We at Empty Kingdom are honored to be working with the fantastic folks over at Mindzai Creative. Mindzai is a Creative Agency and Print Shop with a work ethic and culture deserving respect and recognition. Check out their interview:
What’s Mindzai about, who are you, how did you get started?
Mindzai is a Creative Agency and Print shop with locations in Atlanta, GA and Austin, TX. It started in 1996 by owner Scott Weatherwax as a Recording / Music Production studio. Over the next decade Mindzai evolved to handle Artist development and Executive production on numerous projects, eventually turning into the Design Studio and Print shop that it is today.
Mindzai is described as a full service creative agency, what are some projects you have been involved in? How much do you participate in the designs of the materials you create? Are the folks at Mindzai artists? How does your passion as artists translate into your work?
Mindzai is a collective of creatives – Graphic Designers, Illustrators, Sign Painters, Photographers and Artists. Over the years we have worked on countless projects in which we were brought on to be the creative. We have had multiple branding and re-branding projects (Republic Social House / Dugans Atlanta / Red Octopus Tattoo / Atlast Clothing / Atlanta Beer Festival / BeatLabUSA.Com ). I would say on average we are designing 50% of the print work we are cranking out.
What do you think about 3D printers? As creators of goods, how do you feel about the increasing ease of reproduction of goods through 3D printing? What will happen if 3D printers get to the point that they can produce almost all nonessential goods? Will we all just become content creators at that point?
3D printing is such a new technology that is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Just Like Photoshop and Illustrator in years past – I am excited to see where this technology takes art and design. Artists and product designers will have this to add to their arsenal of design weapons but what if this technology falls into the wrong hands? It’s like a Hollywood script where Dr Evil is producing weapons of mass destruction using a home made 3D printer. What will become of the world as we know it? Still 3d printing technology is in its infancy but mark my words it will develop very quickly. Over all I’m into it so be on the lookout for some cool fkn designs that Mindzai puts together for 3D printed toys and whatnot.
On your site you say that your brand was built on ‘originality, creativity and a passion for visual arts’. What does this mean in terms of your product? Would you describe yourselves as artisans? How does your work differ from a corporate print shop?
I grew up in a time that there was no internet, so cool art, music, and fashion weren’t available at the click of a button. You really had to know your shit, do your homework, and dig in the crates to find those obscure styles that would make you stand out in a crowd without looking like a desperate cry for attention…Trendsetting is what I think they call it nowadays. To answer your question, we are one of the few print shops that I know of that caters to the needs of Artists, providing them with a means to not only promote their art but also to start making money off of it. I guess it’s all just 6 degrees of separation from producing music and developing artists. Designing and printing art prints, die cut stickers, t-shirts, band merchandise, etc is all about the art and the artist at the end of the day. Our work speaks for itself, so there is no need for us to chase corporate clients. The clients we do land are typically through word of mouth or referral and the few corporate clients we deal with typically come to us because they can’t wait for or can’t stand the creative coming out of their corporate office… they are looking for something different and that’s what we give them, and we do it quickly.
Do you think there’s something inherently lost when a company becomes a name brand? Do you think the sausages Aidells makes were better when it was just Chef Bruce Aidell making them out of his home kitchen? Do you think the quality of a product suffers when the manufacturing scales up? Does that apply to art production? Does scalability affect the quality of a printed product?
That’s a loaded question and without getting off on a tangent – Yes, you lose part of your brand identity when you become a name brand. I have never eaten an Aidell sausage but I would bet that they tasted better before. Yes, the quality of a product suffers when you go into mass production – same goes for art (just look at how far the bar has been lowered in the music industry). It’s a huge catch 22 – most everyone wants to be successful doing what they love, but success is all relative in “American” terms. It’s living in the big house on the hill — there is no way you’re going to get there making art or music out of your bedroom and it’s the few that refuse to “sell out” that truly maintain their artistic integrity. But, that’s not a reality for most. For me I know I will never be in that big house on the hill, so I’ll settle for a little cottage on a beach in Belize.
And speaking of scale of production, in order to create exclusivity of product and therefore a price that will garnish adequate returns, artists must limit the number of prints or pieces in a single run. Do you agree with this? Do you agree with artificial scarcity for the sake of profit?
I personally think that exclusivity with respect to collecting art is an art form in itself. A perfect example is all the music that DJ Shadow did back in the day. He knew he could have sold 2-3 times more records than he pressed but he purposely only released a few so that his name would carry value for years to come. I think it works – don’t you? We do the same thing with the Artist prints we sell on our site mindzai.net/store – we will release 25 larger limited prints before we set up smaller more affordable ones for sale on the website. It just makes sense.
What does the office look like? What’s the vibe of the workplace? What’s a day look like at Mindzai Creative?
We have two locations. Both have a pretty modern feel to them with a lot of art on the walls from local artists, which we rotate out every month as part of our monthly art shows. We have displays with samples of print and design work we’ve done that can quickly give new clients an idea of what we’re capable of. The Atlanta office has 6 employees and the Austin office has 4. Most of us are heavily tattooed, and everyone has their own personal style, so there’s no Mindzai “uniform.” A day at Mindzai is usually very hectic. There’s always a lot going on — client deadlines, advertising deadlines, the phone ringing, walk-ins, emails coming in steadily, quoting, getting artwork ready for production, production itself — it’s always constant and always different. You have to stay on your toes and keep organized. And drink a lot of coffee! We love coffee.
How are you changing printed art, or art in general? What are you bringing to the field that your competitors aren’t, or that they are but you just have more of?
Our competitors aren’t going to go to your gallery opening or giving you the spot to host it. They won’t show up at your restaurant ribbon cutting, or help promote what you’re doing on their own social media. They won’t give you their cell phone numbers and they’ll clock out at5pm. That’s not us. Our clients and community are very important and we treat everyone like friends. We work hand-in-hand with every artist and every person through the entire printing process, from beginning to end. We offer the best digital, archival and giclee printing, with an extremely fast turnaround. The main difference between us and them is our attention to detail, dedication to clients, and pride in offering only the best.
What are some projects you’re working on now that you’re really excited about? What kind of work is ahead of you?
We just got back from the Richmond Tattoo Convention, which was awesome. It’s always good connecting with new people and seeing old clients/friends. After Art Basel next week in Miami are the Austin and Philly Tattoo Conventions in January. So, there’s a lot of traveling on the radar. Recently we have partnered up with world renowned tattooer Derek Noble. We are really excited to be his exclusive printer and retailer for all his art prints and tshirt designs. We have several limited edition prints of his and other tattooers and lowbrow artists for sale at mindzai.net/store. We also host monthly pop up shops and art shows at each location to showcase local talent. We are one of the few galleries that we know of where the artists keep 100% of their sales. We also have a ton of design projects in the works with several restuarunts and bars. One with The Jackalope in Austin and another with The Barrelhouse in Atlanta. Some other projects on the burner are with Pinups for Pitbulls and Tattoo Artist Magazine, but those are super secret and still in the works. Follow @mindzaicreative on Instagram and Fakebook and all will soon be revealed.