Photography Alberto Figueroa
It’s a rare kind of master who can do so much. Julian has expanded the confines of art and fashion world with deft investigations of astrology, gender, sexuality, mythology, performance… He is mostly known for his extraordinary films, silk-text installations, photos, but overall he is an interdisciplinary artist playing with all kinds of media from music to motion, fashion, words. He is building a body of work that is both enigmatic, strong, simple and meaningful. With each project and work he is taking on, he is brooding his horizon, but at all times still staying in the lane of not overdoing it, and keeping the base well recognized, simple and firm. The way he expresses himself, the way he talks and uses his words, one could say that in another life, he was likely an acclaimed poet or philosopher.
Julian’s most recent work includes clients like Acne, Kanye West, Haerts – and also his own continuation of installment of ‘Hey, I Like You’. ‘Hey, I like You’ is an exploration of the relationship between people and precious objects and his third installment was presented at San Diego Art Institute a few weeks ago. The installment was also accompanied with his first runway show, his new music, music videos. For the runway show, Julian collaborated with Vans on shoes and Super Sunglasses on exclusive sunnies called simply ‘Super Julian Klincewicz’. His runway show was an ode to the sun and the moon, his pieces were on the first note very simple, but his detail game was strong. We talked to Julian prior and after the show and here is the outcome.
How long does it usually take to fully develop an idea?
I don’t know that ideas are ever “fully” developed… I think you get it to a place you think is 100% there, and then a few months after the work finished you realize way more about it. Because the meaning of something, especially in art, changes depending on context, and as soon as you have a public audience, and how much and what the audience gets out of it. For me an idea is developed enough to show, once I understand it. Once I can say 10,000% what it means to me – why every single detail is the way it is, where it’s going… I haven’t really worked on too many long-term projects yet. Probably like 3 months of figuring out what the idea actually is, and then a few months of clarifying it and working on it, and then a bit more to actually understand it in a meaningful way and present it.
Where does the process begin for you?
Generally it’s like “oh, this is something I’m really really feeling right now, and I just realized what it is!” where it makes you sorta want to go crazy, and then it becomes “this is” or “is this something I see in other people too, or in the world right now?” and then you start working, and then as you’re working, you start to conceptualize it a bit, and that gives you the next steps of what to do, and then you get some completely foreign inspiration, so then you have to relate those two things in a cohesive and real way… I notice every time I try to approach something as purely “this is the concept” and not from a place of “I feel this” it ends up a bit fake. I think very conceptually, but I don’t think that today, in 2016, it’s enough to just show a concept, it has to have viscerally and a reason why people can connect to it intuitively.
It’s also for me this process of like, bullshitting about how conceptual something is, until I can’t trick myself anymore, and I have to figure out which parts are actually true and which are not – that’s usually when something is ready to be put out I think – once you’ve stopped tricking yourself. Once you understand it.
What kind of reaction do you hope to get from people?
Oh boy… I mean it sort of depends. For people in San Diego, people who attend the show – I want them to feel cool. I want them to get dressed up and feel like they have something special to go to, like sex and the city on a Friday night, something exciting, something just for them, like they’re all VIPs. I want them to check out the runway show and think “Julian did a runway show? You can do that here? I bet could do that!” not even necessarily about fashion, but just about whatever it is they’re passionate about creating. I think the biggest thing is that I want people to feel like anything is possible, because that’s how I feel, and so far that belief has given me and let me create a lot of opportunities. And I think doing something like a runway show – something sort of un-attainable in San Diego and maybe a bit grandiose even – can be a bit of starting point or example somehow? I hope that doesn’t sound vapid. I just feel like there aren’t a lot of resources for young creative people in San Diego, but there is a lot of creativity. That to me is a problem – when people in positions of power, specifically in San Diego who have the resources to support local artists, whether it be geographical support, or financial, and they just don’t. I’m really lucky in that I get a lot of support for my ideas, so if I can be like “yo — just make your own thing, you can do it, all you gotta do is actually do it!” then maybe that can be a good thing.
I tried to open up a gallery with a friend earlier this year at a really beautiful space near my house, but the rent is so expensive it has been sitting empty for the past 9 months – we wanted to curate artists and show good work and create a scene, but the developers prefer to have a empty room, than to get $ 1100 dollars a month, instead of $ 1800. I want people in those positions, to feel like they need to get off their high horse and invest in culture – because they do. It’s not good enough to build a building and then charge an unattainable rent to where artists can’t get studio spaces and develop into something…
For people looking at the show online – I want the clothing of course to be good, it would be exciting if people like some of it, or are interested in it, or want to buy it… I really don’t know what to expect though… I’m trying my best to make some clothing that I’d be excited to wear, I’m trying to make some of the clothing better than what I think I could make, I’m trying to make something that will just be fun, I’m trying to make the presentation aspect – the catwalk – interesting and have the ending be a bit like a performance, a bit romantic… maybe this is the simplest way to put it – I’m hoping to make people feel something – feel connected, feel cool, feel possibility.
What makes you want to make fashion?
So the runway show is part of a larger body of work – a world sort of – called “HEY, I LIKE YOU”, and that work looks at our relationship to precious objects – how objects can help create a sense of empathy, because I think that’s something we all crave, but can be really hard to get. Like how do you convey to other people that you care about them and care for them, in an honest way today? It can be difficult for me anyways… So the first Installation of the work was these bigger silk flags, with gold foil text… the second one’s I showed in Tokyo, along side smaller handkerchiefs, that would be more like a gift that you could keep close to you – a bit more personal almost… And then the runway show Idea came as sort of a coalition of two different things… I’ve definitely put on a good pair of pants before and thought about someone special, and started feeling connected to this whole other world, and feeling better about myself, so clothing for me, when thinking abut “precious objects” doesn’t feel forced, that’s a real experience for me. And then I was also thinking about just that I’ll be moving out of San Diego soon, so what would be an interesting way to do a show there? What would be fun, and what would be relevant right now, and what would challenge me, and what would be interesting to other people…. A lot of my world is connected to fashion, but there isn’t much of a space for that in San Diego yet – there’s nothing close to a dover street or a opening ceremony – something that’s accessible and an interesting experience for someone who’s really interested clothing, as opposed to the affluent family who can go to the LV or Prada store at the mall and buy what ever they want… Demna and Lotta sort of reminded us that “fashion” right now is anything you want it to be, that you can invent it today, right now. My interest is in art, and to me fashion is just another art form… Does that make any sense haha? I feel like I’m rambling a bit.
How do you decide which idea is worth making a reality?
I do the one’s I have to… The one’s it would almost hurt not to do… like sort of a gut feeling, something I would do myself regardless of what the out come is, or if there were an audience – I think that’s sort how I decide if something is worth doing…Where does your interest for fashion come from?
It’s kind of an accident actually… I first got interested in fashion through Gosha, and I got interested in his work through skating and photography. After we did the video together for his A/W15 collection, I thought it was kind of fun and interesting to get to film clothing, and the people involved, and be a part of that atmosphere and mood. I thought Eckhaus Latta was really interesting – somehow it reminded me a bit of a beautiful internet or something, so I asked to do a video with them. Since then my work, specifically my video work, has sort of become more and more intertwined with fashion.
I think for me it’s also something new. That’s what always gets me inspired – a new place, a new color, a new flavor, a new medium to work in.This runway show was inspired by the sun and the moon, tell me more…
For me the moon is this really romantic symbol. The moon is sort of love you know? I think one thing I really like, is being a team… like having a partner. I think there’s a really specific power that can come from having a counterpart – whether it be romantic, or artistic, or platonic – someone to grow you… I think for me, in more broad romantic terms, that’s what the sun and the moon are.
I like to humanize things, I think it makes you feel more connected. So to me, the moon is sort of an androgynous teenage boy, and like a dark haired strong-featured girl, and a bit of an eternally sad caring and sensitive mother… The moon, he’s a golden boy, he got popsicle all over his face, and he’s a bit like Don Draper – an adulterous MAN, but someone who’s so fucked up because they actually care and can’t convey it. The sun and the moon are in love, and chasing each other sorta forever. But the sun, he cheated on the moon and fucked some comets, but they’re in love you know, so it just hurts, it doesn’t end it.
For the runway show, I’m going to have a few couples walk – like two at a time. I think that’s something I really like – dressing like a team, it gives me some re-assurance like “Okay, we’re in this together.” I think the sun and the moon are in it together.You don’t have a traditional training in fashion, so what was the hardest thing for you to conquer, as a newbie to the whole fashion scene?
Mmmm, right now just time. I have a friend who’s helping me with the technical sewing aspects; I went to a Waldorf School (Steiner School), so I learned how to sew, but I’d definitely have a bit of trouble putting in zippers or making the stitching look really clean. Right now the hardest thing is just organizing everything. Doing all the PR, scheduling fittings, organizing 24 different models, fabric shopping, checking samples & patterns, making sure the concept and feeling is focused in every part of the show, worrying about delays for production. I’m also working on four different videos at the moment, and have two trips coming up, planning what the album release will be like, and just finished laying out a new Zine – so maybe the hardest part is time management.
I think an important thing to remember is that for me, this is an art project, a performance piece sort of, it’s part of a bigger world or atmosphere, so that maybe makes it a bit easier – I think if I were trying to have a “fashion brand”, if the focus with it were to get into Dover Street Market & Barneys it would present a different set of problems. This one I just want to make good art.
Besides the runway show you have also released the third edition of ‘Hey I like you’, how does this installment differ from the first one?
Well, the third installment is sort of the runway show. I’ll be showing more silk flags, because that’s the basis of this project… The project as a whole, it’s like 5 different things, you have the silk flags, then you have the album, you have the videos, you have the clothing, and then you’ll have the zine as well eventually, a series of blankets. That’s what I mean by “world.” Like in an ideal world I could show all of it at a museum, we’d have two or three rooms with the silk flags, there’s like three different types – Large, Smaller, and then Lyric. We’d have the blankets. There would be a room with the installation of the videos, and then there would be a different type of presentation, sort of an installation piece, with all the clothing. It would be this whole world – the same way when you see Ryan McGinley showing in Tokyo or something, it’s the whole world he’s created through photos. That’s what I’m working towards with all this – being able to do a big presentation of all the different pieces, so that someone can come and experience the whole world. If anyone knows the curator over at The Whitney, holler at me!And besides fashion and silk flags, you also premiered a music video for ‘Lust’. ‘Lust’ will be featured on your album that will drop in wintertime, right? Can you please just talk me through your music and what is the main idea, the inspiration behind it?
The music actually came before the silk flags, or some of it did. In high school I’ve had bands with some friends, and that’s real fun. But with all the songs for this album, I wrote what I’d want to hear when I feel alone. Like when it’s 4:00 am and you can’t call any of your friends, and you just need a hug, when you feel really crushed… So they’re meant to be sort of a sonic hug. Some of the songs are for my friends, or my family, some for me, There’s one song that’s the conversation between the sun and the moon, which helped inform the runway show. They’re just sort of a hug from me to everyone else, and from everyone else to me.What is your favorite part of the day?
I always try to fight it, but probably like 12:00 – 4:00am. I also love really early in the morning – like 5:00 am to 9:00am, the afternoons, unless I’m going out skating, I’m usually just suffering through. I think there’s this thing that when the world is still, it’s easier to figure out who you are and what’s important to you, and how to be in the world, and how to be better to other people, and the world is never still in the afternoons.
Do you feel like an adult?
I actually like just started growing facial hair – which is horrible. My skin isn’t quite as soft as when I was a baby. So maybe? I try not to think about it too much. I think children are really perceptive, and that’s how we can communicate in a clearer way you know? So I try to mentally stay close to that outlook on the world. I like the aspects of being older that I can think in like prose text or in a movie or develop a concept and relate it to different mediums or whatever, and realize and understand how to use those to create something else, but I also like the naivety and sincerity that come with being a child. What does an adult feel like?
So it’s been few weeks since you presented the third installment of ‘Hey I Like You’, what are your thoughts on it now?
It’s funny, but I think it actually achieved everything I hoped it would. I think people in San Diego felt really engaged, we had an amazing turn out, and I learned a LOT. I’m still sorting through everything – like the video, photos, artwork, and so on.Can we expect more runway shows from you, or was this more of a one-time thing?
Time will tell. I think I would do it again, but it will be a bit different, maybe the emphasis will be more on the clothing, on designing than the concept as an art piece. But I think right now I don’t really have something else to say through a runway show. I said it already. So maybe once I have something else that feels important and relevant to the idea of a runway show, I’ll do season 2. I do think though, that I’ll end up doing a few capsule collections or collaborations based off of some of the pieces. I think it would be really interesting to work in that way, because it affords a different kind of freedom and process to get to work with someone else, and there’s nothing like a new kind of freedom.
By Katja Horvat