SAN DIEGO — Bikini clad babes are a crowd-drawing tradition at the ASR show, but some paint and brushes gave the cheesecake poster signings a run for their money at last weekend’s show here.

Across from the Reef Girls podium were three artists quietly concentrating on a mural that mixed images of tribal swirls, technical diagrams, human figures and graffiti-painted shoes. The group are part of The Ninth Concept, a Paris-based collective of 12 artists who mix painting, graphic design, graffiti and collage into their work. Known simply as Jerk, Ned and Steph, they make up the founding members of the crew. “The group is about sharing a human adventure and making art more public,” said Ned. “To work with a big company like Reef gives us exposure, but they also give us freedom.”

The brand enlisted the artists to design the graphics on Reef shoe boxes and will incorporate color groups based on the artists’ work on T-shirts. The company has no plans to sell the shoes that were customized during their “live art” performances. “What we gain from the group goes outside of a commercial project,” said Mark Price, director of global marketing. “Who hasn’t already seen shoes sold with a bunch of graffiti sprayed on them? For us the gain comes through the widespread creativity these artists trigger. Their projects raise the level of public discussion at the company.”

Reef wasn’t the only company to tap artists. Original artwork was incorporated into the displays of other brands such as Low, NC United and Vans. Meanwhile, 3 Part Mix, a group project sponsored by various designers, mixed mini fashion shows with an exhibit and live performances by comedians, bands and DJs. Another popular draw was the 55 DSL booth where a crowd queued up to have free T-shirts silk screened with images created by artists for the upcoming book “Eightandahalfbyeleven,” a collection of street art published by Gingko Press. Visitors to the booth watched special projects designer, John Esguerra use the silk screening press he had fashioned from an old wooden bicycle frame. “I asked a friend who builds surfboards to make it and people really responded. They are so surprised to see art happening before their eyes — now I think I’ve got a new hobby.”

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