Mike Gaboury Interview; Owner of Cherry Sauce Clothing & Pong Deck Illustrator

A little over a year ago IAMTHETREND held a contest for the best upcoming Indie Clothing Brands and it was then that I first came in contact with Cherry Sauce Clothing. I was immediately impressed with the illustration and look of the line. What I liked most about Cherry Sauce was that even though there were and still are a ton of clothing lines doing over the top jumbo 8+ color prints and illustrations there was something about Cherry Sauce that stuck out to me among the crowd and that was Mike’s illustration work.

Even though I didn’t own a clothing line at the time, I knew if I ever wanted some illustration work done, Mike was on the top of my list. So fast forward some time and myself and my business partner for Pong Deck were brainstorming how we wanted our cards to look, Mike’s name popped into mind. I immediately hit up Mike and pitched him the entire Pong Deck concept. Two weeks later, 18 custom illustrations and one t-shirt design in the books Mike had single handedly developed the Pong Deck image.

Before we get into the interview, I just wanted to say if you are in the market for an illustrator definitely hit up Mike, he was by far one of the quickest and most friendly artists that I have worked on a project with. You can email him directly at [email protected] or visit his portfolio at: www.krop.com/mikegaboury

Mike Gaboury Interview

So before we get too deep into this, why don’t you quickly introduce yourself!

Hi! I’m Mike Gaboury, I live in cold-ass Canada, love videogames, illustration and energy drinks.

When did you first realize you had a talent and love for art?

I drew monsters, videogame/comic characters, and doodled all the way through school, instead of paying attention. I’ve always loved it. My mom would bring home giant boxes of printer paper from work and i’d sit there and draw while watching cartoons for hours… not much has changed. Fortunately for me, some people like what I draw, and actually want to pay me for it! WIN!

Did you go to school or receive any formal training in art, or our you completely self taught?

I took a few drawing classes growing up, I remember a comic book one, and maybe a few traditional ones through high school. Went to college for digital media production ( graphic / web design ) and focused mainly on illustration, design, and flash games. When it comes to shirt design, I learned how to properly do it when I first started up Cherry Sauce, reading through resources on Emptees and whatnot. Attack of the Cupcakes and Curbstomp were my first actual illustrated shirts.

Aside from being an amazing artist you also run a clothing line called Cherry Sauce. When did Cherry Sauce start, and where did you come up with that name?

My friend Jason and I used to hang out and talk about businesses we could start that would be manage-able for a low cost startup, eventually came to the decision of starting a clothing line. Our first idea was an “all zombie” brand, I think we were going to call it undead apparel… SO glad we didn’t end up doing that haha. For the longest time our official name was going to be Composure (yes, from the name of the august burns red song) There were too many brands with similar names and a whole lot of copyrights, plus we ended up not wanting a darker, angry, metal sort of brand.


Jasons family has a cabin, and our group of friends and go out there often. When gassing up the boat, the oil mixture for the gasoline was a goopy, bright red substance, and we called it “Cherry Sauce” but we said it kinda funny (like someone who had been eating oil, pretending it was cherry sauce.) and we ended up saying “cherry sauce” all the time, kind of a code-word for boating/having fun. Just goofing off.


So when we went back to the drawing table, and were scouring thesaurus.com and random name generators… nothing was turning up. Being bored I decided to type out CHERRY•SAUCE in some sexy helvetica bold, and jokingly showed it to Jason, who absolutely loved it. After convincing me on it, we looked up the domains…. Uh oh… cherrysauce.com is a porn site, AWESOME! Sooo we ended up buying the domain cherrysauce.ca. After a 3 shirt line we sold mainly to friends and family we decided we needed to up our game a bit. After securing some funding, contacting artists, and getting things did, we launched our first REAL line on my birthday, July 24, 2009.

How hard is it being the both the artist and business person behind running a brand. I have always wondered why more artists don’t just start their own clothing lines!

I love it… most of the time. Having FULL creative control over lots of your products is both a blessing and curse. I get to oversee a shirt from conception to sales, but I also tend to overthink and spend way too much time on stuff for my own brand. Luckily, when I’m just not feeling it, or just can’t seem to get my ideas across on paper, we contract amazing artists like Matt Girouard and Nils Vogeding to design for us.

I agree with you though, most artists SHOULD have their own lines, the problem… I can imagine, iiiiis money, as starting a clothing line requires a solid chunk of cash to get going. Plus most of the best artists are illustrating full-time, and either a) don’t have time to add even more designs to their workload, b) probably don’t want to spend their free time doing.. what they do for work

Where would you say you pull most of your artistic inspirations from?

Videogames and comic books play a large part. I like to base my style on a mixture of saturday morning cartoons, tattoo art, urban/hip-hop, and whatever is on tv. Lots of my ideas and brainstorming occur while I’m driving to and from work actually.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for both your art and clothing line?

That’s a tough one to answer, my goal for my art/design is that I would love to really get my style nailed down, to a point where people can see my work and know instantly that it’s mine. (see godmachine, shantz, nicolo etc..) My goal is to spend more time drawing on my free time, and work on my linework and quality so work sees growth, if you aren’t getting better then what’s the point right?

For Cherry Sauce, I’d love to do all (or at least a large portion of warped tour) next year, perhaps start attending trade shows, and get some designs done from popular artists for a more diverse line. I hope our fan growth continues and people see and like what we are doing!

Working with you first hand on my Pong Deck project I’d have to say you are one of the most timely artists that I have met. Have you always been that way or something that you continually work on?

I’d actually say that’s one of my weakest points to be honest, one of the disadvantages of doing contract work on the side, is that when you work a full-time job, and have a clothing line, sometimes there isn’t a whole lot of free time for contract work (and it piles up fast) So one of my goals is to perhaps look into time management tools, and help speed up my workflow!

So as far as Pong Deck goes did you find it difficult to come up with 18 different ways to portray a plastic cup?

At first I was a little overwhelmed, how on earth am I going to make a CUP so animated? Then I thought to myself… if Disney can take the most random of things, and turn them into fully animated characters, it can’t be that bad! So I looked up animated characters, and the process people use for designing them. Found out if you draw the face first, the rest comes easily, doodled for awhile ’till it made sense, and went from there.

Any last minute parting words or shout out?

Stoked you guys chose me for your Pong Deck illustrations, I have nothing but good things to say about working with you guys and am sure Pong Deck will catch on and be a hit! You have yourself an awesome product.

Shout outs to my brother Matt and girlfriend Amanda for helping me with ideas for some of the cups, Jason (other half of Cherry Sauce) for being patient while I worked on contract work instead of Cherry Sauce, and the rest of FNAM for input and suggestions.

Take care and stay awesome!

Check out Cherry Sauce Clothing at: www.cherrysauceclothing.com
Or Mike’s Portfolio at: www.krop.com/mikegaboury