S: Yeah, that was originally a shirt design for the Deftones. I have been working with the Deftones for 17 years. There are some special dynamics in the band, there are three teams or camps within the band. One part says: Steven Vogel, yes. The singer basically says: Nope! The guitarist says: More evil. And that was an example when they could not agree, and when one says: We don’t do this, it will not be done.
That’s right, completely different imagery, the motif, very complex. When I started using Photoshop and Illustrator, I experimented a lot. Your own style is constantly evolving. Not necessarily progressive, but just in every direction.
I have already made a lot of shirts, where I’m totally different from my mind, compared to the stuff that will be released. I’m mostly bringing out stuff where I know they’re selling because I have to pay the bills like any other person. And try to bring things out in between which correspond more to my desired aesthetics, which I myself can not fulfill, because I still do not master the technique. And some styles do not have any success at all. I released a shirt earlier this year. Could not do it the way I wanted, because I still lack the technics, and it really did not interest anyone. Not one single person ordered it.
Q: For real? Which one was that?
S: That was a mixture of philosophical texts and 80s Tron oriented graphics. I thought that was awesome, but I only got Hatemail, like: What are you doing? Get the skulls out!
F: Interesting! Then there are really rare pieces out there.
S: Yes, sometimes it’s only three shirts which I sell, and I can not influence it at all. Really weird. When art is tied to commerce, it follows the rules of the consumer. For me, it’s often the case that the things that sell well do not really interest me anymore. It is just the way. It’s nice, but my head as an artist is not fulfilled.
And the thinks that I think are really cool, that take me further, often do not go well commercially. Sometimes yes, sometimes not. Super strange. I notice that I currently spend more time on the computer as with drawing. That’s because I do not master it. I’ve never learned graphic design, not at all. But I’m just interested, I would like to learn a little bit more.
Q: That’s time consuming.
S: Absolutely, and if my head is full of references that I want to translate, then break that down to three four words, but also in the graphical language, wow! I pull my hat off so blatantly to people who can do that. Travis Kane, for example, holy shit, so on point. It will take decades before I get there.
The ACG Connection
Q: Okay. another change of topic: Do you have any connection to Nike ACG?
S: Yes, I actually have. My dad was my connection. He was an enthusiastic amateur triathlete. My grand cousin had been working at Runners Point in Hamburg Altona. That’s the connection, I always liked what they did. My first real sneakers were Nike ACGs from the said Runners Point store. I just loved the subject and I love to be outside. I do like sports, but I’m not an athlete in the sense, I like climbing and mountaineering, for example.
The aforementioned grand cousin emigrated to Morocco in the mid-90s to become a mountaineer in the Atlas Mountains. And he’s still there, I visited him a few months ago. And he lives very deep in the Atlas Mountains as a mountaineer. Earn money with group tours. He had a big influence on me at that time, he was a dead ass cool bloke. Long hair and smoking weed and just on the edge. But he was still an athlete. No an athlete as Nike likes to present, basketball player, athlete or runner. For him, this ACG topic was really great at the time, because he was in the mood for things. And I also found it very interesting, when back then, I think around 2004, this whole Considered line came out.
Q: Yes, the Nike designer Steve Mc Donald, who was mentioned earlier, also participated in the development of the Considered line.
S: really cool! And when that came out I thought: Okay Nike, now you have me again. The sustainability idea behind it was great. The shoes were cool. That’s been dropped by Nike, right? Does not exist anymore, Considered?
Q: Among other things, it was about not glueing the shoes anymore, so that these poisonous glue can be saved by just constructing the sole parts so they can be put together without glue, and techniques such as these were partially adopted and used to this day, but no longer under the Considered label, or they just call it Considered Design.
S: Great. I always liked this claim, this connection with nature. And away from: I am a professional athlete, to: I like to be outside, therefore need hot shit. Also the stuff from Nike for the Special Forces I found super interesting at that time.
I also served for two years in the army and have had various experiences, what the demands on footwork bring with it. Gary Warnett had told me that back then, GWARIZM, who had sent me a link: Ey Steven, look here, Nike is building shoes for the Delta Forces. I was like this: Boah, awesome! The applications that you have as a manufacturer I find almost more interesting than the latest hype shoes, so this is why I found ACG so interesting.
Q: Yes, and as Steve Mc Donald mentioned, Nike did not really push the ACG line at that time, the managers where not really that interested, it was all about Jordan but they were allowed to do their thing.
S: Haha, yes, cool.
Q: And this whole considered line was probably not very profitable commercially. Not many people understood that back then, the whole formal language. I still remember how the stuff in the shops died in the sale sections.
S: Yes, zero. But it was cool. They where not the most beautiful shoes, but I liked to wear them. I interviewed Sandy Bodecker from Nike back then, who was involved in that as well, before he brought up the whole Nike SB thing and he put the pieces on the table for me. And he’s like this: Here, look at this. And I like this: What ?!
The visual language was great.
Q: Yes, exactly, this moccasin with the braided Toebox.
S: Yes, that was the connection back then. Great stuff.
Q: And what do you think of the recent developments? For example Errolson Hugh of Acronym who had made several ACG lines? Do you still pursue such things?
S: Yes, I’m following this.
S: Does it interest you?
S: No, not really. I know Erolson from Burton times, he worked at Burton at the same time as I did as a designer. Erolson as a designer is very capable. I do not like how he presents himself. That is very strange to me. It’s a very blatant personality cult that rules there. It’s just not what I like.