Last summer, legendary designer Milton Glaser (he of “I Love NY” and New York magazine logo fame, among others) launched a climate change campaign with the slogan “It’s not warming, it’s dying.”
Now, Lamar Advertising has provided a billboard at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and West 59th Place in Los Angeles to showcase the campaign until the end of October. After that, L.A.-based outdoor gear brand Rareform is repurposing the artwork into limited-edition backpacks and accessories as part of the first installation of its new Art Lives series.
Rareform has been recycling billboards into surfbags, backpacks and more since 2012, but this time is making about 300 backpacks and messenger bags from the single Glaser billboard. Leftover pieces will be turned into lapel pins in order to recycle as much of the billboard as possible. At the end of November, Rareform will host a gallery showing in Los Angeles. The exhibit will feature exclusive videos, photos and products from the Art Lives project, as well as some of Glaser’s other famous work.
Founder Alec Avedissian says Lamar Advertising has been a significant supporter of Rareform since the company started. The idea for the artist series came from talking with customers, who often asked the same questions–“Which billboard did my bag come from? Where was it?”
“We thought it would be great to offer an opportunity to customers to see the process from beginning to end,” says Avedissian. “We wanted to do something creative and have art on the billboard that would make amazing bags and products. We pitched the idea to Lamar and they were on board. They donated the space to enhance the community with art and to share their commitment to do more.”
The plan is to start with four artists per year, with the potential for more possibly more. “We’re looking for artists that are unique and have amazing work and stories with color and graphics that we think would look great as bags,” says Avedissian. “Artists and friends of artists are now reaching out.”
The second artist in the series will be Tyler Ramsey, who gained notoriety in 2013 when he painted over 50,000 pairs of Toms shoes as part of one of the longest Google Hangout sessions ever.