Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please tell us about yourselves.
Seth: I am Seth Nordstrom. I play basketball and soccer; I am pretty passionate about sports. I also like drawing and I like music too. I rap and I have started recording my first mixed tape, so I am excited about that.
Cameron: My name is Cameron Morris. I was born in Denver, Colorado. I moved out to Victoria, B.C. when I was three and moved to London, Ontario when I was in grade four. I was never into art or drawing much but I draw most of my inspiration from old video games. I am dyslexic so I learned how to read playing Pokemon. I would spend hours and hours on that thing and I became inspired by pixel art and very modern art. We have been collaborating on a rap lately, getting some things done, which is really cool because it’s all part of the same culture you know, skateboarding, hip-hop, clothing and street wear.
How did you guys meet and tell us about how Titanic started.
Seth: We met up in grade five, playing soccer. No clothing brand back then though.
Cameron: We are going into our senior year now and we decided to do the clothing business around grade 9, three years ago.
Seth: Yeah, we started skateboarding and then started noticing shirts of lots of logos on them and thought to ourselves, “We don’t want to become a walking logo.”
Cameron: Yeah. I want to wear something that is a design, something that looks good and where I am not advertising for some brand. I want to put on a shirt with art on it so people can appreciate the art but still know who the shirt is by.
The name Titanic carries with it a sense of history and deeper meaning because people may think of the ocean liner and the disaster. Why did you choose this name to represent your brand?
Seth: We needed to be known right away. People may recognize the name Titanic right away because of the ocean liner and its tragedy but there is a deeper meaning behind the word as well.
Cameron: Yeah, we were skating in the driveway one day and we felt that we needed a name that would be the next big thing. We wanted people to feel big and powerful when they wore our clothing and we both thought of the titans from Greek mythology and the name Titanic came about from that.
So who is the artist of the brand?
Cameron: We both collaborate on the artwork.
Seth: We have different styles. I am more hand drawn while he works more with computer artwork. It’s a good mix.
So if you were to draw something would Cameron transfer it to computer graphics?
Seth: Well, generally what I do is I will draw something by hand, outline it with black ink, bring it into photo shop, clean it up a bit, and then I bring it into a vectoring program and then we just clean it up some more. He does most of the vectoring.
Cameron: Yeah, he does a lot of hand drawn stuff. I really like ancient civilizations so I will be incorporating that into our designs. That stuff will be more prevalent in our newer releases. We try to reinforce the Titans and Titanic theme in our designs. One of our newer designs has the Greek symbol for growth on it, and I incorporated it into a circular design to evoke the idea of birth, growth, and rebirth. My stuff is all done on the computer so it’s very precise.
Looking at your two releases, the first release is based more on lines while the second release focuses on characters from ancient civilizations and myths, like the medusa. What inspired the difference between the design themes of both lines of clothing?
Seth: I feel that brands get boxed into one category and when they want to expand, people get taken aback. We don’t want to be known as a one trick pony.
Cameron: I think it’s overall brand growth too. We are trying to not get boxed in, in terms of our style and designs, but we are beginning to come up with an overarching theme for our designs as well. We have different art styles for our designs but our designs are beginning to hint at a singular theme. Artistically, our designs show growth and evolution but we do want to be recognizable and memorable so a uniting theme through our designs is necessary. But yes, the first release of clothing was more shapes and colors but now our designs have characters and set pieces. This just shows us evolving as artists.
The jump in content between the first release and second release was quite a big one, because the first release was all printed tee shirts and the second release featured crew neck sweaters and zip up sweaters with imprints on the exterior and the interior of their backs. Tell us some of the biggest difficulties jumping from what most companies get stuck with to what most companies aspire to include into their releases?
Cameron: We always wanted to make that jump and to have that higher quality product. It wasn’t a mental block for us. It was just a matter of getting that money and finding the right people to do it all for you. We were ready to go with that stuff.
Seth: Yeah, it’s just money. Our creativity is not limited.
Cameron: And we had a good amount of money after that first release, and that is why you see us making that jump between the releases, because the first one sold very well.
London is relatively close to Toronto but it still isn’t the main business district of Canada. What is it like hailing from London and do you plan on situating yourselves closer to Toronto and bringing your brand to the masses?
Seth: I think expansion is a definite possibility because I would like to get a feel for urban areas like Toronto. However, I also like staying close to my roots. My whole family pretty much lives in London. I like to stay at home. I mean, if we can stay close to our roots while expanding our brand, then I am all for it.
Cameron: I have been to a lot of places so my roots are all over the place. There isn’t a big street scene in London. There aren’t many people doing street wear or hip-hop and things like that. We got exposed to that stuff by watching skate videos and the internet, with websites like Hypebeast. We definitely want to branch out in the future but we are going to keep strong London ties. We have some London themed tee shirts coming soon.
Having followed the scene for so many years, even through this most recent blow up of street culture, what are the biggest problems with street culture that you see now?
Cameron: The one thing that I have been noticing is that the street wear culture is grounded around following the same trends that others are following. One doesn’t have to be different for the sake of being different but there needs to be companies that do their own thing. For example, a major trend now is formal street wear, which feature a lot of grays and blacks in the designs. And while I like that style, I do feel that there needs to be more variety and more punch in those street wear designs if they are to remain street wear. It almost doesn’t look like street wear anymore. We are trying to do pure designs that are creative and different and speak on different things. We want to inspire people and make a statement that brands don’t have to be built around what is “supposed” be cool.
Seth: We are trying to create and go about designing our own way.
What are some of the things that you are trying to achieve while moving forward with the brand?
Cameron: We are trying to grow and build our fan base. Locally, we are doing very well right now, if you are in high school or even in your first year of college, you will know who we are and what we are doing. We are in the process of trying to tap into the older market because adults have the most money and have more opportunities to spend. At the same time we are going to stay true with what we are doing.
You guys are still young but have achieved a lot since your first tee shirts. You guys are doing very well locally, which is very impressive. However, has your age ever been a problem or an obstacle in your work?
Seth: Yeah. I remember dealing with our first store, which was called Echelon; it kind of felt like we were little kids when we were dealing with them. We went in and they treated us like children. They were like, “Oh, we can set up a little corner for you guys over there”. We didn’t want to be treated differently. We just wanted to be treated like the other designers who sold their clothing in that store.
Cameron: We got out of that store and went to another store, Apocalypse. They have been very good for us. Age isn’t a factor if you ask me. We haven’t had too many problems with age, really. If anything, it may have helped us. We were learning easier. We went to the printers and they were like, “Whoa, you guys are kids!” After that they seemed more open to talk to us and to teach us. We get a lot of knowledge that way. I guess if you are an adult it is harder for you to learn trade tips from other people in the business.
Street wear and street culture may be attractive to someone when they are a teen but once they grow older it may become just a fad and they will move on to another aspect of fashion. As you grow up, how do you plan on maintaining your roots in street culture and to always embrace it?
Seth: I may want to live in different places in the future, maybe a different country altogether. I may want to live in a place where people are influenced by street culture every day and to immerse myself into that environment.
Cameron: We know that we are going to grow and the brand is going to grow with us. We know that two years down the line we will be way different than we are now, and we hope that the brand can reflect that. We hope that our experiences growing up will influence our designs and in that way, our brand will grow with us.
You guys support rappers and hip- hop groups and you also have your web shows. So what are some other things that Titanic does on the side?
Seth: We definitely have a great team for snowboarding and skateboarding. We have local guys who do their own thing in those respective sports and we give them our tee shirts to wear. They represent us and spread news of our brand through the word of mouth.
One of the problems with street culture or with young entrepreneurs in general in Canada is that there aren’t many people like you guys who are stepping up and pursuing their goals. What motivates you guys and inspired you to start your own brand at this age?
Cameron: I think that kids stay with the grain, you know? They go to school, work hard, get those grades, go to university, get that nine to five job, and maybe get a raise if they work hard. We mainly got into this business as an act of rebellion to that whole mindset and I think that we are going to see that more, not just in clothing but in art, rapping, whatever.
Seth: When I started I was like, “Sweet, I don’t need to find a summer job anymore. I can go sell tee shirts all year round!” I like what I am doing.
Cameron: With Titanic, we have met many kids who want to do what we are doing but were hesitant to do so before. We are networking with these people and we are all growing together. We met this awesome photographer, Tom, and he has helped us and we have helped him. It’s the same thing with the skateboarders and the rappers we know. We are all networking and helping each other out.
What is HYPE?
Cameron: HYPE is energy. It is the movement that people are feeling right now. HYPE is what moves people to be creative and to go out and do what they love.
Seth: HYPE is a group of people who are going for what they believe in and what they are passionate about. It is also the flow of that passion from one person to another.