PRINT March 2003

’80s AGAIN

Tom Sachs

Licensing and branding, their roles in the creation of status, really took off in the ’80s. There was Dapper Dan, this guy in Harlem who’d make you a Pierre Cardin interior for your Town Car and give you a sweat suit to match. This was before the legit special-edition cars; it was unauthorized, very street. You also had kids stealing Mercedes hood ornaments for necklaces, and graffiti artists blasting tags—logos for themselves—on everything. Then there was the sneaker revolution—companies were putting out a new model every season. When I took art in high school, I didn’t make the connection between art and creative expression: I was customizing my bicycle, decorating my car, putting a better brand-name sticker on my skis. Later, when I was able to see how personally debasing it is to find self-esteem in brands, I took duct tape and covered up every logo in my life.

As told to Julie Caniglia