Looking at his oeuvre, his collaboration with adidas looks like it has been almost a decade in the making.
Juanito Maiquez, the artist and designer better known as Quiccs, created his very first vinyl toy in 2012 after winning a design competition in Thailand. With a futuristic robotic helmet for a head and outfits straight from a ‘90s style mood board, Quiccs’ creations tap into a common element embedded into all of us, invoking a certain sense of familiarity despite the seemingly disparate points of references.
On feet, a rendition of the adidas Superstar, complete with the iconic three stripes. While his creations have become recognizable in their own right, the addition of the shell toe sneaker completed the aesthetic that defined his line of designer vinyl toys, underpinning a unique point of view larger than the sum of its influences.
The designer toy scene in the Philippines is an emerging phenomenon, with movements such as Quiccs’ paving the way for the country to enter the global conversation. Quiccs’ designs have caught the attention of many collectors and potential collaborators the world over, including adidas.
The nod to the shoe company has been a mainstay in his designs since the beginning, which makes his official collaboration with adidas all the more serendipitous. Earlier this year, adidas announced the partnership with Quiccs — the first Philippine collaboration of its kind.
Since announcing a long-term partnership, Quiccs and adidas have released a number of collaborations this 2020, including Philippine-exclusive adidas Superstar colorways paired with matching NanoTEQs. Quiccs talks about the influences that came to define his design, the world his designs inhabit, and his much-awaited third collaboration with adidas.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
‘Quiccs’ actually come from my surname. When I was in high school, my friends and I decided to get nicknames by shortening our surnames. I was an artist since grade school, and all my friends called me Quiccs, so it just stuck. There’s no deeper meaning behind it.
SATURDAY MORNING BREAKFAST SHOWS
Me and my brother were heavily exposed to the cartoons you’d see in television channels IBC 13 and RPN 9 back in the late ‘80 — Voltes V, Daimos, Bioman, GI Joe, Transformers. Going into the ‘90s, [it was] Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam, and ‘90s Western hip-hop. At that age the art style they had was mind blowing.
Graffiti was a frustration during the late ‘90s and early 2000’s. It was one of the foundations of my art style, in particular artcrimes.com and 123KLAN, who merged graffiti and vector art. I became interested in the graffiti scene in the late ‘90s but it became a frustration for me since there was no graffiti scene at that time. In 2011, 2012, I met graffiti artists Egg Fiasco at an event. I asked him to teach me how to spray paint, while I taught him to make the toys I make. They liked my work, and invited me to join Pilipinas Street Plan. Graffiti’s been a part of my mediums since then.
THE WORLD OF BULLETPUNK
That’s the brand name of the universe for all my characters, straight from my imagination. In a nutshell, it’s a post-apocalyptic world a few hundred years from now, where humanity was enslaved by a hive-minded system of machines. It’s sort of like The Matrix, but there are tribes scattered around the Earth deprived of information. So their beliefs and religions are heavily inspired by the objects they see around them.
So If they were deprived of information, how do they see the objects they see now? Like Star Wars, hip-hop materials, comics — most likely it’s the same as how we see our past. That’s how I see my characters. Their beliefs revolve around pop culture today, but they take it as true events that happened. That’s also why they dress that way.
That’s also a strategy for my creations to be heavily influenced by pop culture influences. The hook of pop culture references are really apparent because it speaks to our audience because they feel an automatic connection to them. I’m just finding a way to insert pop culture references to my works while making it essential to the story.
LOVE FOR THE THREE STRIPES
For people who know me, they always see me wearing Superstars or other adidas silhouettes. Adidas is my favorite; being influenced by hip-hop, the Superstars is one of the most iconic shoes that Run DMC made popular. To represent hip-hop culture in my works, adding the adidas brand was a key part of my work. It was also a device for me to introduce my background in hip-hop.
[The collaboration with adidas] is a dream come true for me in the purest sense of the word. For more than a decade I’ve been “bootlegging” adidas, so for adidas to have me properly represent them in my work is really significant for me. It’s a continuation of firsts for us to have Philippine representation in the global stage, especially in toys and fashion.
ON HIS RADAR
I tend to be inclined to ‘90s stuff in terms of anime and music although I’m still warming up to some more recent stuff I’ve recently discovered.
In terms of anime, I’m still on the classics. I still haven’t appreciated the new stuff, although I like One Punch Man. I still always go back to stuff from the past, shows that I haven’t appreciated that much back then. A perfect example would be the Patlabor movies, which are very underrated for me. They’re on the same level as Ghost in the Shell and Akira for me.
In terms of music, I’m not warming up to the new school hip-hop yet,. I’ve recently began to appreciate Lupe Fiasco and Jurassic 5. I still listen to ‘90s hip-hop. I’m also enjoying the work of producers like J Dilla and Nujabes.
The fanbase and customers I attract are people who share the same passion with me. The way I approach my brand is I don’t formulate it to make everyone happy. Instead I want to share people who share the same passions as me. These are the people who grew up the same time I did, they’re the people who appreciate my work the most. It’s a niche market, but very loyal.
Ever since my vision for Bulletpunk would be beyond toys — fashion, gaming, and movie or anime. More than a brand, I see it as a lifestyle that’s unique in the sense that it’s heavily influenced by ‘90s culture of Japan and hip-hop.