Meet Joseph Vaughan, aka Joe2grand ( also as a DJ/Producer/Writer, part of R.P.M for Mo Wax records and RunawaysUK for Ultimate Dilemma records). Joe makes his living as a teacher / trainer and DJ / musician and calls Stratford, East London his home. Its not his day job that we are interested in though, its his fascination with 90s Polo, and the amazing miniature sculpture he creates to immortalize the most iconic garments. How did you first become interested in Polo? At least 20 years ago...... through getting into hip hop. Brand names are, of course, very important to any b-boy and Polo was one of those,alongside Benneton, Tachinni, Kappa, Chipie, Fila, Adidas, Puma, Op )..The whole "top to toe" RL obsession really kicked in whilst on tour in Australia promoting one of my albums, in a record store in Sydney I picked up copies of Thirstin Howl 3rd/ Rack Lo CDs, their ridiculous album artwork of their impressive collections fed that " obsessive collector" part of my brain. All my life I have collected various things; as a child it was match boxes and stamps, as an adult vinyl records, music equipment and Polo.
What is your favourite Polo piece of all time? Tough question..its very difficult choice from one of the 'power pieces'....You have the bold "in-your-face" fluorescence of the 'Cold Wave Snow Beach' line, the various 'themed knits', various 'Teddy Bear' manifestations or the romanticism of the 'P-wing'.......however for shear 'over the top' graphics and general 'ugly chic' appeal: I would say the 92 ski coat with its cartoon like graphic of skiers feet and skis with dynamic spray of snow combined with almost 'fairground style' lettering.
How deep is your personal collection? Getting there! I would never claim to be one of the kings (maybe someday?!)..but I have a good and hopefully broad selection and of old and new classics. I also collect 'weird' RL bits (watering cans,flower pots,baseballs/footballs,large perfume display bottles,salad tongs etc) as well as home stuff (all my bedding,plates/cutlery and lighting is RL)
What is the thought process behind the Polo Miniature collection? I went to art school for a time and wrote graffiti so I have always been making and interested in art.The love of all things Ralph Lauren led me to other collectors and to learn about the most treasured of vintage Polo. I see my miniature artworks as a tribute to those collectors and the pieces they covet the most. The labour intensive production of these miniatures I see as a reflection of our dedication and love for these gems. My goal has been to produce 50 of the most collectable 'Power Pieces' as miniature 'jewels' that will make a glorious visual extravaganza for a Polo collector or anyone interested in design/brand loyalty. I have made some pieces of which no photos exist and are Polo collector folklore, such as the "endless Bear" sweater and designs that were only available to Ralph Lauren staff members...I am in talks with various galleries about shows for my artwork in 2014 in the USA and Europe. I am very grateful to the worldwide Polo collector community for all their support, guidance and suggestions during the making of these items. The sculpting started when I discovered a passion for making clay models through making art projects with my daughter, on one of the clay packs was instructions on making teddy bears and the thought occurred to me : "if I add a RL flag to this miniature teddy bear's chest then I have a perfect mini model of the RL teddy bear!"..... so I made various versions of the RL teddy bear and progressed on to making RL logos and miniature items of Polo clothing from there. I had shown them to another Polo collector and artist (U.K graffiti artist "PETRO") and he said :"they are great ! make 50 different designs!!" .....this has been my goal since and I'm almost there , 30 made with 20 to go!
Can you explain the process to create these pieces? First, I hand make a wire clothes hanger (approx 3cm wide) onto which I 'hang' a small square piece of aluminum foil which provides a 'foundation' for the next layer: artist polymer clay,which ,when baked in an oven, goes hard)..the clays come in various colors and you can mix colors: if I am making a knit sweater I often will just make any graphics/designs it has just using clays to give it a textured relief like a real woollen sweater has (see 9/11 knit), however, if the piece has detailed printed graphics, this is recreated using a tiny paintbrush, a watch-makers microscope and acrylic paints. Finally, if the original has any element of 'gloss' to its texture, this is achieved by a final coat of lacquer top coat. The time it takes to produce one varies according to the complexity of the design: the 9/11 tribute knit , for example , all cut from individual tiny pieces of clay using a scalpel, took around 8 to 10 hours,a simpler 'Teddy Bear" sweater will take less... I have produced a series of the "Royal Crest " silk shirts that come in their own glass display bell jar (suspended by invisible fishing wire hanging from a real RL button) and have sold these to the USA, Europe and Australia (including to one of the collectors on the RL vintage site). A few are still available to buy- please get in touch via Joe2grand@hotmail.com or on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/joe.toogrand to buy one. To view more from this collection visit http://joe2grand.wordpress.com/