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A Blog from John

October 5th, 2009

In a twist on the typical blog, JT as decided to interview Patty Palazzo about her new clothing line for this month’s entry….

J-
I really want to tell everybody about the website, so let’s start with that. Tell us a about this new website pattypalazzo.com
P-
The website started because of a T-shirt line that I have newly created, that I am about to launch, and the website is one of the platforms for launching the shirts, starting with an online presence. The website also serves a purpose in so much as it is also a portfolio for myself to share a little of who I am and where I’ve come from and what I’ve done… which gives further background to the T-shirts.
J-
So who are you and where are you from?
P-
Akron. Bath, Akron…
J-
And you are the youngest of…
P-
Four. way youngest… my siblings are all way older than me.
J-
You’re music mad. When did you realize that?
P-
At a really young age… I grew up around my brother and sister’s music, which was constant. My Mom used to joke that when I was a little kid and I was in the car, if they turned on their music I would protest.. at like four years old!
J-
You wanted to pop!
P-
Rock! pop, rock, whatever… there are certain songs that really stick out. I remember Paul McCartney and Wings a lot.. from my sisters… and Queen. My Mom would say I was indoctrinated at a young age!
J-
When did this interest in art and design appear?
P-
Art was always there. My eldest sister was an artist, she went to school for art. She worked at American Greetings Cards, and used to take me up there. I actually modeled once for a figurine! I was fascinated by all the supplies and she kind of fostered that… I crossed over into music when I was a teenager and really started buying albums and eating them up… When I got home I would devour the liner notes… Then I started paying attention to who were doing the covers, and Duran was a big part of it for me, because the art and design was so fantastic…
J-
On the early Duran albums?
P-
‘Notorious’ I remember… Manhattan Design was doing a lot of work with you guys..
J-
Frank Olinsky…
P-
Who was doing a lot of work with the top artists at the time…
At that point, I was fifteen or sixteen, and I wanted to work with him!
J-
You wanted to design album covers by then?
P-
Yes, and that’s when the bell started going off… this is something people do… for a living!
J-
A career in music graphics…
P-
Yeah… and tour programs! I used to go to shows and look at the merchandise stand and it was like looking at a candy store… so then I would create art projects, making fake posters for bands, and turn that in…in class… MTV played a part too, the visuals of everything, which brought it together even more…
J-
And who could predict where things have gone…. That must be satisfying then, working on Duran albums?
P-
Definitely.
J-
There is more about you on the site, right? how did you like writing that?
P-
Well, you know, the hardest part actually was writing my bio… For some reason it was hard to talk about myself without feeling that I’m being narcissistic..pattyp1
J-
What’s wrong with that?…(!)
P-
… before I moved out here I had a T-shirt line in Cleveland, with a friend of mine Molly Zakrajsek, which we called Orbit. The two of use started it out of college, sketching around nonsense ideas in my parents basement, thinking, ‘This would look cool on a t-shirt’, and what about this one too?’, doing some printing on our own, then working with printers, we sort of launched a small T-shirt line… which didn’t really go anywhere! Molly was an illustrator, and when we both graduated we felt in touch with each other in a designerly way.. which we grew into a design firm. She started bringing in freelance projects. We had a studio in Cleveland, we had moved into a studio in Cleveland.
J-
Where did you go to college?
P-
Kent State University, which most people if they have heard of it, think of it from the shootings in 1971.
J-
What did you do there?
P-
I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic design.
J-
Did you consider any other careers?
P-
Actually, when I was younger I wanted to be a cartoonist or a vet! then I realized I couldn’t be a vet, because it pains me too much to see animals in pain, I didn’t think I could handle that… then for some reason… I wanted to be a cartoonist. That morphed into artist, which crossed into musician, because at sixteen I started playing bass in the high school jazz band, and did a few musical things too… I didn’t really know which way it was gonna go, but by the time college rolled around the arts was more…
pattyp2
J-
Creative arts… you’re a creative arts person…
P-
Yeah…
J-
And you have been almost your whole life….
pattyp3P-
Yeah.. my Mom has all the shit I used to do as a kid. Her favourite story is when I was home sick, maybe six or seven years old, and I was on the couch and had all this modeling clay in different colors, and had made, over the course of the day, an entire village of people, literally about a dozen or so of these little people, out of this clay, all having different personalities and different hair.. some were crazy and some were… Mom would come and check in on me and by the end of the day I had this total village of people I had made and she was just like… wow! where did this come from?.. she put them up on a shelf in the kitchen… for years!
J-
You need an obsessive compulsive quality to do anything… really well…
P-
There’s a drive, and there’s something behind the drive…
J-
But to create something out of nothing… to want to just keep chipping away at it until only you are satisfied that it’s finished…
P-
Where does that come from? I know with me there’s always been this attention to detail…just..
J-
You do have that. I always know with anything you do, it’s going to get finished properly.
P-
That’s good to know!…
J-
It’s important… a lot of people they’re half finishers…
P-
It is easy to get sidetracked. I moved out to Los Angeles fourteen years ago, and after I moved here I did many things, I started working with you, John, and that required a lot of skills that I never thought I would need, such as building a website, and what I wanted to do was CD design, and I did a lot of that, and design merchandise and T-shirts…
J-
Websites require a lot of different tasks, there’s a lot of different things going on, it’s not just like painting or drawing for example, it’s a retail space first of all, so you’re fulfilling all of these orders, yourself in this case. One thing that is interesting about what you are doing on this website is you are printing to order?
P-
Exactly. They are all hand screen printed, so as the order comes in, I’ll print up the shirt.
J-
… Which is very cool!..
P-
Each one is going to be a little different, it’s not a production line, each one is an art print..
J-
It is! each t-shirt is a work of art. How many designs are available now?
P-
Seven…
J-
I don’t know how many people know this, but you and I did logos for Juicy. You did a ton of logos for Juicy over the last, ten years? Sometimes they would say to you ‘We need thirty logos by next Thursday!’… And somehow you managed it… now THIS… You had to really narrow it down, I know you gave a lot of thought to…
P-
With Juicy it was, you know, ‘We need x amount of logos in x amount of time’, and you and I, we created hundreds. In one go sometimes doing thirty to forty logos, and the color ways too.. In keeping the line that I’m doing so tight right now, it was taking the seven strongest things. There’s something nice about keeping it tight and concise… And then when I have more ideas I can introduce those down the road…
pattyp4
J-
Starting out a business like this.. this is PattyPalazzo.com.. the T-shirts have your name on the label…
P-
It started out as Palazzo, but ‘Punk Masters’ (punkmasters.com) is the name I put on my greetings cards…
J-
Tell us about those…
P-
That started out as a personal project, the idea was to take these Old Master paintings, and the first time I did it, it was the anniversary card for you and Gela… I’d taken an image I had of a painting and sort of ‘punked it up’… My style with the spray paint, layering and texturing effects that I had played around with over the years, brightened the colors.. When you saw it, you called it a punk master! Then the idea came up to do a series of cards… which I have.. and the name Punk Masters was the name I put on them. When I had a meeting at Fred Segal (a store in Los Angeles) for my t-shirts, Brett the menswear buyer saw the label Punk Masters on the cards and said ‘You might want to consider this as the label for your line’.
J-
There are T-shirts of yours in Fred Segal?
P-
Yes.
J-
What is Fred Segal for those who don’t live in LA?
P-
If anyone were to ask ‘what is the store in Los Angeles, where one would see the latest, the coolest, on-point for fashion and edginess, everyone would probably say Fred Segal…
J-
Good for you. Now let me ask you this; right now, money’s tight, economic crisis…
P-
A terrible time to start a business!…
J-
People that are going to be reading this, I would like them to get right along to your website and check it out, but why do you think they should?
P-
You know what… One of my things was, I wanted to do something cool but I want it to be inclusive and affordable…
J-
How much are your T-shirts?
P-
Thirty dollars… It’s probably the least expensive item in Fred Segal! which I love…
J-
Emblazon that across your advertising… CHEAPEST IN FRED SEGAL!!!!
P-
I’m really proud of my shirts and I stand by them.. it’s not cheap fabric, they’re not cheaply made..
J-
And the designs are all great.. Everyone that sees them wants one.
Online retail… You’ve had a lot of experience with that…. When did you set up trusttheprocess.com?
P-
’98…
J-
Over ten years ago.. And that was learning how to set up an e-business.
P-
It was a huge learning curve, and back then the internet was not what it is like now, it was just starting up. I don’t even think there was Amazon.
J-
I’ll tell you what.. One thing about you is, you’re not a cowboy… You will make sure everyone gets their orders on time… You really do care about everyone that orders from you. There is always a leap of faith involved when someone sends money out into the world, and no one wants to be out of pocket for long, so when people put in an order, when can they expect to see the goods?
P-
I would like to have the order printed and out within two to five days.. if I know it’s going to take longer I’ll email that person.
J-
You mentioned something about a feature on the site, that you’re going to be encouraging people to send photographs?
P-
(laughs) At the moment I’m dubbing it ‘the punk gallery’, and I’m encouraging people to send in a photo of ‘you and your shirt’ It’s fun you know, and I always love spotting Juicy shirts on people…
J-
You spotted someone yesterday didn’t you?
P-
Yes! Some ex-football player from ‘Dancing With The Stars’!… He came out of rehearsal and was photographed by paparazzi wearing one of the shirts we designed, which I still get a kick out of.. And I see random dudes on the street in our shirts, which I love!…
J-
So the customer take delivery of their Patty Palazzo shirt, photograph themselves wearing it, and the next thing you know there’ll be a model on the website…
P-
Exactly! Right along rubbing shoulders with John and Roger Taylor…
J-
Gela loves your stuff. She’s wearing the shirts you gave her all the time, and no one takes clothes more seriously than her.
P-
To me, the idea that it’s inclusive you know? We did that at trusttheprocess, we reached out to the fans, a ‘show us yours’ kinda thing, and that for me is one of the great things about the internet and the digital age. It keeps people in better contact, and it’s easier to develop a community.
J-
Is that something you’re interested in doing?
P-
Yeah, in so far as… I’m going to have a blog.. I have these grandiose ideas where I think I’m going to write something, hopefully on a timely basis. I want to leave it open for when something stupid pops into my head, you know, funny things. It’s nice sometimes, to know the person behind what it is that you’re buying… What they are interested in…
J-
Definitely…
P-
It lends some personality to it, I like that.
J-
Take it from someone who is a most undisciplined blogger…
P-
But who is excellent at it!…
J-
You have to … You know… Ten o’clock every morning whether you’ve got something to say or not!
P-
Get it out there!…
J-
Otherwise you just start censoring yourself, and I think what makes blogging work is when people don’t think that much about what they’re saying, and just gossip…
P-
My niece and I went to the market and there was a sign above the asparagus, that said..
J-
This asparagus will make your pee stink!…
P-
Which is true.. but no, it said SPARAGUS, typed out just like that. So I took a photo of it. Shit like that I find funny, and will probably put stuff like that up..
J-
And encourage your community to do the same!
P-
Yes. If it can make me laugh then it can make someone else laugh.
J-
I can think of at least one other person who would find that funny, Kelly Wright!
P-
Ha ha, yes she would.
J-
Ok. Now for the Duranies. What have you got going on for them?
P-
The new Duran calendar for 2010.
J-
Don’t you ever get bored of processing photographs of me or Simon?
P-
You would think so! But there’s something so familiar, it’s like home. I know exactly what needs to be done with them before anyone else sees them… before they get shot down!…
I think I know what to do with them so they don’t get shot down!…I know what works, what you guys like…
J-
Is it the same thing, what we guys like and what the fans like?
P-
Not always…
J-
Explain please!
P-
We’re all critical of our own photos, you know, and god knows there are countless photos of you guys out there, but you guys can be very critical, sometimes overly, although I suppose it’s all quality contol at the end of the day… But this calender I’m doing now is quite different to the past calenders, it involves a lot more photos… assuming it doesn’t get shot down!
J-
This website endeavour is new, putting your name up there in lights (pattypalazzo.com) Hopefully people are going to go to the site and like what they see…
P-
Like it enough so I can continue to do… this… Some people, they’re just, ‘Jeez, it’s just a T-shirt!’, but I’ve always been a T-shirt sort of kid… And I love the art of the T-shirt. Finding the perfect T-shirt is like finding the perfect pair of jeans. I learned a lot from Juicy about that, the make-up, the chemistry of a T-shirt. The soft fabrics, like when I put this one on, why do I like it better than this? There’s a lot to be said for that, and there’s something comforting about finding that perfect shirt, you look great in it, and then it’s a canvas on which you can have something cool on, something thought-provoking and interesting, or funny.
J-
So if you thought you never needed another T-shirt…
P-
Think again!
J-
Thanks Patty, and good luck.
P-
Thank you.