Boomslank is a kick-ass t-shirt company that creates original anime work with wicked story-lines, themes and characters. What started as a hobby for artist P-Shinobi, turned into a business when his brother Justin saw potential for growth. The brand is run by three brothers, P-Shinobi, Justin and Kevin Anyanwu, the group set out to create something they were passionate about. P-Shinobi shares with us the meaning behind Boomslank, his experiences and love for anime.
TM: Boomslank? How did you come up with such an unusual yet powerful name for your brand?
The name Boomslank is completely arbitrary. We made the name up while looking for a url that wasn’t already taken. Initially we settled on BOOMSLANG, we later changed it to BOOMSLANK after noticing that BOOMSLANG was actually the name of a deadly snake.
TM: That’s hilarious!
When did you decide to hit the ground running with Boomslank and make it into a profitable business?
Originally Boomslank was thought up in 2006. But back then it was a different business model. At the time we were trying to sell animated desktop wallpapers.
We gave up on that idea and took a long hiatus ‘till 2010, when the idea was resurrected as an anime clothing brand. We did a lot of research into T-shirt production.
Since then is been a learning experience every day.
TM: What’s it like working with your brothers?
It’s been a learning process for all of us I feel. We have learned new skills and aptitudes out of necessity. I think it has also been a strong bonding process, we have learned a lot about how each other works and thinks and what our individual strengths and weaknesses may be. We still get into arguments, but as brothers we really trust each other and never let it ruin our relationship.
TM: How do you keep the anime style but bring in an innovative voice through the Boomslank products?
At Boomslank it’s no understatement that we love anime (like a lot). However we also love beautiful art and design in general as well. I personally want to present anime as an art form equal in beauty and design to those that one may find in a museum gallery. I feel there is still a general feeling that anime is just simple cartoons but I also feel there is a gradual movement that is bringing the genre into the mainstream and giving it the recognition that such beautiful art deserves and I very much want to be part of that.
TM: How do you create a fan base around unfamiliar characters?
I usually create fictional bios before I illustrate any character. It’s something that helps me bring the character to life. I found that people were sometimes interested in those stories. I think a simple back story makes a character more memorable even just a little.
TM: I noticed that many artists via social media choose the fan art route as oppose to creating original pieces. Fan art can be easy money, but I admire that your brand takes a different route. What are your thoughts on fan art?
To me fan art is a great homage to the anime, mangakas, and artists that have inspired and influenced an artist. I actually lament the fact that I don’t do more fan art. When I was young I drew my favorite anime characters all the time. This was a great, invaluable practice, but at some point I realized I wanted to create my own characters, my own worlds, and tell my own stories.
TM: What anime artists or cartoons have been huge influences on your brand?
One of the greatest influences on me is the Japanese artist Koji Morimoto (Director of Beyond Animatrix). I was mesmerized by the amount of detail Morimoto would illustrate in every scene and his blending of old and contemporary styles of architecture. I am also a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki. I love Miyazaki’s rustic style and most of all the way he depicted nature in his films. Another artist that perhaps has had the greatest influence on my development is Makoto Shinkai. I am very attracted to detail in art and Makoto Shinkai reallyu goes the extra mile when it comes to detail. I still remember a simple digital watch illustrated in his film “5 Centimeters Per Second” and the sheer amount of detail levied on such a simple object. His art was such that they told the story, at times one did not really need the words to know what was going on you could just feel it through the illustration. I really try to create art like that, illustrations that tell a story on their own.
TM: Tell us about the Anime Conventions you have been to. What’s it like being surrounded by the culture, seeing aspiring and inspiring artists and also potential customers?
Anime conventions have been one of the most amazing experiences for me personally. I am not very social to be honest, but at conventions being surrounded by many individuals who share similar interests it’s really overwhelming every time. It has also been very humbling and moving to meet aspiring artist who seek my advice. I still (and probably always will) see myself as an aspiring artist who has a long way to go, so it’s always so moving to meet artists that seek my advice. I share the little technical knowledge I know but above all I tell them to always, always have fun drawing and draw what you are interested in; you do your best when you are having fun. I have also met artists whom I follow online and I am a little embarrassed to say I was “fanboying” like crazy! To meet these artist whose works resemble acts of magic was clearly too much for me.
TM: Sounds like an amazing experience. You currently carry t-shirts, posters and phone cases. Do you have plans for expansion for Boomslank? Any plans on collaborations with other artists or designers?
We are constantly thinking of new ways to expand the project and other groups we would love to work with. We have a few things we are currently working on that would be revealed soon.
TM: When you’re not working on Boomslank what do you do?
I (P-Shinobi) usually spend my free time studying new things I feel may compliment my abilities. I am currently studying the use of 3d rendering to aid in illustrating difficult perspectives, or huge scenes. I also hunt madly for inspiration, I read, watch movies, anime, troll my favorite Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. I never know where the spark will come from.