The Daily Quarterly: How did you hear about The Daily Quarterly?
Kevin Stecko: Back when I was in kindergarten my parents used to get online and read to me from the site.
TDQ: How excited were you that The Daily Quarterly wanted to do an interview with you?
KS: On a scale of 0 to 10, Pi.
TDQ: What was your favorite t-shirt as a kid?
KS: I had a “He-Man” tee that I was very fond of, but as a kid you grow out of things so fast that I had a ton of “favorites.” But the one I am super fond of because I got a lot of s*** for it is my “Yes we can, Pittsburgh” shirt which featured former Steelers quarterback Bubby Brister. It came out in 1989 and I was a huge fan of Brister’s (which back then, everyone loved to hate him). I wore that shirt in 1991 to gym class of my freshmen year and a kid a year older than me was merciless in making fun of me for it. I wish I could still fit in that tee and still had it.
TDQ: What was your favorite 80s movie?
KS: “Karate Kid” is my favorite movie, no 80s qualification needed.
TDQ: What made you want to get into the t-shirt business?
KS: It happened kind of naturally. I’ve always loved graphic t-shirts and always wanted to run a side business since I was a kid. It was only a side business for a couple years until it got too big to manage part-time.TDQ: What’s the best advice you have ever gotten?
KS: Best advice was from “Teen Wolf:”
Coach Finstock: “There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.”
TDQ: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?
KS: Never let them see you sweat. I took this way too literally and it has precluded me from participating in sports.
TDQ: Who are your influences?
KS: I try mainly to be influenced by kids in general. They can find joy in just about any situation you put them in. A box becomes a house or a spaceship. A stick or a rock become a central piece of an elaborate game.
TDQ: Tell our few readers who haven’t yet discovered your site about 80sTees.com
KS: It’s all the movies, tv show, video games, musicians, and fads you loved as a kid on t-shirts.
TDQ: Tell us about the process of licensing and turning an idea into an actual t-shirt.
KS: It is a very administratively heavy process. First, a license agreement must be negotiated, then artwork must be created, shown to the trademark owners, approved by them, samples created and approved by trademark holders, products created. There’s more to it but that’s the basic version.TDQ: What t-shirt would you love to be able to make, but haven’t been able to yet for some reason?
KS: There are a lot of movies that came out in the 80s but were made by studios that aren’t around or that involved actors that won’t allow their faces to be on a t-shirt. For instance, a Top Gun tee with a picture of Tom Cruise.
TDQ: What is the best thing about the 80s? The music? The movies? The cartoons? The lack of cell phones?
KS: That’s like asking what’s the best thing about a Reese’s Cup or a Snickers. It’s the combination that made it magical.
TDQ: If you could only watch one of these cartoons for the rest of your life, which would it be: “GI Joe,” “Transformers” or “ThunderCats?”
KS: I can watch any and all of them for the rest of my life, but I’m guessing you mean if I had to only watch one thing and I had only these 3 cartoons to choose from what would I watch? I’d have to go with “Transformers.”
TDQ: What shirt has been your best seller?
KS: The all-time best seller featured Jake Ryan from “Sixteen Candles.” Let me tell you, the ladies loved Jake Ryan.
TDQ: You’re welcome for our time
KS: Thanks for being my guest!