Being a neighbour to one of the largest Vans collectors certainly has its advantages, but having the vision and eye to spot the historical and artistic value of some old Vans boxes in a warehouse is something few appreciate.

The Vanzine  is an initiative and fanzine by Australian-born designer  Nick Dart , who currently resides in London. We recently had the opportunity to talk with him about his project, his relationship with Pillow Heat and his approach to the different Vans objects and materials that make up the brand.

How did the idea of ​​creating The Vanzine come about?
He used to live across from Henry, aka Pillow Heat, and spent a lot of time in his store drooling over his crazy vintage Vans collection. What always caught my attention were the graphics and packaging designs that collectors always ignored.

After seeing the stacks of Vans boxes piling up in Henry’s warehouse, one afternoon I decided that I had to start documenting and sharing all these amazing designs that had been forgotten over time with people.

Have you had difficulty finding information about a particular Vans item you’d like to post?
I was very lucky in the first edition to have the support of Steve Van Doren giving me date information on box designs and a better understanding of why certain designs were made with specific colors, for example blue for men, pink for women, orange for youth, light blue for High Tops, for rare editions made in Italy corresponds green, wine for men and respectively for women. Unfortunately I have never managed to find information on who was responsible for doing illustrations for the boxes.

How did you and Henry meet? Does your store and collection have an impact on The Vanzine?
As I was saying before, I lived across the street from Henry’s store for many years, we started talking about Vans, skateboarding and we became very good friends over the years and that’s how he kindly gave me access to his collection and It put me in touch with other collectors around the world who helped me solve doubts for The Vanzine.

What is your top five favorite Vans decals?

Just by looking at the design of Vans shoe boxes, do you think the brand’s message has changed a lot over the years?
Over the past few years we have seen the return of many classic designs and I think Vans is beginning to see the value of its history. Previously, it was only Japan that launched many of the first Vans products, but things are starting to change for the European and American market. It was very cool to see the return of box designs for the Vans Anaheim collection recently.

What is your top three Vans packaging designs?

How about your favourite version of the Vans logo?

What do you think is the brand’s strongest graphic resource?
It would have to be the checkerboard pattern

When we talked to Henry we talked about the lack of a product file in Vans, can you say that The Vanzine is your approach to this?
Yes and no. The intention was never to make an archive, I just wanted to show other designers and illustrators this amazing artwork that had been lost in history. It is great that the project has reached so many people and brought so many memories to all the people who lived through it at the time. In editions 01 and 02 of The Vanzine I left some things out of the zine because they were not so visually interesting so it is not a complete file, but it is the closest thing you could find.

What pair of Vans are you wearing today? Can you share a photo of your cell phone with us?
I bring a pair made in America around 1986.

If you could retrieve any design style from your Vans file or that you’ve already seen and no longer exists, what would it be?
This question is easy, it would definitely be the old signs that used to be on the outside of Vans stores in California during the 70s and early 80s. I would love to know who was responsible for designing those fronts.

What is the rarest or most difficult to find object you have seen?
It is difficult to say. I have seen many oddities over the years, perhaps the tube sock pack that was a mini shoe box; or sticker packs that are very difficult to find because they are usually thrown away once opened. Henry also has some original artwork from Vans’ early announcements.

What is your top five Vans items you have?

Have you ever received comments from Steve Van Doren about The Vanzine?
I managed to launch the first edition on Vans 50th anniversary and at the House of Vans party in London I met Steve. I gave a copy to him, his family, and also to some of the longtime employees at Vans who hadn’t seen many of the products since the 1980s! Everyone was very happy to receive a copy as it was quite a nostalgic tour for many of them.

Would you consider Vans aesthetics influential in pop culture?
Definitely, it is easy to see how Vans has affected many people and how it was built on many subcultures such as punk rock, skateboarding, surfing and BMX.

Who is your favourite Vans sponsored athlete?
Jeff Gross

What reaction to The Vanzine has surprised you the most?
What has surprised me the most is how Vans had almost forgotten about most of the products I presented. Since there is no official file on Vans, I’m glad this little A5 size zine can be shared and used as a reference. Since its launch I have seen the return of certain designs and I can’t help but think that The Vanzine had something to do with it.

If you had to design a Vans line inspired by your favourite pizza topping, what would it be?
My favourite pizza is cheese, it doesn’t seem very inspiring to me, haha.

To read the original interview visit Vans Mexico