Celebrating SMIB: GRGY
From three young mavericks to creators of culture
The boys were once connected by growing up in the Bijlmer: Ray, who still lives there; Georgy, who now lives in the center of Amsterdam; and Quincy, who now lives in the north of the city. Today, they are connected by how they think and what they want in life. They are connected by their way of life, a lifestyle that is the result of their creation: SMIB.
Go back two years, to 2015, and discover the ideologies and beliefs of SMIB.
A group of young artists and entrepreneurs who grew up with seemingly all odds stacked against them yet inexplicably have them all in their favour.
What were once just three peculiar boys from a marginalised neighbourhood of Amsterdam has become SMIB Worldwide. Their idiosyncrasies, desire to do good and their deep-rooted social engagement led to a colourful uprising of young people on the fringes of society.
They pair up with fashion labels and perform at festivals; they’ve created their own stage. So much so, that they now proudly present their first exhibition, giving insight into their self-made universe through their work and inspirations.
As they have grown, so has their following. A following of what might be described as a group of misfit youngsters, not sure of their place in the world but determined to excel in their lifetime. This group might be their most successful creation yet: a subculture.
Two years ago our art director Hanna Eenhoorn, a photographer and creator, noticed them at the beginning of their promising careers. She interviewed Rayvel Pieternella, Georgy Dendoe and Quincy Ofosu on their beliefs, backgrounds, and futures all the while painting a picture of these young visionaries set against the backdrop of their boyhood homes. Celebrate with us, and take a look at the origins of the platform, movement, and family: SMIB.
Introduction written by Imogen Mills
Click here to see what SMIB is up to at the moment
Click here to buy tickets for their expo
In the Bijlmer, in Amsterdam, something fascinating is happening. In what is a place closed to outsiders, hidden away amongst the grey blocks of flats, a new subculture is developing. The Bijlmer is a neighbourhood in the southeast of Amsterdam, a neighbourhood long associated with stereotypes of poverty, crime, and danger. At one time this created a tangible rift between the Bijlmer’s residents and the rest of the city. But now this predominantly black neighbourhood is seeing a new generation that aims to challenge these preconceptions.
The Netherlands has not seen a substantial rise of any subculture for years
The Netherlands has not seen a substantial rise of any subculture for years. Amsterdam has become a melting pot of intertwined cultures without a distinguishing identity, creating a town of mere individuals who do not belong to a certain group. However, this has recently begun to change at the hands of an unexpected group: SMIB, a new movement of young men that creates an artistic and diverse lifestyle. SMIB is inspired by skateboarding and punk, in combination with the new do-it-yourself, makers movement, through which individuals can express themselves in a group of like-minded people. The word SMIB comes from the word Bims, but backwards, which is slang for the Bijlmer. Together and individually, they create music, art, fashion, videos, photos and much more.
Some would describe a few of the members as the misfits of the Bijlmer, a description they themselves seem to embrace. This neighbourhood nourishes a street culture that values and respects status. But SMIB’s focus on creativity and personal interests doesn’t leave room for social ranking in this way. Members of the SMIB movement try to push each other to follow their dreams and make the most of life.The SMIB crowd stands out from the other Bijlmer inhabitants in terms of the way they dress, too, and this is something they are recognised by.
Their sense of style has been picked up by I-D Magazine, GlamCult magazine, the streetwear brand Patta, stylist Bonne Reijn and more.
The movement attracts young people that feel that they don’t fit within the norms and values upheld by the majority of the neighbourhood.
The movement attracts young people that feel that they don’t fit within the norms and values upheld by the majority of the neighbourhood. The SMIB community is now gaining more followers every day, which leaves the boys to slowly change the negative stereotypes through their creativity and unique attitudes. They are independent creators, they don’t want to be confined to a business or record label that already has a name, and where they would have to adapt to conform to institutional demands. They want to have freedom and act as individuals who also come together as a group of people who support each other, even if they don’t like what the other is making.
As a new subculture that previously has only been reported upon in the media about their artistic creations and sense of style, it is compelling to learn about the people and their intentions behind the movement: it is much more than a group of young men creating music. By following and experiencing SMIB, this magazine offers a set of feature articles that shed light on these individuals, and in so doing, give an impression of the group as a whole and its diversity. SMIB’s members are true interdisciplinary artists. For them, SMIB is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle – a lifestyle that seems almost more important than their creations: the lifestyle is the art.
They are connected by their way of life, a lifestyle that is the result of their creation: SMIB.
Georgy Jan Hendrik Dendoe
22 years old*
Georgy likes to surround himself with ambitious people just like himself. He is a busy bee, chaotic, but genuinely friendly. He is easily distracted and is constantly texting or on the phone. He finds himself accidentally making six appointments at the same time, but it doesn’t matter because everyone gets along. He tells everyone that he almost completed the collection of Japanese cartoons he has been collecting since he was eight years old. This is an example of how he seems comfortable around everyone, and confident about who he is. “I am 90% myself. Nobody is a 100% themselves; that’s not possible. But I am very much myself, always.”
“I am 90% myself. Nobody is a 100% themselves; that’s not possible. But I am very much myself, always.”
He is one of the people – if not the one – that made SMIB happen. It is something he has been working on for years, but he never really had people he could work with. It started when he met Ray Fuego, who gave him confidence and was the first like-minded person he met who was also from the Bijlmer. Georgy is also one of the few people within SMIB who moved out of his parents’ house. In his small room in the attic of a tall, old Amsterdam canal house, he has been working on the SMIB fashion label, produced music, illustrated all the logos, managed their social media and much more. He wants SMIB to grow larger independently, without being signed by a record label or business that already has a name, so they can stay authentic. He proudly shares that he just had his first customer in Japan, proving that hard work pays off.
Georgy explains how he didn’t really like living in the Bijlmer when he was younger, “I was kind of a weird kid.” He dressed very differently to others and people couldn’t really accept that. He had trouble with the street attitude a lot of people took, where people constantly try to intimidate each other, especially if you look or act differently. This acting tough is something that he also appreciates, “growing up here gives you kind of an attitude, which is also nice because it does make you a stronger person.” There are a lot of people who respond quite negatively when he tells them where he grew up, and say that it is a ghetto or a scary neighbourhood they never go to. “If people react that way, I already know what type of people they are: people who have an opinion about things they don’t know anything about.”
“I was kind of a weird kid.”
One of Georgy’s goals is to change the negative stereotype the Bijlmer is associated with: “I know that Ray and I had an influence on the fact that, suddenly, people want to come over to the Bijlmer, and shoot video clips and photos, or just hang here. The Bijlmer is an awesome place.” Another goal he has is to become a positive role model for every creative person in The Netherlands. He wishes that more people would do things they really like, rather than follow trends. Every young and ambitious creative is SMIB, he says, “SMIB is not a group; it is a mindset. It is not just The Bijlmer anymore.” He thinks it is time for young people to take over: “It is time for change.”
“SMIB is not a group; it is a mindset. It is not just The Bijlmer anymore. It is time for change.”
Text and photos by Hanna Eenhoorn
Text edited by Imogen Mills
*at the time the article was written, in 2015, Georgy was 22 years old
Click here to see what SMIB is up to at the moment
Click here to buy tickets for their expo
Follow Georgy on Instagram