Ari Saal’s work has long been an inspiration to me. As ESPO’s business partner, his work as co-owner of On The Go magazine made it one of the seminal publications of the 1990s (I’d kill to read the unreleased Jay-Z issue) and The Art Of Getting Over needs little description here (because I’m presuming that you already own it). While On The Go is long-gone, sitting in yellowing mini stacks alongside Ego Trip, Life Sucks Die, early Big Brother and Grand Royal in many a nerd’s paper armory, it’s good to know that On The Go Marketing is very much in effect. If you ever gawped at the Ruffhouse logo, that was Ari Saal Forman’s work. I still maintain that the Air Menthol 10 project from 2006 shits on nearly every shoe project in 2013 — it made its statement on the power of branding and addiction eloquently, but crucially the packaging is the greatest shoe packaging of all time, down to the hang tags and extra print material inside the cigarette-themed shoe box.
Nike issued a cease and desist, but Newport were apparently a little more demanding, meaning Ari can’t talk about that project any more. That approach to the project typified Saal’s work and the detail he employed highlights why shoe projects now are so insipid — an idea barely related, without message, shoehorned (pun intended) onto a tech pack. Everyone in that industry needs to look at the Menthols and study that execution. Scratch director John Carluccio filmed Ari working on the project in 2006 and spoke to him post legal talk in 2008 for Carluccio’s 17-minute documentary Cease and Desist aka. Ari Can’t Talk About It. It’s on iTunes right now for £1.49 and it’s a great little snapshot to add to the library of documents that capture that transitional time when sports footwear became uncool and formal footwear and Vans took over. Revisiting two of the kids who the director caught queuing for Ari’s creation, they pretty much sum up why things fell off the way they did. I know the shoe thing erupted again, but any semblance of cool that the mid to late 2000s industry awareness of collectors managed to erode is even more absent nowadays. I recommend watching that short for some extra insight.
Ari’s latest side-project is handmade belts that showcase the same preoccupation with the oft-forgotten art of finishing an object with finesse — those jars he puts them in are a nice touch. Hand sewn, hand painted belts with custom buckles and D-rings, different materials, some college colours well appropriated with some personal stories behind them elevates objects from the same old same. It also addresses the importance of the belt. This Vimeo of a belt making session (complete with a Steven Powers cameo) is better than most wearying documentation of a factory tour. The On The Go Ari site is a good source of old works documented (the adidas and Papaya King gear is particularly interesting) and it’s worth visiting.
While we’re talking Vimeo and magazines, the Magculture conversation with Gert Jonkers and Jop Van Bennekom of Fantastic Man from What Design Can Do is full of good advice for anyone planning to start a magazine. My friends at Goodhood let me do one of their tabletop selections from the store. Normally I wouldn’t engage in that kind of thing, but it’s Goodhood and it’s one of the few stores in the country with an original approach to retail and those Gasius shirts they’re stocking are a strong look. Salutes to Silas and the Soulland squad for this Hova moment last weekend.