Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

When searching online for your next favorite piece of clothes you should consider Toronto’s / Canada independent clothing brand Dream Gold. Started back in 2007. with an intention of creating clothing that will make you feel like a royalty if you wore it – Dream Gold shortly shaped their designs with a touch of exclusivity and premiumness, paying attention to details as their trade mark. Huge, often bold (and gold) prints and limited pressings are not the only reasons why you should check their nice looking and informative website, so make sure you do! And – of course – read what Dream Gold founding members had to say about their line in this exclusive interview.

Okay, could you guys introduce yourselves to Teezine readers – who is that loving couple we can see pictures of on Dream Gold’s website and what are your basic stands and principles in life?

Hi everyone, we’re Serji and Taira, and we are the creators of Dream Gold. We believe that everyone should be treated with respect and equality, no matter what your stance in life is. It’s our objective to treat every customer like royalty. We want to spread the gold, and make their experience with our brand unforgettable.

How did you decide to create a clothing brand and what were your guiding thoughts regarding it’s appearance?

We basically wanted to create something we could call our own, and creating a clothing brand just seemed to be the perfect idea considering Serji had a gift for graphic design. We knew we wanted to create something different and better than the rest, which was hard. Dream Gold slowly evolved into what it is today through countless hours of research and experimentation.

What motto stands behind a name Dream Gold and how did you choose that name in the first place?

See it, Feel it, Be it. Taira actually came up with that on a whim, and we just thought it was perfect for Dream Gold and what we stand for. To break it down, it’s basically a 3-step process to achieving your greatest goldest dreams.

How would you describe Dream Gold designs to a blind person?

All things royal with a pinch of perfection. Something you’d feel good wearing, due to our positive message.

Who creates your designs and which is the one you’re most proud of?

We both are the brains behind our designs and Serji is the executor. We’re proud of all of our designs. With each release we strive to top the preceding designs.

Your shirts seem to be done very well, with much details, like logo hem tags and such interesting stuff.  What is the usual process when producing your new line?

Thank you, we try our best to produce the best! We feel the little details add a lot more value and character to our products. When people see how much you care about the little things, it makes them appreciate you and your brand that much more, which is what we strive for.

What kind of printing method do you use with your designs and which brand of shirts showed as the best for you guys?

We use a hybrid mix of discharge and thinned down plastisol inks for maximum comfort and durability. We promise you that you will never feel like you are wearing a plastic shield on your chest. For now, we prefer to print our designs on American Apparel products for the best quality.

Which kind of promotional activities (besides social networks) do you use for spreading the word about Dream Gold? Are there any events you guys are throwing?

For our latest release we prepared a launch party, since we haven’t really tapped into our local market. We’re currently looking out for any indie shows that we could be a part of so we can meet, greet and treat the locals. We’re also going to try and find some retailers that would be interested in carrying Dream Gold. Little things such as giving out business cards and simply talking about our brand to others helps as well.

Who are your most loyal buyers? Did you do any researches yet in that sense and – if so – what were the results?

We haven’t done any research or polls for that, but we’ve noticed that even though we’re based in Canada, the Americans seem to love us quite a bit!

What was the most unusual reaction to your shirt(s) you’ve ever experienced? Any funny stories perhaps?

During our launch party, a random, intoxicated, self-proclaimed rapper, passing by on the street, freestyled about our brand. It was quite a performance! We regret not taking any pictures or videos of it.

What is your advice for the new / starting indie brands? What are the traps they might fall into?

Instead of giving the same ol’ advice and tips that every other brand gives, we will give some pointers on things you should NOT do when starting a brand.

  • Ride on trends
  • Expect to become successful overnight
  • Rip off other brands
  • Be inconsistent
  • Be closed minded
  • Expect everyone to love your ideas and/or brand
  • Overprice your products
  • Be afraid of inputting / losing a lot of money for the first few years
  • Be cheap (settle for nothing but the best)
  • Fake or cheat your success

How’s the future looking like for Dream Gold? Where do you see your brand in next 3-4 years?

Dream Gold’s future is as bright as ever. We’re just getting started and there’s no stopping us now! Be on the lookout for collaborations, more quality releases, and all of that good stuff.

Dream Gold website
Follow Dream Gold @ Twitter
Like Dream Gold on Facebook

Hope you enjoyed reading this interview. Here is a 3-part video on producing Dream Gold summer 2011 line – it’s very interesting, so make sure you take a look at it! 

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Jared Moraitis a.k.a. BeastPopI was introduced to Jared Moraitis – a.k.a. BeastPop – back in 2008, quickly after I started Teezine. His awesome, old school comic-based art really touched an old comic fan in me. Apart from being informed on his new projects via his blog and email newsletters I would often come across some of his T-shirt designs here and there, such as very popular ZOMBAMA one. Not only that this was a great idea and much better realization, but Jared decided to do a “comeback” version of it, featuring more zombified details. That version won a gold medal in 2010 Teezine T-shirt Olympics as best T-shirt design. Being that talented and creative no wonder more and more people get interested in his works. With new projects in the works Jared also has some great new ideas, so make sure you read what he had to say when I asked him a couple off questions.

When did you find out you have a drawing talent and what were your first drawings, what did you draw in your earliest stage?

I decided, after careful consideration and planning (and lots of flow-charts) that I should become an artist at the tender age of about 3 when I broke out the crayons and cut loose with a very primitive, yet elaborate, mural on my parents’ den wall featuring some of my awkwardly-imagined creations. It was all downhill from there. Most of my earliest drawings involved the creature from ALIEN or elaborate space battles featuring the cast of STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Pop Zombie T-shirt by BeastPop

Pop Zombie T-shirt by BeastPop

Who were the artists you looked up to when developing your style and how did they influence you?

I like a lot of classic illustrators and pulp artists –Norman Rockwell, Mucha, Elvgren, Leyendecker, Frazetta, J. Allen St. John – but I also dig on a lot of gig poster art, comic book art (Mignola, Canete, Simonson, etc) and European artists. I pay close attention to their compositional skills and what they can do with line, light and form.

What else influences you in everyday life, be it music, movies, food, drinks, books or anything like that?

My life has been basted in pop-culture, Saturday morning cartoons, toys, comic books, horror and sci-fi movies, pulp-fiction and other assorted lowbrow cultural stigma. I love music of the rock/metal/punk/industrial slant, but I also dig classical, some pop, and maybe some soul or blues at times. I love reading comics and genre fiction and watching any stimulating TV or movies that interest me.

The Distillers illustration by BeastPop

The Distillers illustration by BeastPop

How would you describe your artwork to a blind person?

Sheesh! Um… Okay, jam your thumbs into your eyes hard enough to be mildly painful. You see all those weird colors and sparkles? Imagine those colors and sparkles frozen into sharp lines and jagged edges. Now keep that thought in your mind as you gather up a handful of silverware, wrap it in tinfoil and microwave it on high for 30 seconds while pressing your forehead against the microwave door. You should get the same sensation as you would if you absorbed all of my art at once.

Can you explain what’s the usual process when you develop your artwork from the scratch?

I am constantly jotting down notes to capture some of the weird ideas that pop into my head or inspiration that is triggered from other stimuli. When I’m ready to form one of those ideas into a piece of art, I’ll do rough sketches until I get a skeletal composition then I’ll blow it up, and hang meat on that skeleton’s bones until it resembles something moderately cool and interesting. Then I’ll process to tinker and bang at it until it’s done (usually using brush, ink and pen with computer aided colors).

What were your first professional engagements?

I did some sorry shirt designs for a defunct MMA fight gear company, various low-profile T-shirt designs, and then I entered a fairly long stretch as a concept artist for an online game project that ran out of money and never materialized.

Zombie Love T-shirt design by BeastPop (for J!NX)

Zombie Love T-shirt design by BeastPop (for J!NX)

What were the craziest offers you ever got and what are the project you’re most proud of?

I did a design for another fight gear company that had zombies as it’s theme. What zombies have to do with mixed martial arts I’ll never know! Thematically, I haven’t had many crazy offers (my idea of crazy is probably different from the average person, though). Most of the really crazy offers involve offers of insultingly low amounts of money for valuable work. The project I’m most proud of as far as notoriety goes is my ZOMBAMA design, parodying Shepard Fairey’s Obama HOPE poster. It’s gotten quite a lot of attention and has been ripped-off and bootlegged quite a bit! I am my own worst critic, though, and I always see things I could change or improve with every design as soon as I’m “finished”.

You also like to design T-shirts. Would you perhaps develop your own clothing line and why not, if so?

Funny you should ask – plans are afoot at this very moment to launch a clothing line (with the help of a very special person) later this year. I will be incorporating prints, buttons, and stickers, as well as vinyl toys somewhere down the line. Just gotta work out the details and finances. Stay tuned.

Zombama Returns T-shirt design by BeastPop

Zombama Returns T-shirt design by BeastPop

Your ZOMBAMA design made quite a stir among T-shirt lovers. What motivated you to do it and how did you decide to make a ZOMBAMA RETURNS version? Also, what do you think about Obamas politic?

I saw Fairey’s HOPE poster being parodied all over the place, so I thought I’d put my own unique and irreverent spin on it, also poking fun at Fairey’s infamy as an appropriation artist. There is no political meaning behind the piece, however. I really don’t keep up with politics much, as it it a frustrating and often futile arena. My own personal politics are somewhat middle-of-the road. Neither side has it right.

What are your personal beliefs and standpoints? How would you describe yourself as a person?

I’m a fairly reasonable, level-headed and courteous person. I don’t allow myself to get too serious about most things, but there are things that I am very serious about, and I always study and research things before formulating opinions and solidifying beliefs. I don’t like to stir things up too much and I don’t insert many (if any) of my beliefs and standpoints into my art. My art is about fun, oddity, and playfulness, for the most part, and I like to keep the personal stuff reserved for people I have a personal relationship with. I’ll let some of that stuff slip in the occasional blog or Facebook post, though.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m working on a personal DONKEY KONG tribute design, as well as some character designs for an iPhone game, and a few other miscellaneous commissioned t-shirt designs. Also chipping away at plans for the launch of BeastPop as a brand of merchandise later on.

What are the projects you would like to work on in future?

I want to do more skateboard deck designs. I would also love to do some album covers and/or T-shirt designs for some of my favorite bands. I’d love to design vinyl toys and animated characters. There are also a couple of old pop-culture properties from my youth that have not yet been reinvented that I’d like to be involved in redesigning. I also want to do the cereal box art for this year’s seasonal reemergence of the General Mills monsters cereals (Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo-Berry), but I want them to include Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy this time!

T-shirt design for Thrown To The Wolves (band)

T-shirt design for Thrown To The Wolves (band)

You can check Jared’s art here:
BeastPop blog

Did you like this interview? What do you think about Jared’s artwork? Would love to hear your opinions, so make sure you leave your comment here. Thank you!

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Starting a T-shirt business is relatively easy. All you need is couple of ideas converted to T-shirt designs, a good printer and an access to internet. Making your T-shirt line succeed is – of course – something very different. Amy L. Fiedler, the president and the owner of American-based T-shirt line Winky Boo L.L.C. (which we featured recently) started creating her dream job knowing that you have to rely on much effort, hard work and a bit of luck in order to succeed. Launched only in August 2010 Winky Boo already created some of the nicest T-shirt designs out there, whilst building a loyal fan base every day. Want to know Amy’s story? Then keep on reading this very interesting interview we just made with her!

Jester T-shirt by Winky Boo
Jester T-shirt by Winky Boo

How did you decide to start your company and what’s the story behind it?

I had graduated college and was working as a stylist assistant in NYC for a few years. It just sort of popped in my head one day that I was tired of working for other people, being bossed around. Why not start my own company, be my own boss and make my own decisions. I majored in Photography in college and concentrated in fashion photography. I always had a natural talent for fashion and styling ever since I was little I wouldn’t leave the house without a tiara on my head and wearing every piece of jewelry I owned. I knew I had the knowledge, experience and talent to create my own clothing line and so I did.

What’s the message you try to spread with Winky Boo designs?

The name Winky Boo was created from memories of my grandfather. He had such a playful spirit and was just the best guy in the world to be around. He always taught us grandchildren  to have a sense of humor in life, be carefree, enjoy it because it only lasts so long. The name came from nicknames he had named me, my brother and sister when we were young. My sister, Winky after she was a flying monkey in the Wizard of Oz for a school play, my brother, Boo Boo after Yogi Bears sidekick. My nickname was Princess, because I always had a crown on my head, and my jewels on. Winky Boo is a brand that celebrates imagination, creativity and a beautiful spirit. As you see the name and the concept all stem together, through childhood nicknames, a playful grandfather and a life lesson I never ever forgot. There’s no reason for us to live life so serious and mundane, we only are blessed with 1 life, why not enjoy it & live it to it’s fullest potential?

TreeFace T-shirt by Winky Boo

TreeFace T-shirt by Winky Boo

Who designs your tees and who is also involved in Winky Boo adventure?

Though I, Amy Fiedler and the owner/president and sole operator of Winky Boo, there are plenty of people who make this company work. I contract out for all work done for Winky Boo, as it is difficult being a brand new clothing company to have tons of employees on payroll. A college friend and artist, Rob and I collaborated on the artwork for the shirts. He would draw some, I would draw some, I would direct and have him add or subtract things from the drawing and we’d basically work back and forth until I thought it was complete. We brought on a great design company, WalkStar Entertainment to create our initial website when we first launched and assist in mocking up all our high res artwork. We since have made updates to our website and switched over the merchant and shopping cart service we use, using a freelance web designer, Erin Cheyne. We work with a great printing company out of Texas calling Pony Printing. All our shirts are American Apparel Wholesale. As far as all the details or any other little job that needs to be done, it’s done by my and only me. We work with accountants and have some friends who act as business mentors or managers, but in the end – I call the shots.

Is there a person or a company you look up to in what you do with your line?

The line wasn’t created having any other clothing company in mind. My personal style is pretty eclectic as I go from wearing dresses or skirts with heals to jeans and a tshirt; depends on my mood that day. When the idea came about for doing a clothing line, originally I wanted to do a bathing suit line. We actually drew up an entire collection until I realized that creating bathing suits would mean having buy the fabric and start from scratch. Hiring manufacturers and sewers, etc. The cost to start up a line like that was above and beyond what a T-shirt line would cost and so it seemed the more realistic idea would be to start with T-shirts and grow into bathing suits eventually. So really I can’t explain how the bathing suit designs turned into the T-shirts but somehow someway they did. Rob does a lot of comic book art and that’s just his natural ability and style, mixed with my style and you get something you’ve never seen before. Some sort of mix between an Eye Spy, a Comic Book and a beautifully created piece of artwork all combined into one T-hirt. It’s wearable art!

Elephant T-shirt by Winky Boo

Elephant T-shirt by Winky Boo

What would you say – who is a typical Winky Boo-er? In other words – who mainly buys your stuff and what is their profile?

A typical Winky Boo-er  is a mix of a lot of different interests and styles. You can’t really pin it down to one, but generally our market consists of skaters, surfers, artists, alternative emo, punk, rock, indie. Most people like to wrap all that up into calling us Indie. Which I like, I really like that description of us. I think people who are attracted to Winky Boo clothing like to have fun, have a great sense of humor, they don’t take things too seriously. Right now we sponsor about 6 bands and we have one band that plays experimental folk music, another that’s heavy metal, another that’s punk ,another that’s rock, and so on. So you see, it really ranges. We don’t judge, we don’t discriminate, just like the bands we sponsor, I in particular may not be too fond of one genre of music, but everyone has a dream and if they believe in themselves, we believe in them and if their personal style fits our brands style then we support them!

Why did you decide to go sponsoring a band / choose that way of one of the marketing strategies of your brand?

We initally were contacted by 2 bands several weeks ago about sponsorships. While gathering more information from them on their style and gigs they do we did some more research on promotions for clothing companies. It seemed like a wise business decision and the more we looked into it we found hundreds of articles talking about how it’s a known method in the industry so both parties gain from it.

Hats T-shirt by Winky Boo - worn by Last Of His Kind

Hats T-shirt by Winky Boo - worn by Last Of His Kind

What was the sponsorship deal between you and a band?

Typically the options are you can sponsor the band by financing them or sponsor them by sending them your clothing. Seeing as how they do travel and have quite a following of their own fans, the best fit was to send bands free clothing that they would in turn promote to their fans. They perform in the clothing, wear it in photoshoots for their albums and link up our website to their pages, ie: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. We also have the priviledge of our logo being place on promotional fliers for when they perform concerts. So far our website traffic has increased drastically and our Facebook, Myspace and Twitter pages have become more popular.

Do you expect to broaden your line to other items, too?

As mentioned in one of my previous answers, my initial plan was to start a bathing suit line. I still plan to make bathing suits in the future. Right now the way the company is headed is we’re just riding the wave. Started with printing 4 of the 7 total designs created. Then winter hit, and took notice that alot of the brands out there we may be competing with or will hopefully 1 day be competing with had a variety of hats in stock. What a perfect idea for winter; they match the season, they can be priced lower and they’re cheaper for us to print! I’ve created several different types of designs for the hats and the plan is to start to get those printed or embroidered every couple of weeks or so and then as the warmer weather hits again I’ll work on the remainder of the shirts. I plan to do hoodies sometime next year and maybe even shoes! I’ll see where the wave takes us!

What’s the future looking like for Winky Boo from your perspective?

You know, retail is a slow business. If you’re a nobody, like me, and creating something you have faith in, it’s gonne be a long, hard, slow process. You have to have the time, the patience and the money to invest into your passion, your dream. Winky Boo only launched in August of 2010 and as the months have passed customers have increased, traffic increased, popularity (gettign our name/brand out there) increased. I’m not a celebrity, I can’t just get instant sales because I was on a show, like some of those reality show stars do these days. I’m a normal person with a vision and I have to work for it.

Thor T-shirt by Winky Boo

Thor T-shirt by Winky Boo

I work very hard, creating business relationships, advertising, marketing, branding, just getting the name out there. If it weren’t for people like you, bloggers who take to small companies and underground clothing brands and write about us, we’d be lost in translation. You can’t do it alone, although I may work alone most of the time, it’s the help of the customers, the fans of the bands we endorse, the bloggers, the reporters and so that increase our traffic which in turn increases our sales. The future for Winky Boo is bright. I don’t persue things and fail. I’m a strong woman and determined individual and I will not settle for failure. Sometimes you just know somethings going to be a success. But success doesn’t happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race, always and those who fly up the charts real fast, they crash real fast. I’m very happy with the progress of Winky Boo as we steadily climb everyday, reaching broader horizens (ie: other countries) and I know that something big is coming! I hope by 2011 we’ll have some wholesale opportunities to get our clothing in some retail locations!

We’d like to add that Winky Boo partnered with Tee zine in creating a rocking mp3 compilation with all bands Winky Boo endorses. It’s gonna be free to download from our web-presence sites (Facebook and all…).

Like Amy’s story? Have your own? Or you just want to leave a comment how good this interview is? Well, by all means go ahead! And don’t forget to visit Winky Boo official website!

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Best things happen when they grow naturally (well, just like afros and mullets, for example). Creating their first-ever rap single and sharing it among friends and potential fans @ MySpace was a first step for three girls to create The Sick Kids, an up-and-coming streetwear brand from UK with lots to offer, speaking both in terms of quality and quantity. Inspired by music from punk rock to hip hop, horror movies, old cartoons and anything  else creative and different, sisters Kelly and Lele and their girl friend Sarah created their first tees by using paper transfer to be sold at their first gigs. Following the popularity of their do-it-yourself creations they decided to make The Sick Kids a real clothing line. Those nutty characters dominating The Sick Kids designs are getting more and more popular, beside looking great. Enjoy the interview with their creator – Kelly (a.k.a. “Jackson Kid”).

Can you tell me a bit of the idea behing The Sick Kids clothing? What was the reason you girls started a clothing line in the first place?

We wanted to make T-shirts for ourselves to wear on stage. It started out
with the slogan T’s, we made our own with some T-shirt transfer paper because there wasn’t any that truly expressed what The Sick Kids are about. My favorite was the “I would wash pre-washed salad for you” one.

What were the first reactions to your heat-transferred slogan shirt you were selling at your gigs?

That people wanted to buy them! That’s what made us start selling them

Who “invented” The Sick Kids as characters you’re now using as
motives with your designs? What can you tell me about The Sick Kindsm”personalities”?

I did! I’m Kelly or “Jackson Kid” to some (my stage name for hyping
SPEAKS), I do all the art work for sick kids clothing. The characters are
inspired and roughly based on my friends, but also stuff that I’m into… 80’s &
90’s movies, music, TV, fashion & toys. I love kids stuff, but I also like
horror films and gothic art, so I mix all those things into The Sick Kids.

What are the methods you are using when transfering the designs onto garments?

We no longer use the paper transfer method as it’s not very long lasting,
these days all our designs are screen printed.

You seem to have many different products (not just shirts, but also
vests, hoodies, accessories…) to offer in your online shop. Is that
something you had from the begginings?

No, we just started out with the shirts, which I was hand making. I did go
on to hand print some hoodies, but it wasn’t until 2009 we decided to make
The Sick Kids a proper streetwear brand, have everything professionally
printed and gradually add more and more items.

You also offer denim jackets and shorts with patches on it. How did that idea come about?

Well, we like that sort of stuff – denim, the 90’s, punk, so we wanted to
make them for ourselves at first and people liked them, so  naturally we
decided to make them for everyon.  I love how all the “stitched up” items
are unique one off’s. Customizing is part of our own style, so we really
wanted to include that. We also sell handmade badge bracelets which we wear
all the time (that was Lele’s idea)!

So, all in all – what is the main message you try to spread among your potential customers with The Sick Kids?

I guess the main message is – buy our clothing. Only joking, ha! I guess the
message is do fun stuff, don’t let life get you down, take the piss instead! Just tryin to spread some sickness. I like to send out confusion & mixed
messages as well.

Who are your main influences in art / indie fashion world / music, and why?

Hmm… I’ll say our main art influence would be cartoons and animated films!
We were obsessed with Disney, Loony Tunes & Nickelodeon in the 90’s and
thats not really changed. we like the 90’s kids stuff, but I also really
like the older ones where they are smoking cigars and whack each other round
the face with a mallet etc, they’ll never make ’em like that again! Nobody springs to mind from the indie fashion world, but I guess we take
style influence from cool as fuck ladies like Jemina Pearl and Alice Glass,
T-shirts, trainers, casual but bad ass! Our biggest music influence would
have to be Descendents! Perfect pop punk from the 80’s, second to that is
probably Eminem! – bought “The Slim Shady” LP = life changed 😀

What are some other things you like to do, besides music and running a clothing line?

We love to see our favorite bands play live, we love to get the projector
out and have movie night on our mum’s massive sofa! We love to go watch the
horse racing with our dad. We also look after a horse called Gus. Gus is a
dude, we’ve been riding since Lele’s legs couldnt reach past the saddle
flaps. We are planning to start showjumping him locally next year.

Where would you like to go with The Sick Kids? In other words – where do
you see The Sick Kids in future?

Well, I’m not very organised so it’s hard to see past next week, but we really
love and believe in what we do and are lucky to have a great family and
people we work with that feel the same, so I guess we see a successful Sick
Kids clothing brand. We would be so successful that we could then branch off
into making even more cool stuff like toys, an animated series, a bio-pic,
sick kids clothing for horses, make a documentary about something, a Sick
Kids tattoo shop, a cake shop, collaborate with McDonalds and make a Sick
Burger, a perfume line ‘The Scent Of Sick’… Lots to do!

Make sure to check The Sick Kids website. Thanks Tony Arthy of the Worn Out PR for making the interview possible.

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In the sudden rise of big, bold and often fluorescent T-shirt designs these past few years it’s obviously hard to make a name for yourself, either if you’re a designer, or a newly established tee company. Well, Jordan Abidour – the man behind Arkaik Clothing – managed to go far with his line in practically no time. Based on ancient and scary imagery his big, bold and flourescent tee designs paved their path in the manner of archaic predators to mostly younger fans of emo / metal / hardcore music. No wonder Arkaik stands were to be found in the latest edition of a travelling circus known as the Warped Tour, where it went more then well. And why limit yourself only to shirts? Arkaik now offers such items as sunglasses, too, collaborating with 12 artists altogether, packing the orders from Germany, Brazil, Singapore and New Zealand. The company also stays too to it’s roots, sponsoring 20 bands with their stuff, with Epitaph’s From First To Last being one of them. All this was a more than enough to talk to Mr. Abidour himself.

How come you decided to run your own tee company in the first place?

Ever since I was young I looked for entrepreneurial activities, as it was something to do that interested me. When I was 16, I was super into clothing lines like Shipshape, Rockett and others. At the same time, I really wanted to have tees of my own, designs that I created on super high quality material.

What’s your main inspiration with Arkaik Designs?

I’ve always been really interested in ancient cultures/creatures/ideas/monsters/anything, and I’ve used it as one of the main inspirations behind most of the Arkaik designs, just different cultures and designs inspired by them. At least- thats the goal :]

What’s the marketing strategy you’re using? Is it just viral marketing (social sites and all that), or something else perhaps?

For the past 6 months (since we embarked on Warped Tour) we’ve put alot of time and effort into building a generously sized social marketing following. I usually spend 4-5 hours daily working on Arkaik’s Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc…, spreading the word and hustling.

Are there any stores that carry your stuff?

We are currently only sold in Fowlers Boutique, in Solana Beach, California, but we have plans in the upcoming months to start working with a few major international online retailers.

You produce not only tees, but a lot of accessories, too. How come?

Diversity. Limiting your company and yourself to only t-shirts, while it can be fun, and generate a nice amount of income, is too little for most customers. I feel that by having such a wide diversity of products and designs that people will be likely to find something on our site that they like, and want to purchase. In a recession, it’s really important :]

What’s the process of making a new Arkaik design? Do you design it yourself, or are there some other people involved, too?

I have a team of about 6 artists that I work with on every line, I know their styles really well, so I generally conceptualize a design and pitch it to them. Each design is usually sketched, then I discuss with the artist color schemes etc. to make the design unique

What are the methods or printing you’re using? What kind of garments / cloths?

90% of Arkaik merchandise is printed on American Apparel tees, tanks and hoodies. On Warped Tour, we started using Anvil tees since they were lighter weight and more comfortable than American Apparel (in my opinion, and a majority of Arkaik customers) so we’ve slowly been working with our printer to get more colors stocked in the new Anvil blank (which, I assure you, is amazing), to keep the Arkaik theme going.

What is the usual profile of your customers / people who buy and wear Arkaik?

That’s hard to pin point, however, we did really well on Warped Tour.

Who (person or a label) is your biggest inspiration?

Rockett, Electric Zombie and (of course) Johnny Cupcakes.

Since it’s obviously a trend, do you expect big (fluorescent) prints will come out of fashion? If so, are you prepared / willing to adjust your company profile to new market needs?

I started in Fluorescent prints, and slowly I’ve been moving away from them. I feel like brightly colored prints are popular once in awhile, but most people, on a daily basis would rather have a badass looking shirt that doesn’t draw a TON of attention. Don’t get me wrong though, my favorite Arkaik shirts are the brightly colored Megaladon, Rawrkaik and Mummy, but I feel like a whole line shouldn’t consist of that.

What can we expect in future from Arkaik?

Cut and Sew Hoodies, Fitted Caps, Beanies, amongst other things, we’re planning quite a bit over at Arkaik 😉

Arkaik Clothing

Arkaik on Facebook

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I sometimes think I have too much time on my hands. Other times I feel like I can’t finish all the things I’ve started, and there are plenty of them. Jonathan Kruse, a man behind Shred Clothing, a webzine called Shred News and a T-shirt blog How To Start A Clothing Company is someone who is so busy, and yet he manages to run all these aforementioned things with a style. And apart from all of this, he even managed to answer my questions. So, if you’re into metal, hardcore or alternative rock, I guess you already know about Shred Clothing, or if you’re a T-shirt blogger like myslef – you must know about How To Start A Clothing Company. However, here are Jonathan’s answers – hope you check out all the stuff he’s into.

cerberus_mensCan you introduce yourself and tell what you do on a daily basis for your living? What are your stands / beliefs about life itself, and what would you say – what kind of person are you?
I’m Jon Kruse I sell shirts, make websites, help other clothing companies, and drink beer on a daily basis. I am a very easygoing person, you really have to be to be to have your own business. Failure is just something you have to deal with constantly and learning from your mistakes and constantly charging forward takes a lot of patience and you can’t stress the small stuff.

Let’s start with your clothing company, Shred Clothing. How did you decide to start with it, what’s the concept behind it and for how long it’s going on?
I started my first clothing company early last year. I am going to rename it soon to Totally Awesome Clothing and we do what I like to call smart joke shirts about the stuff I love. After doing that I met a lot of friends that did amazing designs and wanted to start a clothing company to utilize them. I started Shred to sell badass shirts, with the best illustrations, best printing, and highest quality shirts. It’s really amazing I can start up a company with a few thousand dollars and produce shirts just as good if not better than the giant companies out there.

iron_eddie_designIn your opinion, what makes Shred Clothing unique amongst all those companies out there? Any specific detail you’re paying an attention to?
It’s the whole package, amazing designers, American Apparel shirts, awesome printing, they all make us stand out from the crowd. A lot of what we are trying to do now is make deals with bands for sponsorships and help them out down the road. We started a side site called shrednews.com and we have a great team of writers that constantly do great articles. The site is really taking off and it will be a huge part of our success if everything goes well.

Do you design all tees by yourself? What’s the process of making the designs?
I don’t do any shirt design anymore.  I contact a designer I like, make sure he is with in our budget, give them 50% up front and work with them to create a bad ass design.

What kind of printing and garments do you use? How much do you charge for tees?
We use American Apparel. It’s tough to do everything at such high quality and sell them for the prices we do but I feel like $20 a shirt is the price point we need to meet to sell to this market. We’ll bring our production costs down later but right now we are just focusing on making the best product and meeting the needs of our customers.

headless_horseman_girlsWhat ways of marketing do you use with Shred Clothing? Any bands you’re sponsoring maybe?
Protest the Hero, Vanna, Conditions, Armor for the Broken, we are sponsoring all of them. Most of our hits are just from word of mouth. I know a lot of bloggers and they all write articles about which helps out a ton. I also go to shows pretty often and do a lot of SEO on the site.

Apart from Shred Clothing, you’re also running some kind of a webzine, called Shred News. Can you introduce it, please?
We have an awesome team of writers that love the music scene and write great articles. I’m just behind the scenes making sure everything runs properly, tweaking the SEO, implementing new stuff to make it better.

Many tee lovers enjoy your other wonderful website, a blog called How To Start A Clothing Company. How did you decide to run that site, too?
I actually started it when I started my first clothing company. There was a lack of info on the web and I like helping people out. Almost a year ago I bought my own domain for it and separated it from my clothing line. Today I get 18k viewers a month and growing.

dinosaur_shirt_designIs there any other project you’re involved into?
The wheels are always turning. I am starting a website called awesomeshirtblog.com We should be up and running in a few weeks. I’ve got a few friends in the clothing business that are really passionate about shirts and design and we are just going to highlight shirts we love and talk about them.
Also my roommate and I have been throwing around this idea of doing a show where we just talk about all the awesome things we loved as a kid. Really everything is very similar to what I am already doing and it just makes sense.

What is the most important thing to remember when dealing with so many stuff, like yourself?
That failing is part of the game. You just got to make the best of it and charge forward.

Who are some of the designers / brands / people you look up to, or who is your biggest inspiration?
Alex Norman, Dan mumford, Godmachine, Stereo bear, Pyknic, Eric Terry, Obey, Electric Zombie, Rockett, Glamour Kills, Johnny Cupcakes, Mathew Skiff,  Brandon Heart, Survival, Discordant art, Heavy Prints, Phillm, Tim Toomey…

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Printing your own shirts became something much more than a side-hobby nowadays. It became a REAL business, with all it’s components (branding, marketing, whatnot…) Having that in mind, it is certainly hard for a starting underground tee label to make a name for itself. Designs HAVE to be unique, recognizable, and look appealing to many. Florida based IronSpider Clothing started in 2007 and from what can be seen on their website, they seem to make some really eye-catching designs, often transferred onto tees as big prints, which you’d really like to wear. I especially like the “less is more” concept, so don’t expect to find like dozens of designs when shopping at IronSpider.com. Rather expect many styles, such as longsleeves, hoodies and dresses. Since I really liked what I saw (plus, I’ve recognized their honest approach to me as a tee blogger), I thought why not asking them a couple of questions, in order to present them to you. Hope you’ll enjoy what follows!

owl-dijon-menCould you introduce yourself and tell what you do at Iron Spider Art?
We are IronSpider Clothing – a small indie label from US. We are basically a team of two people and we do everything ourselves, from creating t-shirt designs  and websites, to printing and marketing.

What is the concept behind your company? What was the motivation for starting a tee / clothing company in the first place?
The concept in the beginning was to create designs which are different from the mainstream, from what you usually find in the malls, and of course  more artistic. We are still working on that and there is really no final point on this road. We are trying to improve our style with different printing techniques and design ideas. The motivation behind starting a clothing line was to have t-shirts which we would like to wear and hopefully people will like them too.

How long have you been in business, and can you tell me what did you learn so far from it? What are the good sides, and what are the downfalls of having an indie tee label?
We exist since 2007. Pretty short time for so many things:) I don’t think I can mention everything we’ve learned so far, but some of the major things are – printing on t-shirts, using different inks, creating artworks (halftones and vectors),creating websites, communicating with all kinds of people and institutions, making mistakes, working hard and never give up :). The knowledge in this field is endless so we never stop learning. The good sides of having small label is that you are the company the company is what you do and it is kind of adventure every day. For the downfalls – we think that these days they are too many clothing/t-shirt companies out there and the market is overflowed.

alien-women3What can you tell me about your designs? Who design them, what they represent mostly…? Any special stories behind some of them?

Our designs are created entirely by us. Creating design and transferring it on a shirt is s a long process of trial and error. We are perfectionists and quality freaks, which also is something that the big companies are missing sometimes because it is time consuming, but for us it is the part of the process. Our designs represent mostly our inner expressions that’s why we are not profiled in one direction. Sometimes we are funny, some times mystic and dark.

What is the method you’re using when printing your designs onto fabrics? Which fabrics do you use? Which inks?
All of our designs are hand screen printed on the garments, there is no automation in the process. We use manual press. Doing it by hand is our policy and it is part of the uniqueness of the whole process. We use only 100% cotton fabrics from American Apparel – made in US which are really high quality and pleasure to work with. For now we use plastisol, discharge and water based inks.

ruins-black-men-lonslvYou ship internationally, right? What is the strangest country you’ve ever had an order from?
Yes, we ship internationally. So far we haven’t had any strange countries in our list, but it will be great to have some. It is always exiting to know that someone on the other end of the world likes our designs.

When purchasing your product, what is it an eventual customer is really buying?
When purchasing from us, a customer is getting our work with a signature of high quality garment and print,original design and a little bit of us.

Is it hard to specialize in the tee business, being a small underground label as you seem to be, with so much companies out there? What methods of marketing do you use?
Yes, it is not that easy being small limited company these days, but this is our passion and we really believe that working hard is the answer. Creating different designs with quality also will help. For now, we are using mostly online sources of marketing – blogs, websites, submission sites etc.

creative-power-women-hood3How do you look upon T-shirts themselves, do you think they’re just clothing objects, or they’re somehow became a media for sharing certain kind of messages? What attracts you to that media?
The t-shirt for us is like canvas where we can share our visions and expose them to the public. The main reason why we chose that media is that the t-shirt is very affordable, everyone wears one and actually they are the most wearable and simple part of the fashion world.

What is your opinion on (even indie) labels that are obviously overpricing their tees?

Overpricing any product is not really nice thing to do. I can only guess that some people are just greedy and with appetites only for money. Personally, I think this kind of companies are mostly with short existence and they are doomed.

Is there any specific label or a company you look up to? Any labels you’d like to mention, too? Or artists, maybe?
We are really influenced by artists from the industrial , dark , ambient , punk music movements, movie makers like J. Svankmajer and W. Herzog, painters like H. Bosh and A. Durer and etc…

IronSpider.com is having a sale for some of their designs at the moment, so make sure you check their site out!

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