“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Sun Tzu - The Art of War
THE ART OF DESIGN
The moment Man The Fuck Up morphed from a t-shirt slogan to a cause/movement was a very surreal experience. When we began, I thought it was going to be just a matter of regurgitating motivational quotes and printing them on t-shirts with whatever bold font was trending at the time. How hard can that be? (Answer: A lot harder than I thought, but that’s a topic for another time). Funny thing happened once we got going...we soon realized that with people looking to us for motivation, with our community looking to us to help make a change, that we were going to need to put a whole lot more thought into everything we did.
One of my favorite books is The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I remember watching the movie Wall Street and one of the things I remembered most about the movie was Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) quoting Sun Tzu to a young stockbroker named Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) - “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” I was too young at the time to know what the fuck that meant, but something about it intrigued me and piqued my interest to the point that I went and bought my first copy of the book. I thought Gekko was bad-ass and if that book motivated and taught that character something that I should be able to learn something from it too.
Wall Street (1987) - Oliver Stone classic
I remember reading that book over and over. I had notes written in every margin as I attempted to figure out what Sun Tzu was trying to say and how I was going to apply sixth century war strategy to my life. I’ve forgotten most of the lessons from the book but as I was designing the new graphics for the 2017 fall/winter hoodie one of the passages from the book hit me. If I’m going to take this on and focus my energy and effort building a brand that can affect change, then I’m going to do it right. And just like the movement itself, just like the people who wear the brand, we are going to “fall like a thunderbolt”.
This was the first of many copies that I've purchased over the years
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Why do we do what we do? As a parent I can tell you that one of the underlying factors in me taking on this project is to create something for my family, to build an entity and a legacy for my children and my girlfriend. Hopefully, it will be something that they can be proud of and something that they can continue to grow after I hand over the reins. I started MTFU in the hopes of creating something we could all be a part of and in the very beginning I wasn't sure if it was going to be. Would my kids get behind what this is going to be about? Would my girlfriend be able to help with her time and advice? Was this going to be an undertaking that I would have to take on by myself? A lot of unanswered questions like these were soon answered. Logo and design sketches came pouring in from the kids and you could hear the excitement in their voice as they presented the ideas they had to the group.
My son came up with the preliminary sketch for the new design that included the critical element.
My girlfriend and daughter have stepped up to become buying geniuses that are learning the fabric and garment industry inside and out and with them in charge of product quality and color direction I know the customers will be amazed.
Original run - red, white and blue. Coming up in the lightning bolt line will be blue, burgundy, navy, and black. (And maybe some purple too, right Zeebs?)
When you figure it out - or when you 'think' you've figured it out - you have that lightbulb moment. The clouds part, the sea calms and the wave of knowledge crashes over you (ok...'cringe', I get it) and at that moment of clarity everything seems to take on a new meaning. The 'what', 'why' and 'how' questions get answered and from there it's off to the races. Whether you're in school trying to figure out logarithms or decipher Shakespeare, you will more than likely have that teacher that says something or shows you something that flips the switch that takes you from the darkness to the light - or the "ohhhhhh, now I get it" moment. When I started the MTFU project I had several "teachers" across different "subjects" - business, industry, website, fabric, printing, shipping, and on and on. But when it came to design two have stuck out, Bobby Kim aka Bobby Hundreds and Hussein Al-Baiaty.
I can't wait to meet him to say 'thank you'
I haven't met Bobby Hundreds but when I realized that the direction of MTFU was heading into more of the streetwear realm I did some digging. And you don't have to dig very far until you hit the name Bobby Hundreds. Seriously, the guy is everywhere - YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, movies, film, if it's about streetwear he's a part of it. I'm not sure if it was a blog or a YouTube video but he either wrote or said something to the effect that we're not selling t-shirts we're creating a uniform or a culture (I'm paraphrasing there and that could be a complete hatchet job, but that was my take away).
The people that are going to be buying our products don't need clothes for necessity. Sure, they might want a cool shirt to workout in or a cool hoodie to throw on when they beat the streets but for the most part that's not why they are going to buy our products. They are going to buy our products because they want to express themselves. They want to share with others how they feel and they want to share with others what's important to them. In other words, they want to show the world who they are.
Hussein Al-Baiaty isn't quite as known in the industry...yet. But there's no one better to bounce ideas off than this guy because he is a wealth of knowledge. I know he hates it when the bell rings on the door of his print shop and he comes out of the back and sees me standing there because he knows he's going to have to answer one of my stupid questions and spend the next half an hour of his life trying to point me in the right direction. Hussein took my focus away from the product and put it where it belonged - the content. More paraphrasing...he said the garment is a canvas and your design is the art. I'm sure he'll correct me as to what his exact quote was but the point got across to me - spend your time on the content.
You can almost 'feel' his eyes rolling when he looks up and sees me walk in the door. My "ohhhhhh, now I get it" moment is his "ohhhh shit" moment. Hussein - Thank you for taking the time with me and teaching me.
That's exactly what we did. Every element in every design is there for a reason - the words we include, the font we use, the shape of the design elements, down to the Pantone colors - they all have a purpose and when every element is combined we have the finished product that fulfills our promise. Cool fucking designs on high-quality products. We hope you feel the same amount of pride in wearing our products that we did in designing them.