KIWIE BUBBLE GUM CONCEPT COLLECTION
I still remember the excitement when I had the chance to get my hands on some of the Turbo Bubble Gums in my childhood. I grew up in a very small village and stuff like that was pretty rare. Cola-Cola was a luxury drink that I could only get when I behaved like a normal person. So it was pretty rare. That one day I received 3 Bubble Gums from my father, and I went around the town to show-off to all my friends as if I had received the newest iPhone before the release. There is something profound in how the memories are created not only by the visual image we see with our eyes, but also with the emotional attachment and yes, the smell. Our nose has one of the longest memory capacity. I wanted to bring back all of this and do it my way. So, this is my tribute to Turbo Bubble Gum.
Here I will try to explain why I created Kiwie Bubble Gum collection and what thought processes I used to create all products for this collection. I hope you'll find some value in it. It really doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, diplomat or a buss driver; I believe everybody has creativity inside, you just need the right triggers to activate it and train it daily to reach its full potential.
There are many ways how to create a concept and every creative has it’s own way of generating ideas. I have the habit to write down everything that pops into my mind on a daily basis. Literally, I write down everything. Not sure if it’s because I want to be more aware of everything or I’m just afraid of loosing my memory. But I write down even the silliest ideas you can imagine - “Create a Kiwie Monster on a wall made out of real 100 EUR money banknotes”; “Stick matches on the wall in a Kiwie Monster shape, then light them up.” I keep it all in my Evernote File and it’s as thick as 3 Bibles. At least it feels like it. I’ve done it for many years and I have found it to be one of the best ways to create something from nothing. The exciting part starts when one sudden silly idea connects with some other ideas, generated in the past. That’s the “Holy Shit!” moment. Other people call it - "Connecting the dots”. I must add here that the concept, the core seed idea, is the most important part in any project; that’s why I urge everyone to spend the most time thinking about the concept. No matter how good the craft and execution, if the concept is weak, it’s weak. I have always believed that any concept has to have hidden information in it, so people can resonate and associate with it. And the most important thing is to add your passion in everything you create. Without this fuel, everything is going to be just a “meh”.
TURBO BUBBLE GUM
I remember the day I was thinking - I should create new Kiwie Stickers, just because I run out of them. This was a necessity I was faced with. Create new graphics with new characters? Nah, a bit overdone and boring. There was nothing in this idea that steered my blood. I wanted something different, conceptually. I knew I needed to think of a concept that would not let me sleep at night. I kept this "problem" in my head for a while, meantime joggling with other different projects and kind of forgot about it. But it was written down in my head and in my 3 Bible-thick Evernote. Then something triggered. Old School Bubble gums like “Turbo" and "Love Is” have inserts of pictures wrapped in them and it was something people collected. What if I kept the original bubble gum shape and just replaced it with Kiwie artworks? The same moment I realised - Turbo has 5 letters in its name, same as Kiwie and it would look similar to Turbo’s original logo. That was the point when the chain reaction started where the first concept seed was created by simply connecting 2 dots: 1st New Kiwie Stickers and 2nd Turbo Bubble Gum. At the same day I found on eBay and ordered 5 original Turbo Bubble Gums. I had to see them in my hands.
I believe it's always important to do research before starting any project. I mean A really deep research. R&D [Research and development] - it’s something big companies invest a lot of money in and you should too. You have a device in your pocket with all the information in the world, so use it right. Not just because you will gain more knowledge about the subject, but also to immerse yourself completely in the subject. Your mind never sleeps and, while you will do other activities, your mind will pop-out snippets of ideas when you’ll least expect that to happen. It’s just the way brain works. Most of the magic happens when it’s in idle state.
I didn’t know that Turbo was actually made in Turkey, did you? And they ceased production of the original Bubble Gum in year 2007.
Originally I was thinking of doing only the Bubble Gums with Kiwie stickers inside, but the deeper I got into the research of all details around Turbo, the more ideas it triggered.
What if I also created my own box packaging for my gums similar to the original ones? Who were these people, who collected these inserts? Where did they store them? Did Turbo have video ads? How did their marketing communication looked like when they were active? For the next month I was a sponge - I soaked it all in.
“Change only 3% from the original design” - Virgil Abloh. I wanted this collection to be contemporary in the very core and pushed my limits to make it look different from anything I have done before. It should make me want to stay up late night and wake up early in the morning and in general be furious about time I wasted sleeping. It has to boil my blood, otherwise it’s useless to do.
I received my order of 5 original Turbo Bubble Gums and started to design the first Kiwie Bubble Gums. I unwrapped and scanned it to see all the smallest details on the wrapping paper. How it’s wrapped, what does the small text say? What are the symbols on the sides of the wrapping paper? How does the insert folds in the wrapper? What is the size of the original chewing gum? What is the exact size of the wrapping paper?
Then came the “fully throwing myself into the Turbo concept river”. While designing the first items, again and again I came up with new products and new item ideas. I’m always amazed how the mind works. You give him a small seed of an idea and it generates all the rest. It seems to be like a field of solid ground - what you will plant in there, the mind will produce. Nothing can come from corn seed but corn, nothing can come from carrot seeds but carrots. Create the right seeds, plant them and then take care of them.
From this point on, I started to apply Turbo Bubble Gum characteristics to all product concepts my mind threw right at me and I was choking. Wrapping paper sizes, insert picture sizes, everything comes out of one seed material - the Original Bubble Gum. What if I took the concept of unwrapping a Bubble gum by never knowing what kind of insert collectable picture I will have inside and applied it to a T-Shirt? A T-Shirt with a surprise print on it? Interesting what would the print look like? I thought - wait a minute, if the T-Shirt is with the insert print on it, then the T-Shirt is kind of a big Bubble gum wrapped in a smaller insert. Then the one wearing this T-Shirt becomes a Bubble Gum? Then it should be wrapped in a big wrapping paper? A blanket? Bed sheets? What if I created a proportionally bigger Bubble Gum packaging for this T-Shirt, so that the receiver would have to “unwrap it” just like the original Chewing gum, not knowing what kind of Print on the shirt he will get? And the whole thing would look like receiving a huge bubble gum? My brain screamed in a tiny voice - let’s do it!
Here I was so excited that I started to panic [normal procedure] - what if someone else now is producing something similar and will finish it faster than me? Like a big brand or a celebrity is creating its new collection with Bubble Gums. What if the next Supreme drop will include bubble gums? I think every artist has faced similar panic-attack problems while creating concepts and coming up with ideas that don’t go away. Me with my friend are frequently coming up with ideas that later show up on "Hypebeast", done by some other guys. And then there is the “dammmit” moment. I hoped this would not be the case.
BUBBLE GUM PINS
It would be nice to create a pin that kind of looked like an actual bubble gum attached to a jacket. Wait, what? Actual bubble gum. Let’s create also an unwrapped rubber Bubble Gum Pin! I couldn’t help myself but create it. Here again, the size, the packaging, everything is 1:1 original size of the Bubble Gum I scanned. Everything had to be with a sense and with one answer to all the possible questions - "Why is the size like this?" Because Bubble Gum. "Why is the packaging like this?" Because The Bubble Gum! Bubble Gum is the King in this concept.
Originally I wanted to create only 300 original Kiwie Bubble gums. But then I realised, I will need many more if I wanted to take them with my travels and generally stick my stickers around the world. Sticker Packs! - lets create sticker packs, where random selected stickers are packed by ten and anyone has the possibility to collect or trade them. Let’s print on Heavy Duty Vinyl and laminate it all to protect from scratches and water.
Collect? If it’s a collectible, where did people collect the Turbo inserts? Immediately I started to search for what the collectors albums looked like. Are they hand made or factory produced? Could I create albums where people could collect my stickers in a similar fashion? Here at this moment the idea of a Sticker Album was born. Still excited.
In a way, it's my first book. I have always wanted to create a book showcasing all my most important wall-paintings since the beginning, but never had the chance to finish any. I had started a book many times, but every-time something happened that distracted me from the project. For example, this project. This album idea, was a solution to my old idea about a book and this boosted my excitement about this project to 110%. Again, I connected the weird dots or they just connected themselves. Love at first sight. It would function like a book, would look like a book, but it’s not a book. And pictures in the book are actually stickers anyone can stick around? Perfect! Exactly what I wanted, something no one else has done before.
So, where do I get it? I researched all possible providers and all available albums online. Everything looked and was shit. Obviously, stuff that I wanted to create was too specific to fit in some stock measurements. At the book printing companies they said they don’t have the technology to create pockets like I wanted. But I understood that this was just a problem I had to solve. And I did. I designed and created everything from scratch and after a loooong research I found a factory that could help me. It’s one of the items I have created entirely from thin air. Each album is custom made with a collection of 300 of my most important wall paintings.
"I should create posters." - i said. "Why don't you create them as huge stickers?" - a girl with green hair asked. Posters that actually are huge stickers? Let's do it. Size 60×70 cm in size. One could frame it, or just stick it on a wall, or literally anywhere else. Printed on a Vinyl and laminated to protect it from scratches. Each poster would be printed only once and the collection would have 300 unique posters in total.
Kiwie Bubble Gum for scale.
I knew I had the main BOX TEE idea as the essence of this collection, but all the time there was something in the back of my head about the idea “where does the chewing gum end up, when it’s chewed?” How do you play around with this idea? It came to me one day, after I was walking on the street and saw a chewing gum stuck to a garbage ton next to me. I thought, it’s such a random place, why wouldn’t you just put it in the garbage? People stick chewing gums all over the places. I looked on the ground, there was a chewing gum as well. Actually, the ground was covered with old white spots that looked like chewing gums laying there for couple of years. That triggered an idea - what if I created T-Shirts showcasing scenarios of where the chewing gum ends up after it’s chewed for 3 minutes. Where does it end up? It reminded me scenes from childhood, where I with my brother went to sleep, secretly hiding a bubble gum in our mouths and when we woke up in the morning, the chewing gum was in our hair. Mom had to cut half the hair to get it out.
I decided it’s a good connection with my project and the streets, where Kiwie originally comes from, so I started to do a research in Riga city, searching for the gleaming diamonds - stuck chewing gums. And this is what I found:
Bubble Gum sticked on a street garbage bin.
Bubble Gum sticked on a door-code.
Bubble Gum Sticked in a door lock-hole.
Bubble Gum sticked under a school chair.
Bubble Gum accidentally sticked on a shirt.
But wait, what’s with the packaging? - I thought. Meanwhile looking at the original Turbo box sitting on my desk. Of course.
It was clear from the very beginning that I wanted to create a video with the Bubble Gum theme. So I started to think of ways how I could use the original Turbo materials, used in the 90s. And then I found it. This master piece below is the only video ad that Turbo had ever created. I was as excited as the narrator there.
What if I took this original video and re-created it my way? The scene - street art, the main guy - John Dick, the narrator - Turkish guy, the style - Vintage. All these dots connected almost instantly. My mind generated this video from start to end by itself. I just had to watch it thousand times and agree with my brains on some details. I contacted my old Turkish friend by asking, if he could translate to me what the narrator said in the video? I contacted a 3D master I knew, asking - could you help me create the same shitty look 3D pack shot but only with my artworks in it?
Down here is the original Turbo Bubble gum Video Ad form the 90'.
Going deeper into the details - what would the character look like in the video? The original video had a lot of design products in it, the trucker hat, the helmet and the kart-ride with Turbo on it. It was clear John has to have items inspired by these details in the video. Even if no one will ever notice. But that’s ok, the point for me was to push my boundaries and to go as deep into details as possible because I knew I had to maintain my excitement with this project to take it to the next level.
Original Kiwie Bubble Gum Sweater. Custom created and only in one exemplar. This sweater still smells like bubble gums and is dirty, a bit sticky as well.
Hand-painted and only one exists. Also still smells like bubble gums and is a bit scratched from the making of the bubble gum Kiwie wall artwork.
In my 3 Bible size Evernote one of the ideas written down was - “Create a Kiwie Monster out of bubble gums”. There were no question that this is the perfect time and place to do it.
500 Original Bubble Gums, hot water and cold fingers is what I remember from the day we shot the video.
And down here are the items I created from the original video.
This project is one of the ways how I stretch my mind. I’m still learning and face a lot of mistakes on the way. But I love it and always will; it’s the only way how to truly learn anything. I have always been interested what creativity is and how our brain produces all these random ideas, combining dreams, day dreaming, imagination, visions and daily experiences. It’s interesting, that creativity is not expressed just in art fields. One can be really creative but not realise it. Creative people surround us on daily basis, although they don’t look so much creative. A buss driver could be more creative in figuring out ways how to operate on the road than a painter who has been painting for many years. Unfortunately, only a few people pay attention to why and how creativity could help with their everyday endeavours. Brain is a muscle, and I believe, it’s important to remind yourself to really think on a daily basis. To make your mind sore, to make it work in the peak efficiency it’s originally was designed to do.
I like the answer to this question - “Why do I need to learn all this algebra bullshit, where will I use this?” - “Algebra is like GYM for an athlete. He weightlifts heavy barbell to build his muscles and it’s not because he will need to lift barbells on street or at dinner table, it’s so that he can lift heavy bags and has would not have a sore back the next day. It’s the same with algebra, it’s GYM for your mind. Train it. Expand it. Own it.”
This project was a GYM for my mind. Hope you like what I created and hope this will inspire you to create your own unique stuff. And don’t worry if you are scared to screw up; if it’s good, people will notice, if it’s bad, no one will notice anyways.
And Here is the collection of all 300 Kiwie Bubble Gum Inserts.
Thanks for reading this 2km long post.