Meet the BAPE God
There is a human being roaming downtown Winnipeg who boasts a closet of more BAPE clothing than anyone else in these fair Prairies. Obscurist Works, a.ka. the BAPE God, is an artist who created an identity out of his raw creative style, enigmatic nature, and his passion for the Bathing Ape brand and its influencing factors. Don't be quick to brand him as a hypebeast, though: he doesn't give a shit about the newest Adidas Y-3s or designer fashion. His affection for the brand is more a sartorial manifestation of his love for the Planet of the Apes franchise. In following the exclusivity of the clothes he loves, one can only find him and his art on Instagram (the only place where his work is in full view) or haunting Japanese clothing forums as a spectre haunts homes. Although he's known half-jokingly as a 'god', an otherworldly spirit with the supernatural ability to cop the flyest street-wear pieces, he feels more comfortable identifying with his humanity. Obscurist Works is passionate, flawed, and fueled by that innate desire for creativity that makes the human spirit shine. He lives in paradox and will be the first to tell you that; rejecting gaudiness but obsessing over a formidable collection of BAPE. He doesn't care what anyone thinks but has carefully constructed a wardrobe of extremely rare clothing. Usually, these pieces aren't overtly noticeable to the untrained eye (except for their variety of camo colours and simian motifs), but to the streetwear aficionado he's an absolute wonder. Without further ado, the first of our feature, Miniviews, with the BAPE God himself.
The Enemy: So you've been introduced to me by many people as the BAPE God. Is that accurate, and do you like being called that?
Yes and no. No-yes. Uhm, I think that when certain people say it, it sounds better. Even though it's positive in all ways, it's a term of endearment, it's weird. I don't wanna be the dude that's like "oh you can't mention him without mentioning A Bathing Ape !" But at the same time...
You're cheesed, lowkey!
Yeah, it's weird, god is just...it's like the highest regard, so I fucking love it at the same time. It's like a hate it and love it thing.
That's how I feel about Supreme actually; I fuck with Supreme and I don't fuck with Supreme at the same time.
Me too. When a season comes out, in one whole season—that's a lot of drops—I probably only care about four things, four or five pieces out of the whole season. I don't just like every piece of any brand to be honest. People call me out if they ever catch me slippin' with anything other than BAPE, like if I don't have any BAPE on, haha. But BAPE is forever, never going to be the same. It's not like it's the worst, or "ahh you can never buy anything BAPE again!" It's just different now. Nigo (the brand's founder and creative director) is no longer affiliated whatsoever, so it's different. he sold the brand to I.T (a Hong Kong fashion conglomerate) in 2010.
"BAPE is forever, never going to be the same."
Wow. So what was the ideology of A Bathing Ape? And what originally drew you to it?
Its’ association with music; shirts that are associated with different bands or musicians and stuff. Or just pop culture in general, something that’s relatable. Sometimes they just have really deep sayings in their fucking garments, man. Like, it’s weird. On tags and just on the actual garment, they’ll have weird little meanings and acronyms on them, and people will be like, what does this mean? And the majority of them are from Planet of the Apes, don’t get it twisted. But when you think about it, you can just relate to it in everyday life. But this is coming from a guy who’s biased and is obsessed with Planet of the Apes and thinks Planet of the Apes is life. Like, look how the apes have court in that movie, in the first one. They’re living like humans in their own little world. Those first five movies are so ridiculously special to me, it doesn’t make sense. Like, it’s stupid.
What’s with Robin Williams wearing BAPE early?
He was EARLY in the BAPE game. Like, Google Robin Williams and BAPE right now.
Alright. Like was Robin Williams into BAPE before Pharrell?
I’d say yeah, but I can’t guarantee that. Click on this picture for example. Mans got the ill Goretex Northface. If that man’s not the freshest human being on the planet at that point in time, I’m just sayin’. Look at that man, what can you tell him?
You can’t tell him shit! Damn…how do you think he got onto BAPE?
‘Cuz he’s like, he’s open minded, he travels, he has money, You know, he’s an actor. The man’s plugged. He probably has friends or family members who’s interested in it or whatever, or maybe he came across it himself. I’m just saying, Robin Williams is the type of dude that I could see who gets it. He understands it. Some people look at it and say “this is so expensive, this is some douchebag shit”. And I get that, you probably do think that way and I think that way about certain pieces too, but at the end of the day I just respect the ideology behind the brand. I dunno…I care too much about things. These pieces are super nice though.
"People are buying fucking expired condoms
because it's a brand. It's so fucked up."
What’s the piece that you want the most?
Holy fuck, I don’t know. Man, recently, I sold some stuff that was so old and I’m just like “why did I do that?” One was my first authentic BAPE hat. It was from like 2004, it was so OG. And the colourway was one of the more sought after ones. There was that one and this purple one, and I sold it for a lot but I could have sold it for way more, like something so stupid. That hat was so crazy. Yo, there’s a BAPE nail clipper. Probably some shit like that hahah. And that’s some stupid-ass shit but that’s fucking ridiculous. There’s BAPE toilet paper, BAPE tissue paper, BAPE condoms; they call ‘em BAPE caps. Some people call ‘em BAPE capes, but I think that’s the way they’re [mis]reading it. And people are selling ‘em on Japanese auctions, expired packs, like 2 packs for $500.
Yeah. There are even BAPE Pepsi cans, kids in America will pay like $50 plus shipping for that shit. Even for open bottles. Like if I’m in Japan of course I’ll buy BAPE Pepsi cans and bottles and stuff but in Japan I'm paying normal prices for it, it’s normal. It’s not normal to buy things like that. It’s so weird, the world that we’re in. People are buying fucking expired condoms because it’s a brand. It’s so fucked up. I don’t know. I’m high as fuck.
So for people who have come into contact with you, and viewed your art, it's apparent that you have a great love for 70s film. What do you think you would do if you were dropped into 1970s New York with like 10 grand?
Woah, that’d be crazy. I’m in such my own little bubble I never think of questions like this. You guys have the illest questions. I’d go to the dancehalls in New York. I’d probably…I’d wanna be an artist, still. Without even thinking about it, all my life this shit’s been in me. And as I get older, I realize more and more that this is what the fuck I’ve been put on this planet for, and I have no choice but to embrace it. It’s the only thing that makes me feel normal and sane, and I get embraced the most off of this.
"Be yourself, do exactly what you wanna do,
don't listen to other people, listen to yourself."
So what’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received from your art? Either positive or negative.
I don’t know, not too much surprises me. It’s hard to say. I’m surprised when people like stuff that I think are throwaways. I know certain artists wouldn’t like their pieces for whatever reason and redo it and end up doing like ten of the same piece, I’m just trying to do one. If I make a mistake I’ll erase it, and fix it. If I mess up I’m not going to throw out the paper, I’m going to make it work. If things are out of place, if it’s awkwardly shaped, if it’s not what is deemed ‘art’ to the next person, then it’s art, because it’s not art. Because what is art?
That’s interesting. I often think about how video games have fucked me up because, if you’re playing a game like the SIMS and the life isn’t going as perfectly as you want you can scratch it completely and start it over, and that’s so unrealistic—you can never scratch things out like that in real life—you know? So maybe your art imitates life in that respect?
Mannnn…I appreciate y’all.
Who’s someone that has really inspired by the fact that you noticed your work? We know you love Kali (Uchis), has she holla’d yet?
Nahhh, and I’ve done so many of her. Kali Uchis has not said a word to me and she’ll repost people’s images that they’ve painted or drawn of her, of the same picture that I’ve done, and she won’t post mine. And you know what girl? I’m done with tagging you in these pictures, I’mma just post ‘em, not saying your name, and all my followers comment, saying your name anyways, so you already know what it is. I know you see them! Kali Uchis, Kali Uchis, in my DJ Khaled voice, don’t play with me! Don’t play with me! But shouts-out to people like Smoke DZA that randomly hit that like button on a bunch of random drawings that had nothing to do with him and rap music, that he was really into. Shouts out to Camp Lo. I’m not gonna say anyone else. Camp Lo is bonkers for me. Both of those dudes (Sonny Cheeba & Geechi Suede), have rocked with the kid and I’m impressed, Those guys are so influential to me in so many ways. So much of my slang comes from them, and they have such a deep appreciation for blaxpoitation movies which I also enjoy.
What do you wanna tell all the young scumbags out there with a talent for art and a passion for film and fashion?
Be yourself, do exactly what you wanna do, don’t listen to other people, listen to yourself. Fuck your life up, jump off a bridge, I don’t know hahah. I’m kidding. I know this though: if you’re not original out here, or if you’re not distinct, if you don’t have your own sense of style, pssh.
(click-through gallery of Obscurist Works' art above. Photos by Michelle and Ryan)