At each HIT + RUN event, Flower and Crivello act as curators, selecting from their network of artists to create an exclusive, one-of-kind art experience for all types of events.
What’s the story behind H&R? How did it all started?
Brandy: I was working as an Art Director for Sony Music (from 1996-2006) designing album covers for rock bands, as well as collaborating with friends like frosty at dublab on flyers, art shows and happenings. Often I was asked to design a band’s t-shirt graphic, but even though I felt that I understood various art techniques, the shirts sometimes didn’t turn out exactly as I had imagined. In 2000 I finally decided to learn how to silkscreen, and bought a small starter kit online so I could make my own shirts. I practically ruined everything that I printed on during the first year, but learned a lot in my tiny apartment kitchen-turned-studio. I’d invite friends over and tell them to bring old shirts that we could print on, or we’d do a thrift store run and grab weird cheap tees. I would teach people the process, and it was so fun for them to get involved that they would eventually take over the printing by themselves.
Mike: I had screenprinted before and had my own cut+sew line called “SUBTITLE” that B had designed the lookbook and a couple of graphic tees for back around 2002. We had first met in 1992 while at college at Cal State Fullerton and had stayed good friends. After Subtitle ended after a few seasons, I began designing a line of limited edition t-shirts focused around 90′s hip-hop culture.
Brandy: I remember the first time Mike came over to print and brought a belt & jeans to customize… Here I was trying to figure out how to print a t-shirt and this dude had already moved on to pants & accessories! Djs, artists and friends flooded through my one-bedroom apartment and spawned many late night sessions as well as lifelong bonds. Everyone from Saul Williams to J-Rocc & Rhettmatic, to Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus, Daedelus and even Danny Boy (from House of Pain/La Coka Nostra) came through and made some shirts. Sometimes it was just a few folks but soon enough the parties got bigger and bigger. In the legendary Summer of 2005, my friend (and Farmer Dave Scher’s girlfriend at the time) Jennifer Brandon, convinced me to drag all my equipment from my Westside apartment to their house in Silverlake for a summer bbq that we called “Sun Screen”. I designed the flyer, turned that graphic into a silkscreen and brought out another 20 different screens from my ‘library’ on that fateful day. All I remember was this constant flood of people waiting in line all day and into the drunken night. By the time the dust settled over the next week, Mike hit me up totally amazed at the public’s reaction to live custom screenprinting. He suggested that we should start a clothing line of limited-edition t-shirts and use the live screenprinting as promotion for the company. Lots of people had told me that I should start my own line of t-shirts, but it never really interested me. Mike convinced me to give it a go and the rest is history.
Where did the name H+R come from?
Mike: Originally I had the idea of printing up a limited-edition t-shirt that would only be available at a live event. We’d go in and be the “hit” of the party, and before you knew it, the shirts would “run” out, then we would pack up and disappear…
What triggered your interest in art and screenprinting?
Brandy: When I was in high school, I remember first falling in love with screenprinted posters from the late 60′s San Francisco psychedelic music scene. Rick Griffin’s illustrations & hand-lettering were mind-altering and truly life changing. I met Mike at a graphic design class in college where he showed me his book of walls that he had spray painted. Hip-hop and graffiti are still huge influences on us both. I’m a giant fan of 70′s/80′s punk rock and their edgy, photocopied flyers, plus the collages of Winston Smith, as well as modern disciples like Art Chantry and earlier pioneers like John Heartfield. Mike and I are both big admirers of Pop Art, Dada & Abstract Expressionism movements, especially the work of artists like Rauchenberg, Ruscha, Richter, Salle, Schwitters, Hoch, Hausmann, Vassarely, Koons, Basquiat and of course Warhol. Don’t forget Banksy! We’re also giant supporters of local LA luminaries such as Retna, Kofie, Restitution Press, Cryptik, Mear, Fro-Hawk Two Feathers, Stephen Serrato, Abcnt, Kime Buzzelli, Ambusch, Annie Madison, Shark Toof, Alison Cassen, Mark Of The Beast, Jay Kelly, Gary Garay… there’s just too many to list and they all inspire us!
I’d have to say the the most surreal moment when we were printing at a kid’s Bar Mitzvah at the House Of Blues in Hollywood and that 80′s rock band Foreigner played.
How and when did you move from the bedroom to a mobile silkscreen printing unit
Mike: It was quick!
Brandy: After the first 4 or 5 free events we did in LA, Red Stripe caught wind of the instant phenomenon and reached out to us about going on a mini US tour over the Summer of 2006. We ended up shipping all of the original bulky gear to each of the 5 cities (NYC, Miami, Chicago, Boston + San Francisco) through FedEx on a big wooden palette, and it turned out to be a little tricky logistic-wise.
Mike: We decided during that tour that we needed to find a new original way to make our gear small enough to check-in as regular passenger luggage and be able to fly anywhere around the world with it.
Brandy: Mike worked tirelessly with an engineer to create numerous prototypes of a brand new style of press that was distilled down to the essentials… and most importantly weighed under 50lbs. After 7+ versions, we’re still modifying and revising elements but are very close to approving the final design for our own patented Hit+Run screenprinting press.
If you could pick a client or project, what would be your favourite?
Brandy: We are currently working with TOMS Shoes which has been an awesome challenge but most of all really fun! We’re screenprinting on their blank shoes with exclusive designs curated by art entity ‘Arkitip’. It was a bit outside our comfort zone at first, but together we devised a unique way to print on the non-flat surface of an assembled shoe. Rachel, Margo, Heidi and the whole posse over there are seriously the nicest people we have ever met, and that makes it even sweeter to build with such conscious folks. I don’t know of any clothing brand/company doing more for mankind to make this world a better place. Big ups to TOMS!!
Most layers on a print?
Brandy: When we started out, it was all about the mash-up…putting as many designs in the most unorthodox places imaginable. Too much was never enough!
Mike: Each year we have an anniversary party called “Repeat Offender” and invite 20+ artists to contribute a design. There are so many great designsÂ each year its hard to decide which ones to choose and usually people get all their favorite art into one big mash-up on a t-shirt.
Brandy: Yeah man, they are truly pieces of art! We’re currently compiling a book of some of the Crew’s favorite personal masterpieces up until now.. you gotta wait for the book to see!
You work for some pretty big clients, how do you promote yourself?
Brandy: Even though we have printed at more than 1000 events around the world, and worked with some giant companies (Microsoft, Nike, Google, Fox, Levi’s, etc) we have never solicited a single corporate client. Every booked gig is based on a referral or by word of mouth… its actually kind of amazing and proof that if you make it, they will come!
HIT+RUN What’s the story of the label and the different compilations (Road Kill) & mixtapes (The New Error)?
Brandy: From my early roots of going to concerts in high school, working at a record store in college, then at a record label in my 20′s, music has always been a huge part of my life.
Mike: When B worked at that record shop in OC, he and I would trade mix tapes and cds… I’d make him copies of my favorite tracks by Freestyle Fellowship, Fat Jack, Global Phlowtations, Del, HieroglyphicsÂ and such, while he’d burn me cds of Nirvana, Black Sabbath, The Velvet Underground and all this rock stuff I wasn’t knowin but loved.
Brandy: Through designing Saul Williams‘ debut album (“Amethyst Rock Star” for American Recordings/Sony in 2001) and hiring the legendary B+ to photograph him, I was introduced to LA visionaries Eric Coleman, Carlos Nino and Mark “Frosty” McNeill. From there I met a very special group of the greater Los Angeles community filled with underground artists, up and coming musicians and just really good people. It wasn’t long before I was assisting in designing flyers, websites, albums for this new family of friends. One of the most talented people I met was this shy wunderkid named Justin that went by the DJ name of Kutmah (sic). Not only did he spin the coolest cache of music, but I really liked his sketchbook drawings too. Quickly we became good friends and often he contributed designs for our parties. He was always making these fucking incredible homemade mix cds, but still not a lot of people knew how dope he was. In 2005 we decided to professionally press up 1000 copies of this new mix he made just for us that we called “Sacred Geometry”. The launch party was the first time we threw our very own event with the live printing, our latest line of limited-edition shirts, plus djs and more. It was a huge hit, so from there we reached out to our good friends The Gaslamp Killer, Teebs, DJ Nobody for new mixes that we could simultaneously launch with each new season of H+R shirts, and it really opened us up to a new global audience. After a few more mixes by homies Ras G, Jonwayne and Mono/Poly we decided to move towards releasing out original songs from these awesome djs turned producers. The original idea for the “Road Kill” cds was confirmed after Kutmah began work on his “Worldwide Family Vol. 2” compilation through Brownswood last year. There were so many heads that wanted to collaborate with us that in January 2012 we sent out a call to over 100 Crew/djs/friends asking for an original and exclusive production inspired by H+R. Song after amazing song started pouring in and again the rest again is history. We’re really proud of the three volumes and they will stand forever as a snapshot of LA & H+R CREW 2012.
What makes Los Angeles a perfect home for you?
Brandy: Mike and I were both born in Southern California and have lived here for all of our lives. We grew up near the beach, but Mike is the surfer dude. Everybody loves the sunshine, but LA is so geographically expansive that you can find where you fit in and almost disappear if you want. You can start at the beach and drive for over in hour in most directions and still be in Los Angeles!
Mike: Growing up in Southern California with a subculture of skate, surf, punk and hip hop helped cultivate many of the emerging and established LA/SoCal artists today, including us. Los Angeles is perfect because of the sun, city and culture which shape and produce true innovators.
Weirdest print / project yet?
Brandy: Oh man, we print at so many events… Some of them aren’t rad dj parties or cool art happenings, but instead very sorta “corporate” I guess. We’re the “cool” entertainment a client brings in to be relevant or fun, but its super exciting to expose people to our beloved art form. Peeps from all walks of life and age groups will patiently wait in line or watched transfixed for hours, as we flip the custom shirts out. We’ve printed while on the side of a snowy mountains, in the penthouse of a 50-story high rise, various car shows, private events up in the Hollywood hills, 3 stories underground in a smokey club in Japan, at drug research seminars and some birthday parties, but I’d have to say the the most surreal moment when we were printing at a kid’s bar mitzvah at the House Of Blues in Hollywood and that 80′s rock band Foreigner played. All these 13-year old kids were standing around wondering who those old dudes were? It always cracks me up when an alcohol or car company (or both) hires Hit+Run, ha!
Prefer working in studio or on location?
Mike: We’re always printing up shirts for musician friends and local artists at the studio, but its the most fun when we are on-site at a party printing up custom tees for people.
Tell us something about the creative process, from idea to print?
Brandy: We speak through images, its like another language that everyone can understand.
Still going strong after 7 years, what’s coming up?
Brandy: We just held “Repeat Offender 7″ last month at the Echoplex (shout outs to Liz + Ray!) in LA with a rad cross-section of some of our favorite musicians (GLK, Samiyam, Mono/Poly, Cozy, Esgar, Elos, Crimekillz and Guy Blakeslee from The Entrance Band) performing alongside the H+R printing on three different screen presses with over 25 designs by the Crew (Mike C, Abcnt, Eli Sipsas, Cryptik, Coto, Mago, Shelzeye, Cabbibo and always some brand new heads). On the music side to celebrate our 7 years, in 2013 we are collaborating with Rush Hour in Amsterdam to produce seven limited-edition split 7″ vinyl records by our favorite producers. We are only making 300 copies of each, housed in a one-of-a-kind silkscreened jacket and pressed on coloured vinyl. The first one in coming out in February 2013 with unreleased heat by Gonjasufi and Ras G…. Watch out for IZWID too!
Mike: We just started the Crew down in Australia with t-shirt icon Eddie Zammit (T-World) + screenprint master Shannon McKinnon (Aisle 6), so we’re excited to see how they grow! Right now we’re finalizing the details for starting our second U.S. Crew based up in San Francisco.
Brandy: We have some more fun in the works, but I’m not gonna spill the beans… the world needs more mystery! Shout out to Hugo and Scott in the UK, Kiat & Cherry in Singapore, plus Geoff and Betsy, our behind-the-scenes US production Crew helping make the magic happen and the train rollin’ all over the world!