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Men’s Summer Tees: What Inspires Our Creative Director?

6 min read

Men’s Summer Tees: What Inspires Our Creative Director?

Emil Kozak’s career has been defined by the simple philosophy, “if your job is your hobby, then you’re doing pretty good!” He adds, “I used to say that if I do what I like, somebody else will like it too. And it will all snowball from there.” As our Creative Director, Emil devotes his time to crafting new graphics for our men’s t-shirts, developing concepts, and collaborating with his buddy, Lutz, founder of TWOTHIRDS. 

“I love working with Lutz because we have a very good connection, a good vibe in terms of creativity. The typical ping pong that you have with somebody who understands you on a creative level.”

Introducing: Our Men’s Summer Tees

The recent release of our men’s summer tees provided the perfect excuse to catch up with Emil! These summer tees combine colourful geometric patterns with Emil’s trademark surf aesthetic. Like all TWOTHIRDS designs, these men’s summer tees also happen to be entirely sustainable, thanks to the dab hands of both our men’s designer and our supply chain manager. Each men’s summer tee is crafted with pesticide-free organic cotton - some even included recycled materials too. 

Emil is responsible for some of our most popular summer t-shirts like the Killingq, which features a sunrise 〜 sunset graphic that is now available in different colourways. 

It All Comes Back To Minimalism

Though Emil mentions “the obvious” points of inspiration for him: “nature, friends, and what other people are doing,” everything he makes for TWOTHIRDS is rooted in simplicity. “What inspired my last designs was, as always, minimalism and how to evoke being on the beach or surfing in the least strokes possible.” This is evidenced in our men’s summer tees like Greenland. “I love drawing a circle and then people say it’s a sun or it’s a moon, or whatever, and you draw a line and they say it’s the horizon. Those kinds of things really interest me in terms of illustration.”  

He notes that this is what people generally want to see in a T-shirt anyway, “if there’s a balance between being simple and people still getting it, then I’ve done my job in terms of graphics.”

Late 60s Graphic Design

Looking at the latest men’s summer tees, you might also detect a specific era of graphic design at work. Emil has spent years amassing a collection of books, magazines, and more books from the late 60s! Citing Milton Glaser’s famous Bob Dylan poster, he explains: “the way that they made Graphic Design in that period was very whole-hearted. 

It connected with you. It had some kind of vulnerability. Maybe they were just f**ked up on LSD (but) they had something that maybe we don’t have anymore, they tried to make a better world, and I think that’s absolutely beautiful.” Emil contrasts this outlook with today’s tendency to go in whichever direction one is paid to go. It’s clear that he feels a sense of affinity with the creators and visionaries of that era.

“It sounds silly, but for me, that period of Graphic Design is the best. You’ve got other ones like Art Deco, Art Nouveau and here in Barcelona, Modernista. Also fine. But that one was so explicitly let’s do this, let’s be good people together. And that inspires me.” 

A nostalgic love of the late ‘60s can sometimes be spotted in TWOTHIRDS’ typography choices - like the lettering on the Pateiro men’s summer tee.

Surfing Against The Wave

There are many surf motifs in our men’s summer tees, which is no surprise for those who know Emil well. 

During the pandemic, Emil kept us all sane with stories plucked from the history books of surfing. Each week he’d send the team an “Aloha Friday”, spotlighting the icons who left their mark on the sport. Does Emil have a favourite? 

No: he has three! The first name that comes to mind is “Duke. He basically invented surfing - well not invented it but he took it from the polynesian islands to California and then it became a popular thing. So how can you not say him, right?”

However, “so many people who have put their grain in the sand to make surfing interesting I think. If you ask me right now, I think Dane Reynolds is very inspiring.” In 2011, Reynold’s penned a letter titled Declaration Of Independence, explaining his decision to step back from the surfing circuit. “He was totally anti-system and if you think about the origins of surfing generally speaking it’s not that well regarded, it has a history of being counterculture and that’s what I like.” 

Finally, Miki Dora is the archetypal example of a surfer who went against societal norms. 

“Those are my clearest inspirations. Not only in surfing, because surfing is just riding a wave, but also in life! That somebody who says ‘I’m going to do it my own way and that’s how it’s gonna be.’ I think (what inspires me is) people who are trying to bend the norm.” 

Watching TWOTHIRDS Evolve

Emil remembers “the old days” of TWOTHIRDS, when he and Lutz would go on excursions to different beaches and do almost everything themselves. “The first time I met Lutz, he asked me ‘how would you do a photoshoot?’ and I said ‘Well I would just give everyone a disposable camera and just take some photos and hang out.’ We did that for, I don’t know, 5 years.” 

The turning point came when more people were introduced to the team, each with their own talents. “Lutz - he had a bigger plan. I didn’t know at the time, because I had my own thing going on. But Lutz being a visionary as he is, he put it all together and made a company that now has 60 people! I didn’t expect that at that point, I just went along with it. I was busy doing work for other companies as a freelancer; the last one I did was Google. Then I said okay, I’m gonna do TWOTHIRDS. I mean it’s stuff that I love, and I love working with Lutz because we have a very good connection, a good vibe in terms of creativity, really. You know, the typical ping pong that you have with somebody who understands you on a creative level.” 

What started as the occasional project has now developed into a full-time job. This has freed Emil from the freelancer’s greatest adversary - the whims of the board. Rather than relying on their opinions (‘eerm, maybe a bit more red’ ‘it’s too light’ ‘we want more spark’), he can enjoy the benefits of being on a shared wavelength.