|A tale of dreamers and cooperate schemers.
Spanish Montana is the first, true Graffiti Paint. The brand was conceived by graffiti writers, and as such is viewed by those in the know, as the "real" Montana.
In 1993 two Barcelona writers known as Moockie and Kapi came up with an idea. To create a true artist color. Frustrated with the poor quality sprays available in the market, they decided to create a brand of Spray paint that would soon change Graffiti as we know it. They approached Jordi Rubio, the commercial manager of Felton (an aerosol producer) with the idea of creating a line of spray paint specifically for Graff Writers. They laid out their vision of a paint line with more colors, better coverage and more control. Jordi is convinced there is a market but Felton does not bite so the plan gets shelved for a year. In 1994 Jordi asks Kapi & Moockie to come back and help build a brand for the graffiti market. Kapi & Moockie contribute their knowledge of graffiti and needs. Jordi contributes his knowledge in the technical aspects of spray cans and thus the origional Montana paint is born. In the spring of 1994 Kapi & Moockie organize an event called “Aerosol Art” and invite artists from all over Europe. At this event they introduce the first Montana cans and this is the first time graffiti artist’s use Montana paint. Shortly after Montana develops the “Hardcore” 400ml can which we know today and the “Alien” can in 2001. During the course of 1994 news spreads that there is a graffiti store in Barcelona that sells quality paint very
cheap and artists from all over Europe gather there and take cans back to their home countries in bulk. The artists themselves became
the first exporters of Montana.
While Jordi Rubio was convinced of the viability of the graffiti market (i.e. there was money to be made), the owner of the canning factory wasn't. So Jordi went off on his own with Moocki and Kapi and founded Spanish Montana.
The line debuted in 1994 at an event organized by Moockie and Kapi called "Aerosol Art." News of the paint's cheap price and high quality quickly spread through the underground and soon Spanish Montana was shipping all over the continent.
This, of course, attracted moneyed interests.
By 1997 Spanish Montana's reputation as the primo spray paint in the graffiti world was firmly established. Moockie, Kapi and Jordi's company was pushing 50 employees and the trio were wary of overexpansion. All the paint was still homemade at their Barcelona facility and they feared what branching out would do to product integrity. They did not want Montana to become McMontana.
So they began licensing foreign distributors to help meet demand.
One of these was the fledgling German company L&G, founded in 1996 as a "garage salesroom" by Ruediger Latz and Tim Lati. In 1997 Latz and Lati convinced Spainsh Montana to give them exclusive distribution rights for Montana paint in Germany.
Then a number of shady deals took place (cue the betrayal, power-lust, and corporate greed) -
L&G does such a good job at distributing Montana paint through Germany, that Spanish Montana gives them distribution rights throughout much of Europe.
At the same time, L&G secretly conspires with the multinational corporation Dupli-Color (known as "Motip Dupli" in Europe) to manufacture and label Montana cans throughout Europe for L&G, not Spanish Montana.
Dupli-Color then secretly tries to acquire Spanish Montana in effort to manufacture Montana paint without L&G. They approached Jordi Rubio and offered to buy the company. His response can be neatly summed up as "fuck you" (or more accurately: "jódete!").
Stymied by Spanish Montana, Dupli-Color runs back to L&G and makes the deal. Soon the two are manufacturing duplicate cans of Montana paint on their own called "Montana Hardcore" and targeting it to Spanish Montana's customers.
Reports surface in the graffiti world that the duo of Dupli-Color and L&G, now called Montana Cans or German Montana, have been spreading rumors that Spanish Montana's paint is tainted, poisonous, and contains illegal amounts of lead. They even arrange for inspectors to show up at the Barcelona factory to make a very public inspection of the facilities, further fueling the rumors.
German Montana makes a very lame attempt to gain rights to the Montana brand by claiming that the former business relationship between Spanish Montana and L&G established equal claim to the Montana name. The law laughs at this. Spanish Montana retains sole rights over the Montana name.
In 2001 German Montana finds a way around the branding problem. They find a company in Switzerland that already has the rights to the name "Montana" registered throughout Europe. They offer to pay them royalties for the Montana name. The company accepts.
In 2003 German Montana releases their main line: Montana Gold, which despite the sleazy corporate history behind it, is actually a very high quality spray paint admired by artists.
In 2004, after being frustrated and outmaneuvered by German Montana, Spanish Montana begins labeling their paint "MTN" to clear up confusion between the two brands.
To date there has been no resolution to the brand conflict. It seems both Montanas will continue to exist, though German Montana's distribution and manufacturing power makes it much easier to acquire in most non-European markets, such as the United States where it has found a home in the cooperate Art materials Market.