In 1993, Jordi Rubio was working for Felton, a paint production company in Barcelona, when he realized that one of the stores under his supervision was selling far more spray paint than the others. Jordi went to check out the store and, in the process, met MOOCKIE, one of the store’s employees and a well-known graffiti writer in Barcelona.
MOOCKIE and his friend KAPI were responsible for the increased spray paint sales at the store, and later, pitched Jordi the idea to create spray paint for the graffiti market. Jordi presented the idea to Felton, but it was rejected. So Jordi decided to found his own company, Montana Colors. Jordi combined his technical expertise with the opinions of MOOCKIE and KAPI, and produced the first Montana spray can in 1994.
Today, Montana is the most sought-after brand of spray paint by graffiti writers and is available around the world, including 15 official stores in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Sydney, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. The shop in Barcelona also boasts a gallery, a restaurant, and has developed a unique community for writers within the city and for those visiting.
“The graffiti world is very small, if you do things well and you are honest or real, you get an appreciation,” Jordi says in the following exclusive interview for The Hundreds. “We always have acted like this, and maybe for that reason, now, we can be part of this history.”
ZIO: You founded Montana Colors in 1994. What was your vision or expectation in doing this? Have those expectations been met?
JORDI RUBIO: In 1994, I was 28 and I’d discovered the graffiti world through some writers from Barcelona (Kapi and Moockie), who introduced me to this world. Since the very first moment, I found it amazing. I loved the concept of graffiti: doing something only for personal satisfaction without expecting economical return.
I climb mountains and it is quite similar — I do it just for me or, maybe, just to share in our small community.
Now, after 21 years, I can’t say that my expectations have been met because, sincerely, I never had any expectations. I only wanted to do a good job and a focus on the present, and this has brought us to where we are now.
“I LOVED THE CONCEPT OF GRAFFITI: DOING SOMETHING ONLY FOR PERSONAL SATISFACTION WITHOUT EXPECTING ECONOMICAL RETURN.”
In a video interview, you said that after 20 years, you still have the same feeling of enthusiasm as the first day. Why do you think that is? What keeps you interested and excited about doing what you do?
When you do what you like, it is always easy to keep excited and enthusiastic, and normally, the results are positive and then it is like a motivation circle.
What do you think sets Montana apart out from other brands?
Montana Colors is the pioneer and original, this makes the difference. In addition, we are the only company in the graffiti world that produces and has their own shops.
What is the philosophy of the company?
Do more for less. And always think in innovation, quality, and respect to the environment. I like to remark this last point because we do chemical products and it is very important that this is a priority in our company. We think about our employees, clients, and the future generations who will live on our small planet.
Where are the paints made?
Our facilities are located 40 kilometers north of Barcelona, under the Montserrat mountain. We have independent buildings connected with an internal transport. We have a building for labs, R+D, and paint production, we have a second building for spray paint production (this one is painted by Os Gemeos), and a third building for administration, marketing, and logistics. And from here, we deliver all around the world.
Montana Colors has become more than just a brand, and is a sort of community, especially in Barcelona, where there is a shop, art gallery, and caf'e next to each other. When you opened the shop here, was it your goal to create a community or did this happen naturally?
This happened naturally, when people with similar passions meet, it’s natural to get close and share experiences. The graffiti world is very small, if you do things well and you are honest or real, you get an appreciation. We always have acted like this, and maybe for that reason, now, we can be part of this history.
When did you expand the shop in Barcelona to include an art gallery and restaurant? Why was it important to you to add on these additional elements to the business?
The shop is our “market thermometer.” The gallery is a way to show graffiti to the people in our city and a way to return to the scene what it gave to us. The restaurant is a way to integrate the general public into graffiti with very good food and an atmosphere related to graffiti.
What are some of your favorite places in Barcelona?
The beaches of Barcelona and the Costa Brava, the Montserrat Mountain and the modernist architecture and Gaudi - inspired by the nature.
What is your best piece of advice?
Do what you like to do and live the life; time runs fast and we cannot buy it in a “time shop.”