Interviewed by: Jesse Carr
Photography by: Sam Alive
Produced by: Dan Hwang
The work of Kimou Meyer, aka Grotesk, has been an integral part of streetwear and sports design for years. You may not know it, but his work has adorned designs for Nike, Uniqlo, Alife, Stussy, Only NY, and many others. An angular, accented Swiss-born artist with a penchant for whimsical provocation has slowly and methodically worked his way up from blogging on the graffiti website 12oz. Prophet to becoming a partner and co-creative director at Doubleday & Cartwright, a go-to firm for commercial work that ranges from large Nike projects to Americana-inspired graphic work for Carhartt WIP.
On the drive to the Doubleday & Cartwright, we passed through Williamsburg streets lined with a succession of graffiti pieces that range from quick tags on a fence to bubble letter “throw-ups” on a brick wall to fully-realized commissioned work on storefronts. The metal doors outside the firm feature recent work from artists, as the vandal squad “beautified” the city by painting over the previous work that was scrawled on the entrance a few weeks back.
After passing through the rooms lined with a glass case filled with vintage American sports artifacts like a vintage set of Mets bubblegum cards and a wall with a 44 x 46 photo of Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hoepker, we were led to Kimou’s studio downstairs, a studio filled with inspirational items. As Kimou took time to explain his space, he then shifted gears (and moods) to compose a drawing for about 10 minutes. He took the time to retrieve the proper pencils and pens and methodically went about his work, seeming to block out all else, including the looming photographer. He explained during the interview that drawing was his yoga, his escape from the meetings, drafts, phone calls, and deadlines. We saw him take a deep breath, grab his tools, concentrate, and craft.
With work inspired by the street, but unlike others you may be familiar with, he emphatically told us during our conversation: “I hate street art.” Click through for a chat with a commercially-successful artist who has earned his underground stripes through hours of digging for information and proving his ability to have a fresh, unique take on the scene. After reading, don’t fight the urge you may have to get back to working with your hands after you put down the phone to free them up again.