Tin robots from the 1950s and various vintage novelties aligning the studio of FZ Media are a daily source of inspiration for the FLOODZONE apparel creative design team.
Charles Barrett, founder of branding, digital marketing and design studio FZ Media, launched the FLOODZONE apparel line in 2014, allowing the team, including four Tyler School of Art alumni, to bring their own style to designing T-shirts.
Recent Tyler graduates Adam Trageser, Lou Stuber, and Doug Wadas, said their team is an aesthetically-focused collective with artistic design ideas balanced by one another.
“The creative process doesn’t just begin and end with whatever project you’re working on – there’s always some kind of influence coming from what kind of music you’re listening to, whatever art you appreciate, what shows you like on TV, etc.,” Stuber said.
“That’s part of it too, bringing in and acknowledging these other elements of our creativity by harnessing them into something that’s productive and fruitful for us, but at the same time still encourages us to do what we do best,” he added.
Wadas said the inspiration of FLOODZONE was built from ideas and projects the designers devised since their time in the graphic design program at Tyler.
“We decided T-shirts were the most accessible form of art that people could use, especially in the design realm, where it’s wearable,” Wadas said.
The walls of the team’s design studio are aligned with surfboards, skateboards and other seemingly random objects that give inspiration for T-shirt themes. The space furnishes a laid-back, West Coast style.
“That’s a big part of the T-shirt concept,” Trageser said. “It just fits very naturally in the environment we work in every day.”
FLOODZONE’s T-shirts are all limited edition, making them more personalized. With only 50 T-shirts of each design distributed, each shirt is signed and numbered by its individual artist.
The main logo by Trageser, a water drop inside of a hazard symbol, reappears, whereas others like “Ampers Aweigh,” an anchor design by Stuber, is more scarce.
The design team describes the FZ Media studio, which resides on the top floor of a historic grist mill in Yardley, Pennsylvania, as an inspiration for their “built to last” theme.
“The aesthetics behind it really came together with this whole high-quality, custom made, built to last idea we put into our clothes, website and everything we do at FZ,” Wadas said.
Wadas said the style of FLOODZONE apparel has a “home-grown, down-to-earth feel.”
“Everything we do from top to bottom is personal,” Wadas said. “From selecting the way we want it printed, to the way we deliver the shirts, even writing a personal card to the person – it makes it from the heart.”
Trageser said the workload of Tyler’s design program was a huge influence in FLOODZONE’s success because it pushed for large accomplishments in small timeframes.
“A lot of people think about only the technical side like learning Photoshop, but that’s just part of it,” Trageser said.
“Tyler definitely prepared us for a lot more, like thinking conceptually and about good quality while putting a lot of fun into it too,” Wadas added.
FZ Media’s full-scale design company plans to launch more items in the future as FLOODZONE is described as a continuous work in progress for the artists. They plan to add similar items to complement the T-shirt aesthetic.
“The pictures on our websites and in our designs encapsulate the feel of our studio,” Trageser said. “We photographed a whole bunch of accumulated stuff and titled it with ‘the art of inspiration’ which represents where we get our inspiration from – learning new things all the time.”
Alexa Zizzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.