Over here at The Follow Collective we love a good concept, and we love anyone out there wanting to challenge the current paradigm with new attitudes. What better way to do that than with self expression and art?
We got together with the creative force behind AOM an LA based brand that combines words, images, apparel, prints, wall art.....no holes barred, these guys are the real deal.
AOM: Hey...How are you?
TFC: Great thanks for asking, its nice to finally meet you?
So, I have to ask why all the secrecy? You are hard to pin down.
- Ha! Well just to clarify it's not secrecy, there's no agenda to stay hidden or anything like that, no master plan to be underground, we just like to create and spend most of our time in the studio messing about with ideas. Our audience tends to find us and the things we make are usually one off so, we make pieces and people that want them buy them!
- So far that's just how it's worked out. It suits us and means that the art can take on a life of its own unencumbered by pre-conceptions or ideas that people might attach to the work if it was all about us. We prefer people to find their own emotional content in the pieces they choose.
TFC: That sounds like an artists dream.
AOM: We're getting there.
TFC: What does AOM stand for? and what are you aiming to create with the brand?
- We always start from a place of service, of being an offering in the grand scheme of things. We wanted to realise the things we imagined and fill each one with the idea of change.
- In our mission statement we say
"AOM is a PRO-SOUL, PRO-LOVE, PRO-SELF line of expressive art and street couture made to bind us all together, give us common ground and create an "Army of Me" where the "me" is anyone and everyone"
Guess that kind of sums it up.
TFC: So, a way of bringing people together? Like a big gang?
- Yeahhhh A big big gang of human beings.
- Especially now; when we first started making pieces it was a different picture, a different time really and the internet and social media were there but not nearly as in your face as they are now.
- I think our concept is more relevant now than ever.
TFC: How did you start? What were the first pieces?
- It started with a line of t-shirts, of course!, any white t's we could lay our hands on, and we would hand write our journals on to them.
- I think we tried to out do each other with the entries and so the t-shirts were these completely raw little snippets from our lives. -Once in a while we read the ones we kept and its a little scary how open we were prepared to be and the things we revealed.
- I guess thinking that no one would actually take the time to read them and just liked the way they looked!
- With hingsight it feels like we were a little ahead of the social media curve and this need for people to put it all out there.
TFC: Interesting, what did you write about?
- Oh my goodness, everything..... anything. Letters to old lovers, weird sexual encounters...and the not so weird!
- I always had this vision of myself, as an artist and reaching down into my body and literally pulling out my guts and offering them up. Like saying "See? This is what I have to offer, the most I can do for you and I want to do it"
- A little time has passed and while the intention is still the same the drive comes from a slightly different place.
- I think we are both a little more grounded now, less to prove, there's more humour attached to the creative process.
- There's a lot more experience behind what we do and while we still have the same drive, those heightened feelings have calmed down considerably.
TFC: What came next? After the T's?
- Well, we graduated from the Goodwill t shirts and started making our own. Literally importing this gorgeous Italian fabric and ripping off our favorite t shirts and then silkscreening instead of the hand writing. That was a real step up 'cos the sharpies kept running when people wore them!
- We should have mentioned they were art pieces!!!!
- We did some jackets which was great, they were amazing but we did such a small run.
- "Do you even have one?
- "No.... godammit!"
- We definitely went down a little artistic rabbit hole after that, learning all sorts of new skills and getting fully involved in each of the processes we wanted to move forward with. I don't think we left the studio except to go meet with all these amazing crafts people we wanted to work with.
TFC: When we first connected we talked a lot about the value of collectives....what does that mean to you and why so important?
- At the heart of everything we do is a real desire to connect. These days it seems even more important to reach out and work with people in a real way, create together. The last decade has seen such accelerated change and it affects us all. I think it became even more important to both of us to regain and retain the humanity in our lives. The best way for us to do that is to work creatively with other human beings.
- Along the way we have both had similar experiences with group artistic projects and learned the hard way about the value of collaboration and how incredibly rewarding that can be.
TFC: So what do you plan to do with AOM?
- We want to keep creating, the one off custom pieces and limited editions. We're currently working on a huge huge quilt for a client, all made by hand so it probably won't be ready for a year! We're also working on a new line of shirts, more words but a lot simpler, just these little messages going out into the ether that we hope will make people think and smile, and of, course, there are the artists collaborations, prints and apparel and whatever else comes to mind.
TFC: You don't do a lot of social media and you don't do many interviews, how come you decided to sit down and chat with us?
- It felt right, the timing was good and we love what you want to do with The Follow.
- I think we both felt that it was an opportunity to align ourselves with another collective spirit. We were also excited about the potential of collaborating with you. We want to represent everyone, it's why we started making things, its what we're here for and for that reason it felt good to get a little more visible....just a bit.
- Every where we go these days we are being introduced to new collectives, groups of people, not just artists, who want to move forward with a shared goal. We love this new motivation and while we have been around for a while it feels like this is the time.
It's comforting suddenly having all these new playmates.
TFC: What inspires you?
- Art, art and more art!,
- Nature, time and the exploration of the human condition.
TFC: What are your next steps?
- Well, there's the t-shirt we are doing with you guys, that's exciting and we just want to keep moving forward with the idea of AOM as a movement, creating a recognisable brand for anyone interested in doing something compulsive, powerful and interesting.
- In short we just want to stay outside of the box.