An Interview with Tabby Rodriguez of Radio Fonix

Tabby Rodriguez is the independent artist of Radio Fonix, a brand offering a new wave of radical apparel. She’s one of the coolest artists I know and she’s always taking RFx to the next level through her latest work and live events. Had a chance to ask her a few questions I thought you guys might dig, so here we go!

Wearabl: What is Radio Fonix?

Tabby Rodriquez: RF[x] is the brainchild of the inspiration I’ve had, and continue to get from the ever expanding world of music. Music has always been a necessity in my life, as far back as I can remember. The collective wave of sound, lyrics or the whole idea of it all is truly incredible. I wanted to capture my eclectic love of music and create a brand that appealed to fans of any genre or decade; generate a truly unique experience and product for the music lover, and most importantly, create opportunities for independent artists driven by the same passion.

Wearabl: Walk us through your creative process from concept sketch to shipping an order.

Tabby: I love to picture what I would like as a consumer, and multiply it by 10. Even as a brand on a budget, I believe you can make a customer’s experience with your brand memorable. I can take an idea or nonsensical sketch from months prior and work on it for hours, but I’m not satisfied with a design until I think it might blow someone away.

Wearabl: How fast did Bob Swaget (Blue) sell out?

Tabby: I was blown away by the response we got with Bob. We printed 24 as a limited run, small center chest print. We were completely sold out of that run within a couple of months, through online sales and pre-orders only. No other design had gotten half the attention that Swaget received.

Even after we had sold out, the visitors to our website continued to grow, specifically the Bob Swaget tab. I was getting emails and messages asking when I would print more, so we adjusted our printing releases accordingly, printing a bigger, bolder and new color of Bob, in a larger limited run of 50.

Soon, we’re planning on releasing a Tank Top version of Bob during our upcoming 90’s release and I have to say, I think Danny Tanner would be proud.

Wearabl: What inspires you as an artist and why?

Tabby: Honestly, it can be something as simple as an inside joke, completely random and unrelated to music. I’ve been inspired by nostalgia, movies, even old cartoons. The great thing about graphic design is the diversity of the stuff you can create. Much like music, the possibilities and inspiration are endless, and sometimes come from the most unexpected places.

Wearabl: Do you have a particular album or song you’ve been listening to while you work lately?

Tabby: I seriously can’t work without tunes. I tend to listen to whatever genre I’m designing for to gain inspiration, mainly my favorites from those genres. Lately I’ve been jamming a ton of indietronica and indie folk rock. Some favorites of mine are The Head & The Heart, Stepdad, Ghostland Observatory and The Knocks. More often than not however I’m listening to my iPod on shuffle, I really love the anticipation of the playlist, not knowing what song or even what type of song will play next. I’ve come up with a lot of my favorite designs using the eclectic playlist method. I like to think RF[x] has that same anticipation. I want to always keep our fans guessing, anticipating the next collection, series or design.

Wearabl: Where’d Rad Reggie come from?

Tabby: Reggie was inspired by my own obsession with music. I can’t go an entire day without hearing it, and if I’m not finding new music consistently I start to get anxious. Even when I’m nowhere near speakers songs are on a constant loop inside of my brain, and Reggie is just that; a representation of the eclectic and avid music lover. Over the years his design has evolved from a mascot to an icon, representing generations of people driven by sound.

Wearabl: Tell us about your collaboration with Boxwine.

Tabby: I’ve worked closely with Boxwine for a couple years now, and those guys are amazing.  We met when we were both kind of first starting out. They were adjusting to a new lead vocalist and we had just started networking with independent artists throughout the country, looking for artists to sponsor and work closer with. The passion and drive these guys have for their music is inspirational, and truly epic. The energy they have and create is contagious. Working closely with them, we learned a lot about each other’s likes and interests, and eventually bonded over most of them. Being the hilarious, sci-fi obsessed nerds they are, I played with some ideas for merch they had given me.

After designing a few of their Band’s merch designs we decided to incorporate my ever emerging music concepts with the band’s image. We ended up creating a fun, trekky ode to Rock and the sub-genres that hail to it; putting a fun twist on an old phrase. It’s always a lot of fun collaborating with them on designs or ideas in general. I’m planning to re-design and print the Spock Out Tee in a whole new light, releasing it within our TBA Punk Series; where I’ll be including and involving the guys of Boxwine a ton. Should be pretty awesome.

Wearabl: What’s your favorite thing about your Artist Inspired work?

Tabby: There’s something truly amazing about gaining inspiration from the inspiration of others, specifically music; forming your own artistic interpretation of that sound and the passion behind it. I’d have to say creating designs based on a specific inspiration brought on by a single moment of a song, is just one of the many reasons I love what I do.

Wearabl: Can you tell us anything about the Jam Locally concept?

Tabby: Live Local is an idea I came up with a while back, when Radio Fonix was just starting out. It started out as a way to expose and promote local artists; giving the community an easy way to become a part of their local music scene through gnarly lineups made exclusively of local bands and artists. From there, it has developed into an entirely local movement. We’ve started creating opportunities for local businesses to become involved.

We’d like to help fund local business through these live music events. From beverage companies, venues, bands, artists, photographers, cinematographers …we want to create fun, interactive ways for local music lovers to support the scene as it continues to grow, while giving other local artists of all kinds to become a part of the local music scene in their own unique way. I believe the success of talented musicians and the live music scene thrive on the support of local fans. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have in store for the Live Local Movement, and the limited edition products that will come with it.

Wearabl: What sales tools do you use when slanging at live events?

Tabby: I like to take a few different approaches selling live. Promotional giveaways are always an attention grabber; people really love the hell out of some free stuff. Freebies like glow sticks, bandanas jewelry, music in exchange for follows or likes help us spread the word. Exclusive deals and prices at live events only, one time only giveaways and contests are really good incentives as well. (2 for $25, Instagram Event Photo Contests etc.) In my opinion it’s so much easier to sell tees live than online. I’ve learned that if you have a unique, bold design and quality apparel, your stuff will sell itself. Everything else is strictly to make the customer’s experience that much better.

Wearabl: What challenges do you face as an independent artist?

Tabby: I’d have to say that getting out there and truly standing out is the biggest hurdles any artist can face. But being original is something I constantly have in mind. I remember when we first were thinking of printing Bob Swaget, I searched the internet high and low trying to find out if someone had thought of it first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an idea for a shirt or design and there had already been a thousand different versions of it. Creating a cohesive brand starts with originality, and that’s something I can’t ever slack on.

Wearabl: Who inspires you within the independent apparel community?

Tabby: Johnny Cupcakes is undeniably a huge inspiration to me as a brand owner. He never ceases to amaze his consumers, and he really creates a memorable experience for them, in addition to insanely unique product.

Wearabl: What are your plans for the rest of 2013?

Tabby: We’ve been really busy this past year focusing on our EDM designs, events and working closely with local DJ’s. More recently I’ve been concentrating on some bigger series releases and collaborative music events. Hoping to start announcing some really cool stuff here pretty soon!

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  1. Amanda Conner says

    I love the passion Tabby has for her brand and her art. I have been a fan for a few years and have purchased quite a few shirts, and everytime I wear one of RF’s shirts, I’m always asked where I got it. I know Tabby and RF will have much success and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this young company.

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