Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Story Behind THE HUNDREDS x GARFIELD with Bobby Hundreds

First of all, how did this project come about?
I can take it way back. You could say that The Hundreds x Garfield was instilled within my imagination as a kid. Garfield was my favorite comic strip and cartoon character growing up, in fact, Jim Davis' art was the catalyst in teaching me how to draw cartoons. So it only made sense to bring it back around full circle.

How heavily involved was each party in the collaboration? Did Jim give you free reign over reinterpreting his character or there was more of a back and forth process?
This project was the true essence of collaboration. We worked closely with Jim Davis and the Garfield gang (PAWS INC.) in re-appropriating some of the more familiar characters, they really let us get carried away with it. I'm not just talking about the apparel, but as far as the marketing, the art show, everything along the way was a very creative and positive synergy.
Traditionally with larger companies like this, there's a lot of bureaucracy and red tape, the owners are wary of negative light or legalities or even backlash.
I have this sarcastic saying that it's not an effective collaboration unless both parties hate each other at the end of it.
Well, this one proved me wrong. It's, to date, the most powerful collaboration The Hundreds has worked on, and it has been nothing short of a pleasure to work with the people involved. I think that's a testament of how proficient PAWS INC. has become in the collaborative game. They are veterans in the art of co-branding.

How do you feel Garfield fits The Hundreds culture? Compare and contrast.
Ben (Hundreds) and I were just saying that this project is the dream collaboration for The Hundreds. Being that we run such a personally invested brand, it makes sense because of Garfield's lifelong influence on my own artistic and creative direction. Jim Davis also gave us the freedom to work with the 1980s' stylings of Garfield, a decade which is monumentally important to The Hundreds' fashionings. So that sense of nostalgia and familiarity is there, the pop culture tie-ins, the levity that Garfield's humor brings, it's all there.
At first, Ben and I were a little concerned about diving into a project that is so cartoony and "young," but I think the vintage approach we've taken to the project captures more of the classic sentimental spirit than an immature vibe.

What did you want to achieve with the collection aesthetically?
So it was really about utilizing the '80s' aspects of Garfield and Co. Whether people recognize or not, Garfield has transformed from decade to decade.
The modern Garfield is digitally composed, more exaggerated eyes, more cutesy, more kid-friendly. The Garfield we grew up with in the 1980s however was comic-strip-oriented, and he was more about grown-up problems, cynicism, sarcasm... This is the Garfield that we remembered and wanted to work with.
Fortunately, we were granted the right to work within these archives, and the team at PAWS INC. were happy to oblige us, re-drawing Garfield in the old style. The apparel is centered around re-workings of classic '80s Garfield apparel, and the fleece has been treated and washed to give off a worn-in impression. The idea is that these are all Garfield merchandise that have been sitting around for the past 3 decades in your attic or the back of a thrift store.

How did you decide on what items to include? Were there any interesting products that didn't make the final cut?
Since we wanted to relay that casual, vintage aesthetic, we kept it straightforward with graphic t-shirts, printed fleece, and headwear like a New Era fitted cap and beanie. Also, we have some Garfield shoes under The Hundreds Footware. But an important piece of Garfield's legacy is it's expansive licensing/merchandising program. At some point, I'm sure all of you have had a bowl of Garfield Spaghetti-O's, a Garfield pillowcase or a Garfield Trapper Keeper. In keeping with that theme, we went all over the map with The Hundreds x Garfield novelty items. We made a classic '80s style skateboard, a vinyl toy, pillows, and a glass mug that is reminiscent of the old-school Garfield x McDonald's mugs. If anything hasn't made the cut, that just means we're still working on it. This may not be the last you've heard of The Hundreds x Garfield...
What is your favorite piece in the collaboration?
It changes everyday. It may be a toss-up between the The Hundreds x Garfield toy or skateboard deck. They are both just very fun and creative pieces.
However, I think the most important, and what will be the most looked-over, chapter of the collection is The Hundreds x U.S. Acres. U.S. Acres was a subset of Jim Davis comics under the Garfield universe involving a separate family of farm characters: Orson the pig, Roy the rooster, Sheldon and Booker, Wade the Duck, Bo and Lanolin... Most people don't remember this comic because it was very short-lived both in the papers and on the original Garfield cartoon show. So when I asked the Garfield gang if they'd grant us access to this franchise, they were elated. No one has worked with U.S. Acres before, so we made a few pieces to coincide with the resurrection, and will keep them exclusive to just our The Hundreds flagship stores in LA, SF, and NY.

Tell us about the experience of working with Jim Davis. What did you learn from this project?
In all honesty, this has just been such a cool project to work on, we're all very blessed to have this opportunity. Even if a single piece doesn't sell, it was all worth it to work with Jim Davis and the Garfield creators and to tap into a tried-and-true facet of American heritage. It sounds corny, but I learned a lot about myself through this project. Sitting down with Jim, I realized just how much his art, his humor, and his musings have resonated throughout my own creative process. As a youth, I always dreamt of one day being a cartoonist like Jim Davis, but my career trajectory brought me to a different place, albeit one that still incorporates my love for art, humor, and merchandise. I'd like to think what we've built with The Hundreds is, on a much smaller scale, shadowing Garfield's great legacy.

You've also put together a Garfield art show that will debut a week after the release of the product. What can we expect to see at the exhibition? Who all got involved?
Yes, this event is an integral part of the comprehensive The Hundreds x Garfield project. In December we will be opening a The Hundreds x Garfield pop-up shop and gallery, with original Garfield-inspired art contributed from a group of our friends and heroes in the art world. Just a few names off the top of my head include Mark Dean Veca, Barry McGee, Dave Kinsey, Usugrow and Claw. We are very appreciative to work alongside these artists as well.

Any favorite Garfield related memories from your youth?
I didn't have a lot of toys growing up, but my mom understood that if I wanted anything, it had to be Garfield related. I'd sit in my room and mimic Jim Davis' characters with crude No.2 pencis, I'd beg for lasagna for dinner even though I never really liked it. I even woke up to a Garfield alarm clock for 18 straight years of my life, which means that for my entire youth, I started and ended my day with that fat cat.

Any last words?
Thanks to Jim Davis and PAWS, Inc. for the opportunity. Our hope is that just as Garfield inspired me, The Hundreds x Garfield inspires you.
(Courtesy of

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