CHICAGO ARTIST CZR PRZ PAINTS A WILD PICTURE FOR THREADLESS
The Threadless office is slowly but surely becoming an art piece in and of itself. Chicago’s own street artist, CZR PRZ, helped the cause by donning our garage door with a queen of the jungle, complete with a serpent sash and ferocious headwear. We followed up with him afterwards to have some of our questions answered about his artistic adventures. Read on to learn about CZR PRZ and his wide range of skills and projects and to check out the majestic beauty of his work on our building.
The wild thing CZR PRZ painted for Threadless!
Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Chicago, between Logan Square and Stone Park, in a suburb on the west side outskirts.
How did you get into street art?
I’ve been doing art since as far back as I can remember, but the street art stemmed from my rebellious youth and love for graffiti. I started getting into graffiti and b-boying at around 12 and haven’t stopped since. I blame the music.
CZR PRZ painting at a Lollapalooza showcase. (Image courtesy of czrprz.com)
What do you bring to street art that’s unique from other artists?
I don’t think that I do anything that’s necessarily unique; I tend to follow a lot of trends happening in Europe, South America, and the West Coast. I like to think that my style sets itself apart with an illustrative approach and somewhat technical hand-rendering with spray paint.
What are the main materials you use to create your art?
It really depends on what the project calls for. When it comes to street art and mural work, I tend to use mostly spray paint and interior/exterior wall paint, but I also have a strong traditional illustration/production/design background from years of working in the professional field. I’ve done everything from high end screen printing and vinyl-signage to digital illustrations for corporate companies. I had to stop because it was a lot of soulless, thankless work… although decently paid. I’m glad I did it though, it helped expand my resources for developing my work.
Virgin Mary meets the Hindu Shiva from a “Pimp My Mary” contest in Rome. Xzibit was not in attendance. (Image courtesy of czrprz.com)
How did you hear about Threadless?
From not living under a rock. EVERYBODY and their unborn children have heard of you guys.
What inspired the work that you did for Threadless?
I’ve been doing a lot of work that deals with nature, mysticism, and theology. I grew up with a Latin-Christian/Santería background so much of that stuck with me.
Blackbirds singing against a CZR PRZ wall. (Image courtesy of czrprz.com)
Why do you think your art fits in so well with Threadless?
I’ve always felt that Threadless has been at the forefront of the current pop art and design movement in apparel form. I like to think that I’m a contributor to the movement and feel only natural that my artistic expression translates well with the Threadless aesthetic.
CZR PRZ putting the finishing touches on his mural at Threadless HQ.
You’ve been involved with several significant organizations (The Field Museum, Chicago Reader, Nike). Which project has been the most rewarding as an artist?
I really can’t say; everything brings its own reward and issues. Some of my favorite work to date though has been with Red Bull and Zipcar, the work I’ve been doing in other countries, painting walls during Art Basel, and of course, Threadless.
Natural beauty (Image courtesy of czrprz.com)
What other forms of art do you practice other than painting?
Like I said before, I’ve worked in various fields of art and design. My skill sets involve silk screen printing, digital illustration, signage, vinyl installation, studio art, and fabrication art (prop and installation art).
I read on your website that you fabricate props and sets. How is creating art on an object such as a shoe or a chair different from a conventional canvas?
Well its a whole different approach, being that they have their own set of laws and such. The furniture development is still a bit new to me, but I’ve managed to team up with some close friends who develop high end carpentry and have a great deal of support in difficult situations.
We thought we smelled bacon… (Image courtesy of czrprz.com)
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a street artist
The fact that my work doesn’t have a “pop” culture feel to it kind of sets it back, at least here in the states. I prefer developing a high quality piece to making work that’s catchy and witty, although there are some artists that are able to do “pop” work with a highly developed aesthetic that sets them apart from everyone else, such as Ben Frost from Australia or Denial from Canada. But, for the most part, I think many artists that go for this approach lack real technique or style. (Bring on the hate mail.)
What have you been working on lately? Any big projects?
Right now I’m in Carrara, Italy preparing for my solo show with EXP Gallery called Future/Primitive, as well as getting ready to paint a huge wall in the middle of town. I just got back from Rome where I was involved with CRACK Fest (great name, right?) where I slept in an old Spanish fortress called Forte Prenestino. Next up is Windsor, Canada for Free 4 All Wall mural fest, then a live art set with Malik Yusef, Kanye West’s ghostwriter, for Simple Good called City Of Big Dreams at Chop Shop. After that, maybe sleep.
A fiery red rendition CZR PRZ did for Chicago’s Mexican food hot spot, Carbon. (Image courtesy of czrprz.com)
PRESENTING OUR TATTOO DESIGN CHALLENGE WINNER!
Your body is many things: a vehicle, a sanctuary, and most importantly, a canvas! Wherever you get your tattoo on your body, it becomes part of who you are. Whether it’s the name of a loved one or your home team’s logo, tattoos are a way for people to take their art with them everywhere they go. Indonesian artist Bogie Budiyanto took the cake for our latest tattoo art design challenge with his intricate creation of intergalactic dragons. Keep reading to get to know Bogie and to pick up his new tee, “New Space Found”!
Congrats on your winning design, “New Space Found”! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks! Hello, I’m Bogie. I love drawing, lettering, and coffee. I currently live in Bandung, one of the beautiful cities in Indonesia.
When you spotted our Tattoo challenge, why was it the perfect outlet for your type of artwork?
Tattoos are like expressive statements on yourself. I love the visual of the tattoo, and how people put them permanently on their body for a lifetime. Plus, I think my artwork style fit for this challenge. That’s why I submitted to the contest.
Do you have any tattoos yourself? If so, please tell us about them.
I don’t even have a tattoo myself. But making a tattoo of my first win here would be nice! :)
This challenge was fairly broad in its requirements. How did you land on a concept?
The first thing on my mind was if you want a tattoo, it should be something beautiful or meaningful in your life. Because you don’t want to regret your tattoo someday, right? So I tried the best that I could do to make something like that. Also, when I read the brief for the contest, which said to “think about the style and techniques of some of the most incredible tattoos you’ve ever seen and use those to get started,” I kept that advice in my framework and concept development!
Your design is incredibly detailed and involved! What all is happening within it?
Everything came very naturally. I just made sure the linework and color combination worked well, because a tattoo needs a clear line. I zoomed in and zoomed out a lot for the detailing, and refined, checked and rechecked, then repeated. Then I added more hatching, texturing and airbrushing. (That’s something new for me, and it’s fun!)
I understand “New Space Found” recalls both Japanese and Indonesian influence. In what ways did you represent these influences in the design?
There’s so many visual styles of tattoo, but Japanese tattoo style (Irezumi) is my favorite. They used tattoos for spiritual, shield, and decorative purpose. Also, I live in Indonesia, which has a lot of cultural influences, like a Batik for example. So, I added mythological things, like a dragon, tiger, and phoenix, as well as water and waves in the composition. All of those have meanings in which people believe. I wanted to build that spirit into my design.
What was your process for creating this design? Please feel free to share any WIP’s, if available!
It’s probably similar to what another artist would do. I start from a rough sketch with pencil on paper, and play with composition and content. After I think it’s enough, I scan it and make a better digital sketch, then refine the sketch again and again. Because for me, the sketching phase is important; the better the sketch, the easier it is to execute. In the beginning, I wanted to make something big - use all front area of tee for an oversized tattoo, like a whole body Irezumi tattoo. But I tried and the detail became too complex, so I decided to leave the ornament and another element. It’s a hard decision, when you must leave another element that you’ve working on. I have to remember, “maximal is not always optimal, and optimal must be maximal.” Then I used Illustrator to trace up the basic line work and block colors, then finalized it with Photoshop for final rendering to add more detail. Then I put it onto a model as real tattoo, and I thought, not bad! I’m satisfied. Here’s the whole process:
What makes the creation of tattoo art unique from other genres?
Like Mr. Ami James from Tattoodo said, “Designing tattoos is not like designing a website or painting a picture.” Maybe because it’s permanent, and there’s pain in the creation? I don’t know, I’m not the tattoo expert. :)
Why does “New Space Found” make for such an intriguing tattoo?
There’s always great content and meaning in tattoos. I have never seen a sci-fi themed tattoo, so that’s why I put astronauts into it. Maybe they are lost, until they arrive at the colorful mythological galaxy. And it’s a little ironic, when sci-fi meets mythology. And personally, I like colorful tattoos.
Any other shout-out’s?
Thank you to Threadless and Tattoodo for this contest and choosing my design as the winner. I’m super thrilled for my first print! And to the community for their positive feedback, support and votes, you guys rock! It’s much appreciated! Enjoy your creative process, keep making a great art, and cheers from Bandung!