We first fell for Brooklyn graphic design firm Two Arms Inc. the way love often blossoms these days… online. After a few messages, we met up with husband and wife design team, Mike and Karen, at their Pencil Factory studio in Greenpoint. There we not only witnessed their love for each other, but also their incredible passion for graphic design. A mutual admiration for each others’ businesses, scrappy startup origins, and love for the city led to a collaborative t-shirt design now at Brooklyn Industries in time for Valentine’s Day. We sat down with Mike to ask him a few questions about the collaborative design, ‘Heart BK’, and running a graphic design studio in Greenpoint…
What do you ‘Heart’ about BK and New York. Tell us about the design you came up with for our t-shirt…
For us, moving to New York was a whole new crazy chapter in our lives. We met in Florida, but both ended up moving here on our own. It wasn't until I had bought a one way ticket that I realized Karen was already in New York. It was this amazingly hectic and exciting time in our lives. It was when our relationship really started. We were both here together figuring it out and navigating all that is New York. We had all of the typical "new" New Yorker experiences together.
So how does a husband and wife graphic design studio happen. Did you fall in love with each other while staring at fonts?
We actually met in Florida while I was working at a studio in Orlando. It was more like starry-eyed lovers meeting over a squeegee and ink. Karen ended up working with our studio over the summer as a printer. At that time I was managing the screen printing for the studio. After moving to New York we were both working for different agencies in the city. A year or two later we weren't very happy and decided to roll the dice on doing our own thing. We always said no matter what happens we can start over and get "real jobs" if it didn’t work out. It's been a hustle for sure, but so far it's been six years of Two Arms Inc. and we are still putting in work.
Tell us about your dog/Instagram star Lemmy, the third member of Two Arms.
Lemmy is an Olde English Bulldogge, and is a spitting image of THE Lemmy (from Motörhead). Who would win in a fight, Lemmy? Or God? That’s a trick question - Lemmy is God.
What do you think about the current Brooklyn graphic design scene? Do you have any advice for all the graphic designers trying to create their mark?
I think Brooklyn is a like a lot of other urban cities with a progressive art and design culture. But Brooklyn has become its own sort of "brand" these days. No matter what though I love it and we aren't going anywhere. My advice to new graphic designers is always the same "Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work." - Chuck Close
BEHIND THE DESIGN
SPRING'S INSPIRATION 'UNCONTAINED'
Recently, our friend David, an electrician who helped us open our first store in Williamsburg in 2001, was looking to buy a house, but when he couldn’t find an ideal and affordable home, he did what very few did - he built his own house out of shipping containers. We were inspired by his out-of-the-box approach of upcycling overlooked industrial elements to solve his problem – an approach that also yielded amazingly beautiful designs. The idea of turning a uniform industrial design, a product that crosses the paths of many people internationally, into something uniquely personal, inspired our designers to create similarly comfortable and utilitarian pieces for our Spring 2015 Collection. They also drew inspiration from industrial workwear and uniforms, railroad and vintage boxcar motifs, along with graphic references from the tools of the trade.
In this unique collection, you’ll find lots of metal hardware, plackets and details amidst chambray, denim, twill, tough/rugged fabrics and washes that give it a well-worn and worked-in look. Combined with playful, custom thematic prints and graphics, this collection was designed to have overall workwear styling that is true to our heritage. VIEW THE LOOKBOOK>
COMING UP ROSES
The jacquard-knit Rose Reversible Sweater is one of our favorites in the new collection. The custom rose print features reversed colors on the inside to make two sweaters in one. Available in two color combinations. Shop sweaters >