Andy Howell Delves Into the Origins of Underworld Element

Underworld Element was the prelude to what has evolved into the convergence street culture that’s become a driving force behind popular music, art, and fashion. It came from the mind of Andy Howell, who could be considered the forefather of streetwear. His recent Supreme collaboration is a testament to his influence.

At a time when skateboarding was vastly different than it is to day, Howell created something new and original that helped define a large part of the culture for future generations.

The brand grew out of Howell’s Urbanistics studio in Atlanta. He sheds some light on his vision for the creative space that birthed the movement starting at the 1:26:03 mark of the latest episode of The Nine Club.

I was in Atlanta at the time; and there was a convergence for me of music, computers, skateboarding, and fine art. So I built this studio in Atlanta that I called Urbanistics. I was super inspired by Warhol’s Factory. I had grown up, especially as an art student, looking at art history. And I was privileged enough to meet Keith Haring, and see Basquiat’s art on the street in New York, and things like that.

I was super inspired by Warhol’s approach. He wasn’t a street artist; but he was an artist that appropriated what was going on in our everyday lives. And then, made us look at it in a different way. He said, “While I’m here, I might as well make films. While I’m here, I might as well make Interview Magazine. Interview Magazine needs models, I might as well start a modeling agency…”

So he had this spot where all of the celebrities of the day had to go to Warhol’s Factory in New York. I wasn’t of the age to do that. But I was so inspired by that; I thought I should make something like that in Atlanta.

Learn more about Howell’s history and current projects above. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, revisit Underworld Element’s Skypager [1993] below.

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