IN CONVERSATION WITH JOSHUA VIDES
words by FLORIS MÜLLER
“I don’t do side projects”
For the special collection on the occasion of Colmar’s 100th anniversary, the Italian fashion brand collaborated with the American artist Joshua Vides. The painter says, he was given carte blanche in his interpretation of the brand. “An immense honour, of course. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. In collaborations I expect brands to open completely, as I do. I don’t do side projects,” says Vides. “At the same time, I have also felt pressure: this is not just any collection, but one that will be cited for years to come, as the design for the centenary.” A conversation with Vides.
As I understood you have only had 24 hours to complete your designs, isn’t that too short to come up with a series of designs for such an important collection?
Yes, it is. But at the same time, I think limiting time, and minimizing the number of adjustments, makes you stick to your original ideas. It keeps the basic concept fresh.
Colmar is an established Italian fashion brand with 100 years of experience, you have a name as a free-spirited artist. Doesn’t that clash?
From the first moment we met, and Colmar told me they wanted me to design their collection to celebrate their centennial, I have felt a tremendous mutual respect. We might not have the same background or approach, but we both very much embrace quality.
Upon the presentation of your collection, the CEO of Colmar Giulio Colombo said the history of his family-owned company scared him a bit; meaning the bar is high in everything Colmar does. Have you felt pressure, knowing you were making designs for such an important event, the 100-year anniversary?
I think that impression is part of Italian charm. I have gotten to learn about Italian culture through my wife, who is part Italian. But yes, indeed, designing for Colmar 100 you know your work will be remembered for years to come, as long as Colmar exists. In making my design, I have not been limited; Colmar gave me carte blanche in my interpretation of the brand and its history. I am proud of the 10 designs that came out of that. It’s an immense honour, of course. But, …
I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. In collaborations I expect brands to open completely, as I do as an artist. Apart from that, I don’t do side projects. I only work together in main collections as you don’t want to be the face of something new a brand does.
Colmar is about quality, you said, their collections throughout history have always shown to be fun too, not too serious,…
Yes, indeed. It’s been great fun working with Colmar. I appreciate them being open to new ideas, how crazy they might sound at first. Colmar has always worked together with athletes and artists alike, and that, I believe, is partly why the brand is so successful.
This hasn’t been your first collaboration with a fashion brand.
No, it hasn’t, since 2017 I have worked together with FENDI, New Balance and other fashion brands. But I’ve also partnered with The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, MLB and Google. In 2009, right after high school I started out with my own fashion brand. And in that, I’ve always sought for collaborations with others. Where at first, it was me pushing for partnerships, I am lucky that brands like Colmar now come up to me and ask me to do something together.
How the arts have changed,…!
Artis have, and I think for the good. Where artists once were very much dependent of galleries to get their message through, I know see that collaborations with brands give a new canvas to reach new audiences. It all started with Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton, since then you see most brands work with guest artists and designers.
Artists themselves have become brands
They have. I think that the definition of art has expanded; through social media you see that the lives and lifestyle of artists are as important as the work they make. I’ve heard of this painter who maybe sells four paintings a year for $ 5.000 each but at the same time earns millions through his Instagram-page on merchandize.
Colmar is a ski and sportswear brand, do you ski yourself?
I used to snowboard, haha [points at his forehead, to a scare of an accident Vides had as a child], but now I don’t anymore. I do like the style around it. I don’t wear Colmar as well, before you ask. I respect the brand immensely, but really feel I have a personal style and an artistic style and they will never meet.