There is a form of art is that is relatively unknown in the United States, but has a rabid following in Japan. “Itasha” is the art of covering cars with reproductions of characters that can be found in the medium of “anime” and “manga”. The vehicles that are usually decorated in this fashion are those of the variety that became famous after they were showcased in the film, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”. It is in this art form that Sacramento’s own “Team LoveHate” is bringing to the area as well as the rest of California.
echoflam.com’s Oscar Benjamin caught up with founders, Jazel Gonzalez and Rob Bolster at the recent SacAnime convention in Sacramento to discuss the origin, intention and possible future of Team LoveHate. Jazel Gonzalez stated that he was looking through “Super Street” magazine and said “I saw that they had a bunch of these cars covered in anime and I thought they were neat”. Gonzalez continues, “I was a part time manager for a “Hollywood Video” and one day I came into work and there was this Pontiac Vibe wrapped like a 1942 fighter plane called a “Warthog”. I went into the store asking around to find out whose car it was and I finally met this gentleman whose name is Steve Crain and he told me he was the owner of the car”. Inspired by what he has seen and his conversation with Crain, Jazel told Crain he would go to his shop with his “idea” of pasting images he has seen on the intenet on to a photograph of his car to demonstrate his idea. Steve Crain understood Jazel Gonzalez’s intentions and they both decided to manifest Gonzalez’s ideas which led to the Itasha movement’s first Infiniti G35 Coupe.
Co-founder Rob Bolster met Jazel Gonzalez through a mutual friend which led to a friendship that has lasted for several years. Bolster initially responded with amused skepticism when Gonzalez had sent him an image to his cell phone. Bolster exclaimed, “At the time it didn’t make sense! We finally developed the rest of the car and then he just converted me and I became a fan of it all”!
Gonzalez and Bolster explain their process, “We find the art online and we have to make sure the resolution is high because if it isn’t high enough then we get an ugly image. Then we decide on a piece and we blow it up and print it out. We have these huge long tables and there are six or seven of us with X-Acto knives and cut out every little thing!” Gonzalez adds, “Then we apply all the clear pieces as highlights, then the reflective or metallic and we work on them for about three months. Then we apply four or five layers and this technique has raised the bar! If it wasn’t for Signs by Tomorrow, I don’t know what we would do and it is Steve Crain’s ideas to work with the vinyl and we provide the images and we come to a half-way point between style and technique. I think that is the big kicker, keeping it clean and classy”.
Jazel Gonzalez coined the club name of Team LoveHate because he “wanted to start a clothing line in 2006 with the name because I thought of relationships on how there is love and hate that is a Yin/Yang relationship”. Bolster continues, “that whole concept really works for this too because you are either going to love it or hate it!”
The founders responded to questions about their future and where they see the club headed. It is their hope that the club begins to support music and new artists. They also wish to continue their clothing line and hope to attract artists to design original character pieces on future vehicles they purchase. Gonzalez elaborates on this notion by stating, “If I have an artist come out and design their own stuff we can run their own line of clothing and then they get a kickback and then we get original material”.
It is this future that Team LoveHate also wishes to export to the east coast.and the mid-west. Team LoveHate’s founders realize that this dream might be difficult to manifest, but as more members join the team and learn the process, Gonzalez and Bolster will probably achieve the ambitious expansion of their popular club. Pressed to analyze their success, Gonzalez states “we like to keep it clean and classy, not too trashy and try to do all the cons that come around. We would also like to say thank you to all the supporters that come around!”