FK talks to Kevin Tran, the designer behind the new tee label, Moons Of Apollo.
Can you introduce your new label to our readers?
Moons Of Apollo is a new Sydney-based streetwear label. Our first release is ‘Floating Islands’, a collection of seven graphic t-shirts featuring bold, simple designs and a relaxed custom fit.
You have an art and design background – can you tell us more and how this lead you to Moons of Apollo?
I studied Visual Communication at University of Technology, Sydney graduating in 2008. Shortly after, I found myself a warehouse studio space in St. Peters and started experimenting with paint, collage and other mediums. This led to my debut solo show ‘Between Two Worlds’ at Regard Gallery in Redfern. Group shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay, Hong Kong and California followed and in early 2010, I was granted an Artist-In-Residency at Newington Armory Art Studios. Here I created my most recent body of work, ‘Strobe’ which I exhibited at China Heights Gallery in Surry Hills.
In-between painting and exhibitions, I’ve worked at a number of graphic design studios including Derwent Howard, Alphabet Studio and Frost* Design while also managing my own freelance clients on the side. Currently, I’m working as the lead designer at Fuzzy, the guys behind music festivals Parklife, Shorething and Field Day.
Since I left uni, I’ve always wanted to visualise a collection of graphics for t-shirts, not just screen-printing a design onto a pre-made shirt but to source my own fabric and manufacture a custom cut from scratch. Everything seemed to fall in place early this year when I teamed up with one of my best friends, John Encomienda. Together we started the lengthy process of finding a local manufacturer, drawing up the custom t-shirt pattern, selecting our fabric types, experimenting with specialist printing techniques, designing and ordering customised labels and tags, printing business cards, organising the collection photoshoot, producing the season lookbook, and building our online shop-front and blog. It was a long, rocky and often frustrating process but fortunately, everything came together just in time for our first stall at the Winter Finders Keepers Sydney markets in June, which turned out to be a great success!
Who or what inspires you?
Earlier this year, I spent a few months reading about Greek mythology and found myself intrigued with the stories of Apollo, the Greek god of light. From epic battles with dragons, incestuous rape and vindictive escapades, even gangs of cyclopes that black-smithed thunderbolts for Zeus and of course, mysterious floating islands, this period of research provided a rich source of inspiration for the concept and visualisation of the label and first season. These stories and mythical characters have been visually interpreted into clean minimal forms, bold typographic constructions and muted photographic depictions, and are alluded to in the titles of the shirts: Tower Of The Winds, Mt. Parnassus, Death Of Orion, The Elder Kyklopes, EOS + ZEUS, Eight Teen Years, and Helios. It was important that the designs had additional layers of meaning that reflected the soul of Moons Of Apollo, that they were more than just random, disconnected graphics.
What are your favourite design websites/blogs for inspiration?
The Moons Of Apollo blog is pretty awesome.
What do you love about living in Sydney as a creative?
Summer in Sydney is the best.
What have you got planned for Moons of Apollo?
We have just locked down an agreement to take Moons Of Apollo on the upcoming Parklife National Tour. It’s an amazing opportunity to get our label out there and we are really keen to see how the t-shirts are received interstate. In future seasons, we hope to expand our line of garments to include jeans, pants and jackets, while still keeping to the labels unique minimal aesthetic.