The Creative Report recently interviewed HUF-owner Keith Hufnagel to discuss the history behind HUF, inspiration for the brand, and advice for young artists interested in a similar career. Check it out below, and visit thecreativereport.com for more information.
1. What is your name & When did you start HUF?
Keith Hufnagel. The name HUF had always been kind of a nickname given to me by friends, so it was always on skateboard and t-shirt products for companies I skated for. The brand HUF officially started in 2002, though, when we opened our first HUF retail store on Sutter Street in San Francisco.
2. Why did you start HUF?
I started HUF with the main intention to bring together what I thought were the best brands and products at the time… you know, create a spot where you could come and grab all the good stuff in one place, rather than having to go hunt it out from all over. I’ve been a skateboarder all my life, but I’ve also always been into clothing, footwear, and design… At the time, I wanted to get into something that I could entertain myself with when I wasn’t skateboarding, but I didn’t want to start just another skateboard company. I had always felt that skateboarding and street-wear were sort of intertwined, considering the same street-scene type roots they come from, so I started HUF as a way to bring all of this together – street-wear, art, music, design, and skateboarding. HUF was an opportunity for me to create a more exclusive type of skateboard / street-wear boutique, a concept that I felt the scene sort of lacked back then.
3. What are some of your favorite moments in your career?
I guess just realizing how lucky I have been to have creative freedom and the freedom to travel through my career. As a skateboarder, you have so much self-control over the way you choose to express yourself. There’s not really anyone there telling you what to do; you develop your own style, choose what tricks you want to do, where you want to do them… It’s similar to the way an artist has control over the materials he chooses and the images he wishes to portray. There’s a similar sense of creative freedom that comes with the design process of the HUF line now. Instead of bringing together other brands’ product as we did initially, we now have total creative freedom when it comes to designing the HUF apparel and footwear lines. Other than the creative control, I also have always appreciated the freedom to travel that comes with skateboarding. I’ve had so many good experiences just traveling around the world, doing skate trips with all my friends and companies. Skateboarding takes you to some really cool places in search of new spots, but it also takes you to some pretty weird and sketchy places. I guess as a skateboarder you get to experience a lot of different things traveling that the ordinary tourist wouldn’t see. I’ve really appreciated the learning experiences my career has offered me.
4. What do you think is the future of your industry?
It’s difficult to say what the future of the industry is as a whole, but as for HUF, it will be working hard on continuing to develop our footwear and apparel lines. We’re constantly trying to push the limits when it comes to design, function and technology. Essentially, we try to take classic Americana designs, and adapt them to serve modern functionality, be it skateboarding or whatever. We want to create simple, timeless pieces that are practical when it comes to wearing and skateboarding in. We’re always exploring new ways to do so, and questioning what is ultimately possible.
5. If you could, what is one thing would you do differently?
Probably go into outer space… haha.
6. What is some advice for young artists trying to have a career like yourself?
Oh man, this is always a hard one. It sounds cliché, but just work hard and do what you love. When I was young, I loved skateboarding and that’s really all I wanted to do. I worked as hard as I could at that, and one thing lead to another. I guess you might as well do what you want to do, when you want to do it, otherwise you’re going to look back and wish you would’ve done that one thing when you could… haha. And if the first move doesn’t work out, there’s always going to be something around the corner that may be better. I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive off riding a skateboard my whole life, but had no idea what I’d do after. When I was given the opportunity to start the HUF brand, I just worked super hard to make it happen… in the end the work paid off.
7. What is the next big project you have planned?
Well, there’s always lots of projects in the works, lots of ideas bouncing around. If I were to tell you what they were, though, then they would all be spoiled, right? Haha… Just check out the hufsf.com blog daily, and we’ll keep you updated on everything we’re working on.