Hassan Rahim interview

Black leather, music, concrete, fashion – art director, designer and publisher Hassan Rahim talks to us from Los Angeles.

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i. Ministry – Twitch (rework). Album cover artwork for Warner Bros. Records 2012 exhibition. Curated and commissioned by Justin Van Hoy. Featuring photograph of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre by Kurt Strumpf
ii. Original artwork for Bromance Records #2 EP, featuring G.Vump & Pipes, 2012
iii. A new online home for luxury fashion label Cerre, 2012
iv. Art direction for fourth issue of Thvm Rag2012. Cover photograph by Eliot Lee Hazel
v. Artist series shirts for Parisian based clothing brand Sixpack, 2012

All photographs © Hassan Rahim

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? What interested you when you were a kid?

I'm from Orange County, California (not what you see on TV exactly). I grew up mostly skateboarding, and got into some art and music, all of which stemmed from skateboarding. If I watched a skate video, I would go online and start downloading the songs from my favourite video parts—I think this helped build an eclectic taste. I was very into all the graphic design associated with skateboarding, so I started playing with my own graphics, and it goes from there. Although skateboarding was my introduction to art and design, no longer does it hold any influence on my work.

Are you from a creative family?

Not at all. Life was hard growing up, so I think my creativity developed through emotional escape.

When did you move to LA and how do you find living there?

I came here at 19. I love it. It's important to find the right neighbourhood, the right people, the right places. Do that and it's a great city. Both my studio and home are in the same neighbourhood, just a bike ride away. It can be upsetting to know there are creative boundaries with most artists here; it sometimes seems you must move to New York or Europe for people to really understand your aesthetic. No matter what, as long as you build your own universe, things are great.

You're involved in skate culture, design, fashion, music and publishing – has there been a natural evolution from one thing to the next?

I'm not involved in skate culture at all, but I do consider myself a designer involved in fashion and music. It has been a natural evolution, and I'm excited to see where it takes me.

"As long as you build your own universe, things are great."

What ideas or themes are you drawn to as an artist?

Industrial minimalism, slightly unnoticeable asymmetry, black leather, concrete, outlined serif type, unconscious emotion through image context.

One of your projects involved designing an alternative cover for Ministry’s 1986 record 'Twitch'. How did this come about?

I got involved in the project from my friend Justin Van Hoy—he was curating an exhibition for Warner Bros. Records where each artist recreates or reworks any WB release of their choice.

Twitch is such an amazing album. My original choice was actually Al B. Sure’s In Effect Mode, mainly because I love the album so much, but I also didn't want my choice to feel ironic.

Can you tell us about one of your favourite projects?

I absolutely love working with Cerre. We have a few great projects coming up. Clayton and Flavie are some of the most brilliant designers, definitely my favourite in Los Angeles.

Why did you set up Shabazz Projects?

Shabazz Projects is a project that allows a concrete platform, and purpose, to collaborate with and represent talented people internationally. Lots of great things are coming from this platform, and I'm excited to watch it grow along with all the artists involved.

What's your daily routine?

The thrill of having no daily routine keeps me very happy.

What inspires you?

Getting lost in a foreign city.

What are you working on at the moment?

Getting more stamps in my passport.