As we become more conscious of the footprint we leave on the world around us, Gen Z has been at the forefront of making do with what we have and making good art out of it too.
THIRTYBYTHIRTY is a San Luis Obispo-based clothing brand operated by Lupin Boylan, William Blankenship, and Erica Flojo that transforms uniform workwear into something expressive and unique.
“I dropped out of college and I’ve worked a lot of different jobs,” Blankenship said. “Finding a way to survive so that I can keep my hobbies going is my main focus. I definitely am fueled by collaborative work with other artists. I have visions and ideas that I want to put out into the world, but I don’t feel like I have a full picture. My best work comes when I’m working with other people. Working with people that consider themselves artists in any sort of fashion was… I felt like I got more education that way than by going to college.”
Boylan, whose work you may recognize from recent pop-up art sales in SLO, is skilled in the realms of painting and screen printing, which allows them to turn ideas into tangible products.
“At a couple of our art shows, we were doing some live screen printing where I’d have my friends send me drawings they did that were cool, and I’d put [them] on a screen,” Boylan said. “We told everyone who was coming, ‘Bring whatever you want, and I’ll print on it for $5 to $10.’ That was super fun and really successful, and people loved it. I love doing live printing. Screen printing is not new—it’s very not new.” (Screen printing actually originated in China as early as 221 AD.)
“People are now becoming fascinated with it,” Boylan added. “A lot of people will wear a shirt and [not] really think about how it’s made. Actually seeing the process in front of you is so cool, and that’s what captured me when I first started screen printing. Doing that at shows for people was really successful, and Will and I always talked about starting something with that, but never did it.”
That’s where Flojo comes into the mix. Her ability to make a vision a reality through a camera lens wraps the brand’s image in a nice little bow.
“Erica [took] this half-baked idea I had for clothes and was really able to brand it and market it,” Blankenship said. “I would credit Erica with the outward appearance of THIRTYBYTHIRTY. She made some of the most incredible edited photos I’ve ever seen. It happened really organically. We all knew each other, we had the skill set, and basically we just looked at this triangle of skills that we all had, and it was enough to make a brand.”
Blankenship’s knowledge of business allows the company to stay afloat.
“The business aspect? That’s all Will,” Flojo said. “I don’t think I could have done this without his input in running a business ‘cause that’s not where my expertise lies. We can’t do this without [Lupin]. We all really depend on each other for it to be successful.”
The team’s complementary skills allow each individual to focus entirely on what they are personally responsible for.
“I just wanna make pants and print on them, and I’ll put them in the mail for you guys,” Boylan said. “It works out perfectly.”
As of right now, THIRTYBYTHIRTY focuses on using clothing that their customers already have or a plain pair of Dickies, but making clothing from scratch is a project they’d love to tackle in the future.
“That’s the direction that we hope to move in—getting a bunch of cool fabric and doing crazy stuff with it that you can’t do on an already sewn pair of pants,” Boylan said.
“We tried clothes that were blue collar,” Blankenship added. “For example, we have workwear. It’s really popular right now because it’s very durable and it’s actually good material. [People] can be hard on their clothes and take a fall. The pants we’re using are Dickies, and they’re actually made for working [in]. People can weld in them, and they can work in a machine shop. In a way, I feel like we’re on the frontier of the blue collar and the working class.”
“They became functional pieces of art,” Flojo said.
One half of the population craves logos on t-shirts and the other half is all about giving new life to an article of clothing that has already been loved. THIRTYBYTHIRTY meets the needs of both demographics.
“At first, our target audience [was] kids our age. Our friends,” Flojo said. “It’s interesting because we know adults who want our pants. We’ve been trying to expand our designs to become more inclusive. At the end of the day, we just want to see our art on people. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do. Obviously being from the Central Coast, skate and surf culture will heavily influence our fashion and how we think and how we act, but that’s not just it. I wanna see some cowboys rockin’ this shit.”
“They’re custom, so an adult can get what they want on them and feel completely comfortable, and a high schooler can get what they want on them and feel completely comfortable,” Blankenship said. “That’s the interesting thing about the workwear being so blank and uniform. You lose your sense of individuality, and then screen printing on it gives people back their individuality, because they really get to choose where they want it and what they want on it. We have given them a medium to express themselves.”
Like many small businesses, THIRTYBYTHIRTY has had to maneuver around obstacles caused by COVID-19, but with things looking up, the trio hopes to get back into the swing of what their initial goals for the company were.
“We definitely want to start hosting events again—once COVID is way more chill—with live printing,” Boylan said. “I miss collaborating with a bunch of people. That would be a really cool thing to do again. To be able to gather.”
Despite any setbacks, THIRTYBYTHIRTY is still hoping to alter the way clothing is viewed in the eyes of many consumers. Currently, most people see a pair of pants they almost like and buy them because they’re close enough. The goal of THIRTYBYTHIRTY is to let their customers rest assured that the garment will fit, and then personalize the art and placement until it’s exactly what they want.
“I like the idea of making something from nothing,” Blankenship said. “It’s kind of like going against the laws of alchemy. If you don’t spend any money, can you produce money? If you don’t buy supplies, can you make art? It’s just looking around in the couch cushions for anything that’s available and using that.”
The best part, in my opinion, of buying from a small artist rather than a big company, is that you can see with your own eyes what a great impact a single purchase can make.
“I just want to see everyone wearing these pants,” Boylan said. “Whenever I see someone around town wearing something I printed it’s always like whoa, they woke up this morning and chose to put on my shirt.”
“We are doing drops every season, so this drop is our Spring line with .wav,” Flojo said. “Every drop we create new designs, [so] if you already have a pair of [Dickies] or anything you want screen printed in general, we welcome you to send them to us if you want a design from our current drop. It’s kinda like a tattoo flash sheet. We want to encourage sustainable and upcycled pieces!”
THIRTYBYTHIRTY is where simple staples meet individual equity. I firmly believe that when you feel good about your outward appearance, you are a more kind and confident person about all other aspects of yourself. Do yourself a favor and see what THIRTYBYTHIRTY has to offer you by checking out their stock on Instagram and keep up with their screen printer-in-chief at www.lupinpaints.com
Izzy Pedego is a .WAV staff writer, she wrote the article. Jo Anna Edmison is .WAV’s Photo/Video Director, she produced the stills and created the graphic.