I will never forget the day we met Harry. It was one of those arc- tic cold Thursdays of Berlin, only Berliners know what I’m really talking about. By accident, we bumped into this warm welcoming shop with a pile of magazines. Pretty much like some Siberian travelers finding a warm refuge after walking through a long glacial journey, frozen stiff and benumbed by cold. I might be exaggerating a little, but I was really freezing my ass off. On the other hand, the Triumph Bonneville by the entry as well as the dim light showing some vintage designs on T-shirts quickly warmed me up. It was Harry Brack and Franck Damson’s shop, dedicated to the “Speed Culture” showing hot rods, dragsters and old bikes. When we saw Harry’s illustrations in the shop’s showroom, we fell in love. Harry left the cold and soulless advertising agencies; he quitted his job to devote himself for his passion consecrating his illustrations to those ‘mechanic monsters’, punk bands and skate- boards for various groups and brands. We therefore invite you to discover his world through these few pages.
J / Can you introduce yourself ?
H / I’m Harry Brack. I was born in 1969 in Mainz. I’ve been living in Berlin for the last 8 years. I studied graphism with illustration and with a specialization in screen-printing. And finally, I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator since 1989.
J / What has inspired you ?
H / I grew up with HotWheels, Pink Panther, Feuerstein as a toddler... then it was more about the HotRod scene, with Big Daddy Roth, Robert Williams... But there are so much... (laughs).
J / What was the problem with the so-called “Monkey Business” you’ve worked in ?
H / I worked in the advertisement industry for 8 years before I quitted thanks to a friend who launched an advertising agency. I was going really well, we had a lot of work and money. But after 8 years, I had no strength left to work with anything concerning advertising. I was missed my own drawings and on top of that, I really wanted to start print screening again.
J / How did you start working independently ?
H / I was already freelancing during my time in the agency. After my studies, I began to accept job offers. It came very naturally. I also learnt a lot from a comic drawer who taught me how to draw properly. He was an old comic artist from 68, he was drawing an underground comic called “U-comix”. That was a reference for German, Belgian and French comic illustrators.
J / You have a lot of American influences. Do you work with theUS ?
H / Yes, I have lot of contracts from there mainly because the music and motor scene is significantly wider over there. I made lot of contacts thanks to that. Regarding the influences I pre- viously talked about, I also love the American typography they were using throughout the 50s and 60s. I love the harmony between typography and graphics, for instance, those letters on those billboards were written by hand.
J / You did a t-shirt dedicated to Kreuzberg Skateboarding. Can you tell us more about this and your own skateboarding experience ?
H / In the 80’s, when the first skateboards arrived, I was skateboarding a lot until I started working and completely stopped. So I didn’t skate for years. When I got to Berlin at the end of the 80s, I really needed to find a job. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t find a job for illustrations, so I was working as a waiter in an anarchist punk-rock pub at the “Wilded Heart”. It was the German CBGB (originally in NYC) where all the punk bands began. It was a very special place in Berlin. That’s where I met my best friend and he was a skateboarder. He pushed me into this by giving me one and telling me “I will show you Berlin on a skateboard”. That’s the way it began. We lived in Kreuzberg, so we skated everywhere there.
J / Last word for the end ?
H / Keep the devil in punk.