Gecko X Nazar Collaboration
A View to Thrill: Interview With Iconic Artist Steve Nazar
The following interview with Steve Nazar — and the collaboration between Gecko X Nazar — is for everyone out there who has been inspired and influenced by Nazar’s work & style since the 1980’s — and for those who have been searching for “that feeling” — a feeling where style, nostalgia, cool factor & radness all intersect — for the first time in decades:
Part 1: Introduction
An Introduction From CMO, Mark Schwartz
When I was a kid, maybe 8 years old in 1988, I remember walking out the front door of my house to a court filled with radical neighborhood kids & teens on skate decks — the kind that now would be considered “cruisers” — going up and down their makeshift halfpipe.
Even as a kid, I always noticed clothes and style for some reason — but, I can pinpoint this day as one of my earliest memories that began to connect the idea of a style to a brand — and what it meant to wear something cool… VS… not cool.
Some of the kids were well known hellions in my neighborhood — while others were their friends, or strangers from houses down the block. — but, they were wearing these colorful t-shirts with a bright neon yin-yang on the front “pocket” logo — and on the back of the tee there were some of the brightest, coolest, raddest, most awesome cartoon characters I’d ever seen.
Looking at the neon colors made my eyeballs feel like they were high — before I even knew what “high” meant. Maybe it was that the “edgy” skater kids were wearing them, or that I had recently become a massive fan of comic books, Garbage Pail Kids & just saw “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” for the first time, but the idea of “‘toons on a tee” blew my 8 year mind — like GPK “Adam Bomb.” I wanted one of these tees badly, but first I had to figure out exactly what it was. I didn’t know the names of the characters, or what a yin & yang was, or that it was “a brand.”
It was the summer of ’88 — and the next day, while attending a summer “day camp” I was determined to find out about these tees — but, getting info was tough in those days, because obviously there was no internet. So, I did what most kids in the 1980’s did when they wanted to know something — I nervously asked an older kid.
I somehow summoned the courage to ask an older camp counselor about it — and gave him a description of Thrilla Gorilla and drew a picture of a crude yin & yang — asking him, “Who makes this? Is it a comic?”
His reply was loud, and I remember being instantly embarrassed, thinking I said something wrong — “Dude! Are you talking about T&C and Thrilla Gorilla?! How do you even know about that stuff yet dude?!” Then, he started getting excited and quickly told 2 of the girl counselors (whom I had crushes on) that I was asking about “T&C.”
Just as my embarrassment was reaching peak level — I started to notice the older kids weren’t laughing… they actually thought it was cool — and they started talking to me differently, like I was suddenly a member of their “secret cool club.” Then, they started talking about some of their favorite Thrilla tees and characters (if not by name, by description.) They talked about characters, like “Thrilla Gorilla”, 2 Kool Cats, Space Alien and even a Caveman. The next day one of the camp counselors gave me 2, ultra-bright, neon, clear vinyl, Thrilla stickers.
I was hooked.
I can’t help but wonder — If I was able to go back in time and tell the 8 year old me, that one day — way in the future — I would get the chance to interview Steve Nazar — the artist who drew the characters I was crazy about — and have him answer all of my questions — AND that I would also get the opportunity to help out with a Gecko X Nazar collaboration — what would he say?
I have a feeling he would either say:
“Yeah right dude! I don’t look like you in the future!”
Or, “Can you get me more stickers… AND a shirt?!”
PART 2: THE INTERVIEW
Mark @ Gecko:
Hi Steve — I know what it was like to witness the rise of Thrilla/T&C as a kid in the 80’s — but what was your perspective on it as things started to take off?
Well, I was working at an in-house, screen printing job — that I really hated — and I wanted to go out on my own and freelance. I got word on the street that Town & Country was looking for “cartoon-style” artwork — and I've always considered myself a cartoonist more than anything else — so, I scored a meeting with Tak and we hit it off! I told him, “Yeah! I’ll just go home and draw up some animation-style” characters. So, I went home and I drew Thrilla Gorilla and Joe Cool. I think two days later he said, “Yeah! This is what we're looking for.” And then we were off and running.
Mark @ Gecko: What was the timeline of the progression of success?:
About six months. I started noticing that my designs were in every department store you walked into — anywhere! Big, or little. You know, from mom & pop surf shops, to places like Nordstrom — even some stores that are long gone now. They'd have whole sections of T&C stuff. And I'm like, wow, I think this stuff is really catching on!
Mark @ Gecko:
I can imagine the thrill of seeing people wearing your artwork! What happened next? At the time were you aware of the far reach & popularity of your designs? Or your impact on the “cool” skate/surf culture?
At that time, they had never actually quite clued me in on how well the designs were doing, because I was only on a work for hire basis.
Mark @ Gecko:
How many years did the T&C/Thrilla line run?:
It went on for about an eight year span. That's a pretty good run. 8 to 10 years was the lifespan of a clothing line back then. I mean, you really couldn't expect it to go much longer, because tastes & styles would change. The market would shift. People would grow up.
Then, after that 8 year span, eventually what ended up happening was that T&C & Thrilla split up — the Yin/Yang logo went one way — and the characters went another. Unfortunately, as time progressed, neither one did anywhere near as well without the other.
That's why we are so stoked to release this collection!
After 3 years of bringing back different retro elements (neon puffed ink, thermochromatic color changing tees and the retro printing process, which makes colors pop brighter) we are finally able to print them -- using all of these techniques -- on the most authentic 1980's & 90's tee to date!
These are ALL limited editions.
With every new release we drop, we will print around 100 per color. Today was our first drop (2/17/23) and we are close to sold out already!
It's literally THRILLING for anyone who is a real retrofile and is constantly searching for mint condition 1980's neon surf tees! It's nostalgia seeping out of every single thread!
Neon Pigment Dye
Another much sought after aspect of vintage retro tees is the way, over time, the colors change and the material gets softer, molding to the body of the wearer.
Pigment dye enables that "vintage customization." As time passes, the wear from your body will really make the tee uniquely "yours." The pigment also has a way to make the neon colors pop bolder and brighter than almost any other neon tee that's out there!
About The Colors
They are stunning, beautiful, and when I was wearing one to grocery store yesterday, literally EVERYBODY there stopped and turned to look at me.
We went ahead and used the same recipe for many of the neon colors we used back in 1989.
The green SCREAMS! The Orange is gorgeous. The blue is so unique and brings out the color of anyone with blue or green eyes. The pink is the type of pink that makes you think about skiing in the 1980's (think snow bunnies), the yellow is that super bright, yet "lemon-lite" 1980's yellow that makes pink ink almost pop off of the shirt (it is VERY hard to find a yellow out there like this!), and of course the purple is a hyacinth that will become a favorite shirt for anyone who gets it.
The Material and Sizing
We recommend you order your actual size.
The sleeves are longer and wider (as they were in the mid to late 1980's) and they are made with 6.5 oz USA Cotton (18 singles), which is extremely durable, built to last and fit men and women alike. The thickness of the cotton actually helps to hide the "beer belly" or "dad bod" on some of the Gecko Fans in their 40s, 50s, and 60s -- while also helping those in their late teens, 20's and 30's look ripped!
So grab a tee while we still have them! Pictures don't do the color on these tees justice! The second you see it in real life, you'll instantly reignite some of that happy nostalgia -- and we wouldn't be surprised if some old forgotten memories reappear in your mind! Color has that effect -- and as you wear these around your town, you'll be helping others reignite some of their own nostalgia as well!
VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION HERE! IT WILL BE UPDATED AS MORE DROPS ARRIVE!
Made In The USA, With USA Cotton!