Check out these beautiful new additions to BLITZ. Completely unique and hand-painted in the East End by Ornamental Conifer, the jackets combine incredible craftsmanship with the rugged leathers.
Nicolai Slater began his creative journey somewhat unconventionally, having narrowly escaped the option of prison, he was offered a place at Middlesex University, after arguing the case for his grafitti on trains as art instead of criminal activity.
Ironically, at univeristy he developed a love for typography, railing against the trend at the time to sell graffiti on canvas as art. Prefering to photograph his work instead of developing and manipulating it on a computer Nico developed a natural and unusual style influenced by his love of old-school constructivism. In fact unless he was trying to pick up a girl he wouldn't even mention anything about his street-art roots, especially since graffiti had become a commodity at this time.
Upon leaving school, he was hastily snapped up by heavy hitting clients including Bumble & Bumble, enamoured with his distinctive hand-drawn work. After designing a sign for his stylist girlfriend something ignited - and this proved to be the catalyst behind a series of exhibtions and works. During this time he worked under two names, Ornamental Conifer and Nicolai Slater, which gave him valuable anonymity and also cunningly allowed the sale of twice as much work. Also, since Ornamental Conifer sounded like an art studio as opposed to a single individual it gave the impression of a busy studio at work when emailing prospective clients and collaborators.
Nico began painting on leathers two years ago, fundamentally he says because he wanted to be in a biker gang. Working for some big names he loved and respected, such as Deathspray Customs, he was moving on to new objects but then after a chance meeting with BLITZ General Manager John Howlin he made the decision to work on this new collection. The idea of working on specific and relevant pieces refreshed his perspective, especially considering who was the original owner and then who would buy it now. This project took one month to finish and the result of this is the collection you see here.
These jackets' identities, their style and fit and look, informed the artwork - Nico has spent time thinking about who would wear each one - what the personality of girl who wears the short tight biker or a guy who wears a large brown bomber - and the sort of artwork that would compliment it best.
Other influences on Nicos work include those you'd expect to see - punks, greasers and rockers, but also rap gangs of 1970s New York, and the artwork painted on jackets of the army airforce. Music is always on in his studio and constantly informs his work, with garage, punk and 90s UK hip-hop being the major influences, and Nico is quick to note the link between Hip-Hop and graffiti emerging from the 90s scene with Futura being among the notable creatives who refused to work on canvas when street art had been misappropriated from the streets to the art galleries. Skate and BMX crews, DJs, producers, artists from this generation - they're all in their 30s now - but when they made mixtapes they drew their own graffiti on the inlay card, and pressed play and record at the start of every song rather than right clicking in spotify. The anti-establishment attitude from this era is such a massive influence on Nico's work. Describing this as 'the right side of '84' they had 'the last of the cool toys' - skateboards, tape players, old school computers, but no moblies, no facebook - just basic tachnology, and it was the end of the second wave of punk really - this ethos is the consistent attitude in Nico's work and can be seen in every piece in the collection.
Available at BLITZ now.