Obey the Purebreed and niche marketing

Obey the Purebreed is one of the most fun DTG lines out there, portraying pets as the militant, unyielding protagonists of propaganda. All the major breeds of both cats and dogs are represented in classic Obey-style graphics, poking fun at the often demanding nature of pet ownership.

How did you first come up with the concept of the Obey the Purebreed clothing line?

I came up with the idea about 6-7 years ago because of a Weimaraner that we had. She was really demanding, and had a way of controlling people when she wanted something. We found that it wasn’t possible to reason with her, so you had to obey what she told you to do.  That inspired me to do an illustration of her that was based on an old soviet propaganda poster.

What have been the advantages of using a DTG site as compared to traditional screenprinting? Have you considered using screenprinting at some point?

The advantage is convenience. I wouldn’t be able to offer hundreds of products if it meant actually having inventory. The time that I save makes up for the lower profit margin of print-on-demand. I’ve considered traditional screenprinting, but right now it would only make sense if I am selling a large number of t-shirts or prints at an event.

Have you always used Cafepress for your line, or have you considered other DTG sites? What about Cafepress has made it the best choice for you?

CafePress is my main shop, but I also have a smaller shop at Zazzle. I was a couple of years into using CafePress before I considered any other sites, so for me it’s just the familiarity with CafePress along with the large audience that their marketplace attracts. They’ve done a good job w/ my stuff for a long time now, and they have good customer service. Until the profit margin becomes too small, or something makes me unhappy w/ CafePress, I’ll probably stick with using them.

Do you create all the art yourself? What is your creation process like?

Yeah, I do all of the designs, and I built the site as well. Really I just would find good photos of specific dog breeds and cats, and then find a way to show them as dictators by looking at old propaganda posters and postage stamps. The way that Shepard Fairey has remixed some of that old stuff was also an inspiration for style. He’s a great designer. Some of my designs could even be considered a parody of what he does.

How important do you think it is for brands to be cohesive, with all products reading clearly as part of the same group?

I think that is probably one of the most important factors in a brand’s success. I think there needs to be something to tie designs together. I’m always impressed with brands like Paul Frank and “Life is Good” t-shirts that are instantly recognizable because of the style and the use of the logo or icon.

Which design is your best-seller? Which do you think is the most under-rated?

The best seller is probably Chairman Meow because it isn’t limited to an audience of a specific breed as most of my designs are. The fact that he looks a lot like most cats means that more people can relate to it. It also has become kind of iconic, and works on stickers and even on Keds. The small breed dogs seem to sell well, as it’s funnier to see a breed like a Chihuahua as a dictator rather than a 150 pound Rottweiler. I think my most underrated designs are the ones that say “asparagus makes your pee smell awesome!” I have to revisit that idea soon and make it work.

Do you advertise your store? What would you recommend to other shops for getting the word out about their products?

Yeah, I haven’t done much advertising lately, but when I do I try to find inexpensive ways to advertise, like putting banners on blogs, or even Google Adwords for specific dog breeds.  The good thing about dog and cat stuff is that there is a lot of word-of-mouth between pet owners online. I’d recommend that people do as much self-promotion as possible. The internet allows you to access niche groups of people at a low cost, much more so than print is able to do. I  think most marketing campaigns or designs should have a niche in mind from day one, and really target that group specifically. I’ve found that when designs are too generic and are meant to appeal to too many people they don’t sell as well. For example, a funny “Pug” bumper sticker is much easier to market than a bumper sticker intended to appeal to all dog owners. I think the same rule applies to most audiences including politics and lifestyle.

Where do you see Obey the Purebreed headed in the future? In a perfect world, where would you like it to go?

Obeythepurebreed.com is a great creative outlet for me, and allows me to not depend on the ups and downs of freelance work to get by. I think for now it will continue to exist on that level, but there’s always the possibility of choosing some ideas or breeds to really expand on. In a perfect world I would turn Chairman Meow into a smaller version of what Paul Frank did with his monkey icon. Although, from what I understand, that venture didn’t end well so in a perfect world I would omit that part of it!

2 Responses to “Obey the Purebreed and niche marketing”

  1. Ryan says:

    Sweet! Chairman Meow is awesome. One of the better cafepress shops. I love the retro dog breed poster designs. Thanks for the interview!

  2. Jim Pyle says:

    Kevin does great work and I admire his creative talent and humor in his designs and commentary. I’m happy that his web sites are very successful.

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Learn Something Every Day tackles DTG tees
Learn Something Every Day tackles DTG tees

Learn Something Every Day is a project from Young, a UK design studio. Each day they post a new and