Alec Monopoly, today’s super hot and sought after American Street Artist is now the Art Provocateur of TAG Heuer! Another genius move from Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer. Always on the look out for novelty and freshness but also for ways to connect with the new generation of buyers, the Millennials.
Collaborating with someone like Alec will pave the way towards more unconventional and creative ways for brands to communicate their message and engage with their young consumers deeper. Disruptive communication, once taboo is gaining momentum and becoming more and more valued. There are so many images and messages thrown at us daily that it has become virtually impossible to block the noise and get to the real sound. So what better way to get the attention than by being the loudest and boldest?
TAG is not just using Alec’s name and fame but embracing all that he can bring to the brand with his style, talent and drive. He will be involved in every area of creation – from products, events, to marketing and communication. That must be the moment for an artist when he/she feels like they have arrived! I can only imagine the pride, gratitude and excitement he must feel.
I and some other lucky fellow guests, got initiated to the world of graffiti by Alec himself! We helped him spray the walls of the TAG Heuer manufacture! It would have also been fun to tag with him at night, on the DL! (Down Low)
I love the game! It started in 2008 when the economic crises began. I was watching the news and saw Bernie Madoff being arrested while I was playing Monopoly. It just clicked! I created my very first Monopoly painting right then and there on a canvas which I still have. I never finished that piece because I went to the streets and starting tagging this Monopoly man everywhere! Now it has transformed to a celebration of affluence. A lot of CEOs and big business men have these pieces in their offices as a good luck charm, as a motivation.
When did your collaboration with TAG begin?
At Art Basel Miami a few months ago. It’s deeper than a collaboration you know. I’m the Art Provocateur, which means that I’m a Brand Ambassador. I’m going to design dials and bands for TAG watches. I will also design work used to transform boutiques into art galleries. We did it in Art Basel Miami where we mixed watches with art work.
Will they be temporary Pop-Ups?
Yes. I’m here in the factory creating one-of-a-kind works that will be shown at the different pop-ups. It’s really cool to have the juxtaposition of the watches and art work in a space that is not just a watch shop but also an art gallery.
Do you have total freedom or certain boundaries that you need to respect?
That’s the best part of it! I have total freedom of expression – that’s when you get the best products. Mr Biver is amazing! He’s the one who brought me in and he gives me full liberty to do whatever I want.
What does Creative mean to you?
Being original and coming up with new ideas every day and thinking outside the box.
Do you still do street graffiti? If so, how do you pick your walls?
Of course! I like doing graffiti in obscure places. A lot of my work became known when I was doing graffiti in Beverly Hills because Beverly Hills isn’t an area where there is a lot of graffiti. To me the place you pick to do your graffiti is the same as a composition on a canvas. I like to go to places where no one has painted before. I find that your composition is your originality and being original in your spot is very important.
Billboards today are the coolest thing. It’s just amazing when you are able to climb all the way up and paint. To do that, I dress up like a construction or billboard worker and act as if I’m working but I’m actually doing graffiti!
I also choose areas that won’t impact anyone in a negative way. I am not trying to hurt anyone. I won’t paint on a small restaurant where the owner will have to pay out-of-pocket to fix it. I paint more on abandoned buildings that look ugly and need my color and brightness.
How does it feel to be recognized as an artist?
I really enjoy the reaction at art shows when people look at my work and smile.
Do you have any advice to pass on?
I work all the time. I don’t wait around for things to happen. If I don’t have something come to me then I work until it comes.
Do you find inspiration in the political landscape of today?
I stay out of that. I like to stay in my own Monopoly world and create my own colors, fun cartoon characters, iconic figures and connect with people.
I don’t like graffiti that are associated with vandalism, gangs or any negative messages. That is not Art for me.
What’s a typical day in your world?
There’s no typical day but if I’m painting in the street then I’m up all night. I like going out at 3am because the streets are dead and quiet. You can paint and run around. I paint until 6 – 7am when the sun comes out and people leave for work. Then I go to bed, wake up and have a fresh green juice. I live in Los Angeles where everyone is super healthy!
Do you think graffiti should be legalized?
On abandoned buildings it should be legalized. But the flip side of it is that it would get exploited by advertisers and it wouldn’t be as much fun. I love the rush of it you know!
Who do you look up to?
There are three artists who have really influenced me. Basquiat because he was a street artist who found recognition and got celebrated. Then Keith Haring, another street artist and of course Andy Warhol with his bright colors. I think he is a brilliant colorist.
Is there a new medium you are eyeing?
That’s what I will be doing here. I got a tour of the factory and got to see how watches are being made. It’s not about just adding an art work in the watch, it’s about it lasting for ever because the quality is there. I love watches so it’s just amazing being here and learning the process. I have a very steady hand from painting so I feel like I would be a great watch maker 🙂 So this is the time of exploration to figure out how to transform my giant art form which is graffiti to a small dial. I am creating images that are very impactful and will fit well.
I also just started working with sculptures. It takes a lot of patience which is hard for me because I’m used to running everywhere. It’s a challenge but I love new challenges. I work with small pieces then we make them large. I want to create sculptures that are bigger than life. I look up to Jeff Koons – his sculptures are crazy.
Do you have any new characters?
Yes, there is one which you saw today. He’s a version of me with the bandana. It’s very important to keep growing and changing. My work is always developing.
Do you buy art work?
Yes I do. I actually just purchased my first Andy Warhol piece! I traded two of my own paintings for one of his. That was an amazing moment for me. I looked up to him forever and never imagined the day when I would trade my work for his! I still had to do two of my paintings for one of his but still! I’m working my way up!
Where are you going after La Chaux-de-Fonds?
Headed to NY for my first ever fashion show and first time modelling on a runway! I will be walking for Phillip lim, also his first NY fashion week!
Will you wear your bandana?
Of course! I need to preserve my anonymity not to get in trouble!
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