Nick Walker/Apishangel & Kangol
London, UK
Collaborations can be messy at the best of times. With 2006 being a year when the collaboration is going into hyper mode - what makes some stand out more than others? It's all very well having different logos on one item, but does this mean any thought has been put into it?

Beinghunted has always been an admirer of Nick Walker, but it was with some trepidation the news was digested of his pending collaboration with Kangol earlier this year.

Questions such as 'why, how and what?' sprang to mind - so we caught up with him at the Kangol HQ in late 2005.

Nick Walker - Interview

Nick, how did the collaboration happen?
My Galaxy Kangol started it all off! I've been wearing the wool Galaxy Kangol since the early 90's – kind of a second skin. I was at the Graffiti World book launch party last year and the Head of Design at Kangol; Nichola Hayes was there, and hadn't seen this hat in all her time at Kangol. I'd been hunting for another one of these for ages; with one getting lost & the other shrinking... It turned out the blocks for this hat were lost, and it seemed that the design was dead & buried.

Kangol had a theme for their next collection, called ‘Slow.' It's about returning back to the craft making methods, which were often slow processes.

Because of the intricate nature of my work, and my use of stencils they thought it would be a perfect collaboration for the brand, which was even more enhanced by my love of hats, especially Kangol's.

What was your motivation for this collaboration?
I love hats. Seeing as I've always worn their hats since I was a young 'un - I thought this is a kind of rock 'n' roll moment collaborating with them. I just need more of those moments!

How did you start the creative process?
The creating always starts in the studio. I picked various stencils and worked out a pattern format, which would be simple to translate to the hat moulds that I had to work with. I find that a mixture of discovered objects, and stencils I've created myself is a good working combination. I'm a bit of a vulture when I see a burnt-out car or machinery that's been thrown out - I've found some gems in amongst these which have lent themselves to be unique stencil patterns.

The second part of the process was sitting round a mate's house, using his computer, drinking his coffee and talking utter nonsense to him on his only day off work.

Where did your inspiration come from for the various designs?
I suppose the tools I use - I wanted to incorporate the image of a scalpel blade, as that's how it all starts. I'd been working with the scattered flying monkey silhouette for a while in my canvas work, so I figured a mixture of the two would make good pattern ingredients.

Also around 1994 I cut this stencil, which was an image of a hat with big holes in it. Why I came up with that I don't know. Thinking about it now it echoes similarities of the new leather range.

For the Apish Surface range I used the image of The Apishangel logo. This, amongst a stencilled brick pattern depicts the environments my images can be found. The imagery of the angel winged space helmet, with the screaming gorilla is inspired from reading about the Bion 11 & 12 experiments. The Bion programs were co-operative ventures between the United States, Russia, and France, and were intended to study the effects of micro gravity, and space radiation on monkeys. NASA pulled out of these missions after a Rhesus monkey died when it was placed under anaesthesia immediately upon returning to Earth. This got me thinking up an archangel ape character, and was a kind of tribute to it.

What were some of the processes used on the hats?
The Apishangel leather range design pattern was laser cut; heat embossed and also bonded; which is something that Kangol hadn't done before. The Apish Surface range was something more complicated in that it took along time to achieve the effect on a fabric that gave the same visual feel to a stencil sprayed on paper.

Who would you like to work with in the future?
Many people. Especially open minded people up for listening to far-flung concepts. I've got ideas for some short films that I'd like to get out into the public domain. I've been working on details for the Apishangel figure for some months now so I suppose a good toy company would be great.

I'd add Richard Branson to the list - I'm sick of white painted planes!

Any thoughts, now the project is completed?
It's been a positive experience. Being an artist it's important to get feedback, and Kangol are good at this. They were supportive of my ideas and gave me a free reign really. As you can tell I'm still buzzin over this one. If I'm having a bad day I just think: ‘Oh well, I brought back the Galaxy!

Text: AD | Images: © Nick Walker
Nick Walker
For the launch for the Apishangel & Kangol hats we present you with the opportunity to win Nick Walker's original drawing that was used on the hats. Two runners-up will receive one Apishangel & Kangol hat.

All you have to do to enter is answer this question correctly:

What was Nick's inspiration behind the 'Apish Surface' hat designs?

> See Nick's statement on the left about the Bion 11 & 12 experiments.

The Winners
First Prize: Ady Y.
Second Prize: Shu H.
Third Prize: Alun J.

The full ranges of hats are due for release sometime in January.

Apishangel / Nick Walker