Archive for the ‘Vahap Avsar’ Category

Carry On…

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Like superheroes, all companies have their origin story. For Brooklyn Industries, it began with two young artists – Vahap Avsar and Lexy Funk in a Chelsea apartment in 1996. Staring out the window, Avsar often found his gaze landing on an old Marlboro billboard that had been weathered from months and months in the New York weather.

Sifer-Chyper, 1991, Vahap Avsar

Drawing inspiration from his large body of work that mostly concentrated on the semiotics of visual language, 3rd world bricolage, and upcycling art from common objects, Avsar began sewing the bags in their apartment, and when demand outgrew their tiny quarters, the partners moved to a warehouse in the then gritty Williamsburg where they worked and lived without heat or air conditioning. When the amount of knocks on their warehouse door became untenable, Funk and Avsar opened a retail space that was to become the genesis for Brooklyn Industries.

Last year, the company began re-establishing production in Brooklyn with one craftsman and one sewing machine making one bag at a time. One year later, we’ve set up a small production facility at our current headquarters in Brooklyn called Factory, and are celebrating it with the re-release of the Crypto Billboard Bag. Prior to the re-release of the original line, we’ve released a number of new designs made in house this past year, including the Sunnyside Bag, the Java Tote, and the Corlear Bag. As an added bonus, each bag comes with a limited edition, numbered screen printed poster commemorating the re-release.

Each custom-made, waterproof messenger bag is completely unique with its own different cuts and decontextualized designs. With digital advertisements dominating the visual landscape, Avsar sought to bring back a sense of nostalgia towards tactile messaging. The Crypto bag line is the latest in Brooklyn Industries’ new releases that is helping the company establish a greater local manufacturing presence.

The Postcard Tees Series by Vahap Avsar

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Ali Men’s Graphic T-Shirt

Ali is regarded as a hero by the Sufis in Turkey and posters of this picture used to be hung in almost every Sufi households. Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In Muslim culture, he is respected for his courage, knowledge, unbending devotion to Islam, and equal treatment of all Muslims. The image disappeared when the printing company that created the posters in Istanbul went out of business in 1999. As part of his project Lost Pictures, Brooklyn Industries Creative Director Vahap Avsar found the iconic images and started repainting and reintroducing them. This Ali painting was reproduced and the posters were given away at Avsar’s museum show in Berlin this year where the lost images came back into circulation.

Vahap Avsar, BKI’s Creative Director Brings Turkey to Berlin

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

photo by Uwe Walter

Currently on display in Berlin until May 12th is a gallery show by BKI’s very own Creative Director, Vahap Avsar. iBerlin is an exhibit that explores the underlying patriarchal conditions of socio-political and cultural structures. Born in Turkey and currently living in New York City, Avsar is able to examine the subtle authoritarian mechanisms around him growing up in Turkey through the pop culture lens that he familiarized himself with in NYC.

In the work Originals, 2010-2012, Avsar replicated now out of print postcards that the state originally commissioned to promote its political propaganda, religious themes, and nationalism. Avsar had himself used the widespread images as source material when he was making commercial paintings as a teenager. Another common image in Turkey was of Ali the prophet, that was often hung in households with a covered fabric over it for fear of persecution. Ali, the Lion of Allah, 2011-2012 recreates the now unavailable image as an oil painting.

photo by Uwe Walter

The multimedia show also includes two video installations – one a close up of a real soldier going through a training routine, and the other putting the viewer in the crossfire of two men practicing with heavy-duty shotguns.  Both videos make the viewers confront unspoken and accepted social practices in a close up and powerful environment.

photo by Uwe Walter

iBerlin, March 27, 2012 – May 5, 2012, TANAS, Space for Contemporary Turkish Art.

Behind the Campaign: Creative Director, Vahap Avsar Discusses “Crash”

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Vahap Avsar, artist and BKI’s Creative Director talks about J.G. Ballard’s Crash, the inspiration behind the Spring 2012 Collection

What sparked your initial interest in Crash?

When most people think about Crash, they think of the (David Cronenberg) movie, which I haven’t even seen, or fetishism, or about J.G. Ballard as a science fiction or post-apocalyptic writer, but I see him more as a postmodern theoretician – and artist. Ballard was a huge influence on some of the great writers and artists of the late 20th century, from Bruce Sterling to Tracy Emin to Damien Hirst. I think his vision of a dystopian modernity deeply resonates with the age we live in, and our psychologies are clearly affected by the technological commodities we use. Crash isn’t about sex – it’s about using sex as a representation of our acceptance and fetishism of a technology that kills a large number of people every year.

Speaking of Damien Hirst, how do you see Ballard’s effect on the art world?

Well, Ballard’s ideas were a major influence on contemporary American and British artists, especially the Y.B.A. (Young British Artists) and their tactics of pushing psychological boundaries. Actually, before he wrote Crash, Ballard exhibited a piece at The New Arts Lab consisting of wrecked cars called Crashed Cars in the late 60’s that many critics at the time labeled ‘perverse’. Ballard often considered his books a literary version of the ideas expressed in his visual artwork.

How did you come about fusing Ballard’s ideas with a fashion collection?

Just as Crash is a conduit for his theories, I wanted to use the spring line as a conduit for Crash. To be frank, fashion can at times be a bit vapid, so I wanted to come up with a thought provoking theme expressed through clothing that the audience could hopefully catch on and get them talking about Ballard. As we design a wide variety of products, it can be difficult to tie all the items into one singular idea, but we encourage the designers to interpret the theme according to their perspectives and personalities. With just this one idea, we were able to come up with a number of different designs across a wide variety of disciplines. We made a seasonal collection, we designed and hand-painted a custom bag series, our window designer sculpted amazing installations for our stores, our multimedia designer created video collages that we  incorporated into the photoshoot for the campaign. In the end, we’re putting it all together in a fashion/art event at our Union Square store. To me, it’s amazing that our designers made so much great work out of a single idea.

Come see the Crash Into Spring event at our Union Square location on Friday, February 10th, 2012 from 7pm-9:30pm, featuring live art demonstrations by the BKI Design Team, music by DJ SoSuperSam, and food and drinks from Dough and Brooklyn Gin.


Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Brooklyn Industries’ Creative Director and co-founder Vahap Avsar‘s first U.S. solo art exhibition, NONEISAFE, launched last week at the Charles Bank Gallery. The exhibit, on display through June 19, presents a collection of politically innovative works. The exhibit’s most striking work, however, is the wrecked NYPD police cruiser installation (also named NONEISAFE). Today’s Wall Street Journal, which profiles Vahap and the exhibit (read article here), explains in detail the interesting feat of getting the car through the gallery’s doors.

More photos from the exhibit’s opening event can be found here. The gallery is located on 196 Bowery (at the corner of Spring St.), New York, NY. For more details on the exhibition, visit

(Photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.)


Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Brooklyn Industries’ Creative Director and co-founder Vahap Avsar will present his first U.S. solo art exhibition, NONEISAFE, this Thursday, May 12, at the Charles Bank Gallery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The exhibition, on display through June 19, presents a collection of politically innovative works signature to Turkish-born Avsar’s artistic style. Featured works include Ipdal, a series of vintage Turkish postcards (example pictured below) censored by the Turkish government, as well as Tekmil, a video that challenges roles and their empowering – or disempowering – qualities.     

In the spirit of BKI’s brand motto, Live, Work, Create., Vahap has remained a working artist while serving as Creative Director of Brooklyn Industries since its inception in 1995. He most recently held a retrospective at the RAMPA gallery in Istanbul, December 25, 2010 through February 5, 2011. His first published book of art is scheduled to premiere later this month.

NONEISAFE will debut at the Charles Bank Gallery opening event this Thursday, May 12, 2011, 6-9PM EST (open to the public). The exhibition will run through June 19, 2011. The gallery is located on 196 Bowery (at the corner of Spring St.), New York, NY. For more details on the exhibition, visit


Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Have you seen our new windows yet? Brooklyn Industries has launched a series of window installations in all stores using dozens of used inner tubes from tractor trailer truck tires. The sculptures represent an interesting cross between American industry and summertime fun.

The inner tubes were gathered from a New York-based industrial recycling plant that collects used tires from all over America, separates the tires, tubes and rims, and then ships the tire parts out to locations across the world for re-use. This form of tire recycling and others, such as repurposing tire rubber for asphalt, fuel, mulch and artificial reefs, is vital in the movement to alleviate one of the most problematic sources of landfill waste.

“We are upcycling an object vital to industry in America – truck transportation – while also portraying something naïve and playful. I think of floating on tubes in the summer, as well as the people who used them to make crude boats to escape Cuba in the 1990s. The tubes are rich with naiveté and a sense of freedom,” said BKI’s creative director, Vahap Avsar, of the installations.  

Prior to installation in each store, the inner tubes were blown up in Brooklyn Industries’ warehouse and then painted or dripped upon with white paint. The voluminous sculptures were assembled differently in each store window and provide an artistic backdrop to Brooklyn Industries’ new summer collection. Stop by any BKI store location this month and take a look.

To learn more about tire recycling, click here. For information on how you can dispose of tires in the New York City area, click here.


Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Stop by the Flux Factory, a non-profit art space, through May 1st and you’ll find artwork by Brooklyn Industries‘ Creative Director and co-founder Vahap Avsar. Vahap is among select contributing artists whose work is now being featured at the Flux Factory exhibition, The Typhoon Continues and So Do You. The exhibition features works that contemplate the transformation of four specific artifacts of war after their integration into larger society. The show conveys how these artifacts exist today in slightly altered contexts, alluding to how societies understand and process conflict over time.

Vahap’s “Operation Freedom” – a neon installation – is currently on display.

(Photos below: courtesy of Christina Vassallo.)


Other artists’ responses include a video featuring a repentant Milosevic, a floor installation to illustrate America’s involvement in armed conflicts around the world, and more.

Vahap remains a prolific artist, while still creatively directing Brooklyn Industries on a daily basis. He most recently held his first solo art exhibition in Istanbul, December 25, 2010 through February 5, 2011. His New York solo exhibition at the Lower East Side’s Charles Bank Gallery and his first published book of art are both scheduled to premiere in May 2011. Stay tuned for more updates and events!

Other participating artists in the Flux Factory exhibition include Hector Canonge, Joseph DeLappe, Patrick Dintino, Nick Fevelo, Yevgeniy Fiks, Gregory Green, Harvey Loves Harvey, Pablo Helguera & Colectivo Mishima, Yael Kanarek, Kristian Kozul, Julia Kul, Elizabeth Larison, Brian Leo, Paolo Pedercini, Public Studio, Ryan Roa, Christopher Robbins, Sayeh Sarfaraz, Aida Sehovic, and Matthew Sleeth.

The exhibition was curated by Elizabeth Larison, Douglas Paulson, Chen Tamir, Ginger Shulick, and Christina Vassallo.

All The Typhoon Continues and So Do You events are free and take place at the Flux Factory, 39-31 29th Street, in Long Island City, Queens. The exhibit is open weekends through May 1, 2011, 12PM – 6PM, except for Sunday, April 24th. Special presentations will also take place Friday, April 29, 2PM – 10PM and Sunday, May 1 at 3:30PM.  

For full details, visit