Graffiti Artist John “Crash” Matos On His Tumi Collaboration


Louis Vuitton has collaborated with artists Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami. Stella McCartney has worked with pop artist Sir Peter Blake. And now stalwart luggage brand Tumi is getting into the mix joining forces with Bronx, New York born graffiti pioneer John Matos, aka “Crash”, a contemporary of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, on a line of limited edition luggage called "Tag." That's a graffiti artist's signature.

Matos got his start with graffiti at age 13, spray-painting New York City subways. He became known for his unique style comprised of using full images instead of simple tags and is known as the first artist to incorporate 3-D lettering into his work. Unfortunately, most of Matos' early work has been lost in the city's clean-up campaign of graffiti. 
The artist is no stranger to infusing his vision onto functional objects—he painted an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster and gave it to the artist as a gift. Fender then came calling asking him to create 50 graffiti-designed guitars.
“Graffiti is a collaborative art form,” Matos said. “I love collaborating with people because you tend to work with people you like and trust and admire.”
On teaming up with Tumi, Matos said, “It was a really interesting thing to try and I think it’s kind of cool. When you paint on subways, subways travel. Now I am taking it up a notch."
Why the eye motif, which consistently shows up on Matos’ work, including this Tumi collection? Matos said, “Women’s eyes when they are sad, when they are happy, when they lie, when they are angry, there are these expressions that come through. They are so cool to paint. It is one my favorite things to work on and try and put on canvas.”
Matos, who travels the world exhibiting his work, is most looking forward to seeing what people think of his Tumi collaboration in airports. “When we get to the airport, when we check in everything, when we are going through Customs, I want to see the expressions. It’s going to be hysterical.”
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