Rob Dobi Talks FullBleed, Mintees and Give Advice On Running A Clothing Company

Huge congrats on launching Full Bleed Series 11, it looks fantastic. What was the inspiration behind the new series and how does it fit in with previous releases?

Thanks! The inspiration is the same as it has always been, I just like making conceptual art based images that have some sort of narrative to them. I’d like to think that my shirts all kind of tie into previous releases, I often incorporate similar elements and try to keep my aesthetic on the same level, consistency is my friend.

It took almost a year for you to release Series 11, any specific reason or reasons for the delay and are you going to make us wait another year for Series 12?

I had a wacky 2010. Right after series 10 dropped there were way too many things going on in my life. I reconnected with old friends, got in the best shape of my life, met a lovely lady, explored abandoned buildings every week. Fullbleed just took a back seat for awhile, I wasn’t in that mindset, I was just too busy enjoying life. Every time I tried to sit down and focus on making a new line another wrench got thrown in the works. You definitely won’t have to wait another year for Series 12, I’m already filling my sketchbook with new ideas.

Now that you are 11 series deep with Full Bleed, do you find it increasingly more difficult to come up with new designs and what do you do to stay inspired and overcome creative block?

Creative block comes with the territory. Go for a run, go to the library, go to a museum, listen to music. Luckily I have set myself up in a position where I can really make images based off of anything I want. My designs come from more of an editorial illustration background so it is possible for me to apply any for of imagery on a shirt. My new line consists of garbage, a construction site, a moon, a lightning bolt, a jet trail, a saw blade, a leaf, a rainbow and a birdcage, nine elements that are pretty different from one another. Creative block is as much of a barrier as you make it out to be, I just try to look at everyday things and try to flip them upside down.

At this point the biggest block is more of an issue of going into “Fullbleed mode” than anything else. As a freelancer I can juggle a ton of jobs at once, but when I’m working on my brand, that is all I really want to focus on. I get to the point where I feel like I have enough doodles in my sketchbook that I narrow it down to 20 or so, shut off freelance work for 2-3 weeks and just work on Fullbleed, nothing else. I like to dedicate those few weeks to developing a few images that flow together, I find when I design stuff weeks and months apart they usually don’t feel the same.

So we did an interview right as was closing and was about to be launched. How has the launch of Mintees gone and what have you learned from running the site?

It has gone awesome, the community as well as the site is constantly evolving. The one major thing I learned is you can’t please everyone all the time. It is similar to facebook, once something changes all people do is complain about it, but by Saturday everyone forgets that anything changed at all. Luckily all the changes so far have been a positive and have been getting members more active. has been rolling out some new features that were previously lacking on Emptees such as the voting system that lets the community decide which tee design should make the cut onto the site. Are there any plans for new features in the upcoming future, I saw mention of a possible Mintees Online Stores Network?

Jared at Studio AKT and I are always bouncing ideas back and forth as to how to improve things and are always listening to what the community wants. I’ll keep my lips sealed about most things we have coming up but changes are in the works, the store is a definite possibility and a revamped resources section is also priority at the moment.

A lot of readers come to IAMTHETREND looking for advice for running their clothing line. What one piece of advice would you offer a new company looking to get started building a brand?

Don’t do what is already hip, by the time you go into production the trend has probably already run its course and thirty other brands have beaten it into the ground it as well. Make something entirely new and for the love of god, make it cohesive so your audience can identify who you are and what your brand stands for.

One of the main hurdles that a lot of brands hits is they do a bunch of promotion for the launch of their line, but after the line launches they are not sure what to do to keep customers interested and coming back to their store. Do you have any advice for brands looking to encourage repeat visitors of their site?

I have no idea. I got lucky enough that I have been around for so long that I think i’m at the point where I just have a loyal fan base who knows just to check in every once in awhile. I do very limited advertising, maybe a couple hundred bucks a year. I tend to get by on loyalty, word of mouth, and people just checking in on what I’m up to. I’m not really as hip and savvy with twitter and facebook like most young brands are. I have no idea what the equation of “likes” to legitmate fans is, but it all feels kind of forced. To me a whole bunch of that really feels like spam, constantly begging and pleading for likes and retweets. If people like your work, they will follow it, no need to barrage people with nonsensical updates that aren’t really updates. Nothing infuriates me more in this day and age than seeing something like “If this post hits 100 likes we’ll release a preview of a preview!”

Oh, back to the question, just keep making quality stuff, stay genuine and hopefully people will come back for more.

Do you still think there is room for new indie start-ups or is the market to saturated right now?

The market is extremely saturated, but there is always room for unique ideas. If you aim to set out to make a baking themed company, a zombie brand or a vintage Americana throwback, don’t. There are already 300 others companies doing that, and unless you are positive you are doing it better than them, then what’s the point? Develop a unique identity and stand apart from the pack.

What is the biggest mistake you see brands making when they launch their clothing lines?

Where to begin? Don’t launch with just one shirt, have actual product shots, don’t print shirts that say “Est. ____” if it is your first release. Most importantly, and i mentioned this before, have a line that shows who are you are. Don’t just scramble looking for random pieces you think are cool, make sure they all fit together to give your audience a clear idea of what your brand represents. More often than not we see startup brands making six shirts with six different designers and it all ends up looking like a grab bag of t-shirts. Young t-shirt startups should assign work to specific designers who they know can fulfill their vision rather than just making a pile of mashed together work.

Any last minute shout outs, news or announcements before we sign off?

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  • Great interview guys! 

  • Hes a wise man “don’t print shirts that say “Est. ____” if it is your first release” loved that quote its so fucking true.Also them full bleed t shirts are so slick but so many companys have ripped off his concept.

  • Great read. Always respected Rob and his ideas. I think he’s on point on many things.

  • “Nothing infuriates me more in this day and age than seeing something
    like “If this post hits 100 likes we’ll release a preview of a preview!””  i Always see this on twitter and facebook. Just Show IT!!!! Great interview and great info.

  • thanks duder, when can we see some new VH?

  • Very interesting interview. He touches on a few very thought provoking topics.