Darrin Umboh

34, Rotterdam, graphic designer, art illustrator, sneaker customizer, king of porn.
During my thesis I was working on the Blend60daysofspace (Blend guerilla store) project.   The first spot we found to built our temporary store, was an enormous space in the Hilton hotel in Rotterdam. We figured we needed artists who can give the space a little bit more colour on some ugly looking spots. The walls were up to six meter high and looked terrible cause the space got burned a few years before (It used to be a steakhouse restaurant). When we showed the space to Darrin he was looking like it was no problem at all. I even saw a big smile on his face. “The bigger the better” he said. He gathered a group of painters and within’ a couple of days he and his boys turned the place into a colourfull madhouse. Later on I discovered that Darrin was capable in so much more than painting on walls only, he is an artist when it comes to customizing shoes and an artist with computertablet as well. Meet Darrin.

Dhani: Who discovered that you were great with the pencil when you were young? Did he/she encouraged you to be an artist?
Darrin: As a kid I was always busy with pencils and pieces of paper (I think most kids are encouraged to draw by their parents as a means to keep them occupied and out of their way.) So did my parents and they always loved the stuff I did (as good parents should) but my talent really started showing once I entered the school system where I was always the no 1 guy when it came to drawing, which (next to my gorgeous face and the fact I could draw horses really well for my age) made me very popular. In high school drawing became more serious and all my art-teachers encouraged me to pursue a career in art and here we are!

Dhani: A few years ago there was a real sneakerhype. With your crew Leyp, you got well known with snearkercustomizing. Do you still do that often now that the hype is kind of over?
Darrin: sneakers and sneaker customizing has become more mainstream lately. The time where everyone wanted to rock the most colourful and loud sneakers is behind us. the trend right now, is more basic and toned down with subtle colour pallets.
Since we are known for our bold graphics and brightly coloured customs, things have slowed down a bit on the consumer end. Now our focus is more on the artistic approach to the whole customization of products, where we are commissioned by numerous companies in different fields to apply our “LEYP” touch to their products. We have worked with most of the big sneakerbrands where we (with lots of help from our creative friends) produced a whole line of customs to be showcased during specially organised events, exhibitions and product launches.

Dhani: Actually you (and your whole crew) aren’t from Rotterdam but from Groningen. What made you decide that you wanted to live in Rotterdam? Did you all moved at once?
Darrin: Groningen was a great city to be in while in art-school, (the Groningen student night-life is legendary.) but to make a name as an artist, the west is the place to be. Rotterdam or Amsterdam were my cities of choice and since my good friend Nick (my LEYP-colleague) had already moved to Rotterdam, where he joined fellow Groningen-artists Lennard Schuurmans, Niels Kalk and Piet Oosterbeek, the migration to rotterdam was a no-brainer for me. 

Dhani: You did some crazy work last few years. Could you mention a few were you are proud of?
Darrin: Last year I decorated an elevatorshaft for Antwerp-based ad-agency ‘DuboisMeetsFugger’ in my signature ‘colourful-character-style’ This was the most satisfying and biggest project (size-wise) I had done, until I recently designed a huge building-wrap (750sqm) for Adidas to promote their originals store in Rotterdam. I was also asked to ‘customize’ the building wrap, which had me live-painting in a service platform at a height of approx. 20 meters above street-level. To have your work printed out on a banner the size of a football-field, attached to a building in the center of your hometown is quite ‘kick’ as they say in Rotterdam. I also was commissioned by a large dutch beer brand to make a design for their upcoming world-cup special giveaway. If all goes as planned, South african footbal-stadiums will be filled with my work, I’m getting hard thinking about that one….

Dhani: What are you working on at this moment?
Darrin: Right now, we’re designing the website for McGee (of Fedde Le Grand’s ‘put your hands up for Detroit’ fame), I have a meeting next week to work on a viral for a BIG shoe-brand (still secret), I’m busy doing some paintwork for a solo-expo in Amsterdam the 28th of may, called *SBBBW (sinful big black beautiful women) and I’m working on some designs to decorate our mysteryland-area, which we’re hosting with Topnotch and Sffrmkrs. 

Dhani: What would be your ultimate assignment in the future?
Darrin: I would love to do a capsule collection for an established shoe/clothing brand. I was approached a while ago with the question if I would be interested to collaborate in creating a concept to be translated into an animated cartoon series. It’s still in a very, very, very early stage, but if that works out, we have our ultimate assignment right here.
A reverse gangbang movie, starring yours truly would be nice as well.

Dhani: You started a wallpainting in my house a while ago which I’m very honoured to have. When are going to finish it?
Darrin: never.
When we had diner at your house a while back, I decided I had to do it over. I can’t motivate myself to finish something I started almost 2 years (I’m so sorry!!!) ago. I’m not feeling that style anymore and my drawing skills and speed have improved by leaps since then…so I strongly suggest we paint the wall white again and I’ll make you the nicest mural you and your lovely wife more than deserve.


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