Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Dog House Feature: Interview with Tank Theory

Yo yo yo.. we got another guest in the dog house! This time its art director Zach Johnsen from Tank Theory! Hey Zach, welcome to our dog house! Here goes the interview..

Dog: Zach, there may be some people who aren't familiar with your brand yet, especially in Indonesia. Since you're here, can you give us a brief background on Tank Theory?
Zach: Tank Theory was the inception of my partner in crime, Andrew Silverman, back when he lived in Maine. I met with Andrew in Boston, Ma (he was going to college for marketing and I was in Boston going to school for illustration and design). My last year at school, Andrew posted some flyers looking for artists and designers for his new brand Tank Theory. In short, we met up, killed the game, and it's history from there.. haha.

Dog: Is there a particular reason why you decided to create this brand?
Zach: We wanted to create the brand to combat all the wack tshirts that were out there in the market. All we saw was logo tees back then or just really weak design. We wanted to show that there was another side to the tshirt game - a more artful and thoughtful side. So we created a raw and dirty brand focusing more on the artwork and what the artwork was saying than versions of company logos.

Dog: Tell me about the team behind Tank Theory!
Zach: Basically the core is myself (the art guy) and my man Andrew who is more the web, marketing, sales guy. Then we have a core of contributing artists that we work with on a regular basis. Steve Wilson from the UK. Asif Mian from NY. Fatoe from LA. our photographer Adam here in NY, Dan St. George (AzStar78) in SF. and this group keeps growing. just had a chance to work w/ Hydro74 and Dust La Rock last season. for the upcoming season, we're working with this amazing artist, James Roper, from the UK.

Dog: There are a lot of artists who are involved with Tank Theory's product design. How does your alliance with them work? Do you pay them for each design or are the designs an act of self-promotion for those artists?
Zach: Ha! i wish you could get people to donate work for self- promotion.. but these artists are established enough now that they don't necessarily need the exposure we give them.So indeed we pay them for the designs. which is fine and completely worth it.

Dog: Among all the up and rising streetwear labels in the world, I still think American labels set the trend worldwide. What do you think about this phenomenon? Where would you position your own brand in the existing streetwear scene?
Zach: Yeah, the Americans are really pushin the fashion and streetwear scenes for sure. i mean, tshirts have been around for a long time, and we refuse to let them die...As far as placing Tank Theory in the current scene, that's a tough one. We have such a wide appeal.. I mean we get propers from skaters, artists, rappers, indie kats and rockers..It's hard to identify with one particular group or scene (mostly cause that's how me and andrew are anyway) so we may just hover around all scenes droppin bombs where appropriate..

Dog: What makes Tank Theory different from all the other brands? What are its signature characteristics?
Zack: Our designs and the thought that goes into them - that's what makes us different from the rest.Plus, we dwell more on the brutal side of life. Everything we produce is slightly demented, unnerving, outright scary, or jabbing political powers that be.Our Army of Darkness series. don't know if you've seen that. but that's all us! wraps us up perfectly..

Dog: How long has Tank Theory been established?
Zach: Since 2001 - 5 years now!

Dog: I ask this question to every brand I interview: Is there a certain strategy in your product distribution, selling, and brand development?
Zach: Man, i wish there was! it's live and learn and build basically.

Dog: Name one streetwear brand that you think holds the most clout right now.
Zach: For some reason whatever the Hundreds do, people are clammering to jump on - or at least get their hands on. Here in NY, Alife and aNYthing hold it down and get crazy respect..
Personally, i think Freshjive has always been underrated..

Dog: What do you think are the most important factors in getting a brand to be accepted by people and the general public?
Zach: I think a good force-feeding helps.. haha. the more people see your brand and it's talked about (whether good or bad) the more exposure you get which inevitably leads to sales.. and a healthy dose of connections help too.

Dog: Tell us about the Art and Goods section in your.What do you offer in that section?
Zach: This section is dedicated to the Tank Theory aesthetic applied outside of the tshirt. We offer silkscreen prints and belt buckles (which are bangin!) at the moment.We'll hopefully be beefing up that area with more accessories and art goodies- artwork and prints, books, more buckles, hats, and hoodies.

Dog: Now I've got a personal question for you, hope u don't mind. I think what you're doing is fuckin' awesome and I'm fascinated with the design industry coz its my line of work as well. Can you tell us a bit about your academic backgrounds and how you got into the design industry?
Zach: I actually went to school for illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. I never studied formal design or fashion for that matter. I was pretty much shoved into the position through my involvement with Tank Theory. It's been kinda crazy because Tank Theory became a sort of second schooling for me. I've learned so much about graphic design, art, printing, fashion and the industry in general. Hell, i'm still learning as i go - which in some ways still keeps it fresh and exciting for me..

Dog: What do you know about Indonesia and the streetwear scene here?
Zach: To be honest, not very much! I'd like to though...

Dog: What constitutes as your daily wardrobe?
Zach: Well considering i work mostly from home, a pair of cargo shorts and a tshirt usually suffice. If i'm going out, a pair of cargo shorts and a tank theory tshirt.oh and new balances.. haha

Dog: Well, thanks a lot, Zach, for the valuable time and insight. We hope we could help open up our readers minds about Tank Theory, Zach Johnsen, and the streetwear industry in general. Shouts?
Zach: Thanks! Big shouts to everyone in NY doing their thing: Dust doin that vector, Adam taking amazing photos, Marion painting, Jen whom i'm commissioning, Josh at Re:UP, Syintific Skateboards, Andrew my partner, Oxy Cottontail and the whole nightlife crew, Steve in Hong Kong, AzStar in SF, Steve Wilson always doing the amazing work, my northeast representatives, and everyone pushing their work worldwide! Cheers!


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