The Munich-based brand SEEN produces products that are a glorious hybrid of Jamaican culture and German design, and ArtRebels is lucky enough to be selling their products in our store. Founded in 2004 on Jamaica’s Dead End Beach, they’ve been hard at work since, creating graphic t-shirts that have won over the likes of Nas and Diplo.
ArtRebels decided to get to the bottom of things by speaking to SEEN directly.
How was the company founded?
The idea for SEEN was born during the last couple of days GABE (who’s responsible for all the design work for SEEN) and I spent on our first visit to Jamaica back in 2004. We were two friends dreaming of bringing some of the uniqueness and freshness of the Jamaican dancehall scene to a European reggae landscape. Back then, the scene was still very much dominated by world-music-loving hippies. At least that was how we saw it.
Were you living in Jamaica at the time?
Not when we founded SEEN. However, two years later, we moved to Kingston to study at the University of the West Indies (that’s me) and at Edna Manley College (GABE) for about half a year. During that time, we also got close with locals whose work we really appreciate. We worked with the photographer and director Peter Dean Rickards and Dylan Powe, one of the driving forces behind “Passa Passa” – a famous street dance in Tivoli Gardens, a garrison community in Downtown Kingston.
What is SEEN’s philosophy?
Making things nicer.
What’s your typical day like?
While everyday is a good day, not everyday is perfect. On a perfect day, I rise early and have a cup of tea before taking a shower and meditating. Afterwards, I have a fruit-heavy breakfast with my wife and son after which I take care of the SEEN orders which came in the days before. I pack them up and take my bike for a spin to the post office while the morning sun climbs over the city’s rooftops. Back home, I fool around with my kid until he’s tired enough to allow me to do some reading, Lily Radio serving the music. After lunch, we pack up the car and drive out to a lake near town with a couple of friends – our picnic baskets heavily loaded. When the sun sets, we go back to Munich where I spend my evening at my laptop writing blog posts and taking care of some other SEEN-related stuff in front of the open french windows. Okay, that’s not typical at all but hey – SEEN is about nicing things up, right?
Your office is burning down – what do you save first?
My family, my phone and my laptop.
What’s SEEN’s earliest memory?
Sitting in a Toyota Corolla taxi driving through a pitch-black night in Port Antonio, Jamaica, coming closer and closer to the heavy heavy bass blasting out of Killamanjaro soundsystem’s massive set of speakers.
In your wildest dreams, what is SEEN going to be doing in 5 years?
Celebrating the release of a made-in-Jamaica set of porch swings inspired by Shabba Ranks outfits on the roof of Gee Jam studio’s recording cabin in the hills behind San San beach.
SEEN is in charge of a music festival line-up – who is playing (dead or alive?)
That’s a really tough one. However, I think a line-up with all the DJs, singers and musicians who have supported SEEN since the beginning, would make for a pretty decent festival. So let’s go with Nas, Terry Lynn, Walshy Fire, Diplo, Daniel Haaksman, Cat People, Ward 21, Schlachthofbronx, Ronny Trettmann, SoulForce, Tippa Irie, De Tropix, WILDLIFE!, Wayne Lotek, Douster, Ron Foto, DJ Shirkhan, The Heatwave, Newham Generals, Top Billin, Konshens, Einstein, Protoje, Mash Up International, Spoek Mathambo & Gnucci Banana and add some guest appearances by Bounty Killer, Stranger Cole and Damian Marley. To all the good people at Red Stripe, Red Bull, Appleton, Puma or Heineken: Let’s make this happen if you have some promo dollars left to spend in 2013!
Where do you seek SEEN inspiration?
Basically in everything that surrounds us with a focus on everything related to Jamaican popular culture – which is a lot.