The good life isn’t necessarily the easy life for Antonio Brasko. He was up at 5am this morning, and probably will be tomorrow as well. The question, “what do you do?” is not an easy one for him to answer: creative director, artist, apparel designer, owner of Norwood (his brand), and owner of his own design agency (where he does work for some of the biggest companies you’ve definitely heard of). So what is doing up at 5am? “Emails, emails and more emails.” As a man with international clients ranging from Adidas to Nike to Dr. Martens, he has to prioritize his projects by time zone… Needless to say, Antonio Brasko stays busy, which is just how he likes it.
Brasko was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, where, as a child, rather than hang his artwork on the fridge, he would price each piece and try to sell them door-to-door. “It’s funny, because now I do essentially the same thing, just on a grander scale,” he says with a chuckle. “Life is about doing what you love, and loving what you do” That’s why seven years ago he bought a one-way ticket to Portland and hasn’t looked back. Portland’s “creative hub” is the home of all of the brands Antonio wanted to work with, so he thought it would be a great place to start his career. In addition, the cost of living is less expensive than most cities, the lifestyle is very healthy and it’s easy to get around on his bike, which he rides every day.
As an artist, Antonio found his greatest success with his project “Brandalism: Graffiti’s mark on Fashion”, where he took spray paint cans and branded them with iconic logos and colorways from companies like Nike, Tiffany’s, Chanel, Supreme, and more. What started off as a personal project ended up gaining popularity once blogs like Complex Magazine, High Snob and Hypebeast found it on his website. “I woke up one morning to features I didn’t even know about.” The response was overwhelmingly positive, and has led to art shows in Portland, San Francisco and Japan. However, as great as the response has been, he is very weary of ending up as “the guy who created those cool spray cans,” which has led to new projects in the works.
Yet another project of Antonio’s is his brand, Norwood, which started off as a premium headwear brand, and is set to extend to a full apparel collection by Fall 2014. The brand is a mix of streetwear with the classic, rugged Northwest aesthetic so popular in Portland. He likes to use technical and hard to find fabrics, which make his work stand out from the many brands that recycle the same camo and American flag patterns. “I’m definitely one to break rules and push boundaries,” he says, “I look for things that haven’t been done.” He recently took the brand to the Agenda tradeshow in Las Vegas, where “the response was wild,” and he hopes to continue to grow the brand steadily and organically.
“You have to put in your 10,000 hours,” Antonio explains, “100% isn’t good enough anymore,” as we talk in his downtown studio loft. From our conversation, one thing is clear, that Antonio works so hard because he’s got many ideas, and he won’t rest until they are all complete. With art shows, new collections, new projects and plenty of big brands knocking on the door, it doesn’t look like Antonio will get to sleep in anytime soon, which is exactly how he wants it.
You can see Brasko’s solo exhibit featuring the “Brandalism” spray cans and more starting Oct. 3rd at Gallery 135 (135 NW Park Avenue, Portland Oregon 97209)
To see more of his work and the Norwood brand check out the links below: