Back in high school they used to provide mandatory history classes. If you’re like most people, you learned how history is filled with stories of sunshine, lollypops and rainbows, because our ancestors really knew how to make good decisions and be nice to everyone, always. But shirt art is about creativity, passion, and imagination. With that in mind, we sat down with Chazzy Matses of Vicious History – a new independent t-shirt and apparel label that specializes in full canvas t-shirts with historical themes. Check out the full scoop below.
TM: What made you decide to start a label named “Vicious History?”
CM: The idea for Vicious History came together at the very beginning of the planning stages. I’ve always had a passion for clothing design and knew that I wanted to start an independent brand. There are so many different brands out there and I really wanted to find an image that set my brand apart. I have always been a history buff with a small obsession with Napoleon Bonaparte.
I’m in college majoring in marketing but I always seem to fit in a few history courses each semester. It eventually hit me that I should incorporate my love for history into my brand image. Many people can find history pretty boring, so my mission was to hire great artists that could give my design ideas a contemporary feel. That’s basically the philosophy behind Vicious History and I try my best to incorporate that into everything we put out.
TM: What do you hope people feel or notice when they see someone wearing one of your shirts?
CM: I mainly want to spark someone’s curiosity when they see somebody wearing a VH shirt. Many people feel that history is a boring subject and my goal is to give it a contemporary and interesting feel that speaks for itself on our shirts. I try to work with artists and incorporate that message into every shirt we make from the brainstorming stages all the way to the final pressing.
TM: Are you passionate about current politics and world events?
CM: I always try to keep up with current events but that isn’t where my historical passion is. The areas of history that I find most interesting are 19th and 18th century European history. In terms of more current subjects, I am really into secret societies, conspiracy theories and astronomy. These are some of the influences that are going to influence the next VH line in late spring.
TM: Who creates these designs?
CM: I am not a very talented illustrator so I work with freelance artists to create the designs. I like to provide the artistic direction while the illustrator puts it all together in their specific style. I come up with an original concept and then research an illustrator who I feel has a style that can best relate to my ideas. I feel that doing it this way gives my brand a nice mixture or variety of artists and styles that make every release a little bit different.
TM: When did you decide that history would be the main theme of your brand?
CM: Like I said before, the history theme came in the very early planning stages. My main goal was to create something different in the independent clothing world but also being able to relate to my brand on a personal level at the same time.
TM: Besides history, do you have any other artistic influences that you work with or enjoy away from Vicious History?
CM: Besides history, I find photography to be a very big influence in my brand. I constantly visit websites like Tumblr, Flickr and independent blogs when searching for ideas. When I find an image or photo that I like, I save it into a folder that I call the “Inspiration Folder.” Since the start of VH in February 2010, this folder has collected over 40,000 images. When I am planning for a future release, I will sort through many of these photos and write down ideas as they come to me.
TM: Which one is your favorite design and why?
CM: I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite design, but Wild Wolves, Napoleon and Scholars & Thieves are definitely up there. I am obsessed with Napoleon Bonaparte and I was absolutely thrilled to work with Keaton Henson again. Gabriel Gozzer designed Wild Wolves and Scholars & Thieves and I was blown away when I saw the finished product. I feel that Gabriel and I have a powerful artistic connection that allows him to create some of my favorite VH designs yet.
TM: Ever bumped into someone you didn’t know wearing one of your tees?
CM: I haven’t bumped into anyone wearing a VH shirt yet but I am always looking out for one. I have several customers tell me what people have stopped them on the streets to ask where they purchased their shirt. Things like that are what motivates me to keep moving forward with my brand with new and exciting designs.
TM: If you could go back in time and meet a historical figure, who would you choose?
CM: I think it is pretty obvious, but Napoleon Bonaparte. I became attracted to him early on in high school and it has been an obsession ever since. I collect pretty much anything relating to him such as Napoleon Chess sets and copies of rare historical documents. I would really love to just pick his brain to really capture his power hungry mindset. Although it may be intense and frightening, I couldn’t imagine passing up an opportunity to follow him around on his daily routine.
TM: I see you have a zombie Marie Antoinette. Any other Zombie historical figures coming up in future releases?
CM: There weren’t any plans to have anymore zombified historical figures but there have been several requests to bring that style back. Marie Antoinette was one of our best selling shirts and many people want to see it back in the store. Although zombie shirts aren’t on the schedule for the near future, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did something in that style later this year.
TM: Any chance there will be a Vicious History underwear line in the future for those that want to keep their history close to home?
CM: Haha there actually might be! For the summer I want to create some booty shorts for the girls to wear as underwear or maybe to stay cool in the heat. Those will most likely be happening but there aren’t any plans for mens VH underwear.
TM: What’s next in the pipeline for Vicious History?
CM: Next up for VH is our spring 2011 collection. I honestly feel that this collection will be our biggest and best ever. It is going to be a secret society themed release called the “Occultus Collection.” I can’t say much about it now but expect to see that release in late spring.
TM: If the undead rose again and started feasting on brains, what would be your weapon of choice?
CM: The weird part about this question is that I actually think about this on a pretty regular basic. I am a pretty avid gamer who plays a LOT of Call of Duty and Left 4 Dead 2. I personally think sniping zombies from half a mile away would be pretty awesome so that would be my choice, that or a pump action shotgun.
TM: Any final thoughts for all of your old and new fans?
CM: I just want to thank you guys for this opportunity! I never expected VH so grow so rapidly and have so many fans. Your support has helped me continue doing what I love and I hope this never stops. VH wouldn’t be where it is today without you guys!
For more Vicious History, check out their online shop at ViciousHistory.com