Letters To Live By…
Last year, our friend and noted entrepreneur Jaysse Lopez opened up his latest Urban Necessities location inside the world-famous Forum Shops at Caesars in Vegas. Showcasing more than his fair share of sought-after sneakers, street fashion and collectable grails, Jaysee knew that he couldn’t call on any ol’ artist to curate his space with the proper aesthetic. He had to get the legend himself, Big Sleeps… and the rest is history.
Being longtime fans of Big Sleeps’ incredible inkwork ourselves, you know we had to ask Jaysee to help us make the connection on opening night and he was more than happy to oblige. The result is a special edition Stance x Big Sleeps collaboration that will undeniably live in infamy. A hyper-limited box set featuring Big Sleeps iconic typography with the word “Undisputed” spelled across two pairs (one exclusive!) of casual crew socks. But those in the know will quickly realize that this isn’t any ordinary box. This custom Big Sleeps design includes a hangable component on the back so one can showcase the artwork on your wall like the masterpiece it truly is. We sat down with both Sleeps and Jaysse to learn how everything came together.
Where did you find inspiration for the aesthetic of your typography style?
The letterforms that I practice, the hand styles, the blackout style, they've been referred to as many things, but these are indigenous letterforms to Southern California and particularly more to Los Angeles. I grew up in the Pico-Union District of Downtown LA. I was born in 1973, but coming up in the neighborhood that I did, these letterforms adorned all the walls, were carved into all the sidewalks and park benches, and were tattooed heavily on a lot of the homies that we looked up to when we were growing up.
Little did I know that the passion and the beauty that I saw in these letters as I started trying to mimic them as a young boy and later on became really good at it as a teenager would take me on a journey across the globe, inspiring others and bringing forth hand styles that had never really been seen before had it not been for the internet into a widely accepted form of art by galleries, museums, tattoo communities, and large scale brands across the globe. I am proud to say that these letterforms have helped me transcend my life from a negative to a positive and have allowed me also the ability to teach kids workshops and do many other things that I never dreamed possible.
How did you connect with Jaysse Lopez of Urban Necessities?
I met Jaysse at Ink and I at about 2009 or 10. I had just came home from being incarcerated maybe about a year prior or so. I remember talking to him and just chopping it up. Really cool cat, man. I think I seen him the following year there as well and he was hanging with some tattooers or whatever. I'll be honest, a funny story, man. We were sitting there making sandwiches. I remember making sandwiches as I was talking to him. We weren't where we are today so we were still packing our own lunches to go to expos and taking our bologna ham and cheese sandwiches and our own sodas over there, because shit was too pricey back then for us, me and Miss Sleeps.
Anyways, we didn't see each other after that for a long time. To my knowledge, he said he followed the journey though, and kept following on social media and just saw me take off on this new journey of global traveling and doing seminars and painting or whatever. I actually feel like it was destiny that brought us together though, because on my way to Vegas, when I actually bumped heads with him again prior to doing the mural 2020, I remember sitting at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which I've never ever walked into, sitting there with my wife and I was tagging on her purse having a martini or something and he just happened to be sitting across the room and came over and recognized me and the conversation just took place there, man. It was good to chop it up. I knew I recognized him and once we spoke, I was like, "Whoa, I remember you bro." and little did I know he was the owner of Urban Necessities, the brand that I had been already following for quite some time. It was good to know that he had built that empire as well. It didn't take too long for me to show back up in Vegas, look at his walls and look at the space that was going to be built and get a feel for what we wanted to do…and the rest is history, man. Jaysse is one of the coolest cats I've ever met, man. It was an easy thing to put together, easy thing to execute, and I'm really hyped to say that of all the artists that he could have chosen, he hit Big Sleeps up, man. That's a big, big, big thing for me.
Jaysse hit me up and asked me if I'd be down to get on this project with him and he mentioned Stance socks, and I believe he mentioned, "My boy Albie wants to holler at you and chop it up." And I mean, there we go again, the rest is history, man. I was hyped. I followed Stance already, knew who they were and thought it would be cool to bring something new to the table, man. We talked for a bit and I actually got a chance to come down there and meet with Albie and meet some of the team and check out the headquarters and see everything they've done and I was really hyped just at the idea of bringing my art over to a new genre, a new platform. I've done stuff with previous brands that were in the surfing world or the soccer world or what have you, but the sock thing was a little bit different.
The box for your collaboration can be hung as artwork on a wall, where did this idea come from?
The idea for the box hanging on the wall was something that we had been talking about maybe for two years. We were trying to build a box set to put a special Sleeps collector's box together and the idea was forming about how many people always ask us for prints, how many people ask us for fine art that can afford it. I mean, I've built the following throughout the tattoo world as a T-shirt and a brand company, but I've also ventured into the fine art world more recently and have started selling canvases for some pretty good coin, man.So not everyone can afford an original Sleeps piece. So we thought, "Man, wouldn't it be dope if in this box or whatever," we didn't even know what it was going to be yet, "we be able to find a way to give the people to hang the lid as a canvas or to put that box on a wall or somehow bring it into a form where the people could actually collect it and put it up in a space as a trophy?" And give it to them at a really, either subscription rate for submitting a subscription to whatever we were thinking at the time or just a gift for being loyal followers they're getting a not original art piece, but assigned a numbered art piece or a Sleeps piece to hang.We never imagined that it would be with Stance, that actually the idea would come and take shape and be executed. Especially now with Two Js involved, we actually put the artwork to match what me and Two Js came up with for Vegas. The colorways, the wording, everything is in sync with what's at Urban Necessities, Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. Really proud of the box that I created, man. I hope Stance and Jaysse are just as happy with it. I know the public is going to be hyped on it.
What’s coming up for Big Sleeps?
That's always a good question, man. I move fast. I'm like lightning, bro. I'm like a ninja, man, but I've been trying to really think things through a little, a little better.
Let's do it again.
What's coming up for Big Sleeps? That's a really good question. Lots of things opening up, lots of projects. I've been a little bit more staying at home these days. I have the Big Sleep studio/gallery here in Los Angeles, California. We also have a fulfillment center that we overlook with my ink company and stuff, Big Sleeps Ink, so it's been a little harder to move around as freely as I used to, but just this year alone, we took a couple trips and they were awesome. I have London coming up. I have Paris coming up at the end of the year. Guadalajara is coming up and we have some other cool projects lined up. I don't want to expose too much, but I'll be on the lookout for a really, really, really big, special project coming 2023. This one will change the game for sure… @bigsleeps