Launched in 2002, Terratag is a brand that sells art and apparel with elements of Eastern and Western culture. Although Terratag has been distributed and exhibited worldwide and designed for many commercial clients, such as Sony Playstation and Product IG animation studios, they still consider themselves an underground label. I interview Paul Nicholson of Terratag.
MC: What challenges did you face when starting Terratag and how did you overcome them?
PN: The challenges are the same faced by anyone starting a business. The day to day running: Paying bills, ordering stock, printing designs, maintaining the website, shipping, etc. Yeah, I know, it’s a boring answer. Not very glamorous or cool, but if you don’t get on top of this shit, it will take you down. You just have to get organized, knuckle down and work hard. There is no easy way through, unless your daddy is rich.
MC: Some of your product images give me the impression that the designs glow in the dark. Are your t-shirts really glow-in-the-dark?
PN: Yeah. We use glow-in-the-dark, U.V. and reflective inks. Along with designing Terratag, we also print all the designs here. As printers, we continually experiment and always push Terratag forward with skills developed on the print machines. It allows us to keep the brand fresh and keep the work stimulating.
MC: In general, how long does it take for you to create each t-shirt design? What’s the whole process behind creating the image that you then go on to print on your t-shirts?
PN: I am working on ideas all the time, so it would be impossible to estimate how long any one design takes. I see it more as a rolling process, one of continual refining, remixing and remastering. But, to give you some idea, the design we worked on this week is fairly complex and took three days to draw up, develop and run to production.
MC: Out of all the projects that you worked on, which one was your most favorite?
PN: I guess you could look at Terratag as being one big mother of a project and a good one to boot. Over the years we have released many designs; there are those that have not been well received and slow to sell and others that keep on going strong, even after 4 years. But, whether a design tickles the masses or not, creating them is always enjoyable.
MC: I see you do a couple of collaborations with other brands. How did you go about making these collaborations happen? How have they benefited Terratag?
PN: The collabs, so far, have come about either by meeting people or discovering their work. Simply a case of gravitating to one another. All of the collabs are designers whose work we feel sits well along side Terratag and reflect our design ethos. There are many artists and designers out there whose work we admire, but not all of it would work within the collab concept.
The benefits are two fold, in that we broaden out product range and artists get the opportunity to have their work taken from the page and onto the street.
MC: If you can go back in time to when you first started Terratag, what would you have done differently?
PN: I am sure if we all could change things, new problems would arise. With hindsight, you would change what you recognize as being something you could have done better. The paradox being, that you would not be in control of how those things you’ve changed develop and grow.
What’s more important is how you learn from your mistakes and improve your sense of foresight.
MC: What’s in store for the future of Terratag?
PN: Better design or die trying.