Our friend Brian Robert Jones wears many graphic tees and many hats — from musician to bassist to producer to guitarist to clothing designer to entrepreneur. You can catch Brian as he surfs from stage to stage with Paramore, Gwen Stefani, Vampire Weekend, and MUNA, or you can listen to his very own EP, which he released with his pop-funk duo, Human Natural.
In between making music and touring the world with his guitar, Brian Robert Jones creates vivid tie-dye and bold graphic clothing designs for LXIX Apparel, the vibrant clothing brand he launched in 2020. Luckily for us, he also designed this shirt in celebration of our launch of One Night Only, our breakthrough wash-out hair makeup line. Make a mistake? Call it a moment.
Sit down with Brian to tap into his creative process, his style inspirations, and the projects he hopes to work on next.
What initially inspired you to start creating music and art?
My best friend who I did EVERYTHING with got a guitar when we were in 7th grade and I wanted to be able to play music with him so I ended up getting a bass. The rest was history. We still make music to this day as a group called “The Evacuation”. I’ve always liked drawing and coloring. I think Pokemon was a big influence for me to start learning how to draw. I went from drawing Pokemon to drawing these weird chimera’s that had body parts from different animals. I remember carrying around a specific folder in high school that housed a tapestry of a gigantic animal monster fight drawn on the back of multiple taped together worksheets from different classes. I still have a few of the pages from that particular piece.
In what ways are making music and designing clothes similar or different for you? What do your creative processes look like?
Music is my passion and something I take quite seriously, so sometimes getting a song, or a part, or a mix exactly right can be incredibly emotionally taxing and frustrating. Designing is something I put little to no pressure on myself to be good at, especially if it’s for my own brand. I don’t feel pressure to be perfect or logical. I just get to do whatever I want and then it's done whenever I say it’s done or I abandon it if I don’t like it.
My process for music can start anywhere. Sometimes I’ll be noodling on guitar or bass while I’m watching TV and a certain riff sticks out to me and I’ll chase it. Sometimes I’ll be at the computer and messing around with drum samples and loops. Other times I’ll be on walks or driving around town listening to music and finding inspiration there. It can come whenever. Usually all the songs I make take a really long time to feel “finished” because I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to music.
Clothing design is very different. I have a huge list of pop culture references that I have continuously been building on and I’ll try making lists within those lists of elements that I think would be funny to combine. There is one Iconic design that was the initial inspiration for my entire clothing brand. There’s a backpack that someone found in some kind of street market that has a picture of Sonic the Hedgehog with the number 10 on his stomach, standing next to a little pond with roses next to it, that for some reason has the words “Obama” and “Harry Potter” on it. I thought the juxtaposition of all those things was so funny and I feel like our society is inching ever closer to that with strange brand collaborations and an ever expanding collection of absurdist memes.
What is one of your favorite clothing items that you own?
I can’t pick one but I have a rather large collection of around 10 Dave Matthews Band bootleg T-shirts from the late 90’s and early 2000’s that are absolutely my favorite.
If you could design a custom shirt for anyone in the world, or anyone in history, who would it be for and what would it look like?
My friend recently suggested I try making a line of merch for Hudson News, like where you get magazines and gummy bears at the airport. I just love the idea of making outlandish clothing for extremely mundane organizations.
When you feel like you're in a creative rut, how do you get inspired again?
Taking breaks is always really important if you can spare the time. If I get stuck on music, I usually get depressed and stop working on whatever it is for as long as several years. If I have a deadline, I’ll try to listen to an artist that’s brand new to me and hope it helps remind me how to make music.
When I’m stuck on a clothing design, I’ll sometimes go to vintage stores or thrift stores or just browse my own closet to see what kind of elements those pieces have that the one I’m working on doesn’t. I’ll try to see what my thing needs to make it feel finished.
How would you describe your personal style? How do you like to express yourself with your hair, clothes, etc?
I love a ridiculous t-shirt, big colorful hoodies, and blue jeans. I think after many years of always having big hair and wearing a lot of bright colors, I find myself going for lower key looks these days with maybe only 1 outlandish/confusing piece of clothing or accessory. My hair is always out of control and it's not because I can’t tame it. It’s just a way I express how lazy and disorganized I am.
Who are some of your design muses or style inspirations?
I am obsessed with the aforementioned Sonic/Obama/Harry Potter backpack. I love bootleg designs. I love old Grateful Dead bootleg T shirts from the 80’s and 90’s that people would sell out of their vans outside the venues. I also love the continuation of that that happened in the 90’s and 2000’s with different jam bands and pop bands. I have found some incredible bootleg boyband pieces over the years.
I also love more modern brands who also draw from that aesthetic like Online Ceramics and the homie Gordon at Double Wonderful. There’s a fun online community of graphic designers that’s been building over the last 5/10 years.