DRIP DROPS of HIP-HOP from CHATTANOOGA
By Ben Banks
For this week’s interview, I reached out to Ian-Alijah Bruh, the founder of local streetwear company, CareFreeBruh. I actually found out this company because Infamous Jackson aka Jack Frost plugged them in his interview. I looked into them and they’ve worked with some of very prolific artist in the area, including Marley Fox, Bbymutha, and most of the Uzi Boys. We chatted about style, design, and what’s next for CareFreeBruh.
Where's CareFreeBruh based out of? What area do you feel like you best represent?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: CareFreeBruh (CFB) is based in Chattanooga, TN, although our designs are rarely created to cater to a certain area or social group. CFB is more of an idea and philosophy of sorts created for the consumer to define.
What/who got you first interested in art/design?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I’ve always been into art and illustrating. I started like a lot of people, drawing Dragon Ball Z characters. I received my first film camera at like age 11. After that, it snowballed into creating party flyers in my teens in photoshop and creating short internet clips in my living room about clothes and fashion with my big brother. As I got older it was clear whatever I was to do would be art related. I majored in architecture in college before switching to film and video production. So yea, art has always been with me however monetizing it is fairly new to me.
What's the story behind CareFree?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I created CFB in my head sitting on a plane to Germany. I wasn't happy with my life at that point so I decided to move to Germany away from everything I knew and try this life shit again. When I got to Wiesbaden, I started sketching what I thought the perfect me would like look. BRUH was that perfect me. An androgynous slightly overweight black guy. It sounds weird but that's just how I saw myself. Now I expect fans of CFB to create their own image of BRUH. Their own perfect version of themselves.
Who are some of your current inspirations for making art/design?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: My mom and big brother are the reasons I do art. They both inspire me on a whole other level. I like the way they view the world and gives me something to look forward to.
Who are some music artists that you've worked with?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Bbymutha, Michael da Vinci, most of Uzi Boys, Marley Fox, blksunchild, Kiya Lacey, Jean Creme, Kind D, Nick Neutron, Infamous Jackson, Strypes, 2$on, and a couple more that less known but yea.
Briefly take me through your process for creating.
Ian-Alijah Bruh: It varies depending on the project, but for the most part, I think of a mood and a convent way to present that mood. It could be a photo project or short film or a clothing collection or piece. I create most of my art based on how I feel at the time or my feelings towards a topic or idea. After I choose my medium I start to look for colors to use. Everything from that point is impromptu in a sense.
How would you say that you are different now compared to the past?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: In the past I doubted myself. I would create all these things and not put it out in fear that no one would like it. As you get older though you start to realize it doesn’t matter if others like it. Put that shit out because you deserve for your creations to see life.
How do you balance CareFree and other aspects of your life?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: CFB is an extension of me so balancing it is easy. Anything I do art related is tied to one general idea, and CFB is a branch of that idea. When I make progress in one area of art, all my others are progressing as well.
What are some of your goals that you hope to accomplish within the design/art industry?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I really hope to study under Takashi Murakami. I would love to work with him as well but getting the opportunity to watch him work would be enough ^_^
What are some trends that you see happening in the local streetwear scene this year?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I think gender nonconforming styles have taken over heavy. Guys wearing styles popularized by girls and vice versa. People are embracing a different kind of sexy now. The clothes girls wear are baggy and usually paired with sneakers or boots, while guys enjoy tighter fits, chokers, chains, and lots of accessories. This is the future of fashion CFB hopes to cater to with it’s clothing.
What things are you trying to change in the streetwear scene this year?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I want to see more people experiment with clothes and accessories, whether that's altering clothes they already have or creating new ways to wear items that aren’t traditionally worn as clothing like chains etc. I think accessories are a big game changer in fashion so I want to put a lot of emphasis on creating CFB jewelry and bags and keychains and hats. I believe accessories can make a break a good outfit.
What are some themes that you really focus on in your designs?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Colors and functionality. I was in San Fransisco recently and I carried this 90s Guess bag everywhere I went because shopping bags cost money. So I’m walking and my hand is killing me. I tried to put the bag on my shoulder but the straps were too short so I had to carry it by hand. My homie and I started to talk about designing a CFB bag that someone could carry without it dragging the floor but also had strap handles long enough to carry under your arm. We talked about the weight of the material and the potential design that would go on it. Point is, functionality is important. It has to look good, feel good, and function how you need it to. CFB is dedicated to creating those type of products overall.
Who’s your main audience that you’re trying to reach?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Anyone who’s not afraid to be themselves. I feel like CFB makes people comfortable when they wear it. I work with different designers who tell their story through illustration just like me so I’m always collaborating with these types of people to give an authentic feel to my message. I want everyone to feel like BRUH, to know BRUH is a shell for us all to paint our story on.
What message are you trying to send to that audience?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Self-identity is important. Be yourself, whatever that it, but be the best you.
Which artist would you love to collaborate with?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Harlan Groves from Modern Hippie
Have there been any obstacles that you’ve overcome to pursue your design/art?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: The biggest obstacle was me. Telling myself I can turn this into something enjoyable for others. I didn’t believe in myself at first like others artists, I’m sure. So to be actually manifesting an idea I made 4 years ago is dope af.
What advice would you give to someone starting in design?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Originality is key. Don’t sacrifice your idea for a trend or fear no one will receive your art. Time is relative, just keep creating and you’ll be alright.
What are some victories that you had with your design/art?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Making the right connections to be able to print my own clothes without sending them off or fooling with these internet screen printers. The most difficult part of creating clothes is the actual production part. Ordering the blanks and figuring out sizes and printing techniques. I got some cool ass friends in my circle that help me out with that now so creating those bonds has been a major victory for me.
How would you best describe your brand/style?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Unisex/Androgynous streetwear
What are some other forms of media that inspire you? (Movies, art, TV, etc)
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I have a deep passion for film, architecture, and animation but I get inspired by all forms of art if I stare at it long enough.
What would be a major success for you in your design?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: To get one of my pieces in the hands of Lil B or Frank Ocean.
Tell me about one of your favorite projects so far.
Ian-Alijah Bruh: Working with Ethan from the Uzi Boys on the skateboard project is my favorite at the moment. It was a mix of film, skate culture, and product design so the variety kept it interesting from start to finish.
Do you have any other hobbies that you want to build in 2019?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I want to start deejaying. Creating mixes and shit to play for my homies when they come over and smoke.
Anything that you want to promote? Shows, projects or shoutouts?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: I will be showcasing a new photo project called “Casual Zodiac” at the “ALL IS INTERCONNECTED” event hosted by TMD on February 9th. Y’all should come to check that out. It’ll be a lot of other artists there as well. I also have a show of my own in Nashville on February 22nd. I’ll be releasing a new short film called “1-800-357-GURL” which is a continuation of sorts of the skate video I talked about. The flyer will be out soon, so be looking out for it.
Where can people keep up with you on social media?
Ian-Alijah Bruh: @alijahbruh.jpg and @carefreebruh.co on Instagram
Tha Milk Drop is a site focused on highlighting the hip-hop culture in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but also taps into hip-hop worldwide. Each week we drop exclusive and new content from artists. Also catch the profiles and interviews of hip-hop artists and creatives.
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