Everyone gets a turn at being the “new guy” at one point in time. Simon Hyun from Pigeon Be Pigeon aka Sir Face Designs is a Bronx-born artist who designs his graphic screens for T-shirts, hoodies, housewares and more as a riff on life in the Big Apple. He came across us in Williamsburg a few weeks back, dug in his heels and has quickly become part of the family – as his mugging for the camera shows.
Artists & Fleas: Tell us about you and your collection.
Simon: It is an urban/ NYC themed line. It started out as just needing subject matter for my screen printing class that snowballed into this weird pigeon obsession… or new found appreciation – whichever!
A&F: What makes you decide that a design is T-shirt worthy?
Simon: Most of the time, it is just a lot of trial and error. Something stencils would just be sitting on the screen until a friend of mine would be like “alright, this is funky.” I would play around with a small print run and see how the public reacts and adjust the design from their opinions
A&F: Do your designs reflect your personal style of do you mostly consider what your consumers would want?
Simon: It is a little bit of both. Pigeons chill wherever, do what they got to do and move on to the next day. We live in a great city – people shouldn’t make it a corny, cliche “I Love New York” shirt. Instead – try approaching it with why you love the city without actually saying it – in this case, pigeon shirts!
A&F: Where are you from originally? Does this have an influence on your products?
Simon: I was born and raised in the Bronx. The daily stabbings, shootings and violence in general forced me to look to pigeons for a better answer.
A&F: What makes you want to sell your line in Williamsburg?
Simon: I feel that people in Williamsburg are open to things that are quirky and sometimes a little funky. Also I feel like that they are open to some weird guy selling pigeon shirts.
A&F: What is your favorite part about selling at Artists & Fleas?
Simon: Hands down, the AC (and the tunes)! Selling outside on a hot summer day sucks. The great people in the neighborhood are nice, but the creature comforts are clutch!
A&F: Who and what do you draw inspiration from?
Simon: Inspiration comes directly from the city I portray on my shirts. You walk down any street in New York and the amount of crazy randomness is amazing. From the aggression between a cab and biker, to the late night train rides home in all their drama and even a pigeon perching on a head of a cherub on the outside of some building.
A&F: Your customers: who are they and what do they do for fun?
Simon: Many of my customers are either tourists who envision the pigeon as the New York mascot. Others are animal or bird lovers who don’t just see pigeons as “rats with wings” as most New Yorkers do. Sometimes you get the crumbs, other days you find the loaf – and sometimes some punk sparrow runs off with your only meal. They all love the city with the same enthusiasm. As for what they like to do, I am taking a wild stab in the dark – but I assume it is something involving beer, dancing, music, concerts and steamed broccoli.
A&F: If you weren’t designing T-Shirts, what would you be doing?
Simon: I’d be complaining aboout how much I hate my job and how much time it takes away from designing. Nah, but really – I love to screen print and if it wasn’t on T-Shirts it would probably be more of an artistic approach – creating stencils and filling it with watercolor and/ or acrylic. Maybe in the future…
A&F: Anything else you’d like us to know?
Simon: Chuck Norris checks under his bed for me!
Spar with Simon, enjoy the creature comforts & play with pigeons this Saturday & Sunday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from 12-8pm.