Street Art Pioneer Eric Haze on Collaboration, Creativity, and China

In the nearly five decades since his first exhibition with graffiti collective The Soul Artists in 1974, New York-born-and-based Eric Haze has played a pivotal role in merging the worlds of street art, fine art, and graphic design. 

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Haze created the iconic logos for Tommy Boy Records and EPMD, album covers for Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys, as well as an eponymous fashion brand HAZE, which held three flagship stores in Japan. Over the past 30 years, Haze has also become a pioneer of art x brand collaborations, working with Nike, G-Shock, HUF, Heineken, Kiehl’s, and dozens of others.

Jing Daily recently caught up with Haze to discuss brand collaborations, lessons learned from his 30-plus years working in the Asian market, his growing presence in China, and upcoming projects. 

Jing Daily: The Japanese market has been huge for you and you’ve been really involved with it for a long, long time. What have you picked up along the way from the Japanese market in relation to your work? How does it differ from other markets, like China in particular? 

EH: Historically, Japan has a tendency to reshape import culture in their own image, which they have done successfully through streetwear and contemporary fashion, whether it’s A Bathing Ape, Sacai, or other homegrown fashion brands. What I can say 30 years later is that I think different places on the map have their moments in the birth of streetwear, following New York and Los Angeles.

Now China is having its moment in a similar fashion, introducing and synthesizing Western culture for their market, their mentality. You look and it has roots of its own. Especially for someone like me, the walls, conceptuality, between what’s considered a product and what’s considered art have sort of melted away.

Jing Daily: How are you conceptualizing the Chinese market in relation to the Japanese market, in terms of specific projects you may have planned for China? Right now streetwear and hip hop are having a moment there, as are artists like KAWS and Daniel Arsham, driven by a cultural consumer base. 

EH: We’ve absolutely had our eye on the prize and China for quite some time now. It’s been sort of commonly understood for many, many years now that China was sort of going to have its moment, led by people like [Daniel] Arsham and others. I have been to Beijing and I’ve worked in China before and I have been to Asia 30, 40 times from Singapore to Hong Kong. But right now, we have probably half a dozen projects in the works that are specifically targeted for China. Some of them are actually launching out of China first. And I would say that in everything we do these days, we have a conscious eye on Asia in general and China specifically.

It’s a little premature to release info, but I have a project that is very much in the luxury high-end fashion space that will be by far the highest-end and highest price-point fashion collaboration I’ve ever done. I’m very excited about that. And it’s very much rooted in the Chinese market, involving partners from Japan, Europe, and America. So it’s really got an international spirit. Then I have another major project in the professional sports space, which will ultimately relate to the Olympics in Beijing.  We’re also developing a product line and clothing capsule for a major China-only retailer.

Then finally, the third iteration of Beyond the Streets is coming to Shanghai. It was originally scheduled to release in Shanghai in September but due to travel uncertainty that show was pushed back to next year to give us a longer runway. So I would say the work we’re doing in the next six to nine months is probably more focused on China and the Asian market as much as anywhere else. Continue to read the full article here