If you’ve been attending Art Star events for the past few years, you’ve probably seen Matt Eyer and Peter Oravetz’s shared spot full of robots and t-shirts. Matt creates limited edition graphic t-shirts, tank-tops, and hoodies inspired by Philadelphia under his brand Wear Liberty. Peter has been illustrating his Robots! series for almost ten years now in which you can find them in all walks of life from battling giant squids to drinking beers at the bar.
This Fall bazaar will be Matt and Peter’s fifth Art Star event together and to celebrate they did a little interview with each other. Matt goes first with questions for Pete and then Pete follows up with questions for Matt. Enjoy and be sure to stop by their booth (#41) at the bazaar!
Matt Eyer: Why robots? Why not dinosaurs?
Peter Oravets: Dinosaurs are so Cretaceous period…robots are the future! Not to mention that they’re made by us…we’ve essentially engineered a new species that could potentially think for itself. It’s inevitable that they’ll have some of the same ticks and hang-ups we humans do, especially when it comes to movement and gesture. It would be interesting to see how a robot might respond to the world with the outlook of an adolescent and a similar range of motion.
Matt: How long does it take you to complete your big pieces? How many hours total and over how long of a time period do you work on them?
Pete: They can take a tremendous amount of work. The more detailed pieces like “Squid” or “001” took about a month each but that was when I had more time to produce them. I’d say close to 60 hours a piece (not including preliminary sketch time). The small ones are much quicker but do take a lot of consideration and brainstorming as well.
Matt: Have you ever collaborated or do you plan to collaborate with any Philly artists or others?
Pete: Yes, I have collaborated with a now ex-Philly artist…my friend Mike Studebaker of Studebaker Metals. We were getting into the business of making toy soldiers, lapel pins, and other tiny metal versions of the Robots but it never got off the ground. Partly because he moved away to Pittsburgh. He produces excellent work, I highly recommend his line of mostly male oriented metal-ware (tie-clips, mustache combs and the like.) Recently I have collaborated with Printer Martin Peeves to help produce my new series “Catastrophe”. Screen prints of those will be available at the Fall ASCB too.
Matt: Why black and white and no color?
Pete: I have no simple answer for that. One of my works, the Robot Normal Rockwell self-portrait was re made into a color piece. It came out great but took forever and had to be done digitally. I have never been particularly good with markers and water-color and, truly, I would have to introduce that kind of medium into the Robots. They benefit from the precision and clean straight lines a pen offers. Beyond that, some of my favorite illustrators and cartoonists worked mostly in B+W. Perhaps the next evolution of them will be in color.
Matt: What’s next for the robots? Or will there be a new theme/series?
Pete: Like I just said maybe I’ll introduce some color! T-shirts are a must, that will happen soon; a lot of people have been asking if I have a book of them made. That might be my next big project… I’d like to make a children’s book of the bots telling a story without any sort of caption or written word, just images to get them thinking critically and come up with a story of their own. Kids have such great imaginations like that.
A new series of drawings! Yes! I have started a new, albeit depressing, series of drawings titled “Catastrophe” that deal with natural disasters and urban destruction. You won’t want to miss it. Great gifts for the holidays.
Peter Oravetz: Wear Liberty is a specifically Philly themed line of apparel. Do you simply tell the designers “Give me Philly!”? Or do you ask for more specific themes like the Philly Skyline, Ben Franklin, or City Hall?
Matt Eyer: All Wear Liberty designs are my ideas and concepts but I collaborate with a few different artists to come up with the final product. Usually I give them a very rough sketch (sometimes digital mock up) of what I’m going for and then tell them to incorporate their style into the design. So yes, it’s always very specific.
Pete: In the past your clothes have been displayed on the runway by beautiful models. That’s a big jump from craft fairs. How has that helped/hindered you? Has it inspired you to find other creative ways of getting the word out?
Matt: Having Wear Liberty worn on the runway opened up a whole new side of things for me. I never considered myself a “Fashion Designer”, but when grouped with other mediums of art, t-shirts fell into the fashion world for the events I’ve done. It gave me a chance to present my brand to a new audience and it was very exciting to have beautiful models wearing my shirts! Because of those events, I’ve met people I might not have otherwise and it certainly helped in expanding the reach of Wear Liberty.
Pete: People always seem to ask you for screen prints of the designs on your apparel. Are you planning to make that happen?? (I promise I won’t get mad if we continue to share a booth, so long as you won’t get jelly when I sell robot t-shirts, just sayin’).
Matt: I’m actually planning to have a small run of screen prints at the Fall ASCB! This will be the first time I’ve ever done it, so I’m just doing a small run to see how it goes. This one guy has been asking for a print of my Ben Franklin design since we started doing Art Star events in 2012. I hope he shows up to this one!
Pete: Do you have any advice for the young creative type dreaming of starting their own clothing brand?
Matt: Reach out to your favorite artists and/or brand owners. There are so many smaller, independent clothing companies these days and most of them are very willing to share their experiences with you or pass along some advice. Also – do events! Present yourself to the public. Even if you have the coolest clothes ever, no one will buy them if they don’t know about them.
Pete: You freaking love Pugs. What’s up with that?
Matt: There’s not a logical explanation for that, which kind of bothers me cause I’m a very logical person. My family didn’t even have a dog growing up. There was just a point when I fell in love with them. Their cute faces, their funny grunts and snorts, and their amazing energy and personality. Oliver (my pug) will be 8 in November and my life has been ever the better since I’ve had him 🙂 I also have a pug tattoo!
Pete: Have you considered a Wear Liberty line for dogs and/or babies?
Matt: I have! I’ve been planning a Wear Liberty doggy line since the beginning, I just wanna do it right. I recently found a lady on Etsy who makes custom dog collars…so I think it should happen soon. Maybe Spring 2015? Stay tuned!
Pete: What’s your favorite color to wear? Don’t say grey, that’s really boring.
Matt: Funny you say that cause I used to hate heather grey, but now it’s definitely one of my favorites. Recently I’ve really liked “coffee” colored shirts and also “cranberry”. Pretty much any of the American Apparel tri-blend colors. It also helps that their super soft and comfy. And I could never deny how good a design looks on black, plus black goes with everything.
Pete: What’s next for Wear Liberty?
Matt: Wear Liberty will be expanding into more than just Philly designs very soon. I love Philadelphia which is a major reason why I started this brand but I feel that I’m limiting myself. I want to create designs that people worldwide can appreciate, but the roots will always be here in Philly.