September 15th, 2016
It’s rare that something really catches my eye on Instagram. Restructuring the feed and doing away with showing posts in real time was what killed the enjoyment of scrolling for me. It’s just so confusing to see something going on 16 hours ago. Now it’s all just too little too late.
So when I was able to catch some posts of Caleb Taosaka’s clothing line Overmind it was like finding a needle in a haystack. It appeared to me once, then twice, then I couldn’t stop lurking for more of his designs. First it appeared on a few different friends in the skating community, which is already a pretty stylie group. Then I saw the brand at Mori by Art and Flea. The designs stood out like a punch in my face from the cosmos.
I had to find out who is behind this brand.
Turns out I didn’t have to look too far. Caleb Taosaka works in Chinatown at Blank Canvas. He’s been turning out designs for the past three years and between working, skating and spending time with his girlfriend and business partner he’s infiltrating Honolulu city with fascinatingly creepy and interesting art.
Full Name: Caleb Masaru Taosaka
Where Did You Grow Up: Born and raised in Waipahu on the island of Oahu. That rolls off the tongue
Where Did You Go to School: Grew up in Waipahu but went to Moanalua High School. I then attended UH at Manoa and graduated with a bachelor's degree in studio art in 2014.
Name all that are involved with Overmind and their role(s):
Pretty much just Lissa Hardbarger and myself. She ships out my orders and runs errands for me when I'm at work. She's also my girlfriend. I make the designs for the shirts and instagram/website stuff. I also print and label all of the tees and hoodies at my job. I have a few buddies that help me shoot photos as well. Maxfield Smith, Jordan Lum, and John Oliveira to name a few.
Tell me your vision:
We aim to fascinate and disgust through visions of otherworldly fantasies from Elsewhere.
What was your first run of clothing or event?
My first run of tees was a small batch of hand screened tees done in my friends backyard. Did three different color tees of the same design. I had a layer of glow in the dark ink that I remember being really stoked on.
How did you get into design/art/fashion?
I grew up with overactive imagination. Had my head in the clouds much of the time. This led to pursuing an art degree in college, where I further nurtured my creative glands. Sometime during my third year at UH a friend of mine named Soohee taught me Photoshop while we ate at Curry House, which helped to push me into more computer based graphics and artwork.
I never considered myself a "fashionable" person, however some of my favorite possessions growing up were graphic tees. Something about wearable imagery was really interesting to me, which eventually turned into me printing the things I made on t-shirts and other things.
Do you collaborate with anyone if so who?
So far the only collaborations I have done were photo projects with a few friends. Maxfield Smith, Jordan Lum, and John Oliveira are the primary people who shoot photos for me from time to time. I have a few collaborative projects in the works at the moment, but as I said before it's hard to find the time and drive to do these things. It sometimes takes me months to finish a design. I'm very neurotic about what I make.
How do you overcome the stressors of pulling things together and executing them?
I think that college was a good training ground for dealing with the pressure to execute plans and perform. I think of each season release almost like a final exam that comes around twice a year. I like to brainstorm/relax for months in between seasons and then have a few months binge-creating graphics until the new season releases. This keep my stress levels relatively low for most of the year and condenses the pressure into a few months. Probably not recommended or how it should be done, but it works for me.
I am especially moved by your wolf design. Can you tell me more about this masterpiece?
I call the wolf design Warg. I had been given the idea to make something like that by my friend Lance when I was interning under him for Contrast Magazine. At the time my Adobe Illustrator skills were very limited and I wasn't able to create something that I was satisfied with. A few years later I gained the skills necessary to bring that creature to life and released it under Overmind. Sorry Lance. I love you.
I get a bit of a beyond Earth vibe from your artwork. Are you a spiritual person?
I don't really consider myself to be an overly spiritual person. I believe in entities and things outside of our plane of existence or understanding, which I guess can be a form of religion. Anything not understood by human science can be deified into a spiritual belief or movement I suppose. Psychedelics have taught me that all things are possible and probable within the mind. All the science fiction and fantasy I ingest also definitely plays a role in my subject matter.
How did you come up with the name Overmind?
People always ask me if I got the name from that video game Starcraft, which I've been told is the name of one of the alien characters in the game. I have never played it, but if I were a video game kinda guy I probably would. I got the idea for the name from a sci-fi novel I read by Arthur C. Clark called Childhood's End. In it the Overmind is a interstellar hive mind type entity that is made up of the consciousness of various ascended alien races. Basically these demon-looking aliens come to Earth representing this being and usher in an era of peace in order to guide humanity to enlightenment and absorption into the Overmind. Pretty neat.
I also read that it is the name for a level of spiritual consciousness in a yoga-based philosophy that is one of the highest a normal human can achieve. It is referred to as the plane of Gods and a Cosmic Consciousness, a form of consciousness that cannot be achieved by an ordinary person.
It is also the name of one of the levels within the eight-circuit model of consciousness, an ideology of transhumanism. The level is also referred to as quantum consciousness, or an awareness beyond our limitations of space-time, and can sometimes be accessed through near-death experiences or strong doses of psychedelics.
Where can people buy your stuff?
The best places to find my goods other than online are A'ala Park Boardshop, a skate shop located in Chinatown, and Mori by Art + Flea, a store currently at Ward Warehouse. APB was the first location to stock my stuff, which I am very grateful for. Bought my first skateboard from there in 2005 and became friends with the owner Chad and workers through the years. Truly a good place with good dudes. I met Aly, the owner of Mori, years ago at an Art and Flea event she was running and once I had started making stuff she offered to stock my products in her store. I've been lucky to have these opportunities while my brand is still relatively young in the scheme of things.
Any last shoutouts?
Shoutout to all my friends who support me in everything I do. Also Maxfield Smith, Jordan Lum, John Oliveira, and anyone else who helps me take photos. Also Daniel Ng of Blank Canvas. He helped shape me into a more responsible person and who pretty much single handedly taught me how to use Illustrator. Also my girlfriend Lissa for being a wonderful being.