What should an 18 year old do with $150 hard earned dollars? If you said:
A) Save it!
B) Drink it!
C) Or invest it in a business that makes them prosper up the social ladder...
...Then you're all wrong. The correct answer would be to make some really ugly tee shirts, hustle them to some suckers and build a monster!
There was no "what" or "why" – just "do." It was a dream that was not ready to make sense until it was polished with blood, sweat and tears.
I started from the roots of skateboarding and BMX and used the culture to gradually shape designs that I could sell to followers. College was a fairly good catalyst of growth as I could hustle tees to the young, the hip and the drunk. Eventually there had to be a decision – keep following what was becoming a dream or join the rest of the world with the rest of the clones, get a haircut and a car with 4 doors and drive to my square job.
As fate would force – I made a swift turn to the left to go make mistakes and live fast and dream as a means of oxygen. Eventually I surfaced in Pensacola via drifting and upped the tee shirt game with help from WaterBoys Surf Company. Next thing I know, I was standing in NYC wondering what this new world was and knew then that I would be connected there forever. Stupidity and drive would make me canvas the country pushing tees - sleeping many a night in my car and dragging the dream to unknown worlds. I ended up passing thru JXN, MS (my hometown) at the end of a tour and found a home base to build from and got serious from there.
Here is when wholesale tee shirt orders started to come in. Then one of our tees made an appearance in a Disney Movie and I knew that I had chosen the right path in life. The love of designing tees made stores happen which led to furniture design (dwello furnitura), canvas art, an art incubator space (The Wonder Lab) and a city event (Fondren's First Thursday) all built around the idea that art needed a face and a platform.
The tees told me later that I was not finished in NYC so I ended up in Brooklyn and sold tees in design co-ops and on the streets of Soho over the course of 7 years with multiple arrests (technically illegal to sell on the sidewalk). The hustle became an obsession with making well on the street and selling tees to celebrities such as: Julianne Moore, Bobby Flay, Stephen Dorff, Carla Gugino, Janeane Garafalo, Steven Tyler, Kimora Lee Simmons, Bob Harper, Leo DiCaprio, Larry King, Benecio Del Toro, Dropkick Murphys and printing for designers in Iceland.
London became the next target of impossibility that taught me that dreams can take you anywhere. The reality of loving all cultures was the true polish that made me understand the 'forever' part of designing tees.
Long story short, I never got that real job, never stopped dreaming, never conformed and never really grew up. Today being a year shy of 3 decades of tee shirt design and wonder, I think I'm just getting started in new worlds I have yet to dream.
Thanks to all who have supported (or got hustled) and who patiently let the voice of these tees invade their space and time.