David Anasagasti stands surrounded by his paintings. Their droopy dark eyes hang in fresh white frames all over the walls and spill onto the floor. The artist gestures to a few of his pieces as a couple nearby asks a question.
Anasagasti, better known as Ahol Sniffs Glue, has been working out of Frame Art Gallery in Brickell for the past few months. Owner Alfredo Zayden lets the artist paint in the space and proudly exhibits his work on the sales floor.
One piece that stands out from the others in the gallery is a plastic watch that hangs from a hook centered in a large white frame. The framing is a custom order for a patron who purchased a watch from Ahol’s latest collaboration.
Earlier this month, the Miami native worked with the Swiss company Swatch to launch a limited-edition watch featuring one of his pieces, titled Miami Full Time. The collaboration is part of the brand’s Swatch x You collection, which works with artists to create unique timepieces available for a limited time.
The partnership came about like any modern love story: via Instagram direct message. Ahol sent a few designs, gave the company licensing to use his work, and allowed Swatch’s graphics team to tweak the image for printing purposes. The design will be available through mid-September.
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Guests can customize their timepieces on Swatch's website by dragging a sample watch around the digital canvas. “I like to buy stuff and get it right then and there, but it is kind of cool to go through the experience [online] and pick how you want your watch to look,” Ahol says.
Looking back on the project's initial stages, the artist admits one aspect of the collaboration made him nervous. “I was worried about the name situation,” he says of potentially not being able to use his famous street name, “but they liked what I did and stood by my work.”
Next up is his October talk at West Palm Beach's Norton Museum of Art, where he's been asked to speak about intellectual property. He's often invited to institutions to discuss the matter since his now-famous run-in with American Eagle in 2014. "If someone steals your image and you’re not suing, you’re bobo,” he says. “As for me, I’m going to sue anyone who uses my image without permission.”
Ahol says it’s important for companies to do right by artists to set an example for other companies. “When you treat an artist right, that artist is going to be hyped to work with you and is then going to push for your brand and make sure the company shines. The companies I’ve worked with now, like Swatch, have gone above and beyond and truly support the work.”