VISUAL TALES: For the record, your real name is AUSTIN STOLL. How did the name/brand identity AUDI BIZAR come to be?
AUDI BIZAR: My friend just started calling me Audi and Audi started to become my nickname in high school. (No relation to the car brand). Later on, when I made up my own spelling of the word “Bizaree” into “Bizar” that signified my friend group, my clothing brand, and my other artistic practices.
VT: Did entering the world of modeling help you discover the possibilities of merging art and fashion together?
AB: I strongly believe fashion + design go hand in hand in the art world. Specifically in my case, painting and drawing. The first time I remember creating anything garment-wise, it was made out of necessity. I was desperately looking for t-shirts with movie quotes from my favorite films. After searching and finding nothing, I came up with the idea of simply writing the quote myself on scrap fabric my grandma had lying around. That’s how creating garments of my own came to be. Modeling definitely had an impact on the way I looked and it incorporated fashion and art. Although I already had a big interest in clothing and fashion design before modeling, the benefits of modeling opened my eyes to new possibilities such as using images of my artwork to create custom fabric.
VT: Under Audi Bizar, you have produced two BIZAR fashion shows of your own (in Buffalo, NY) presenting your clothing collections. How that came to be and what did you learn from doing so?
AB: The two BIZAR shows that were held in Buffalo in 2019 and 2020. It happened for various reasons. One realistic reason was my confidence level of what it takes to put on a fashion show. Having a full year experience of shows and paying close attention to show production, I naturally had a good overall understanding of how they work. Another reason the two were made possible in the first place was my dear friend Dan Helms, of Metagama, a boutique curated archive clothing in Buffalo. Dan was my right-hand man and made the locations of both shows possible. Without his passion and help in making this possible, I would had a super difficult time pulling it off. I also really wanted to show the people of Buffalo, my friends, and others in small cities that you can have your own show showcasing your art without backing and within a budget that works for you. These shows I learned that working with a team and collaborating is imperative to ensuring the best creative process and outcome.
VT: Tell us about your new exhibition show. (August 25—September 10 at the New Collectors Gallery in NYC)
AB: For my exhibition, you can expect to see a mixture of older and newer canvas and fabric paintings, both oil and acrylic tying into my modeling and fashion background. Additionally, you will see new work by another artist and close friend, Ian de Beer.
VT: How do you foresee your future?
AB: Having a too specific vision for the life you want as a creative is a bit unrealistic for me. Lately, I have been focused on just getting extremely skilled and good at how I make my paintings. I think the rest will follow much more genuinely, such as gallery shows, artists' residencies, and more people interested in the work, etc. I also believe that doing the unexpected at a gradual pace is more a pleasant way to approach art. As a result, I am trying not to keep a balance in my life or have a unforeseeable future! More exciting that way. Besides, it sucks when you plan for something for a short or long time and it doesn’t work out.
QUESTIONS for MARTIN KEEHN from VISUAL TALES:
VISUAL TALES: You are one of the few independent NY/LES designers, that is able to create, produce, retailing your own creations. For those independents who long to achieve this probability, what advice would you give them?
MARTIN KEEHN: Stay connected to your community, it is who you know, try to stay focused on your esthetic DNA but don’t be afraid to evolve and learn how to delegate, it is a skill.
VT: Martin Keehn, the brand, has always had a very strong sense of identity through clothing and images. Was this always in the plan when you created the label?
MK: I can’t say it was/is a plan but I do try to be visually sincere. I don’t feel joyful if I’m chasing what I think others will like.
VT: We had the pleasure of collaborating with you in showcasing your SS2023 collection in our first Visual Tales Virtual Show. It appears that more and more designers are into the idea of creating season-less collections, presenting only new looks when it is time to introduce new items to add to the pre-existing line. What’s your take on it?
MK: Wow, that’s actually a bigger question than it seems. My feelings are that it's an organic pushback again to the corporate structure of the business plus it’s just more ecologically responsible. Plus, (big plus) I think things move so fast with the glut of information and access to it.
VT: If you can collaborate or partner with a creative individual, collective, or brand, who would you choose that matches your ethos?
MK: I would probably lean towards working with artists like Matt Connors, Jack Pierson, or Jared Buckhiester.
VT: We are thrilled to be able to feature your work with Audi’s work. Besides being friends, there is an unspoken love and respect between the two of you in terms of how you both approach your creative work. Doing things your own way. What’s your take on this?
MK: I just love Audi’s unpredictability, openness, and optimism. For me, he’s the embodiment of freedom plus he has great taste!
QUESTIONS for AUDI BIZAR from MARTIN KEEHN:
MARTIN KEEHN: What was the one thing that most surprised you or something you didn’t expect top lead about NYC when you came here?
AUDI BIZAR: Before coming to NY, I didn’t truly know how vast, dense, and big the web of creatives and community is here for all things imaginable. You can only guess, assume, or picture it but after a couple of years in NY, I am starting to experience and embrace it more and more.
MK: Are you listening to any songs or albums obsessively on repeat? If so, what is it?
AB: Currently, I have been obsessively listening to one of my best friend’s new albums; “When You Ahead It’s Easy To Talk” by Brian Gonser. The entire project is beautifully produced by another close friend. He’s most definitely one of my favorite hip-hop artists out there right now. Also, a song I can’t stop playing lately is “Don’t Die” by Birdman & Lil Wayne.
MK: Who would you like to portray you in a movie about your life?
AB: A dream actor to portray me in a movie would be young Johnny Depp, Ashton Kutcher, or Jim Carey. I think these people could portray my young self very well and more importantly accurately.
MK: Favorite place you have traveled to recently?
AB: South Korea, it was one of my first experiences out of the country and was truly such a memorable place. Although I had no working phone with me for the entire time while I was there, it was really fun. My favorite memory was seeing this super colorful spider.
MK: Where do you see yourself creatively in 10 years?
AB: In 10 years, I see myself being a full-time artist, having a studio, and happily living in New York. Also potentially having a business back home in Buffalo.
QUESTIONS for MARTIN KEEHN from AUDI BIZAR:
AUDI BIZAR: What inspires your colorway selections throughout a lot of your pieces? All Instinct?
MARTIN KEEHN: Offhand, I’d say that my color choices are an organic composition of what’s in hand but if I go deeper, I see through a line from my early life. I grew up in Seattle and it’s very grey but there’s a lot of green since we are surrounded by nature, with lots of trees and grass. Additionally, the gloomy weather made me crave more brilliant themes.
AB: If Martin Keehn was a band what part of the band would you play? Singer, Drummer, or Guitarist
MK: Drummer for sure. I’d love to have a job where I can perform, be creative, and work out my aggression all at the same time.
AB: What is one of your favorite albums of all time? (Can be one of many)
MK: If I had to pick one it would be Roxy Music’s Avalon. But, other important albums would be Split Enz’s True Colours and Time and Tide, Change’s Change, and Blondie’s Eat To The Beat.
AB: What is your favorite pie or cake flavor?
MK: Rhubarb pie, hands down.
AB: Who is a dream actor (can be from the past or now ) that you would love to dress?
MK: Alec Guinness and a close second would be Crispin Glover.
AB: If you only could dress in one color starting now for the rest of your life what color would you choose?
MK: Powder Blue. I already feel guilty for how much I wear it now.
— A Three Way Chat