Feb 24, 2008Interview: Okat
With a bold tag line stating “No Logo, No Brand, Pure Concept”, Are You Generic? is a website that questions, protests and disproves unethical corporations, censorship, the media and excessive and false advertising. It also seeks to promote independent artists and designers alike. We spoke to Okat, co-founder of the site, and also an avid artist and true D.I.Y. disciple. I know, sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Without further ado…
Country of Origin: the red, white and blue
Genre: political art, consumerism.
Forms of Art: tees, stickers, wheat paste.
Mediums used: a sharpie or pen and something to doodle on.
THE SERIOUS BIT:
FM: Hi there, Okat, what have you been up to besides making barefoot sneakers? [Really really awesome idea, btw!!!]
Okat: Last night I didn’t get much sleep, so I drew this picture and was then finally able to catch some sleep. The night time is like my arch-enemy and hero in one. I am an insomniac and therefore I doodle.
FM: You’ve got really great handwriting… when are you gonna officially release some Okat style fonts? [do let me know if you do!!]
Okat: I never thought about it until reading your suggestion. Letters are like my favorite thing to draw not write.
FM: Tell us a bit about yourself: what do you do for a living?
Okat: I do the deed that I am so critical of. I help people become aware of the product and service of others.
FM: You run Are You Generic?… This is a bloody great site. What inspired you to start the site?
Okat: Years ago I worked for a t-shirt printer and learned that the brand name on the front of a shirt has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the print or fabric. We were printing brand logos on generic t-shirts and selling them at double the price we sold the blank tees.
FM: You’ve executed some really cool street art activism, mainly against Starbucks and AOL. Recently you’ve got some hate for magazines that are all getting too repetitive as well… what’s the response like so far? Do you believe that what you’ve done can really effect other peoples mindset?
Okat: It should never completelly change a person’s mindset. If it does, then they have fallen for my propoganda and marketing too. Instead, it should shove them in the direction of discussing and learning more on the issue.
FM: You get some pretty cool mail… What’s the catch? How do you get people to send you these cool stuff?
Okat: The mailbox thing started a year or so ago when someone asked if they can mail me some handmade stickers. I said, “of course, why not.” And that was the start of it.
I never expected the feature to be liked so much, but it is nice to see and hear from so many independent artists. Exposing their work to others is at the core of what are you generic is about.
FM: You’ve got some really nice tees and posters on your site… My personal favourite is Tools of the Trade… Do you screen print them yourself?
Okat: That shirt has recently become my favorite as well. I have one screen and a ghetto set-up, but it’s more for experimenting than for creating multiple tees and multi-color prints. I use a local printer in Miami for the stuff you see online.
FM: How do you stay focused on your goals? In today’s world, there are too many instances that I’ve seen the lure of more income take over the soul.
Okat: The simple answer is that I bust my ass day and night for a job that is my main source of income. The stuff for sale on the site brings in a nominal amount of money that covers the cost of new tees, website hosting, etc. Having a main source of income makes it easier to SAY NO to opportunities, that other artists, may otherwise need to accept.
FM: These days, street art has taken on a new form and have moved into exhibitions and galleries… what’s your take on that? I always thought that street art belonged in the streets…
Okat: It’s true. Street art belongs on the street and accessible to everyone. It’s meant to live and die on the street, but I don’t knock it for showing up in galleries. I’ve always thought of galleries as a resource or reference, like a book featuring cool sneakers. The sneaker art is on the shoe and always will be, the book simply gets them on a few binded pages so we can reference them (like a gallery to street art).
FM: What’s next in line for you? Working on any new projects?
Okat: I’ve got a ton of shit to do and pages and pages of projects to produce, but what’s next is usually putting my two kids to sleep. In the short-run, I’m working on an exhibition for Gallery 3850 in the Miami Design District. If you are around, come by January 12th.
THE POTSHOTS SECTION:
FM: Ever been in a fight? Did you win or lose?
Okat: Only once. I was eleven or twelve. He ran at me. I kicked him between the legs and took off before he could catch me. Would you consider that a win or loss?
FM: Definitely a win! The Spray can or the Paintbrush? Why?
Okat: I love both, but I choose the paintbrush. It’s much more versatile. I can use it to paint big large letters or spread the wheatpaste across a poster.
Okat: Enough to know it’s a prick of an invention.
FM: [If you are really bored or have spare time. ;)] Please draw a self-portrait.
Okat: I would but forgot what I look like.
FM: Any Last Words?
Okat: Stay healthy.