With a foothold in the UAE and the UK, Lewis Adams is building a brand that celebrates the enduring appeal of handcrafted lasting leather goods that improve with age
As the calligrafuturist takes his art-script works to the stock exchange, he opens up about the process of collaborating with big, global brands
Tell us five qualities you love about yourself.
Firstly, my affinity for precision and attention to detail — this comes across in my work. You might notice some of my pieces feature uniformity and clean, straight lines.
Then, being inspired by the future and cultures. I love to travel. Visiting different places across the globe inspires my work. I love to come to Dubai often, as I find the landscape, people and the urban setting of cultures from across the world fascinating.
I have a passion for large-scale projects. I’ve worked on a couple of big projects, such as Fendi’s “F is for”, where I got to paint the brand’s Rome headquarters with my signature calligraffiti style. I was also blessed recently with the opportunity to paint an 11,000sqm area at FC Lokomotiv Moscow’s stadium in Russia. These projects did not scare me; they fuelled and inspired me.
My respect for Soviet (Russian) avant-garde art. Artists such Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky and Wassily Kandinsky changed the way art was viewed in Russia.
My openness to new technologies. I look at it as something that helps me with my work, as opposed to being a threat. For example, when I’ve used virtual reality to create pieces, it has helped me to go through my creations and view it from a different perspective.
If you could wake up in someone else’s body for just one day, who would it be and why?
Jean-Michel Basquiat. He’s one of the best artists of the 1990s and a huge inspiration for me. He lived a short but memorable life, full of emotions. It would be nice to live in his mind for a day and create artwork with Andy Warhol and other great artists of the time.
What would you title your autobiography and what would the first line be?
It would probably be titled Creator of #calligrafuturism. And the opening lines: “When I started to do art, I felt like it was for life — not for a season or a trend, but what I was going to do with my life. It would be how I would represent myself.”
What inspires your art?
The connection of different cultures; the symphony of past, present and future; the fusion of letters and other communication devices to create a common language. It’s a long way from being realised, but I feel that every new generation will have less borders and more common cultural connectors, so it will affect the way we communicate. To a degree, calligraffiti — a combination of art and script — is starting to do this.
Tell us about your latest project, coming to Opera Gallery Dubai.
It’s my new pieces. I made most of them in 2018 and I experimented with different techniques and mediums — from paints like rubber, acrylic and water-based solutions to different powders to fuse them together to create more original bases. From my last show in 2016, this new collection showcases more freedom, confidence and a connection with my larger-scale works. It all fused together.
What are the advantages and challenges of partnering with big institutions?
There should be a balance and support of each other’s common values and goals represented in the work or project. I’ve been able to align with a number of big brands — with Adidas to create one of the “hero” visuals from last year’s World Cup in Russia; with Reebok for an international collection of sportswear; Dries Van Noten on prints for its SS17 runway show in Paris; and now with Nasdaq for its artist showcase project.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with incredible teams to ensure the project focus is kept, while finding the right balance between their objectives and my vision.
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