UniDiv is a creative clothing line that will change the street wear industry. With a growing fan base, their dope designs have been worn by celebrities on MTV and BET. We had the chance to interview Mike Cannon, the man behind the brand.
Tell us a little bit about your brand and how you got started?
Unified Division (UniDiv) is a subscription-based lifestyle brand that I created in 2011 after many years in the entertainment industry. Designs are based on whatever subject is hot that week in pop culture. We are on constant lookout for what will be most talked about for the week, and a shirt is both designed and printed every Sunday.
Over the years, I have spent time with SONY Music, XXL Magazine and Clear Channel Media + Entertainment just to name a few. My fashion break came after working at ervingeoffrey, which was owned by Ja-Rule and Irv Gotti. Although I was hired as a Web Designer, an opportunity presented itself to design t-shirt graphics and Tec packs.
Do you work solo or do you have a team?
I’m currently a one-man army, doing everything from design and screen printing to shipping. There are a few investors interested in the movement, so that may change very soon.
Are there any particular graphic artists or clothing brands that inspire your work?
Being born and raised in Corona, NY (Queens), I had many clothing brands that were started within walking distance of my home growing up, from School of Hard Knocks to FUBU and many others, so these early lines had the biggest influence on me. I like a lot of European graphic designers, many of them seem more specialized in one area. There are many good brands out right now, but I try not to look too much at what others are doing in the streetwear space since they’re my competition.
Most of your designs are influenced by hip-hop and pop culture. Who’s your favorite musical artist?
Nas would have to be my favorite artist of all time. He should be in everyone’s Top 10 Hip-Hop list. Right now, Chinx Drugz is in heavy rotation in the car…It’s a Queens thing! Working at a radio station during the day, I listen to every genre of music from Pop to Country and everything in between.
Why did you decide to make your brand subscription-based?
The decision was made because we wanted to get our shirts directly to the consumers much quicker, and before other brands had a chance to copy designs, a problem that has occurred in the past with larger companies. This also helps limit the amount of UniDiv stuff that is released to the public, making it much more exclusive. And to be truly honest, I would have gone broke trying to keep up with the release schedule that big brands follow. Screw those big brands! Lol.
Can you explain your creative process? Do you start with pencil and paper or go straight to digital?
The creative process starts by looking around online to see what’s going on. As a creative person, I get ideas from everyday items that I see or hear about and incorporate them into projects. I have a sketchbook that I always use to flush out every idea and actually have different books depending on the type of work.
Some artists listen to music to get their creative juices flowing. Do you have any rituals while designing?
I go to the same three places to listen to music; they are Shade 45, DatPiff.com and LiveMixtapes.com. If it’s an all-nighter, then I tend to listen to more EDM stuff instead.
Which one of your designs is your favorite?
Every shirt created is like a child to me, but The Trappers t-shirt was the very first shirt that I designed, so it holds a very special place in my heart. I initially paid someone to design a mean bird for me, and after not being satisfied with the result, decided that I would personally design everything else myself from then on. It’s also the t-shirt concept that I had in my head the longest before finally starting the company.
Do you plan on collaborating with any other brands?
I’m open to anything in the future. For now the goal is to take UniDiv to the next level so that it’s mentioned in the same breath as brands that are much larger. I respect the streetwear brands of today, but would love to collaborate with some of the original brands that set it off.
If you could have any superhuman power, what would it be?
I would like the ability to teleport, because time is money and I need to get around the world faster!
What do you enjoy about being an artist?
The freedom to express myself in an uncensored manner. It’s also great to see your visions come to life in the form of a billboard, t-shirt, website, vehicle wrap, etc., and have millions of people see them.
What advice can you give to aspiring brand owners?
It takes a good deal of money to really develop a true t-shirt/clothing collection. You can save some money by doing most things yourself, but products still cost money and so does all of your time! Don’t expect to blow up overnight either. Many brands that we know of today were around for 5+ years before the masses discovered them, so be patient!
Do you have any big projects coming up?
Expect to see girls’ tees dropping weekly to help extend our reach and provide our female fans with gear that they like. Eventually Unified Division will drop t-shirts plus other items such as posters daily!
Where else can we see your work?
In addition to checking out http://www.unidiv.com/, you can find my freelance work under the name PAPERorPIXEL. A small selection of past web sites, graphic design, paintings and more can be seen at http://PAPERorPIXEL.com.