More Than A Brand: What Makes Mark Capicotto The Scene’s Most Animated Designer

By | September 8, 2015 at 2:00 PM

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All Photos: Mitch Wojcik

“It’s very much everybody’s company… everyone who’s bought a shirt or gone to an All Time Low show, or that’s a part of this in any way… this is as much your company as it is mine because I don’t exist without you guys ya know?”

There’s a cheerful “hello” breaking into the ringing of the phone as the ever positive Mark Capicotto, better known as Marky, answers. He’s in the middle of a busy day in New York City when I call. Right away, he’s upbeat, and not exactly what you’d expect given his online presence — I’m soon reminded that this is the same bold man who put himself out there on the internet last month with his own “AMA” or “Ask Marky Anything.” “I wanted to have a chance to talk,” he quickly explains. “I’m still very involved with our social networks, and I see kids asking where things are and why the site wasn’t up, why the site was down. And you know I’ve always prided myself on being upfront and honest and wanting to talk to our fans, and let them know that it’s their company as much as it is mine. I feel like I owe it to them to answer any questions anybody had.”

I am pleasantly surprised the more I delve into Marky’s head. His continued boldness, brashness, and innate ability to perceive exactly what any self-branded misfit toy would want is easy to understand. As is his overall positive demeanor in a time of questioning for his life’s work. It reminds me that he’s been in this scene for a long time, and has seen many things come and go. “All my friends when I was 13 were starting to pick up guitars and drums and you know I was very much involved with that but I was no good. I am musically challenged,” he laughs. I41A7852-final It’s hard to imagine someone so surrounded by music as unable to play it, but Marky’s goal was to continue to immerse himself and be a part of the scene anyway he could. “I loved it though, I loved listening to it, I loved going to shows, and like being a part of the culture,” he pushes fervently. “The reason I got really interested in illustration and design basically was to be a part of the scene and the culture because you know my friends were like ‘I need someone to design this flyer’ and I’d be like ‘well I can do that’ or their demo CD and they wanted artwork for it, and ‘I can do that.’”

Seeing the world through his eyes, by his own description of his early days in the scene, I’m beginning to understand how much more beautiful the world is through the artistic and musical view he has on life. Everything is done with a meaning, and that meaning could be small, or huge, but it is all connected through music. It’s the mindset that created a brand that stood out amongst all the other t-shirt companies in the scene at the time. And although Marky was also close to starting a record label 10 fateful years ago, his love of design and designers in the scene won out. “I didn’t necessarily know a lot about you know Andy Warhol or, um, any of these legendary artists,” he tells me. “I was more thrilled with people like Rob Dobi or this guy Derek Hess, these guys that were very heavily involved in doing artwork for Thursday and Saves the Day.” And even if this isn’t much of a surprise, the idea that Marky was inspired by the scene to create Glamour Kills is humbling for anyone who witnessed the journey.

With ten years of Glamour Kills under his belt, and on the verge of entering his third decade of life, Marky is still a very active member of the scene he grew up in. There isn’t much he doesn’t have an opinion on, whether it be labels signing too many bands, needing to focus on specific people and artists, or the feeling that the conversation about standing up for female fans in the industry should have happened “much sooner.” Marky isn’t one to hold back or not speak his mind. It’s an admirable trait from someone who is so well respected in such a great capacity amongst teens and his peers. His tone of voice, and friendly attitude illustrates the idea that he feels he’s still just selling t-shirts, although he knows much differently now. GK-GUYSLOGO3 “You know at first I didn’t think that I was like ‘oh we’re just a t-shirt brand that’s doing stuff’ and then as I got older and more mature you start to like really reflect on what if people are to buy the shirts I wear, or the shirts that we make, and you know I realized it wasn’t necessarily— You know my first response up until then was ‘Oh yeah because the designs are so awesome duh’ but then I realized no it’s because… you don’t have to be the greatest artist in the world.”

“Glamour Kills is like a team logo—so to speak—for the misfits and the kids who are into this music and into this culture, and immersed in it.”

His chipper tone doesn’t change as he expands on the idea of art being more valuable when it has a meaning.It doesn’t surprise me how much more art means to him when it has this purpose, nor does it surprise me that he wants his influence to continue to affect generations of pop-punk to come. “Glamour Kills is like a team logo—so to speak—for the misfits and the kids who are into this music and into this culture, and immersed in it.” It is this attitude that sets Marky apart from other designers or brands in the scene. He is constantly battling for the few to have a bigger voice than the many, and for the many to sit down, shut up, and listen for a second. His dedication is always to new bands, like Real Friends or State Champs, living out their full potential with a little help from him and GK along the way.

The bands that are big now got that way for many reasons, and he wants to see the few thrive, rather than the many float.

While he’s excited about these up and coming bands, he’s also ready for the scene to backtrack a bit. He grew up discovering his new favorite bands by watching them open for bands like Midtown, Yellowcard, and more. Marky misses the element of surprise, and the falling in love process you get with bands. “Nowadays it’s tough for me to sift through that when there’s a lot of bands…” he explains quickly.I41A7830-final“You don’t even have enough hours in the day to really dive in and fall in love. To me, it’s more difficult to fall in love this day and age than it was when I was fifteen or sixteen… But I’m starting to see more labels get more focused on signing things instead of like, ‘okay let’s sign everything and see what sticks.’” And though he gets that bands make money, and money is a key factor to a label, Marky also knows there’s just too much going on for people to really be able to grasp the concept, or the message of the scene. The bands that are big now got that way for many reasons, and he wants to see the few thrive, rather than the many float.

“All Time Low really paved the way to hold this flag, to carry the flag, and I think The Wonder Years and The Story So Far have taken them and shown them [opened] the door, and I think bands like State Champs and Real Friends, those guys are gonna be the ones who take it and walk through it,” Marky states. He’s sure that these are the bands that have mattered, continue to matter, and will matter. It’s easy to agree seeing as he’s had such a big hand in helping most of them grow to what they are today, and it also helps that his major influences come from a time where bands like Yellowcard were making Top 40 singles, and still going outside to meet fans. The scene has aspects of it that change, and some—like bands with major radio hits still hanging out with fans—that don’t. I can hear the spark in his voice when he talks about how truthful the music still is. “At the end of the day I feel like that’s why people gravitate towards this music in general is the honesty of it,” and as long as the honesty, and the voices like his keep speaking out, Marky has no doubt the scene will thrive.

Without a doubt, Marky’s involvement in the scene extends far beyond clothes. When looking into the future, for Marky, a lot of it is happening now. sexymarkyHis involvement in music through fashion has always been a big part of who he is, sometimes it seems Glamour Kills is Marky, but in the upcoming months, he’ll be growing and changing.

His newest project, stemming from an old idea, is to start a label. He has a new take on releasing music, supporting bands, and making sure everyone gets the most of what they’re given. “I feel like it’s a cool new fun thing for me to get involved in. I feel like I have some cool ideas, and a different approach to the music industry.” Marky’s involvement in music since the fateful time he picked a clothing line over a label ten years ago has been a completely different experience than this next venture, but he believes there is more he can do. His experience in business, and learning a lot from the friends in the industry has led him to approach this new label (although he hates using the word label) as a “true partnership where the band just has to worry about making the music and touring, and being creative and being themselves, and let somebody they trust that can handle everything.”

“I feel like I can be creative again for myself, and not just for the sake of ‘oh I gotta design some shirts for my company… no I can design something just for me.”

While work and being a part of Glamour Kills has been Marky’s life for so long, he’s learned over the years that he is so much more. “Recently, I’ve moved out of New York City, I’ve moved upstate to where we started in this town called Beacon, and I’ve been there for the past couple of months, and I have my own design studio in my own apartment.” This includes an entire wall of dry-erase paint that is constantly filled with drawings, doodles, and ideas that change on a daily basis. “I feel like I can be creative again for myself, and not just for the sake of ‘oh I gotta design some shirts for my company… no I can design something just for me.” The release of creativity for him outside business has contributed to making his business ventures better, and gives him much-needed time for himself.

“Having good people that go to bat for you, and vice versa means everything. Life is long, and it’s short all in the same breath. It’s tough to get through it alone on a personal or business level. It’s the importance of relationships. I really firmly believe that.”

Between this time, and the ten years at Glamour Kills Marky has learned a significant amount of things. Most importantly, he’s learned the most from “people, partners and people that you work with… whether it’s good or bad or otherwise.” His own working relationships have been a huge staple in the process of accepting help. “When I was younger… I think I was very, I don’t want to say hot-heated, but I thought ‘I created this thing, I can do it all myself. This [is] all me, all me, all me.’” His outlook quickly changed as the years went on, and he worked with his consumers, bands, employees, and more on a regular basis. “Having good people that go to bat for you, and vice versa means everything. Life is long, and it’s short all in the same breath. It’s tough to get through it alone on a personal or business level. It’s the importance of relationships. I really firmly believe that.” Marky’s outlook on relationships, people, and his own company implies one necessary factor to survive: a positive mentality. The relentless work ethic, kindness, and need to do more in addition to bringing GK back to life, is a true homage to what having a positive attitude has taught him over the years. “It’s good to remember when things aren’t good… always remember to keep positive… I hate to say PMA… but positive mental attitude, PMA always.”

This outlook has made Marky the image for the passionate and dedicated punk-rock don’t give a fuck idealist that this scene knows, loves, and respects. And while Marky is so much more than Glamour Kills, GK is a direct representation of who he is to this scene.I41A7721-final

This outlook has made Marky the image for the passionate and dedicated punk-rock don’t give a fuck idealist that this scene knows, loves, and respects. And while Marky is so much more than Glamour Kills, GK is a direct representation of who he is to this scene.

He is the flying pig in the proverbial scene kid ideology that inspires me to believe there is something more to strive for, even in the darkest of times. He is all-inclusive, and everyone is a part of his journey. “It’s very much everybody’s company… everyone who’s bought a shirt or gone to an All Time Low show, or that’s a part of this in any way… this is as much your company as it is mine because I don’t exist without you guys ya know? That’s really what it comes down to.” It is that passion and dedication to his own art—embodied by a pink pig with wings—that represents everything Marky has done.

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