Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tattoos, Fashion, Austin Powers Stunts and Everything In Between

I've been straight slackin' and should have posted this shit a lot time ago. Sorry 'bout that, but anways... A couple of weeks ago Jay and I had the chance to catch up with J.R., co-owner of Seattle's street wear boutique the Winners Circle, and owner of Inner City Empire printings and promotions. He also designs and runs the Winners Circle's in-house brand Illkinda. He's a busy dude so it was dope that Jay and I got the chance to kick it with him and talk a little bit.

He asked us to meet up with him at his place and said that we could talk while he got a new tattoo. His dude Dave had flown in from Philly and had been inking their whole crew while in town. Dave also does ink work for the State Property crew, so it was nice to be able to see some of his work first hand.

After introductions and what not...we sat down and talked while J.R. and Dave and designed the new tattoo.

I would call it an interview but I feel as tho' that's too was more of a conversation in my opinion, all in all J.R. is a cool ass dude and he has a lot of good check it out.

Porter Ray: "So why'd you decide to open up the shop?"

J.R.: "I've been silk screening for years, and I've always been into graffitti, so I felt that it was an outlet for both."

Porter Ray: "And why the urban market?"

J.R.: "That's where I'm comin' from. I grew up at westlake, skateboarding, doing graffitti and stealing from the shops down there.(Lol.)"

Porter Ray: "Good shit. What resources helped with the opening of the boutique?"

J.R.: "Pretty much everything from me silk screening and networking with graf artists and skaters. I stayed down in San Francisco for a minute and got to meet and network with a lot of people. On top of that, I've just always known of bunch of people, you know what I mean?"

Porter Ray: "Definately. So are you a designer yourself?"

J.R.: "We have an in-house brand-Illkinda. I design for them. I also helped with my dude Jesse Edward's brand. Jesse's the one that did all those paintings of the Jordans that are hanging up in Goods."

Porter Ray: "Do you have a favorite brand, or brands?"

J.R.: "Let's see... I Rak, Red Tops, Crooks, Alife, and ANYthing. Oh, also D4, Zeta Brown, and Midnight Ice Cream."

Porter Ray: "Yeah, my cousin has this dope Red Tops shirt with the scene from Menace II Society, where Kane puts the gun to dude's face and jacks him for his rims. It's crazy."

Porter Ray: "But...what are some of the trends that you're not too fond of?"

J.R.: "Sleeping in front stores for shoes. That shit's cornball. I mean, don't take it too serious. Let's see... gun prints and the whole raping of Wu Tang. Like that "Listen To Ghostface" tee, and a lot of the other Wu shit that's out. Other than that I'm pretty open minded."

Porter Ray: "It seems like a lotta peopel feel as tho' all over print hoodies are getting played out, but how do you feel about that?"

J.R.: "All over print hoodies? Na, I'm cool with those. I don't really have a problem with 'em. I mean, just don't feed into the hype."

Porter Ray: "Yeah. So how would you describe Seattle's street culture right now?"

J.R.: "I'd say that it's small, and ran by very few people. It's also really slept on because we have a pretty dope scene. But I think that it is definately growing."

Porter Ray: "Yeah. I feel like we're starting to be recognized more tho'. How would you describe street culture in general currently?"

J.R.: "I feel like it's getting kind of played. Like it's going thru the motions to where it's getting really big right now. But I think that it's gonna die down soon, and it'll be a couple of years before it happens again."

Porter Ray: "Just for the fuck of it, what happened to your leg?"

J.R.: "(Lol.) Alright, so my homeboy Ryan Grant who does Major W8 pulled up in front of the store in his mom's Miata. So all of us outside the store had a competition to see who could clear the Miata. We each succeeded or whatever, so we wanted to see who could slide across the hood of the car the fastest and the coolest. Well, everyone succeeded in that too. So the next competition was to see who could jump into the driver's seat on some Austin Powers shit, like they were about to speed off. So I attempted a few times but never completed it perfectly. Needless to say I kept trying, right? So I keep trying to jump in figuring that I can do the shit and my foot ends up getting stuck in the streering wheel, and I end up in the hospital."

Porter Ray: "(Lol.) Bananas...helly crazy, but that's hilarious tho'."

J.R.: "Yup."

Porter Ray: "So you're into skateboarding, right?"

J.R.: "Definately."

Porter Ray.: "And what's your opionion on the whole skate culture becoming "cool"?"

J.R.: "I think that it was bound to happen. But I definately think that everything is coming together."

Porter Ray: "Do you think that it's good for the culture, or that it's saturating it?"

J.R.: "I think that there will always be something that keeps it from playing out, something that will keep it with the right people."

Porter Ray: "You know Jim Jones started a skate team called Dip Skate right?"

J.R.: "Yeah that shit's definately corny. I love Dip Set, but I think they are definately doing too much. And it's not even skateboarding... it's roller blading. I remember had the video with this dude and he's got this iced-out chain that hangs like down to his dick, and he's smoking weed and shit, and then he starts skating and doing tricks and shit.

My dude from I Rak does all the videos for Shiest Bub and J.R. Writer, so I understand that they gotta eat, and that they have people to feed and take care of, but I feel like that shit was corny."

Porter Ray: "What is some shit that influenced you?"

J.R: "Just the streets, and what's going on in the world. Everything that we do is just a collective of everyone we fuck with. We just started from the ground up. Our Whole thing was just to give all of our friends oppurtunities. Just keeping it local and trying to put people on."

Porter Ray: "Sounds good. Now for bullshit questions... What's your favorite movie?"

J.R.: "Fuck, that's hard! Umm... the original Resovoir Dogs, 80 Blocks from Tifanny's, Flying Cut Sleeves, and Gangs of New York from back in the '70s and shit."

Porter Ray: "And what about music? Do you have a favorite artist?"

J.R.: "I listen to so much shit, but probably Frank Sinatra and Johnny Matthews."

Porter Ray: "You got any advice for young designers or entrepreneurs?"

J.R.: "Just do it, you know what I mean? Just set goals and go after them. It's a lot of extra work counting on other people to do it for you. You'll also have no excuses, or anyone to blame but yourself. Just makes shit a lot easier."

Porter Ray: "What are the plans for the future?"

J.R.: "Just to keep expanding, you know? Grow, be healthy, and take care of my people. We're also trying to open up another store. Just grow."

Porter Ray: "Any last words of wisdom?"

J.R.: "For people getting into the industry, don't limit yourself. Whether it's learning how to burn your screen prints or doing your art. Don't limit yourself, just do it!"

Definately check out J.R.'s website There is also a blog that he does on the site, info, pics, and links.

In any case make sure that you run down to the Winners Circle-500 E. Pine St. They carry a lot of dope brands, and they got me turning into a fuckin' regular. J.R. also has a lot of contact info on his site. He does prints for Capitol1524 and Johnny Cupcakes, so if you're looking for prints holla at him!

J.R. and I at his spot

Jay and J.R. posing at his spot. Me and Jay had to take turns taking the pics which was definately unprofessional, but fuck it. Not to mention the pics suck!

I stole these from J.R.'s blog off but this the tat that he and his homie Dave were working on while Jay and I kicked with him. It's the Monopoly man(I'm lost for his fuckin' name right now) with his cane and bag of money, and under it is stated "Get Rich or Die Tryin' ." Dope...or as Jazz would say, "Helly filthy!"

Me and Jay ended up catchin' the bus that night. That man in the tan jacket turned around and gave me this look after I took this pic like, "I'm on the run mothafucka! The fuck are you doin' takin' my picture?! Mothafucka I'll kiiiiiiilllll yooooouuuuu!"
So of course I looked back at him, like "Mothafucka I'm a super hero booooiii! And I fight crime! And will be quick to put the mothafuckin' moves on your bitch ass! In which case he turned around and cuddled with his chick...(sidenote, yes this was the same night that me and jay went to that sneaker documentary, so no I'm not just rockin' the same fit on a different night)

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