Known for his work in the music scene, doing illustration for bands such as The Amity Affliction & Bring Me The Horizon, and having recently co-founded streetwear label Native Brand, Milan Chagoury AKA Stay Bold is killing it! We recently caught up with Milan to see what's in store for Stay Bold in 2014.
AD: Hey Milan, how’s business?
Milan Chagoury: Yeah, business is pumping! I’ve got the next seven months booked out at the moment, I had to cancel all my holidays and just power through it. I’ve had 2 days off in the past month!
AD: Only 2 days?!
MC: Yeah, and I spent one of them getting my stomach tattooed, ouch! There are some really good creatives up on the coast at the moment. Sam Clarke is one of them, he’s becoming one of the best tattooists in Australia. I spent a day with him and he showed me all his work and I was really inspired, seeing another person’s creative space.
There’s not a lot of creative spaces I've found on the coast; there’s me, Joel Birch, Troy from Amity who’s got a recording studio down the road, there's a barber shop out here in the industrial estate called Captain Sip Sops, and that's all I have found so far.
AD: When you say creative space, are you talking about a studio, or more of a general gathering point for creatives?
MC: More of a gathering point. Joel has set up a space out the back of his house, and it’s got all the sewing equipment, like overlockers & hemming machines; I’ll be moving my computer in there in a few weeks. Our aim is to start up a big Native Brand space.
AD: Kind of a base of operations for you guys?
MC: Pretty much. Similar to Captain Sip Sops, they've got really good vibes coming from there and we’re just trying to get a similar vibe going, locals doing cool stuff.
AD: Similar to Rabbit Hole in Brisbane?
MC: More like EverFresh. We’re trying to get a few of the crew together, plus we’re meeting up daily to discuss what everyone is working on and we throw ideas around, its like a weekly brainstorming session.
AD: It is better to get with other creative people to work out your ideas and to collaborate with each other.
MC: Exactly. Cause when you work by yourself and you don’t have a studio of people with you, you don’t have that critical element where someone is judging your work and giving you constructive criticisms, you need that to grow. Joel is pretty much my right hand man, he used to call me Mr 50pt Line because everything I'd do was so bold & clean. He would always say, “Why are you cleaning it up so much? You spent hours making it perfect and I liked it better when it was a bit rougher.” *laughs*
But over the last month I’ve been going back to a more basic drawing style & more vintage looking designs. Joel’s been pushing me to stop cleaning my stuff up and change my style. A lot of the design I used to do, especially for band merchandise, used to be really clean and to the point, but it seems design is going in reverse these days, a bit more grungy, more handmade.
It’s actually funny, Joel & I used to be design rivals, but one day we just sat down and had the longest talk about design and music and where we’re both coming from. Now we’re really good mates! *laughs* It’s funny how the universe works.
AD: And now you’re both working together on streetwear label Native Brand.
MC: Well, we’ve wanted to work together on a project for a while and it’s the direction I want to head, in regards to design, for the time being. I want to move from the band scene more into streetwear design.
AD: Talking about streetwear & apparel, I hear you have been collaborating with Johnny Cupcakes?
MC: I’m actually working with him at the moment! I’ve done 4 big designs for him & got a ton more to do, but I’ve been working on Native Brand for the past two weeks so I’ve had to put him on hold for a week or two *laughs*.
AD: How is it working with Johnny, in comparison to other clients?
MC: The emails and information he gives me; some bands come to me with few ideas or they say, “Hey, we’ve got a new song, we need a whole merchandise range based around it”, and sometimes I just think, “How am I going to make something out of this?”, and Johnny came to me with LISTS of ideas. I worked off the base information he gave me, put my own little quirkiness on it and got some really cool designs out of it. Along the lines of vintage designs as well! The more content I receive for a brief, the better. He’s an inspiration.
AD: He is. I remember him being in a band as well?
MC: Yeah, I went and saw them [On Broken Wings] play when they were in Australia back in the day, and when I met him, I said, “I think i met you at a show?” *laughs* But that just shows how the music industry can start you in any direction with design. I’d say the music world would be the best entry point, and the fastest, to get into the design world. Straight out of uni I was doing band merchandise that thousands of kids were wearing, that was my first opportunity and I was just blown away.
AD: From the other end of the spectrum, I see you’ve also done a bit of work for ‘We Are Handsome’ as well.
MC: Yeah, I worked with Jeremy and Indhra on their swimwear range, and I remember opening one of those fashion magazines, I think it might’ve been Elle, and there was one of their pieces with one of the designs I did! I was pretty stoked, just seeing people enjoying something that I designed.
I’m actually happier seeing designs that people enjoy than the money behind it all. I can be pretty generous, but currently I’m in it more for the passion than for the fortune. I don’t know when I’ll get out of that mode, but at the end of the day, I truly love designing and drawing everyday. I was quite fortunate, otherwise I’d be unemployed, sitting at home drawing all day. *laughs*
AD: Living the dream! Now, a lot of people know you for you typographic work within your design; how do you approach it?
MC: Type work is all about visual balance. When I look at something, it has to be pretty on the eyes, or else its not going to work. I’ve had 1000’s of sketches just go straight into the bin, due to the smallest detail thats off.
AD: The degree of difficulty getting all the elements to hit all the right notes would be quite high.
MC: Yes, and when type has to sit well with an image or illustration, it can’t be stronger than the illustration, it has to balance out. When I look at type, it doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but the letters have to all have similar values in a way. Just a process of comparison between the letters so they fit together and none of them stand out, so it all works together in harmony. It’s all about the visual balance.
AD: With all your projects keeping you busy, will we be seeing the next evolution of Stay Bold?
MC: I think I might have to change my name! Joel keeps telling me to stay away from those 50pt lines. *laughs* The upcoming winter range for Native Brand is very different to the stuff I usually do, a bit out of my comfort zone, so maybe I will change it up a bit.
AD: Well, we'll be looking forward to it! Nice talking to you Milan!
MC: See you round!
You can catch the latest from Stay Bold via his website, Facebook & Instagram. If you want to hear more from this awesome dude, he will be speaking at Analogue/Digital Creative Conferences in May.