Priding themselves in taking the hardest route, rather than abiding by tradition or convention, Itâ€™s Our Thing has been churning out markedly different, quirky products since 2006. Combining Swedish and Japanese influencesâ€”for which you must read onâ€”and reconciling contemporary, urban art with trends in garment production, this company stands out from every other Joe trying to jump on the graphic-tee-bandwagon. With the imaginative as their primary inspiration, Micke Thorsby (or PMKFA) and Matthias Schneidewind from Sweatshop Union (a Japanese printing company) are working hard to push every boundary by showcasing familiar cultural references and their strange, often bewildering designs.
The pieces are very individual with small stories of their own. I have no illusions about who we are, we’re small and then I want each shirt to stand on its own, on its own merit.
Format: Your designs are pretty outrageous (though still aesthetically pleasing). Is there a specific philosophy behind them?
Micke Thorsby: I believe that the justification to publish images, no matter whether it’s on paper or garments, should show something beyond peopleâ€™s imagination, at the same time I know that if I go full-on not many people would wear it, it’s a balance but at the same time I never hold it back. Usually the more time I spend in the office, the more twisted the graphics become, I guess it’s some kinda Shining thing going on, no fun and no play…
Format: Was it a difficult process to launch It’s Our Thing, or to find collaborators? How did you find Sweatshop Union?
Micke Thorsby: It’s a great situation, partnering with the tremendous skills and quality. It’s Our Thing was started on their initiative and I couldn’t refuse of course. I was invited to make a small exhibition at their space in late 2005 and a few months later we started It’s Our Thing.
Format: What can you tell us about the new collection, ‘Etno?’
Micke Thorsby: Etno is the name of the sweater, the last collection has no name actually, the project name was â€˜Stone Crazyâ€™ but I dropped that in the end. The collection is the platform to launch the new logo and identity. The pieces are very individual with small stories of their own. I have no illusions about who we are, we’re small and then I want each shirt to stand on its own, on its own merit. From the beginning we hesitated on doing logo shirts as the inflation of such shirts is quite disturbing but we had to by popular demand. The toast came from my partners saying “this will sell like warm bread,” so I put a slice of bread in thereâ€”his prediction was right.
The other images like Juke is my homage to Chicago Juke Trax, Jah is Haile Selassi in 3D, Magikul is an idol image filtered through 70s drawing techniques showing the grapehead freak. He later came to life when we shot the lookbook, as you can see on our web site. I always want to expand my technical skills and in this collection the woodcut represents a new step.
Format: How would you compare the early line, ‘The First Ten,’ with what is being released now?
Micke Thorsby: Since I made â€˜The First Tenâ€™ I’ve made more shirts and other pieces of clothing than I can count, for people like Sixpack, adidas, WESC, and soon to come DC Shoes, so I’ve learned a lot. The first line and its follow up, â€˜Third Vision,â€™ was more about clean graphics, clean characters, more straight pop. The more recent ones are still pop but less clean, adding a bit more depth through various techniques like my Dot-Toneâ„¢ style for Magkikul and the digital woodcut style for Dividers. I want to add a different level that allows you to look a step further from the initial impression.
Format: Are there plans for branching out into other garments (jeans, jackets, etc.)? Or would you prefer to keep it simple and graphic oriented?
Micke Thorsby: There are aims but the plan right now is to spread the t-shirts as far as we can to build a base for further steps, and it’s rewarding and joyful work so far. I’m not making that many t-shirts outside It’s Our Thing, instead I design jackets and more complex objects and that skill will one day be applied to It’s Our Thing too, but I feel no rush.
Format: Can ladies look forward to more women’s clothing being released?
Micke Thorsby: Not at the moment but we wish to do more in the future, yes. As it’s a completely different market we try to take things step by step and would love to do more for women.
Format: What benefits have you found basing the line out of Japan rather than your own Sweden?
Micke Thorsby: I moved from Sweden almost a decade ago so it’s kind of hard to imagine how things would be if I was based there instead of Tokyo. A big change is style, the work I do would look very different I was still in Sweden. I believe, the set of logics in Swedish and European culture is something I’ve always tried to erase in myself, I have far more to go but living in Tokyo helps to speed up that process.
Format: Do you often get to have gallery shows like the one in Barcelona, featured on your web site?
Micke Thorsby: As PMKFA I sometimes do shows and when possible I try to involve It’s Our Thing. It’s something I really enjoy but also I never want to repeat myself; I wonâ€™t do another poster exhibition. I’m working on some stuff now that will materialize into an exhibition when it’s ready. It will be more 3D.
Format: I noticed a personal WoodWood collaboration you did. Is that something you would like to do more of?
Micke Thorsby: Ah that was long time ago. I would love to do more collaborations with It’s Our Thing and other brands and we got some stuff in the pipeline. As PMKFA I do a lot of work like that with Sixpack, DC Shoes, adidas and some other brands.
Format: What can we expect to come from It’s Our Thing in the near future? Can you divulge any secrets?
Micke Thorsby: Soon we start releasing mix-CD’s and I suggest you keep an eye itsourthing,net for future stuff, we have some really exciting stuff coming I cannot really tell you about at the moment. Also read the blog where I and two friends, one of them a legendary japanese music journalist, are writing constantly.
More Info: www.itsourthing.net
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