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Highsnobiety Q&A November, 7 2013

Mike Frederiqo Talks SpongeBob, Fashion, Tattoos and Plagiarism

Coming to the attention of numerous publications following a series of fashion designers reimagined as SpongeBob Squarepants, Frederiqo has since gone on to garner more acclaim with redesigned brand logos featuring founders, creative directors and designers imbued within their design. Frederiqo’s most recent work includes redesigned Supreme and Stussy logos created exclusively for Highsnobiety. With more logos to come, we exchanged some words with the up-and-coming artist.

Tell us more about your personal and professional background. How did you get into illustration?

I’m 22 years old and born in the Netherlands. I was a tough child growing up and thanks to my parents I started drawing; they gave me a pen and paper to shut up. At that time I was 3 years old and it helped! I’m still drawing every day. When I was about 16 years old I started tattooing. Practicing on myself, friends and family. Almost every tattoo I have on my body I did myself but tattooing was not really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started making drawings on the computer and doing some street graffiti. And now I’m in the phase of illustrating. It wasn’t hard to get into. It’s just a way of expressing myself. I have lots of work and ideas that never leave the studio.

What artists inspire and/or influenced you the most? Is there anyone you look up to?

KAWS, Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, all of them, but specially Andy Warhol. He had the power to change the whole art scene by using elements that were around him. Some may view him as a sell out but he is the closest reflection of what the world has really become.

How did the SpongeBob idea come about? Why did you choose SpongeBob?

I wanted attention for my illustrations and to be recognized in the world. I thought SpongeBob could give me that. It’s one of the most well-known cartoons in the world. Mixing a famous person with SpongeBob would be even more recognizable for people. Still it’s weird to me that people recognize the person by his/her clothes on a yellow sponge.

Apart from SpongeBob, are there any other cartoons that you enjoyed as a kid, or maybe still enjoy?

As a kid I really enjoyed The Smurfs and nowadays I still enjoy The Simpsons, Futurama and Family Guy.

Will you continue to rework fashion designers and icons with other cartoon characters?

No, I think that was more a opportunity to get my work seen. Now I’m into creating other concepts and finding my personal style and improving myself by continuing to do that.

The SpongBob personas created quite a buzz in the blogosphere and Tumblrverse, and even Marc Jacobs showed some love. How did you react to it?

It was a very weird feeling to notice and see my works on all of the major websites and getting admiration from those people. Even Marc Jacobs and KAWS, that was very special to me. Having colette in Paris as the first store that sold my work was a big deal for me.

Since your SpongeBob series is based on another artist’s work (Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob), what’s your opinion on originality and plagiarism?

I thank Stephen Hillenburg for creating SpongeBob and Nickelodeon for the great support of my work, but I think there is a thin line between originality and plagiarism. Every artist uses another artist to get inspired and find a way to be original. However, if it is in a negative way or not in a creative way you should not do it. I like to choose well-known objects and make them my own in a positive way.

What is your relationship with fashion wnd what do you think the relationship is between fashion and art?

I really like fashion and I think that fashion and art go hand in hand. There are more collaborations between fashion brands and art. They’re both “visual,” I guess that is the relationship.

Do you have any desire to work in fashion?

My ultimate goal is starting my own fashion house. Not only illustrating but also designing clothes myself.

Any new projects coming up?

A new website will be launched soon!

At this moment we are busy moving to a new office with a studio. I’m very excited about that. We are also busy with the production of new customized T-shirts. As of today, the whole production process is in the hands of our own company. We print them ourselves and distribute them ourselves. By doing this we keep a close eye on the quality of our products and it also gives us the opportunity to work fast and efficient.

New projects are coming up, stay tuned!

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