We asked Jiggy Wesson, co-founder of Rooftopstudio, about the story behind her ambitious and sun-soaked creative collective.
In the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, you’ll find a collective called Rooftopstudio. It houses a hybrid of creatives who provide services such as art guidance, graphic design and event coordination for both big brands and simply curious individuals. They’re big fans of artist collaborations, yet their aesthetic remains defined by a playful, surf’s up, skate-infused vibe we particularly admire. We decided to ask their co-founder, Jiggy Wesson, about the Rooftopstudio story.
GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Jiggy. Who are you?
Jiggy Wesson: I’m the co-founder of Rooftopstudio—a creative studio, showroom, workshop and space for creative minds. I grew up in a village in the mountains with ski and snowboard addicts. But I’ve always been attracted to the energy of the city, so when I was fifteen, I moved to Marseille and later to Paris. I studied graphic design before starting a ton of shitty jobs as well as dope and diverse projects. Now, I live in a tiny village in Portugal surrounded by creative people and hippie folks. It’s a place where time stands still and people make space to talk about nothing.
It was hard to move from a big city, work, relationships and culture. But it’s the best move I’ve made in a while. It’s inspiring to change all your habits and go somewhere radically different.
It’s a creative studio specialising in special material print. I founded it with my homie Basalte in 2012 in Montreuil.
At the beginning, the main idea was to do cool stuff, with cool people, with no money. Basalte is the skillful engineer and I run the global art direction. We began with screen-printing. Now, we also offer art direction, graphic design, event organization, woodwork, etc. Even though screen-printing is still our main thing, we’ve become a diversified studio.
We work with big companies such as Timberland, Ray Ban and les Galeries Lafayettes, but also many artists, illustrators and photographers. Due to our workload, we opened up another studio in Paris exclusively for print. The spot in Montreuil has become mainly a showroom: we meet our clients, present our clothing brand La Sape, exhibit artists and launch our collaborations. And we have a rooftop where we can enjoy a coffee looking over the city.
Why is creative collaboration important to you?
I have always been surrounded by a crazy diversity of people; this is what I love most in life. As a result, all my work inside Rooftopstudio is about collaborating because I’m addicted to discovering new things and always improving. People around me work in collectives; it’s a new lifestyle everywhere. And I’m really happy to see people reconnecting with each other like that. It gives me hope for the future.
I’m drawn to artists who are multidisciplinary. We initiate collaboration pretty quickly. It’s mostly about having fun and sharing something with somebody we like. Today, it’s the sexy and feminist artist Regards Coupables, and tomorrow, it might be Steven Harrington or Luke Pelletier who are also colourful and fun. We like artists with talent across different domains because it resembles what we’re trying to do: experiment with everything!
Why is it important for you to maintain such an art-based focus?
First of all, we don’t do art with a capital A. When you say “art”, it sounds like a serious thing to me and we don’t do serious things for now. We’re having fun with fun people! It’s important for us to make an artist’s vision or technique accessible to the public.
Back in the days, art was a tool for understanding history. Artists painted murals or made sculptures of war scenes, conquests or human anatomy. It was a way for people to learn, especially if they didn’t go to school or couldn’t read. Today, art is still the best way to construct your personal opinion. With a piece of art, you learn visually; it’s way more abstract and personal than learning through school.
Art is one of the most important things in our society. We all need to expose ourselves to new experiences; we need culture and art. Art brings you culture, and culture brings you respect. Art makes you think and build an opinion. Artists influence people, and people influence art.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
I’m actually launching a studio here in Portugal focusing on print and creative solutions. I will share my studio with two local shapers who makes crazy, handcrafted surfboards. Rooftopstudio and La Sape will take on an oceanside dynamic and work with new people whose vibe is completely different from Paris. Life here exists outside, with the tides and the wind. My entourage has changed; I hang out with surfers, shapers, artists and people from around the world who also moved to this little village. It’s mixed and rich with different languages and cultures. Ultimately, I’m sure the ocean impacts people’s lives.
Furthermore, we will launch AGIRLISAGUN in our Paris studio with Regards Coupables. Afterwards, La Sape will launch a reggae and island-inspired collection, followed by a collaboration with LA’s Steven Harrington for a super tasty cruiser collection.
In general, I just want to keep doing cool stuff and having fun with Basalte. As long as we have fun, we will keep expanding. The next stop might be New York, of course, or Los Angeles, Milan, Dubai, or Brazzaville. But we could also wake up one day and decide to quit this and open up a tuning garage in Medellin instead. Who knows!
What’s going on in Paris these days?
The creative scene is flourishing. Street culture is super trendy and brings the codes from graffiti, music, slogans, and style into the graphic design and fashion worlds. Just take a look at the Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration. I don’t really like this move, though: It’s like a big machine is taking over a subculture. Of course it influences me, but I feel more influenced by the global energy of Paris than a particular scene.
In the future, I would like to see fewer machines, less software and more handcraft make a comeback. I would like to see more imperfect things. But I sense that people are already trying to bring back old-school techniques when you look at fashion, design and communication. The tendency is around the handmade, hand-drawn and handcrafted. I hope art will stay close to people and not become a random bargaining chip.
Who are the two most important women in your life and how do they influence you?
First, my mom. Like all other women, she’s a true warrior. She influences me because of how she tries to understand the world from a cultural and respectful perspective. She thinks that culture is the true key to living peacefully and keeping you open-minded when society tries to demotivate you.
Second, Tura Satana as Varla inFaster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! by Russ Meyer. To me, she represents the ultimate woman: strong, smart, sexy and a femme fatale. This movie from 1965 is super badass and is a strong influence on female character development in a broad sense. It also reveals Varla as free, timeless and luscious. I like that Russ Meyer shows a woman as a rebel in the 60s, driving sumptuous classic cars. ‘Cause it’s cool to wear jeans and boots instead of a boring pearl necklaces and foolish flower dress.