Kevin Amato’s Shoppe Stay Lovely is an ‘Art/Design/Lifestyle Cooperative Popup Market’, which stocks collaborations with Hood By Air and made-to-order, hand-knitted face masks.


Bronx-raised photographer Kevin Amato has joined forces with a selection of artists and clothing brands to create Shoppe Stay Lovely: A self-proclaimed ‘Art/Design/Lifestyle Cooperative Popup Market’. The shoppe features exclusive custom made to order collaborations and merchandise, including t-shirts featuring Amato’s photography, pin-up posters of underground drag-artists and hand knitted face masks.

PRETTY REAL: Hey Kevin.  Firstly, congratulations on Shoppe Stay lovely, it looks great! How did it come about? 
KEVIN: Myself and Shayne Oliver, the creative director of Hood By Air, have been working on shit since 2007. We’ve defined a certain aesthetic working together, so I guess collaborating on a mini collection was inevitable. I collaborate with a handful of emerging artists and designers and we all try to support one another.



How did you initially hook up with Hood By Air?
I was shooting for a minute and working for fashion editor Jason Farrer.  He suggested that Shayne and I meet for a shoot to introduce the world to Hood By Air and we’ve been tight ever since. I admired & related to his work; kids in BK rocked it and glossy fashion editors in Paris got it. Since then I’ve been casting models and shooting HBA’s stuff for them. I co-produced the last HBA show, but it’s never been limited to just that. Shayne and I stay sharing ideas and coming up with new projects.



What was your input on the HBA x Shoppe collab?
My gallery Casa De Costa threw Shayne and I ‘creative loot’  to play around with collaboration ideas. I had only mentioned the PIF (P.I.F) idea to Shayne at HBA. For people that don’t know, PIFF is fluffy stank trees(weed) or something fly as fuck, depending where you come from. And the saying ‘Paid In Full’ is self explanatory. Shayne selected a few photographs I had taken and designed the prints using HBA’s signature logo in repetition, like the original Hood By Air shirts from when we started working together.


I find it hard working with other people, I always think I’m right and hate it when my ideas get shut down. How did you find the whole collaboration process?
You’ve gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelette, or something like that. I stay open-minded and I’m direct with my ideas. There’s gotta be a lot of communication.



What made you decide to make it ‘made-to-order’ ?
Mass production wasn’t the direction we wanted to go in. Material shit should be wanted, people shouldn’t just have it, If that makes any sense. Each piece is specifically made for someone, kinda like a photograph. I wouldn’t print 500 to hawk, I only sell what a buyer or collector wants and connects to. It may take longer than running to the mall and shit, but the shirts are still accessible.



Tell us more about the other Shoppe Stay Lovely collabs.
The Shoppe also includes iconic artist/model duo Luigi + Luca, who founded DUST magazine. They’ve cultivated a new generation of extraordinary talent in Europe. Then there’s Mykki Blanco, the drag mc/poet. His shit gave me goosebumps when I first saw his cosmic angel video; I haven’t seen something that progressive in a minute. Raul Lopez Creative Directior of Luar Zepol is another brilliant young designer who grew up by Marcy in Brooklyn.  He’s a bit nomadic when it comes to self loyalty, which is rare in a industry of people just trying to please others. We also have collabs with MINY, REBEL YUTHS, DFC MEXICO and EDWARD VIGILETTI.



The models you choose are always great, do you choose them personally? Is there a checklist of things you tick off until you’re like ‘Yup, I want that one’?
I do my own casting, which I’m pretty particular about. Usually while stomping the pavement, through friends, my own site or from agencies. There’s no checklist, I just look for personality, access and honesty. Models that blur the lines of race, sexuality, socioeconomic status Etc, regardless of their height or agency standard. Models that are dreadfully boring and super pose-y are a big no no, it doesn’t matter how good or bad they look. But looking a little dangerous is fun, too.


Your models all seem to be young and pretty, but with a thuggish edge.  Is that a look you favour when shooting?
Yeah It’s a look I’ve been shooting for a minute. When I first started out, models with that look were underrepresented in art and fashion. Its a softer look than the street photography I grew up on. I try to be more personal, a bit revealing and intimate. The approach is a contrast to the chaotic surroundings I shoot in.  Like the saying goes, diamonds in the rough: lawless with a fuck off attitude.  The BX’s misfits, street kids, pretty boys, scene kids etc. I try to incorporate them all in my personal, editorial & commercial work. It’s what’s around me, so it’s organic and personal, it doesn’t feel posed or voyeuristic

What you got planned for the rest of this year?  Any more collabs or exhibitions?
I just wrapped my first solo exhibition “F*ck The Golden Years” at CasaDeCosta gallery, Which will be traveling throughout the US, Europe and Asia and I’m also working on my first book.

- Donald Crunk

Date: 12/06/2012

Author: pretty real


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