hood By Air had an amazing collection this season that is truly making me want to revisit making track jackets for some reason. Opening Ceremony and Robert Geller as well.
What past trends in fashion should never come back? Unfortunately all horrible fashion trends come back because like history we forget they ever came into being and so we will be cursed to repeat history.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? In an ideal world I would have loved to collaborate with Alexander McQueen. To see someone of that depth work has to be life altering. I once saw a video of him talking about a fabric that he wanted to develop but he was so ahead of his time that it took technology 10 years for the fabric to be developed. What do you even say to that? But of living designers, hands down Aitor Throup.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops. I honestly don’t have a specific method. I think that if you are constantly working on your craft there are always ideas flowing. Some become more clear in your mind and you begin to flesh them out until you can really put it together. But for every idea that comes to fruition, maybe 3 or 4 or even 10 just don’t happen. It’s a constant work in progress.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? I remember very clearly when I was in art school that I didn’t want my work to be imposing or alienating. I do not have anything against the art world but a lot of the work I see seems very exclusive and selective. You can go to an art gallery or even a fashion show and be puzzled by what you are seeing. You question the value of what you are looking at and this question is also a reflection about your tastes. Maybe you are not smart enough, maybe you aren’t educated enough or maybe you just don’t get it. And so when I make things I want there to be an experience that invites a person to relate to the work. To me the power of any work is the interaction it has with the viewer, the dialogue that happens and how a person fills in the gaps of that experience. For example, right now I am making soccer jerseys for little dogs inspired by the World Cup. Although it is a very simple and cute project different people relate to it in different ways and I am happy to see peoples reactions and ideas about it. I am promoting the project through a Kickstarter campaign and because of that people from all over the world are sending me emails and messages about the project. I have had message exchanges with someone that loves typography and was keen on the fact I used a retro typeface from the 70’s so the exchange and her write up of my project was about typography. Other people loved the designs which reminds them of soccer jerseys from the early 90’s, and so I have had long exchanges with people about the design of soccer jerseys from that time. Yet other people just loved the way their dogs will look in these jerseys. I had no idea there was such a huge community of dog lovers all over the world. I mean just look at the account of dogsofinstagam on Instagram and you will see what I mean. One of the images from my campaign went viral and dogsofinstagram posted it and it got 17,000 likes in a day. Someone from Fox Sports saw the image, clicked on my work and posted my work that same day on Fox Sports. I even had a long email exchange with a fellow Colombian about the politics of Colombia and how the violence during the 90’s affected a whole generation of Colombian soccer players. And so getting back to your question. If a person walks away with any type of connection to my work then I feel I have accomplished something.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? So I am Skyping with a friend I have not seen in ages and I send him an email with images of my new work while we talk and as he opens up the images I can see his eyes open up and says to me…”So wait I don’t get it, you are making clothes for dogs now?”.