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Wednesday April 1, 2020

by Matthew

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{Editors Note}:  Hi my name is Nathaniel Baird, I am the Technical Director and Visionary here at Shotwamp and the Editor in Chief of our in house publications. I couldn’t be more excited to be presenting to you some of the brands and their incredible founders and designers under the Shotwamp umbrella in the coming days and weeks. Along with the debut of each brand I will be holding an interview with each of our creatives on the subsequent day after their debut. 


Today I am talking with the multi-talented Mathew Li who is the creator of Paradise Point PDX and also our Creative Director here at Shotwamp. 


Nathaniel: Matthew, overworking with you this past week and some change it has become increasingly apparent just how good you are at doing, well, pretty much everything. You know you can really pursue whatever kind of creative venture you want, what made you want to choose clothing? 


Matthew: Haha thank you so much. Means a lot, since you and Archie have been the backbone of shotwamp since we started. Also-its crazy how fast this whole project has developed, and I'm so excited to see where it goes. Clothing isn't something I've got plans for long term, since I've never really followed through with one thing long term, which I think is my strength and weakness. But Paradise Point started because I had started learning graphic design and wanted a name to put my designs under, or else it felt like it had no purpose. So I learned to screenprint and really started to love running a small business. Not only do I love the production aspect, I especially loved the advertising. It lets me be a director when I want to make a video as for Instagram, I use graphic design to create posters, I get to be a manager when organizing special events… so I never had to really give anything else up, because it's a cohesion of all my interests. But, I don't think fashion is my ultimate calling. Which is why I slowed down for a while until Shotwamp came along and I became inspired in a new way, since it's more than just a giant independent art project, it's about collaboration and community.


N: Wow Matthew, I don’t think you understand just how much I resonate with that and how cool that all is. I think you really hit the nail on the head when talking about the small business aspect for me too. Knowing that I’d be heading into college next year I’d spent much of my time seeking out opportunities to practice the exact types of things you explained liking to do: event coordination, advertising, brand direction and design. However when all of this coronavirus stuff happened I realized that if no one was going to give me those opportunities, I had to create them for myself and at the end of the day it's even more valuable because you're helping build your own entity and not someone else's. I know that essentially all young creative like you or I or pretty much anyone here at Shotwamp can run into roadblocks semi-frequently, what have you had to overcome with Paradise Point and what did you do to get around those roadblocks? 

M: For me, my initial roadblocks were mostly to do with the organizational aspects of running a company, like LLC registration, taxes, figuring out e-commerce to sell stuff online… because I don't like to read. But that was solved because after I had started making designs-which were all terrible iron designs and I'm sorry to those who paid me for them since they won't last more than a few washes-Thomas Hochman took interest and he completed the other half, letting us pick up momentum pretty fast. Thomas has since graduated and we weren't able to keep the partnership up, leaving me with more work to do, which I couldn't handle senior year. I also felt like screen printing and dyeing clothes wasn't enough for me, and I didn't have the patience to learn sewing, so I just kinda stopped until now. Honestly for me, in all the shittiness that Corona is doing to the world, it's forced me to finally get around to learning some sewing and I've been given the time to put my hours into Shotwamp. I also think that when stuck at home with nothing to do, I become the most creative. Usually, even when I have all the time in the world to work, I spend a lot of that time socializing and relaxing… but all I can do now is work. These last two weeks, I've been learning basic music production in Logic, making baby ceramic sculptures, sewing, video editing, and my only responsibility is to get some physical exercise in on occasion. But mainly, my biggest roadblock was not knowing where my goals are-with Paradise Point originally, I wanted to sell a lot of clothing and so I feel like my clothes got boring-and not putting in the time to learn the more time consuming processes in fashion, which make clothes less boring.


N: I like that you felt the need to evolve Paradise Point and change it so you were able to put a better product out, I think that you taking time away knowing you couldn’t do that must’ve been hard but was likely the correct choice. What has your journey in learning how to sew look like?


M: When Archie told me about Shotwamp, I started rethinking the idea of making clothes, and then when I saw all the crazy shit the other members create, and then Corona began, I didn't really have a choice. It's a very relaxing pastime. Not just sewing, but the idea of creating a piece, not just printing on it. Not that graphic clothing doesn't have its place, but I've always wanted to do more than that.


N: No I totally get what you’re saying. Like you said earlier, this self quarantine-ing thing is going to create a creative outburst in not just our field but everywhere I think which is really cool and one of the few lights at the end of this particularly dark tunnel. You talked about creating a piece, what does that look like for you?

M: Still figuring that out right now. Mostly I don't want the aesthetic of my work to be credited towards anything out of my control. But also I just want to make stuff that you might see someone walking down the street in NYC wearing. I'm also just learning how fun it is to sit down and ruin a shirt entirely and have it come out looking cooler than before. I don't even have big plans to sell everything, but I figure I'll have a decent amount of items by the time the world heals up enough, and Archie and I are working on a collab collection which I'm really psyched about. Archie is my sewing inspo. 

N: That's great, I think it's really cool to have that kind of quest that you're on right now. Just creating to create. With you having just now started to work on this again I understand that you probably have a lot going on already; however, do you have any visions for what you want the future of Paradise Point to look like?


M: When we can all go outside again, I'll be going off to NYC for college. It'd be amazing if everyone in Shotwamp became best friends and we all moved to NYC, became famous, and just made stuff all day. But I have no plans going into NYC. I want to try hard in school because it's a gift, and I hope something absolutely crazy happens, but I am not planning anything out long term. I just have to socialize and find people every day, and I hope I can make it in the big city. 


N: Wow, that's pretty crazy, NYC certainly seems like a magical place that if something like that were to happen, it'd happen there. Are you scared at all heading into that? 


M: Yeah, honestly all I feel right now is excitement, but I know as it gets closer I will feel some fear. But that fear is so irrelevant because I know any experience I get out of that city will be good for me. I think most of the fear would be about my ability to make a living and pay rent. 


N: Of course, that's all super reasonable stuff. Last question before we close this out, I always ask this question because people's responses are so interesting to me. 


You kind of hinted at this a bit when you mentioned Archie inspiring you and your sewing. Is there anyone that you look up to and inspires you to create? This person doesn’t have to be just a designer or anything, it could literally be anyone.


M: Too many to name them all. I love Daniel Arnold, Paul Thomas Anderson, Baby Keem, Toro y Moi, Fisk Gallery, Dodgr, Lil Ugly Mane, LNDN DRGS, Shabazz Palaces, @gpsglass, Come Tees, Dev Hynes, MoMA PS1, Peter Voulkos… just to name a few. I'm always finding more artists so I could never make a list that does them justice. Thanks for doing this Nat, I hope to get to know you more soon! Love all the content you've provided so far. 


N: I feel the same way, its important to be able to pull from a wide variety of places to create truly unique yet inspired work. Its cool that you have that. 


And of course Matthew, so excited for what you’re going to create at Paradise Point and what we all can create here at Shotwamp. 

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