1XRUN x 10: From Detroit to the World
After establishing galleries and the Murals in the Market festival, along with other community-building projects, 1XRUN continues to shine their high-beams on Detroit and the surrounding art scene. They’re a vibrant, energy-fueled organization, acclaimed for their limited edition print releases with favorite artists and musicians. In a salute to 1XRUN for making such a broad range of artists accessible, and with 2021 marking their milestone 10-year anniversary and new venue, Spot Lite, we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with co-founder Dan Armand.
Juxtapoz: Congrats on ten years in the biz. How was 1XRUN established?
Dan Armand: It was born out of our love for art and creating a product that people just like ourselves could afford and be able to collect. We couldn’t afford original artwork, and going to galleries was an uncomfortable process where we didn’t feel totally welcome. Online releases were almost impossible to get, but the affordability and low barrier to entry was what got us excited about selling art prints.
What do you look for when curating prints?
We operate in a pretty small subgenre of contemporary art, and we don’t necessarily curate based on styles, mediums, etc. One of the first things we look for with artists is whether they take their art careers as seriously as we take our own. That’s obviously a little subjective, and not meant to discount any artist that creates for themselves. Some of the greatest artists I know couldn’t care less about money, and that isn’t what drives them at all, but I think the essence, for us, is that we want to work with artists who make art because it is part of who they are, and they have that drive to constantly create, build and share an audience of fans and collectors.
What do you think set you apart when you started out?
I was involved in the graffiti scene here in Detroit as a teen and throughout art school at the College for Creative Studies. The late ’90s and early 2000s were a really exciting time for graffiti and street art. Graffiti was coming out of the shadows and the rise of the internet was happening at the same time. The term street art became much more intertwined with the movement, and things started to become much more stylistically diverse, with more traditional artists getting into public art, and more graffiti artists moving into more traditional avenues. Artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairy were doing print releases online, and the demand was so high that their websites would crash and the prints would be flipped on the secondary market within minutes for crazy amounts of money. We wanted to apply some of the mechanics that made some of these artists so successful to every release we did, even if they didn’t necessarily have that same level of exposure and demand.
Talk about the offshoots of 1XRUN and how you grew the scope of your projects.
As anyone from Detroit knows, music is a huge part of the local culture. We are proud of where we are from, and the extraordinary amount of musical talent that originates here. We cut our teeth throwing events together when we started putting on art shows back in 2008, and music was always integral, just on a smaller scale. As the years went by and we grew, our shows and events started getting bigger, and when we inaugurated our annual festival, Murals In The Market. Festival director, Roula David had past experience with major event production during her time at Red Bull, so this was the point where we went from throwing modest art openings and events to full-on productions.
Expand a bit on Murals in The Market.
We always had our roots in public art. From my time tagging walls in the late ’90s, to the murals we painted on our first art gallery, 323East, back in 2008, it has always been something that is woven into the fabric of what we do. We did our first unofficial mural festival The Detroit Beautification Project in 2012 with Revok, Matt Eaton and Montana Cans, flying in some of the world’s biggest names in graffiti to spend a couple weeks painting every possible available surface.
From there, we proceeded to partner with other mural festivals like POW! WOW! Hawaii and Sea Walls, where we curated limited edition prints with participating artists. In these collective experiences, throwing events, wrangling graffiti artists, and learning how other people were doing legit festivals, we really put it all together and decided to create something special for the city of Detroit.
What do you feel are your biggest accomplishments?
Honestly, I think the biggest one is making it to ten years. Most businesses are lucky if they make it to five, especially in the art world. Jesse Cory and I both come from working-class families. We started this business with no money, no savings, no trust funds. Just years and years of our time and passion while working other full-time jobs before we were able to finally turn it into a viable business. Working for yourself, in theory, always sounds so liberating, but once you take that leap, you realize it’s actually way harder. It can definitely be a roller coaster ride at times, but we love what we do, and we care about every single person we have worked with over the years. We’re very thankful to have the support of so many people around the world who enable us to keep doing it.
What kind of editions can we look forward to this fall?
One that we are really proud of is our first custom Montana Cans aerosol can. We incorporated new branding that we refreshed this year, and the actual paint color is a throwback to the original Blue we used on the first website and logo design.
We also have five vintage Polaroid cameras coming out with Sheefy McFly, Distortedd, Greg Mike, Ron English and Mr André; each camera edition was designed by the artists and comes with special packaging. Along with these brand collabs, we are really excited for our annual Black Friday drop and have something special planned for 2021.
Who are some of the legends you’ve worked with, and were you starstruck by any?
As an art fan for much of my life, after personal interaction, there have been so many moments that have left me in awe. I’d have to say working with Ron English and Shepard Fairy has been epic, and that we continue to work together. Knowing that they trust us with their art is really special.
In terms of a real fanboy moment, that would be when we worked with Killer Mike and El-P of Run The Jewels on a project called Art The Jewels, which featured prints of murals around the world inspired by RTJ. They came through our gallery, Inner State, for the signing, and it was awesome to spend some time with them. I’d been a fan of El-P’s music since I was a teenager and it was amazing for things to come full circle and have a chance to work with him when they were really blowing up as a group after flying somewhat under the radar for such a long time.
What do Oscar and Ozzy think about the ten-year anniversary? Those dogs have met a lot of celebs.
Jesse and Roula’s dogs have been a constant source of inspiration, cuddles and love for our team and for all of the visiting artists. Oscar is now nine years old, and he has spent a lot of time in the gallery. When we had artists in our residency, he would spend hours chillin’ while we made art. There are a lot of Oscar portraits painted by Luke Chueh, Brett Amory. Michelle Tanguay, Denial, Jonny Alexander and so many more around the shop. Oscar is the muse of all muses and easy to paint because he doesn't move too much.