Bricktown... To The World
Written and Photographed by Cassell A. Ferere
Born in Paris, raised in Martinique, and migrating to various areas in France, Samuel Benainous is quite nostalgic of his upbringing and childhood, reflecting on the elements which he holds dear to his existence today. A digital world in which we live is nothing without the pixels which make it up. This is one of the inspirations behind Bricktown World’s signature pixelated designs. Maybe it has more to do with the millennial culture in France, being that one of the biggest street artists there is Invader, one who posts his version of the digitized space aliens and creatures from the popular late ‘70s early ‘80s arcade game Space Invader, all over the streets of Paris. There is authentic affixation with the digital era and the turn of the century.
Growing up in the digital uprising of the dot com era of the ‘90s and 2000s, playing games like Mario, Donkey Kong and systems like Play Station kept Samuel busy when he wasn’t in school. A shy student, his favorite subject was geometry, which influenced his art. He bounced around France in his adolescence, ultimately attending High School in Bretagne, in the west region of France. Like most kids his age, attracted to fashion, he saw clothing as a way to be different. Not a popular kid - at a small-town school - Samuel built is confidence throughout the years, enough to dive into his artistic side and his dream to travel.
As a young entrepreneur, Samuel decided to launch a t-shirt line to make some extra money during business school. In a room in his apartment - and a couple of interns - Samuel was designing shirts while his interns managed administrative task and assist on daily duties, going at it each day. An email from one of those interns to Colette Paris, which Samuel describes as the “beginning”, attributes to the success of his brand. He eventually got his design in Colette, eventually find space on the racks of stores around the world like Selfridge’s, Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong.
With several efforts in contacting Bloomingdales, the department store turned around with an offer for a Nintendo ‘Let’s Play’ capsule collaboration between Bricktown and other brands to be included. And in 2018 Bricktown stands out from the other brand going sold out after few weeks. Samuel was later contacted by Nintendo and they were excited to expand worldwide on the collaborative project. Fulfilling his dreams of that young kid playing pixelated videogames creating similar drawings and paintings, to a teen who enjoyed geometry in school, Samuel started to realize his opportunity for life to come full circle. “What I like about pixel art (is) making people think about something. Like when you see the (pixelated) pineapple, you think of the most delicious pineapple you can think of.”
Bricktown would become a more lucrative brand, enough to attend more tradeshows in Samuel’s region of Europe. By now he was based out of the 4tharrondissement in Paris, in an area known as Le Marais – The fashion district. Not a fan of fast fashion, Samuel had it in his mind to eventually become a sustainable brand, one which Samuel implies you can “buy a t-shirt and keep it for years.” After four years of production – oblivious to sustainable models - he finally had an opportunity to meet with organic producers who could deliver great quality garments. He has since been fully sustainable in production and packaging while producing quality design and clothing.
Traveling for his t-shirt brand – his art, Samuel isn’t fully satisfied with all he has accomplished. He is secretive of upcoming collaborations (NDA contracts presumably) but tells us of his upcoming project with Universal Studios and the Minions for Spring Summer 2020.
Despite the refinement in today’s graphics, he happily to make pixelated Minions as graphics for the shirts and hoodies. Samuel claims he spends about a third of the year on a different continent or part of the world. With a cosmopolitan outlook on life he has checked off a lot of his goals, only to set new ones, filling in the rest of the pixels in efforts to complete a bigger picture (at a higher resolution, of course).