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A History Of Supreme’s Collaborations With Artists

by Jamie Wilson

If there is one thing that makes Supreme a great brand, besides the clothes, it’s its collaborations with artists. Since its beginning, Supreme has hooked up with some of the best and biggest, as well as low key, artists across the world. The brand, led by James Jebbia, has worked with the likes of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and the Chapman brothers, producing capsule collections that have been sell-out hits. Here we’ll guide you through the history of Supreme’s artists collaborations, showing you the best ones over the years. 

Supreme has a habit of going the extra mile when it comes to designing and its collaborations are no different. While the brand has collaborated with the likes of The North Face, Levis and Nike over the years, its most interesting collaborations are the ones it puts out with artists. Since it began in 1994, Supreme, under the guidance and instruction of James Jebbia, has continuously collaborated with artists. This has resulted in a whole plethora of collaborations with some of the best artistic figures in the world, from Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons to Larry Clark and Roy Lichtenstein.

Here we guide you through the history of Supreme’s artist collaborations, picking out the ones we think should get notable mention. For us, its one of the best things that Supreme does and really gives the brand a unique aspect, so we hope James Jebbia doesn’t decide to end the collaborations anytime soon. The artist series has elevated Supreme above any other skate brand and its stores have even come to represent galleries, with the clothing and artwork on the walls being the key pieces in the exhibition. The products that have been created as a result of collaborations are extremely rare Supreme pieces and are practically unobtainable now, but are part of the rich Supreme legacy.

Rammellzee, 1994

Until recently, if you went to the Supreme website you would probably wonder why there was an image of a car as the backdrop. Rammellzee was a graffiti artist who has been involved with Supreme since day one and his work with the brand has become some of the rarest and hardest to buy. His art is typically full of robots and images of B-boys in an apocalyptic sense.

He and Supreme put out a line of trucker hats with clouds drawn on them which have been hailed as some of the best Supreme products to date. The collaboration ran for over 10 years and even saw some of Rammellzee’s alter egos getting involved such as “Ripcord Rex” and “Chaser The Eraser”. These made their way on to skate decks and graphic T-shirts right up until his untimely death in 2010.

Dondi White, 1994

Dondi White and Supreme collaborated up until 2009, but the first Supreme collection was the best. White is one of the old school graffiti artist and leant his work to a collection of T-shirts, which featured abstract characters. The Dondi White Supreme collaboration was kept streetwise and is still one of the hardest to find.

Martha Cooper, 2004

Supreme teamed up with New York City’s Martha Cooper, a photo-journalist, in 2004. She is most famous for her work that covered New York in the Seventies and Eighties, mostly taking snaps of graffiti, the streets and then later on the Hip Hop era. The collection saw the creation of long-sleeved T-shirts which featured images of kids sitting around amidst a New York backdrop.

Larry Clark, 2005

Larry Clark and Supreme collaborated numerous times from 2005-2015 and they together produced some of the best pieces to date. Most famous for his film Kids, Larry Clark has lent many of his works to the brand. In 2005 he shot a calendar for Supreme and also created “Teenage Lust” T-shirt which featured a naked couple. He also shot a 2010 lookbook that focused on skate culture and in 2015 he co-designed three skate decks with Supreme. As part of the 2015 collaboration, Supreme and Larry Clark presented a capsule collection celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kids.

Kenneth Cappello, 2005

Kenneth Cappello is the guy who is responsible for some of Supreme’s most iconic photo T-shirts. Cappello has photographed some of the most famous faces over the years, particularly in music, including the likes of 21 Savage, Ian Connor and ASAP Rocky. For Supreme he photographed Raekwon, Mike Tyson, and helped created the famous Dipset T-shirt, and snapped all of them wearing the Supreme box logo T-shirt. He has also worked on surprise lookbooks that often pop-up randomly in Japanese magazines such as COOL TRANS. This is one of the coolest art collabs yet.

Roy Lichtenstein, 2006

Roy Lichtenstein was an American pop artist and was a leading figure in the new art movement alongside Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist, among others. Lichtenstein was heavily influenced by the comic strip and his art was defined through parody, often presenting tongue-in-cheek representations of life.

The Roy Lichtenstein and Supreme hook up saw a tribute to the artist’s work. This came at a time when big and bold prints ruled streetwear and the Supreme collab was no different. Supreme’s longsleeve T-shirts that were produced with Lichtenstein were covered with sobbing women who were painted in bright colours.

Charlie Ahearn, 2006

Charlie Ahearn is a man of many talents. He is an American film director and creative cultural artist, who resides in New York. He is influenced by the kids of New York and the actual social states of the places we live in. His capsule collection with Supreme chronicled the hip-hop era of New York City. His images of the late ‘Seventies and early Eighties harked back to a period before places like Times Square were cleaned up. In our opinion, the Charlie Ahearn Supreme collaboration is one of the best ever.

Mark Gonzales, 2006

Mark Gonzales has always had a close relationship with Supreme. At one point he even designed a huge Sphinx installation for the middle of the brand’s Shibuya store. For the brand’s collaboration with Thrasher in 2017 it was Mark Gonzales who helped create the advertising campaign, notably producing a skate film that showed off the collection. He is first and foremost known as a skateboarder, but his art has influenced many people and really caught the eyes of the Supreme lot.

He has often been dubbed as the most influential skater ever and he has work alongside Supreme for a number of years. Notably Supreme use his designs for their T-shirts and hoodies that read ‘SUPREAM’, which comes from Gonzales’ sending the New York City Supreme store a postcard addressed to the misspelled ‘SUPREAM’.

KAWS, 2008, 2011

KAWS’ brand Original Fake has collaborated with Supreme twice and it still stands as one of the most highly-sought after collections. In 2008 their first collaboration sent people wild. KAWS wrapped his character’s figure around a bikini-clad Kate Moss and printed it onto a collaborative T-shirt between Supreme and Orginal Fake. In 2011 the two brands teamed up again, but for something slightly different. This time around KAWS gave the box logo T-shirt a unique touch and now Supreme was read in graffiti. This has proven to be one of the finest box logo T-shirts to date. 2011 also saw the creation of a new set of skate decks, which were some of the simplest, but best, ever made. KAWS x Supreme appears to be a collaborative force that won’t be ending anytime soon.

Terry Richardson, 2009

Supreme first started working with renowned fashion photographer Terry Richardson back in 2009 and have had many collaborative projects since. Together they have produced some of the brand’s most memorable and popular pieces, most notably with their work on Supreme T-shirts. He’s photographed Kermit the Frog, Three 6 Mafia, Kate Moss, Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga, P Diddy, Neal Young, Morrissey and Lou Reed for T-shirts or editorials and he has allowed Supreme to garner attention from people who weren’t necessarily that into the brand. Richardson helped bring it to the eyes of those most prominent in the fashion industry.

Malcolm McLaren, 2009

Malcolm McLaren is famed for his impact on the punk movement. If it wasn’t for him, punk wouldn’t have been quite as big as it was. Alongside Vivienne Westwood, he really brought the movement to life and were largely the initiators. He realised that a new vision was needed in fashion and so went about trying to establish one, with success. He founded the store SEX in London and after meeting Jonny Rotten, he formed and managed the Sex Pistols, who were key to the punk movement.

For this collaboration Supreme went all out. They produced everything from T-shirts to hoodies, and even had Vans with imprinted soles. The collection featured artwork created by artists Keith Haring and Dondi White for Malcom McLaren.

Damien Hirst, 2009

Damien Hirst is undoubtedly the richest and most celebrated artist in the world. In 2009 he teamed up with Supreme on a series of skate decks that featured some of his art. The Damien Hirst dot deck design has been one of the most popular skate decks that Supreme has put out. The ‘Spot Paintings’ are among his most prolific works and the ‘Pharmaceutical’ paintings are the most important and significant. Of the random coloured dots, he explained once that “mathematically, with the spot paintings, I probably discovered the most fundamentally important thing in any kind of art. Which is the harmony of where colour can exist on its own, interacting with other colours in a perfect format.”

The T-shirts that Damien Hirst designed for Supreme were also some of the best ever put out. One T-shirt read ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die’ in reference to Nas, while others had the same dot design as the skate decks instead of a box logo. The Supreme Damien Hirst collab is one of the hardest to get your hands on, so we don’t recommend even trying.

Futura, 2011

Futura and Supreme collaborated on a collection that basically sent out a message to all the people who complained about Supreme’s high prices. The clothes in the collection bore the words ‘fuck you pay me’ and while not necessarily aimed at those complaining nor those reselling for higher prices, the sentiment was there and it fitted in perfectly.

Futura is a graffiti artist based in New York City, where he first began to graffiti illegally on the subway. He has worked with the likes of Keith Haring, Jean-Michal Basquiet, Richard Hambleton and Kenny Scharf. He has worked on the sets for The Clash and his overall style is a sort of abstract graffiti, which can be seen in his work with Supreme.

David Lynch, 2011

The David Lynch Supreme collection was one of the smallest, but it was still one of the best. It featured an still image from Lynch’s film Blue Velvet. Some products also featured an original lithograph drawing from the master of strange, twisted cinema.

David Lynch is one of the coolest collaborations artists that Supreme has chosen over the years. He has been hailed as one of the most important directors of his era, while he has also been dubbed as the first ever popular Surrealist, bringing the genre to the fore.

On That Note

Supreme has a rich history of collaborating with some of the best and biggest artists in the world. From the likes of Damien Hirst and Futura to David Lynch and KAWS, each collection has been uniquely different and Supreme fans have quite literally fought for a piece. Nowadays each one is impossibly difficult to get hold of, but they still stand as some of the best collections that Supreme has put out.

Feature image from Pinterest

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