Brandon Fugitt, a 31 year old Entrepreneur from Maryland and the Creator of Roots Collection Clothing, Brandon Fugitt Designs, Nuegen Racing, and Lemonade Photography is a perfect role model for staying true, staying positive, and staying root’d; a motto Brandon and his brand represent well.
CarShowz had the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with Brandon Fugitt, to understand what his motivation is and where he gets his creative thinking from. If you are an aspiring artist, into photography, design work, the automotive scene, take the time to read about Brandon and what he is up to and what sparked his passion.
I remember in mid-2000 when Nuegen Racing was created and what got my attention is how professional of an organization Brandon created. The branding of the team was always on point, signage, decals, logos, etc. were all very professional looking. I also remember Lemonade Photography being stood up and I started to see more of Brandon’s and his wife’s Brittany’s photography hitting the scene and all of their work was again, very professional and precise.
What truly inspired me to reach out to Brandon is his dedication for creating not only a reputable brand that many believe in, but the network he has created and his loyalty to those who support him: his family, friends, and customers. Many people struggle just to get up for work these days; try doing that while, managing a family, a business and working on building your brand to inspire others and doing all of that with a positive attitude and the willingness to help others.
CarshowZ: I asked Brandon to give us an overview of his past and current projects. Here is what he had to say:
Brandon Fugitt: I started my first project when my feet hit the ground as a child. Sitting in my Dad’s lap watching him draw just sparked my creative future, I knew what I wanted to do at a very young age. When I graduated High School in 2003, I was hired at a local sign company in Garrett County called Signs 2000. It was my first real design job! Just learning the ropes and getting my feet wet in the sign & design industry. It was only supposed to be a summer job because I had all intentions of running off to college. Towards the end of summer I was hooked. This is everything that I wanted to do, being in this industry allowed me to be 100% creative in every aspect. As an artist talking about “projects” is an endless discussion! To list a few notable projects that are the bricks in my foundation:
Brandon Fugitt Designs: What better name to give your work than your own? I could have selected any fancy flashy name, but at the end of the day, anyone could use that same name. I thought by self titling my work, there is no replica, it’s me!
Nuegen Racing: aka “New Generation” In 2007 I started my own car club with a few friends. This is what created majority of my friendships and acquaintances. It brought so many people together just to have a fun time and share a similar interest. I wasn’t specific of any make or model as long as you had a positive attitude.
Lemonade Photography: Being around the car industry, comes the photographers. I wanted to become a photographer because I was tired of asking people to take photos for me. I like to be self sufficient. I had so many idols in photography that got me interested, I had to learn for myself!
Roots Collection: The most taxing and challenging project of them all! As natural progression in any artist’s career, you want a challenge so things don’t seem stale. This has kept me on my toes since day one and it has been the most rewarding project I’ve ever started. I’ve been constantly learning how to build a better brand along with becoming a better person internally as well as externally.
As you can see with my projects, everything is about being self sufficient. I have a major problem with asking people for help, or expecting people to do things for me. I am a control freak and need to have things live up to my personal goals and visions!
CZ: As an artist, there are many techniques that can be perfected: photography, digital graphics and design, sketching, renderings, etc. What are your specialties and what is your favorite and why?
BF: Perfection… I don’t believe in perfection, art is an expression. I love to sit down at my desk and work on a render / layout, I still enjoy grabbing my sketch books and draw ideas when my computer just won’t work with me. I love taking my camera to capture endless memories. My real passion, that not many know of, is painting. As much as I enjoy sitting down and working on a new drift car livery or designing a new logo for someone or even capturing that perfect photo, I really enjoy painting. Painting is something I can turn my mind off and get lost. It is very therapeutic and helps me with my anxiety. Perfecting a technique is basically being comfortable with how you do things to where you’re happy with your end result. Down the road you might revisit your “perfected” project and want to start completely over. It’s a vicious cycle.
CZ: What is your history with art? Where did it all begin and at what age? Who was your influence growing up (car builders, artists, etc.) and why?
BF: I’ve always had a pencil or paintbrush in my hand and that was thanks to my dad. He is a very talented artist and I remember as a child just watching him draw whatever I asked for. It blew my mind how he could create anything with a pencil. Along with my dad, comes my mom. My dad fueled my creative interests and my mom was my absolute biggest fan. So aside from my parents, some of the biggest influences in my career are my friends. When I say I have the best support group, that is without a doubt the honest truth. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in without family and friends. It’s difficult to name a few people because I’m afraid to offend someone I don’t name. I keep a wide open mind when it comes to art, I don’t have one set style I prefer because I pull references from everyone. Aside from my career of logo & car livery design, I’m a HUGE comic book nerd. So that’s a whole different spectrum of art compared to my career.
CZ: You are very passionate and you are great at what you do. What roles have you served over the years to help you achieve your goals and what has led you to where you are today?
BF: First and foremost, thank you! Being complimented in my career is and always will be humbling. One thing about myself that has helped me achieve my goals is that I’m relentless. I’ve always been curious to “what’s on the other side of the fence”. If I wanted to learn something I dove head first into it. Despite the advice and people telling me this or that, I still have to find out on my own, even if I already assume I’m 99% correct. Even once I’ve realized I made a mistake, it was still satisfying knowing I figured it out on my own. I know I drive my wife crazy with this! She could tell me one thing until she’s blue in the face, but nope, I must go upon this quest on my own!
CZ: What project or projects is / are your most memorable and why? Some folks do not understand the amount of time and effort it takes to get to the end result. Can you explain the amount of work it took to get to the end result and some of the techniques used?
BF: Even though it is my most recent project, my Roots Brand is by far the most memorable. I had quite the eventful year in 2015 with the loss of my step dad, but I always caught myself submerging myself into my work and that was always Roots. It was an eye opening experience and it helped shed the light on a lot of life situations. With everything that has happened over the past year, coming into 2016 with the re-branding of Roots, I’ve never felt more on top. With my brand along with the relationships I’ve made along the way. I can’t express how challenging it is to start a brand, from every minor detail to the actual presentation to the public. Running a brand is a 24/7 job. The pay off, hearing someone tell me “my story” or “my brand” has given them a more positive outlook. My number one technique is expressing positivity and not forgetting what has gotten me where I am. It’s what the entire brand is based off of.
CZ: Aside from your story via the rootscollectiononline.com; what has driven you to start such a passionate brand? What triggered your creative mind to put things into motion?
BF: There was one distinct moment when I felt I was being pulled in multiple directions. Designing other people’s successful logos and helping build other people’s brands and businesses. I looked at myself and I had nothing that honestly defined me. I was just the designer that everyone came to, to help create their brand, I had nothing other than a portfolio of work for other clients. I sat down with my family and friends, told them my thoughts and without hesitation Roots was born the next following day. August 21, 2013 to be exact.
CZ: What is your inspiration behind your clothing designs?
BF: I wanted to help show people a more positive side of things and to feel comfortable being themselves without worrying about what others think. I enjoy making people laugh and always like to see people succeed. I try to touch on current topics and what I see people struggle with by turning it around into positivity. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and spreading positivity through creativity and passion. It’s the Positive Lifestyle Brand.
CZ: What accomplishments are you most proud of since launching your brand? From working with Athletes, musicians, your clothing line distributed in stores, etc.
BF: The collaborations are always high accomplishments to me. From working with Rapper Dan Savage designing a shirt around his Formula D car, working with my best friend Justin Tyme Duvall and his successful tattoo career, building a great relationship with Bill Enfield at Alloy Wheel Repair, working with Jamie Sadler and his band Alter Ego while they wear my clothing all over the east coast to having my brand for sale at IAG thanks to J.J. Jabaji.
CZ: What are some of the challenges you face with owning your own brand? How do you overcome them?
BF: Staying relevant is the most difficult challenge. With everything being ran on social media, every time you turn around another brand or page is being created. You have to keep hustling if you want to stay ahead. Keep contacts with people, work with other people who have the same views and passion. Most importantly, do not sacrifice your brand’s meaning just to gain a follower or make an extra sale. At that point you’ve failed and have sold out your own brand. Everything about my brand comes full circle. To me personally, it’s not just a brand, it really is a lifestyle. Someone who is interested in purchasing a piece from your collection should be treated the same whether they’re your first customer or your millionth. It’s creating bonds and even friendships and your brand is only as strong as your consumers and supporters. You’ll have people jump ship to the next trend and you’ll have the people who sit quietly in the back supporting everything you do. One thing I have learned is to not take things personal when involving my brand. It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok. Just keep moving forward and believe in what you’ve created.
CZ: If you could give any advice to the young artists out there, what would it be? What steps should they take to get them where they need to go? Would you recommend attending an art school, if so, is there a preference of what school(s) or course(s) to take?
BF: Just enjoy what you do and do it for yourself. If you’re creating things to get attention or be socially accepted you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. There was a point in my career, actually two points, one as a photographer and one as a car livery designer where I felt every time I turned there was someone else who bought a camera or someone else doing things cheaper just to get the job. It literally was driving me nuts, I felt the industry was being flooded. You start to feel irrelevant and at that point you have to step back, remove yourself and let the dust settle a bit. I cleared my head and jumped back into my game after I realized I’m in my career for myself.
School isn’t for everyone. I had a scholarship opportunity to Towson University for art but I never pursued it. I looked into many other schools and visited art schools as well. It just wasn’t for me. Once I was working at the sign shop, I knew this is what I wanted to do. It’s all in your hands, if you feel you need the structure of school and the extended education of art then that’s great, go for it! But like I said before, art is expression so in my opinion there shouldn’t be a grade involved.
CZ: Without giving away too many of your secrets, what equipment do you prefer to work with, hardware, software, etc.?
BF: Oh no secrets at all, I always enjoy talking about the ins and outs of my job! I use multiple software programs, CorelDraw is my #1 right hand man! For photo editing I use Lightroom. At the shop we use a program called SignLab and cut on a 30” Summa Plotter while print on a 54” Roland Versacamm. My latest toy is my new Wacom Intuos Pro graphics tablet, which I absolutely love! I like getting my hands on the latest gadgets and technology! Like I said earlier, I really am a nerd at heart.
CZ: One can become saturated within the automotive industry trying to keep up with the latest trends and allowing their own personal agendas affect their relationships with others. How do you separate yourself from the daily hustle and bustle and stay true to your roots?
BF: To stay focused, I’ve found out the best way is to stay off scrolling through social media. People tend to post too much nonsense anymore that I just prefer not to get involved with. I post my Roots ads & photos and go about my day. Surrounding myself with positive people is key as well. One thing I’ve realized, as you get older your circle tends to shrink and become more solid.
CZ: What upcoming projects do you have going on? Anything you can give us a hint about?
BF: Well with the new logo and the completely new branding of Roots to which we now refer to as Root’d, we have our hands full. I’ve brought in a few close friends to help take the brand to the next level. You’ll have to wait and see what’s next and follow us for new updates!
CZ: If you could change one thing about the automotive scene, what would it be?
BF: BRING BACK COMRADERY! I remember when I first started getting into cars back in 2002, I was drawn to it because of the bonds I made and how no matter where you went or what you drove, it was a conversation starter. Even within your “group” or “club” you couldn’t wait to get out of school to go hang out with them, at least in my case. 2007 is when my car club really began to grow and I met endless people who wanted to just hang out with us. If you were cool person, you were in. We did everything together as a team. I even met my wife at a car show. I have so much to be thankful for due to the automotive scene, it’s heart breaking to see what it has become. Everything is judgmental and overly opinionated. Constant feuds within the scene and everyone trying to step over each other. There is no more comradery anymore. I would be happy to see the scene come back together again with people who have the passion and positivity to make it great like it used to be.
CZ: With us being a car shows website, we have to ask. What show(s) do you most look forward to attending each year and why?
BF: That’s a tough one, because after being to SEMA not many car shows even relate, but I look forward to going back to SEMA again this year. Local shows have always had my interest too, the smaller shows are the grassroots (no pun intended) to what these higher shows were at one point. You meet a lot of true passionate builders at the smaller shows where their egos haven’t consumed them. This year however, I would like to attend as many shows as possible just to see what’s new and to keep an open mind! I don’t want to give up on the scene just yet!
CZ: That concludes our Q&A session with Brandon Fugitt, we thank you for taking the time with us and for allowing us to dive into your life a bit. You are a true inspiration and a perfect role model for up and coming artists and most importantly you are a good friend.
Brandon wanted to give a special shout-out to those who support him:
First and foremost I would like to thank Jeff at Carshowz.com for giving me the opportunity to talk about what drives me and a little insight behind my brand. My Wife Brittany for always being my rock. My Mom & Dad for getting me started on the right foot. Along with my entire family and in-law family. My best buds, Cliff, Justin, Ross, Shawn, Brian, Jeremy, Mike & Ryan. All of my bosses who put up with my crap. John Bruning at Speedesign. Bill Enfield at Alloy Wheel Repair. Rapper Dan Savage for supporting everything I do. John Maykrantz for wearing Roots proudly. Dan Jenkins for showing me what a camera can really do. Eric & Brian for helping me bring my vision to life. Mark Enriquez & Mark Aquino for helping inspire me to grow the brand. J.J. Jabaji at IAG Performance. Jamie Sadler & Alter Ego.
And a huge thank you to everyone who’s made a positive comment and to every follower /supporter /customer of Roots and my creative craziness. You know who you are… Seriously, thank you.
Be sure to checkout the Roots Collection store at: http://www.rootscollectiononline.com/
Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rootscollection/