Interview With Matt From Vampire Fur
Out of all of the interviews I’ve done, I think this is by far my favorite. Aside from being very nice to work with, Matt, and his clothing line Vampire Fur, are both very inspiring and opened up my mind a bit. To be completely honest, going into this I didn’t know much about his line or what any of the designs meant. But with the help of a very good friend of mine who has similar interests, I have learned quite a bit and she was able to help me think up some really good questions, or at least I would like to think so. I won’t keep talking, you can read everything I have to say tomorrow, when I review my very own favorite Vampire Fur tee. Heck yes, two part post! =)
Hey Matt! How are you? Why don’t you tell everyone a bit about yourself?
Thank you again for having me Jen! As you all know, my name is Matt, and I’m a 20-year-old college student from CT. I entered the world of fashion back about 2 years ago by helping out my friend’s band, which was just starting up, with merch. So yes, I started off my career in t-shirts as a merch slave. Since I was young, my first love was always music even though I don’t even play an instrument. I never had any idea that starting off a merch guy would have brought me to where I stand today to be honest. When the band started falling apart, I started work on VF in total secret and launched about 8 months after the start date. In terms of personal interests, I have quite the obsessions with secret societies, ancient alien theory, nature/nature documentaries, philosophy, Greek mythology, music, surrealism, world history from start to present, and loads of abnormal concepts I try to let influence me when I start brainstorming conceptually for my line. I’m a very down to earth person who just loves making things that hopefully some people could enjoy. The response so far with the new launch has been wonderful and I truly couldn’t thank all of the fans enough! I know most brand owners typically say that and I’ll definitely be one to add myself to the mix because it’s true.
All of your shirts are pretty awesome, which would you say is your favorite, and why? What inspired the design?
Although this is an extremely tough choice, I’d have to say my current favorite is the WWIII design. Conceptually, I’ve always wanted to do a “Robot vs. Alien war inside of a snow globe” ever since I dreamt about the scenario as a child. Surprisingly, that is where most of my concepts come from with the addition of my waking thoughts of course for organization purposes, but for a brand based on surrealism I believe it’s a positive taking some concepts from my dream state and being able to tweak them onto a t-shirt. I worked with a German artist called NVasion on this piece and I believe he enjoyed the whole process as much as I did which added to the awesomeness.
Your design, Bird of Hermes, features a vampire and I also noticed an eye on the vampires hand. When you come up with your designs how do you decide what references go into them? Do you try to tell a story or do you just think they fit well together?
Actually, I purchased the “Bird of Hermes” design off an artist friend of mine named Craig Robson so the concept was created by him. After departing with my last printers, I only had about 2/3 weeks to set up a store with MerchNOW because I needed to get something up and running ASAP. Meaning, I only hired a few designers who had the time in their schedule to fit my deadline. Other pieces like “Illumination” and “Bird of Hermes” were artwork that I purchased to save time constraints and add a new element to the launch. This is the reason why you see such experimentation in the designs up on the store. I’m mainly prepping for next year’s release so just putting up a bunch of things many people could enjoy was my goal. As for telling a story, I’m glad you mentioned that. My entire next release is going to be based off an abstract concept in which each design attempts to tell a story in its own while still relating to the theme of the launch. For a sneak peak/example for the readers, one of the concepts is going to be a twist on how Greek Mythology reacts with more contemporary “events” that happened in history.
Is there any certain reference that you favor in your shirt designs or otherwise? Do you plan on making it a shirt design if it isn’t already?
As of the current launch, I referenced everything based on topics such as philosophy, mythology, and the Illuminati just to name a few. I love that each design has it’s own unique relation to a surreal concept which is definitely an improvement from my first launch which was pretty generic to say the least. For the future, I’ll be releasing lines with an overall theme and designs that branch conceptually off of the main topic. I have so many ideas and I can’t wait to see the creations come to life!
What message, if any, are you trying to send with Vampire Fur? Do you think it gets over pretty well?
Believe it or not, there actually is a pretty deep message behind the goal of the brand although I haven’t made it very apparent yet. When I release my next launch, I’ll have a custom store and a website by then that will surely not only be explaining the meaning of the brand/name but will also visually be there to support my attempt in defining a unique brand image. In short, it’s all about following your dreams and never giving up on what you love. Though it may sound cheesy to some, it’s definitely one way I’ve achieved much happiness in my life and learned to cope through hardship. As of right now, most people just take it as a “weird and cool name” so I’m excited to see what people think when there is meaning behind it. Who knows, I may even end up explaining this more in depth in this interview.
What artists/designers do you look up to? What about musicians?
There are way too many designers out there that I respect to name but I’ll go ahead and definitely give few of them a shout out. Living life as a designer and using your art to pay the bills is not an easy task by any means, which is why I respect them immensely. Especially when most of the time clients can be “less than pleasant” to work with making things even that more difficult. Some talent off the top of my head to mention would definitely be NVasion, Craig Robson, Paul Granese, James Devlin, Christopher Lovell, Mike Gaboury, Matthew Skiff, Kyle Crawford, Colin Gauntlett, Chad Manzo, Gabriel Gozzer, Dan Mumford, Evanimal, Mathiole, Alex Solis, Xul, and many many many more who deserve all the respect they can get! When it comes to musicians, there is just a ridiculous amount of music I listen to that has influenced me as an individual. My favorite band by far is Coheed & Cambria. My other top 4 who have helped me the most I’d say are Say Anything, Brand New, The Postal Service, and Band of Horses.
[May I add Coheed & Cambria = best live show ever!]
[May I also add that Kyle Crawford is amazing]
How long has Vampire Fur been around? Do you think it has grown significantly since it’s start?
Vampire Fur was officially launched on June 4th of this year with a release I’d definitely call “less than par” to my tastes as of current but people seemed to not think it was too bad. My biggest weakness was not making a transition over from doing band merch to brand merch and all of the designs resembled more of a band feel than a clothing line feel. To add to the misfortune, my printers who had originally promised me bunches of cool stuff we agreed upon were not delivering on their promises what so ever. Their quality was very poor in my eyes from what they promised and their shipping rates/customer service were horrible. I knew I had to make a switch and do it fast before I pulled all of my hair out. That is how I came in contact with the great people I work with over at MerchNOW who definitely saved me from what almost became a non-existent brand. Quality and customer service are the two most important things on my list when it comes to running the brand because I want the customers to be greatly satisfied after they make a purchase from my store. This way, all cognitive dissonance will be eliminated and fans will hopefully spread the word! Due to these changes in service and quality, I would more than agree that VF has come a long way since its inception. All shirts are printed on American Apparel and the hoodie is printed on APX super soft fleece. Each order also comes with a free button pack for that added extra.
You told me that Vampire Fur was also started in memory of your sister passing, do you think it has helped you cope at all?
Ah, here is the big question. My sister passed away when I was ten years old. I didn’t really know how to handle it to be honest. I went to Yale for counseling and nothing really seemed to help. I then began to start thinking very abstractly in life at a young age, which I’m quite surprised in myself for looking back on the memories. It really helped me a lot as I began to compare my troubles with the troubles of others and it made my problems seem very minimal. The name, Vampire Fur, was first said aloud one night when I randomly shouted it at my cat. My cat, Ozzy, was found by my mother in a bed of leaves and branches he had made for himself in the wild. After about a year or so, we nursed him back to health and he’s been nothing but a blessing ever since then. To connect both events, it definitely takes some abstract thought but I enjoy thinking like an oddball, which is why I based this brand off of surrealism. Nobody else really knows this, but I’ve noticed the cat does things like eats food particular to the interests of my sister as well as sits at the dinner table every single night like he’s part of the family. Although it may seem completely silly and even ridiculous, I began to believe that this is my sister’s way to still be with us even though she has passed. That being said, the name “Vampire Fur” portrays a meaning of irrelevance, abstraction, and oddity on the outside, but it’s internal meaning is symbolic of one’s way to cope with a hardship and doing whatever they have to do in order to better their life. I’m a dreamer. I always have been and always will be and starting this brand in honor of my sister has been nothing but an honor. Expect to see some very deep conceptual designs on the next launch because that is where I am now heading with the brand.
What kind of plans do you have for Vampire Fur in the future? Do you have another line planned out yet?
Right now I’ve actually got a lot of plans for the future so thank you for asking. Currently I’m working on a limited edition Christmas Tee similar to that of the Halloween T-shirt on the store. I’ve decided that for my favorite holidays, I’d like to release collector’s edition GPK based cards with festive characters I create and pitch them to my go-to-guy for the fun/colorful/holiday design-work. Turning a collector’s edition card series into a collector’s edition shirt series seems like fun! Lately, I’ve also been in contact with Outerloop management about sponsoring one of their biggest bands, Periphery, and things are going wonderfully. I recently just shipped them out a bunch of goodies for them to wear on their current Legacy tour. The guys are real stoked to work with me and I never would’ve expected it, such an honor! In regards to my next line, it will be released in the spring/summer of 2011 with a bunch of awesome new add-ons including a customized store/website/media downloads, and of course some awesome warm-weather merch!
Now, time for the question I ask everyone…If you had to pick just one word to describe Vampire Fur, what would it be and why?
“Surrealism.” It is the foundation for the company and involves all of my favorite subject areas to pursue. I truly have something special as well as cohesive planned for the future of VF and I can’t wait to show the world! Thanks so much for having me Jen!
[The pleasure was all mine, thanks for everything Matt!]
I think you should all go take a look at Vampire Fur and seriously give it a chance, Matt took the time to explain to you all of the deeper meanings, so I urge to you remember them when looking.
PS- If you didn’t know already, I finally made a Facebook page for Tee Spotter, you can like me now! =)