Crash Course On The Crashocaster

words and designs by belle

Both music and street art individually have a long history of its own. In 2000, these two worlds collide when a noteworthy artist of the graffiti world, Crash, customised the world’s first Crashocaster for English rock and blues guitarist, Eric Clapton. Crashocaster derived from Stratocaster, the first signature model electric guitar of Eric Clapton, released by Fender. The fusion of abstract and graffiti based street-art on the Crashocaster’s body eventually received its unintentional fame when the third of its series was auctioned off for $321 000 in 2004. This “incident” caused Fender to continue the collaboration between Crash and Eric Clapton which sustained its success until today. To find out more about the mind behind Crashocaster, we’ve decided to ask the influential graffiti artist, Crash.

Before we go into the new “Crashocaster”, can you tell us about your first meeting with Eric [Clapton] and the subsequent first collaboration?

I first met Eric in 1996 during his trip to NY for the Grammy awards.  He contacted me regarding my helping him with visuals for an upcoming video shoot for a project he was involved with.

How different is it to paint on a guitar body compared to walls and canvases? Any unprecedented difficulties?

The logistics in trying to paint on a guitar are quite different.  The guitars have no flat edges, so the composition needs to flow as if there are no sides. Also wood is very unforgiving so layers take much time to build and dry.

As you are aware, the “Crash 3” sold for upwards of $300,000 on auction in 2004. That, in turn, spawned a slew of replicas in the aftermarket. How do you feel about replicas and imitations?

Yes, I know about the auction price, I was present at the auction. Much to my dismay, I was a bit taken aback by the crazy amount of counterfeit guitars that were being produced.  We tried, through my attorney, to stop some from being made, but still, some were being made.

What are some design decisions that you took upon yourself with this rampant imitation market watching your every move?

I didn’t release front or back images of the guitars, once I finished them, so the copy cats had a tough time trying to figure out what they looked like, and it worked for the most part.

I also see that your social media account is set to private, why is that? What is your relationship with social media?

It’s set to private because I’ve been hacked in the past and it makes things easier… Time is too short to deal with cyber idiots.

How has painting now compared to the time you’ve started? Is reinvention a prerogative you maintain?

Reinventing is always a priority, and I lean on my past to look for the future… Since I’ve been painting for so long, I can look at paintings from 1983 to inspire something good for 2020.

We’re excited to have you here in Singapore again, compared to your past exhibitions, can you divulge some details of what you’re showing over at Culture Cartel 2019?

I’m constantly reworking things, so I can’t really describe what’s going to be shown but I can say that it’ll be interesting and a partial throwback to a more colourful past…

Paving today’s graffiti art movement, Crash has made many milestones throughout his artistic career, one of them being the Crashocaster. Drop by Culture Cartel 2019 to catch more of Crash’s work.