Gloss Black is an independent creative house with a passion for the handmade. Their drive is to make every project personal and keep their clients close to them. I had a chance to sit down with the masterminds behind the brand, Daiji and Jimmy, and ask them a variety of questions pertaining to the business. Read below for the full interview…
What’s your story? How did you guys come together to form Gloss Black?
Daiji: We met thru mutual art buddies and I think right off the bat, in the most bromantic way possible, we had a mutual respect for each other’s craft. Black paint is something we both used often and I come from a background of using flat black more than gloss black, but when we met I was making the transition to using more of the latter so that’s how we landed on the name.
You guys are pretty outspoken about online privacy. In the near future the legislation has the potential to create the great firewall of America. As artists yourselves, do you feel this could be extremely disruptive for creatives across the U.S.?
Daiji: I wouldn’t go so far as outspoken but we are definitely concerned. I think it just comes down to lack of understading/communication between the legislators and the creative community. Online piracy and copyright laws are always a touchy subject with creatives. But we believe that if you use our shit, pay us (although we are guilty of being hypocrites from time to time).
You specialize in Murals. How large are the typical pieces and how do you approach something like that? Is sketching involved? Is there certain paints for certain surfaces?
Jimmy: When proposing a mural project for a client, we take the clients initial vision and work it into the space given. I prefer to have the client give as much input as possible so that they are satisfied with the end result. As you can see, some projects are pretty straight forward and simply require the replication of a iconic cartoon character. On the other hand, I welcome projects thats require full artistic freedom. These are the projects where you can try something new, have fun, and still have a happy client in the end.
I have used spray paint for nearly every mural we’ve painted to date. Different brands of spray enamel come with various pros and cons. American brands such as Rust-Oleum or Valspar are staples, but some projects require a higher quality spray paint. For this reason, I typically like to paint very large, allowing for adequate room for shading/detail, but the smaller the project the harder it becomes. I encourage clients to think big when starting a project.
Staying on the subject, as muralists, do you feel that large outdoor art is no longer about art for art’s sake, but rather to interface the content relevant to the community in which the mural is in?
Jimmy: It can work both ways. A mural can painted with the intention to remind the community of it’s history, it’s achievements, and it’s traditions. On the other hand, it can be used to clean up or give life to an area forgotten by the community, adding an element of freshness to the community. This is a tough question to answer because the relevance of a mural is appreciated by some and lost on others. It really comes down to the individual viewing it and interpreting it for themselves, as in most art.
What made you guys set up shop in Jersey, as opposed to New York? Does it still offer a nice creative environment without the hustle and bustle?
Jersey is home. Simple as that.
At what point did you begin to receive a significant profit? Did you have to make any initial investments in training, software, advertising, etc?
Jimmy: This past year was our busiest by far! I’m expecting to get hit with a lot of offers by next Spring. Many projects have arose via word of mouth, and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to network/advertise as much as I would have liked to. I guess I can’t really complain about being booked!
Daiji: I think we did a pretty good job of keeping costs to a minimum and keeping the operation going by just going with a DIY approach. We try to do our best with our resources.
A lot of your designs feature type. Is typography a challenge or does it come pretty easy?
Jimmy: Typography is always a challenge but that’s what makes it so much fun. The idea of it is very simple to understand but execution is extremely important. We are very critical with any typefaces we work on and are always trying to study and improve on letter structure and style. From one project to the next, you kind of get in a pattern of what typeface works and what doesn’t for any given situation. It’s hard to talk type unless you have a love for it. We are used to getting strange looks for describing the stance of an A in relation to that of an R.
A designer can stand out with an idealistic idea or go with the flow of the client’s wishes. How do you see yourselves in this situation?
Daiji: I think as professionals it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on our client’s industry and then provide them with a good solution. Sometimes that requires less of what we like, but we always try to give them the style that they hired us for in the first place.
Gloss Black seems to embrace social media, the internet in general, and even gives free stuff away! How important do you feel technology is as a marketing tool for a brand? As designers and painters do you feel it is essential?
Daiji: We love social media because it gives us an outlet to interact with people from all over the world. The technology is an important tool but it all comes down to whether people believe in your work or not. We try to keep that in mind and show restraint when sharing our work/thoughts over social media. If we don’t feel it, then noone else will (but sometimes I’m guilty of sharing dumb shit).
Give us the lowdown on your favorite Asian films. We saw the Toy Story mural, so we’re curious if any Anime has inspired any creations?
Daiji: My favorites are The Seven Samurai, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, Akira, a grip of Ghibli films, and early Doraemon films. I don’t think anime has inspired any recent creations but it has definitely helped to nurture my passion for illustration and typography (everyone that used to copy Dragonball panels knows what I’m talking about).
Lastly, can you offer any advice to any struggling creatives looking to get established?
Jimmy: Oh man, I learn something new from every project and I’m still learning. Get involved, take risks, stay true to your craft/style. Don’t try to be the next _____ , just be you.
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