Fur Face Boy is a highly detailed and highly limited t-shirt brand representing pop and youth culture, all the quirkiness in-between and is simply a creative outlet for the founder, Ha Mai. We got the chance to interview Ha Mai, the mastermind of this internationally known, Dallas, Texas based t-shirt brand.
TM: What inspired you to start the brand?
Ha Mai: A combination of boredom and depression. When I worked (as a graphic designer) for various companies and agencies, my creative input was always overlooked, shot down or stored away for another day only to never to see the light of day again. It was very frustrating, draining and was robbing my passion to create.
I was tired of listening to those ‘above’ me and tired of the same day to day routines of a set career. I was worrying that this was gonna be the rest of my life! I needed an outlet where I could totally be myself and have total control of my creativity. That’s when I spontaneously just decided to do my own thing…..a T-shirt brand called Fur Face Boy.
TM: What made you decide to name your brand after your dog, Fur Face Boy?
Ha Mai: I thought that it was a memorable, funny, quirky and random enough name so I just went with it.
TM: You mentioned on your site that you always loved cartoons, are there any specific cartoons that inspired you to start your brand?
Ha Mai: Nope. No specific cartoon. I grew up in the late 80‘s and early 90’s, where I pretty much watched ALL cartoons…
Alvin and the Chipmunks, Super Mario Hour, Pro Stars, Muppet Babies, Ninja Turtles, Thunder Cats, Heathcliff, Garfield and Friends, Hanna Barbara, Tom & Jerry, Video Power, Dungeons & Dragons, Captain N, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Batman the Animated Series, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Freakazoid, Spider-man, Dinosaucers, C.O.P.S, Bionic 6, SilverHawks…you name it, I’ve most likely watched it.
TM: How difficult was it trying to convince your parents that you could make a living from art?
Ha Mai: VERY. To this day, my parents still have no clue what graphic design truly is. I have very traditional Asian parents, so anything outside of mathematics, science and law would never be good enough. As I grew older, they realized that I was kinda good at what I did and more important- that I loved what I did! It took LOADS of explanation, recognition and proving them wrong, but now, my parents are probably my 2 biggest supporters. HALLELUHAH!
TM: What’s the creative process for making a t-shirt design?
Ha Mai: I’m quickly inspired by my surroundings, if I’m intrigued by something I like, I keep it in mind and hopefully I remember to write it down. Next, I loosely doodle / sketch the idea on paper. Then I scan the sketch into my computer and start reworking it with a graphic application, in my case, Adobe Illustrator (I LOVE vector!). After I refine the graphic / illustration to the last final tweak, I create mock-ups and spec guides to submit to my screen printer. They do the rest! (Separating colors, burning screens, and the actual screen printing)
TM: How do you promote your brand and what are your most effective marketing methods?
Ha Mai: Mainly thru my blog and social media sites (twitter, facebook, tumblr). I also mail personalized box sets of shirts to certain boutiques, magazines, blogs and newspapers that I admire. It’s never a sure thing, but the response is pretty good when I do this. Doing events/parties, having random contests (via my blog and social media) and having a mailing list helps too, but the most effective marketing method (IMO) is simply being myself.
TM: What do you hope people feel or notice when they see someone wearing one of your shirts?
Ha Mai: I hope that it intrigues them, makes them smile and makes them want to be apart of a secret ‘super cool kids’ club.
TM: In your opinion, how has Fur Face Boy grown? Has it been a difficult journey?
Ha Mai: The brand has grown so much since I started in 2009. It’s grown from simply working hard and more importantly, just having fun. Basically, it’s grown via me simply living my life. As for if it’s been difficult? Honestly, no…it hasn’t. I take Fur Face Boy VERY seriously, but at the same time I don’t ever try to think too hard about it. I just go with the flow and if I come across a hurdle I try my best to get through it. And if I fail (which I do a lot)? I just learn from my mistakes and keep moving on.
TM: What are some of your favorite brands?
Ha Mai: Pretty much every brand out there. Big or small. I’m a BIG t-shirt fan! My closet is made up of 99.75% t-shirts. I have a mix of alot of today’s labels and many vintage tees. I shop online, at specialty boutiques, Department stores as well as Thrift shops. My T-shirt collection is pretty damn ridiculous.
TM: Are there any other brands or artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Ha Mai: Yes. John Lennon’s ghost.
TM: What are your plans for next year?
Ha Mai: Honestly, I have no idea. I just go with the flow and with what I feel at the current moment.
TM: Any final thoughts for all of your old and new fans?
Ha Mai: It truly astonishes me to see how much this little random brand of mine has grown and there’s zero way it could’ve made it this far without everyone’s continued love and support! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I’m gonna do my best to see just how much further I can take Fur Face Boy! Stay tuned…
For more Fur Face Boy, check out the online shop.