Estevan Oriol x Adidas UNRTD Mag Interview


Oriol recently curated the first installment of the adidas Originals ‘NMD’ Immersive Photo Gallery Experience, where he was joined by fifteen up-and-coming street photographers for an urban exploration shoot, of which Estevan candidly chatted with us about afterwards, regaling on his journey from music to photography, and just how he manages to stay relevant in today’s highly-saturated and competitive photography industry.

It’s interesting how brands are tapping into organic aspects of creative culture these days. How did this gallery project come about with adidas?
Basically, adidas reached out to me. I’ve done a few projects with them. I collaborated with them through Undefeated a couple of times. We did a “Top 10 Shoe” and came out with a photo book, and another photo book about basketball. Then I did a photoshoot and lookbook again for Undefeated with the James Bond brand and David Beckham. Then this one came up… I think I’ve been on their radar because I’ve done a few projects with them in the past, so they know I can deliver whatever they want.

They hit me up to do this project where I walked around with 16 or 17 street photographers that they handpicked to go to different locations of my choosing. Everybody then shoots in their vision at the same locations.

As you were curating this exhibition, what cues guided you in developing the visual message for what would eventually be on display?
As I was looking at all of the work, I had to pick 16 completely different looks. I didn’t want to pick all shots of the low riders… or of the shoes. Being the curator of it all, I had to pick 16 shots that were different. I did however select some shots of the low riders being that that’s my background. It was a great experience. I never really curated a bunch of photography that wasn’t mine. It was a lot of work with a short deadline–basically overnight. At first I thought I bit off more than I could chew with this one, ya know [laughs]. Once I started I was like “f$ck it. I gotta finish it,” and it came out really sick. The presentation blew me away. They turned the prints around really quick. The framing! The projections! adidas really smashed.

How did you end up running with Cypress Hill and becoming tour manager for them and Soul Assassins?
Back in those days I was doing security, working as a doorman, and that’s how I met all the bands. And because I got to meet all of those people, they saw how I worked and the guys from Cypress Hill liked how I carried myself. I had respect for everybody and treated everybody good, but I didn’t let nobody push over on me. They liked that and said “hey you wanna do a job with us? It’s called tour managing.” It just evolved into this huge job, but the way it evolved was at an okay pace to where I could handle it, and I wasn’t overwhelmed. ‘Cuz if you would have said hey we need you to be tour manager and just threw all of this shit at me at once, I wouldn’t know what the hell… wouldn’t have known where to start.



Photo by Brian Willette

Photo by Christian Smiley

Photo by Paolo Fortades

Photo by Matt Lawrence