Design
Where form meets function

Want to win an Xbox One X? Well, you’re in luck. Xbox Canada has joined forces with Frenzy to give away five custom-designed gaming consoles. This is the first time Microsoft has worked with Shopify/Frenzy before, and also the first times they are using a direct to consumer campaign.

“We really wanted to try something new,” says Christina Badame Verdurmen, Sr. Marketing Communications Manager of Xbox Canada. “We’re really, really, really excited about the partnership that we’ve got going on with Frenzy, and just a really unique opportunity to engage with consumers and just generate some excitement with a really great audience that loves these types of collaborations as well as with gaming and street art and bringing those things together to just do something really cool and unique.”

Frenzy is known for it’s  streetwear marketplace to buy and sell exclusive items. Partnering with the gaming brand brings both the gaming community and collectors of limited edition products together in one place.

“We have this huge subculture of gamers that are really into some of these custom and really limited edition pieces,” Christina states. We thought it was just this really great natural fit into doing some custom consoles that would appeal to these gamers, and just give them an opportunity to have a chance to have this exclusive piece with Xbox, specifically around the Xbox One X and helping to drive the excitement of that launch.”

Xbox collaborated with Toronto designer & artist Bryan Espiritu to create the five custom Xbox One X gaming consoles. Each console is designed to reflect the unique details of Toronto’s five boroughs – Downtown, Uptown, Eastend, Westend and Toronto general.

“This project is specific to Canada. With the artists that we’re working with, Bryan Espiritu, he is Toronto through and through, so we definitely focused on, through the art and through Bryan, who is this just really incredibly passionate creator, to really work with him to create this set of limited edition consoles. He has a huge connection to Toronto, so really being able for him to bring that passion, and it is a truly local experience for Canadians.”

The black and white print colorway is the “Toronto” edition and will be a part of the giveaway, the other consoles will be available exclusively via a Frenzy dropzone event at 4 p.m., Tuesday, November 7 at an undisclosed location to coincide with the global release for Xbox One X.  To access the consoles, you’ll need to download the Frenzy app, enable Apple Pay, call the number below and keep an eye on Frenzy’s Twitter to decipher the dropzone before 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Once within the geographic boundaries of the dropzone, the giveaway countdown will show up in your app and go live at 4 p.m. sharp.

Xbox

We also caught up with the Toronto artist to get his thoughts on working with Xbox, his design process, and his favorite video games to play. Check out the Q&A below.

What drew you to take on the Xbox x Frenzy project?

It kind of came out of nowhere to be honest with you, but the nice thing about this project specifically was I had already heard about Frenzy, specifically, outside of this project. That kind of excited me from the jump. They were sort of the connector. Then the thing with Xbox, I sat and I spoke to them about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to connect the different sections or boroughs in the city into an idea creatively using some of my type pattern work, that’s what really got me interested. It was entirely different than any typical kind of creative job that I get where it’s just, they have a vision and I’m just sort of their hand. They were very respectful of my creative vision and just in those initial conversations, I think that’s what really drew me to the idea, that they weren’t one of those handcuffing brands that weren’t willing to take risks and do the things that I felt were right creatively.

Can you tell me about the designs and the inspirations that you used?

Yeah. Espiritusucks is like the chapter that I worked under for specifically art and these type patterns. I did a couple installations in the Jordan store here in Toronto using the same pattern that we used for the Toronto-specific Xbox One console. That’s something that I’m kind of known for and a lot of people hire me specifically for that one pattern.

Really when I sat with them, I said, “I have this approach that I call it ships, like S-H-I-P-S, which is essentially just shit hiding in plain sight.” It’s basically just a way for me to write whatever I want and for people to not really know. It just looks nice.

In working on the actual uptown, downtown, east end, west end, the one thing that I had to do was knock out a lot of particular neighborhoods. I know that a lot of my homies who are weighing in on what should be part of which area, they were just yelling out street corners and this spot and that spot. I had to really, really narrow it down. I got love for everybody from fucking Branson to Bickering, but I couldn’t put everything in there. It just wasn’t possible. But the most, in terms of what informationally what’s in there and neighborhood-wise or whatever, is in the Toronto-specific, GTA-specific console. The signature Espiritusucks pattern. If you get your hands on that one, you’re almost guaranteed to see your neighborhood in there.

Even the colors specifically, I don’t know if you know about the reasons why we used the colors that we did or whatever. There’s just a tie-in, like a physical tie-in between the actual controller for the console. We just basically looked at the buttons on the controller and said, “Well, uptown is yellow, because it’s the top button. The rightmost button is red, so we’ll use that for the east end. Green is the bottommost button, so we’ll use that for downtown, and blue is the leftmost button, so we’ll use that for the west end.” Even though it’s pretty physically obvious, I wanted to make sure that the designs themselves actually tied into the way Xbox manages its colors on its controllers.

Did you treat this art project the same as other art pieces you’ve create?

I did think about that a lot. They’ve given me the opportunity to be hands on and be like, “If you want to physically paint them.” But I don’t paint vehicles and motorcycle helmets. I don’t typically paint stuff that has got people punching it and handling the controller and stuff like that. I was just kind of like, oh shit, maybe we should just leave this to the professional vendors to take care of. On that side, in terms of the application side, yeah, I did think about it.

Creatively, the way I approached this differently than I approached the Jordan thing, I do want to approach every job differently, but it was open season for me to do whatever I want. These patterns … this is the first thing that I’ve ever used, first product, first anything that I’ve ever used this on. Really, this is the first time I’ve ever shown anyone that I was even working on something like this. They were just completely open to it. It was a risk on their end to just say, “Yeah, let’s let Bryan do whatever he wants.” I was uncertain as to how it would be received once I actually presented it to them because they hadn’t seen it before. It’s not like one of those things where your client goes, “I want it to look like that thing that you’ve already done.” You know what I’m saying? They were just open to me doing whatever it is I wanted to do. I did really consider that this was going to be something that might be either sitting in somebody’s room or that if I had one, I’d be displaying it. So I did have to consider that. In terms of the way that I handled the colors and all that kind of shit.

Have you ever wanted to create in the video game industry (video game character, box cover art, etc.)?

You want to know something, man? Fuck, I forgot who it was. I want to say it was Drake that brought it up to me, but I don’t remember exactly. There was one GTA that came out and someone sent me a screen grab like, “Yo, you’re doing apparel for GTA now?” Because they thought that one of my logos was on the sweater of one of the main characters.

I’m very interested in doing something like that, like doing apparel stuff or some character design 100%, because it’s the core. Your favorite typographers are graffiti writers. It’s something that definitely interests me, to be able to potentially do some character design. I’m really interested in doing these sort of custom pieces that traditionally are used for one specific use, but then can be looked at in a different fashion. I did one of my patterns on a fire extinguisher for an installation that we did in my shop down here, the LL Sweatshop. A lot of people asked to buy it. It was this thing that I had just done. People came into the store and were like, “Yo, can I buy the fire extinguisher?”

I think a lot of people know this, but when you see something that you’re used to seeing in one light, and then you get an artist do something a little bit different to it, it gives it a little bit of value that doesn’t change anything. You know, the Xbox One X that I worked on, they’re no different than the Xbox One X that you’re going to be able to buy on November 7. It’s just the look of it. It’s just the physical look of it. You have this weird mental thing.

But I do definitely have an interest in doing stuff like that, just like whether it’s consoles again or controllers or whatever. Just something that I think that people who are fans of my work or maybe don’t even know about the work that I’ve done, they can go, “I really fuck with that,” because it’s part of their day to day activities. There’s a little bit more of a connection because the person that may have designed it is somebody that they might admire or follow or whatever it might be.

Are you a gamer? What are some of your favorite games to play?

Okay. I’m old as fuck, right. [laughs] I remember games when the up button didn’t do anything because you could only go left and right.

I have an 18-year-old son. He schools me on what all the fucking names are and even still I don’t know them. I’m like a puzzle guy. It sounds super weird, but I’m a Tetris guy, or just those old school 80s, or I guess it would’ve been 90s. Because that’s as far as I can remember. While all my homies were advancing and they had like whatever consoles were coming out, I didn’t have shit. So it wasn’t really that I didn’t want a game, it’s just that I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t have the loot to actually get it. Then as I got older, I had to pay bills and do shit and it seemed weird to me to drop $400 on something.

But yeah. I’m more of an old school. When I have to use both thumbs for directional turnaround, that’s way too much for me, man. That’s way too many things going on. My dexterity doesn’t allow for me to do something like that. It’s a funny thing though.

Have you heard of the game League of Legends, if so, has any one ever mistaken your clothing brand The Legends League with it?

[Laughs] All the time! All the time! I’ll tell you an honest to god truth. A lot of people don’t know where the name Legends League actually originated from, because the brand started way before League of Legends actually existed. Legends League formed, I’m going to say this as briefly as I can.

Essentially, I was looking at legends as people and stories, right. So the people and the stories that happened in my life when I was coming up and telling people all this crazy shit that happened to me back in the day, that collective of people was my Legends League, right. Everyone’s stories and everyone’s people that influenced and inspired them to be whoever they were, whether they were super successful or pieces of shit that I met on the street, their “legends league” was different from mine. That’s where it actually originated.

When League of Legends came out, I was like, “I’m scrapping this name immediately.” [Laughs] For a long time I was telling my business partners we got to switch the name quick because if things start to go too far, it’s going to get to a place where the confusion is just going to be too high, because there’s no way we’re going to get more popular than this video game. That’s why, if you look at the way that I communicate our shop even, it’s called the LL Sweatshop, because I can’t start getting things confused where there’s kids up in the spot and like … “Yo, is there a League of Legends tournament happening? Believe me, brother, this is something that I’ve thought about years and years and years ago.

To me, it’s kind of laughable. The funny thing is, like 11 years ago when I came up with name, when we were making clothes, the brand was actually called Ideal. The apparel aspect of Legends League was called Ideal because I knew Legends League was a corny name for apparel. That’s me being 100 with you. I knew in my head, “I can’t call my apparel Legends League.” That’s why we don’t have any logos that actually say Legends League. It’s only the double L. That’s it. I’ve definitely thought about that.

How do you divvy up your time between designing clothes, running a retail store, and creating art projects?

It’s a lot, man. It’s a whole lot. It’s not like I have an assistant. I don’t have somebody helping manage my time at all or whatever. It’s basically just getting up as early as possible is a big part of it. I very rarely go to sleep. I fall asleep all the time, but I very rarely go to bed, because I’ll just work until I’m just completely exhausted and I pass out like taking my shoes off or something.

It’s a lot of maximizing how many hours there are in the day and trying to do as much as I can on the go. I also realized that my creative work comes out a lot better in the evening, which works out really well for me because then I can handle any supplier sort of communications throughout the day. It’s really just, over the course of time, just understanding when is the right time to do what. When am I mostly in the mode to be painting? When am I most efficient to be designing or to be writing lines for any of the brands that I help work on? That takes years and years and years of knowing yourself, because I think when you’re younger you just try to plow through. You just say, “Well fuck, I got to fucking work, so I’m just working every single moment of the day.” For me, if I start feeling like the work’s not happening properly, I’ll just let it go. I’ll go for a walk. I’ll grab a coffee. I’ll go to the gym or something like that. I think that’s the only way to do it, you know.

Lastly, many fans, including myself, take inspiration from your “3 Things” tweet series (now book). Can you share 3 tips of advice for aspiring artists?

One, make as many mistakes as possible. Two, don’t be afraid of your own originality, and let yourself be your worst critic. Three, don’t let anybody else tell you what you are or what you aren’t. Let yourself be your worst critic.

If you’re thinking about picking up an Xbox One X, be sure to check out what all the critics are saying first.

Disclaimer: The product does not come with manufacturer’s warranty and “may not be exactly as shown.” Since the product is custom designed and skinned, it negates the warranty and because the design could come out slightly different, it will not be an exact mirror of the photos.

Words by Kyle Hodge
Staff Writer

New York based writer that pops flavor and drips sauce.

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