INTERVIEW: Frightful Heir

We sat down, or rather were ushered, from the densely crowded front, to the warehouse section of the Mishka store to talk to Alexander Heir about his new work, New York City, what inspires him, and his various projects in fashion, art, and music.

Alexander Heir lives and works in Brooklyn. Among his various ventures, he is the founder of clothing label Death/Traitors, which features graphic tees, varsity jackets, pins and more. The line is decked with imagery inspired by the occult, mysticism, secret society iconography, and other things that would scare some but seduce many more who would appreciate bold graphics, and darkness that does not take itself too seriously. These themes were further explored in the show at the Mishka Store and paired well with the Death/Traitors line sold there since 2011. Alexander Heir also runs the screen printing shop Funbot Press, and he is a partner of Burn Books Records, a publishing and record company, and plays in the band Teardops.

Having grown up Jersey, what was your connection to NYC before going to art school?

My father worked in the city as a photographer, and when I was in high school I was coming to punk shows, and taking art classes here and shit. So I feel like especially the area of Jersey I’m from, I was just as much involved in growing up in the New York scene.

I had a similar experience growing up in Passaic, a little more urban though….

It was nice because we got all the spill-over of the culture.

photo by Stuart Heir

When did you start making art?

AH: Like everyone else as a kid making shit. My father always exposed me to museums. I think the real thing that pushed me was music, and then from there I wanted to make my own t-shirts, and draw my friends album covers. I was always into being creative but it took me a while to hone that interest and figure out exactly what I wanted to do.

So is music where you’re still drawing from or is there art that you are looking at like 18th century romanticism or…?

Yeah a lot of that stuff. At this point a lot of renaissance art, religious and occult artwork, and Japanese woodcuts are a huge influence on me. I think it’s either very classic stuff like that or like 70’s and 80’s punk rock [album] covers.

Of all your ventures – you have your clothing line, your art, your band – which one is taking up the most time?

Every week and every month is different. If I have a new Death/Traitors line and have to fill a bunch of orders I’ll be working on that. But while I’m working on a Death/Traitors shirt I’ll be thinking of a painting in my head. Or when I’m drawing I’ll take a break and play some guitar and shit. So it all kind of feeds off each other.

Alexander Heir’s work is on display at the Mishka store in Brooklyn through April. His clothing line is Death/Traitors.