Much has been said about the local independent clothing lines of Cebu. The sheer artistry and inventiveness they bring out with each garment contributes to art and local culture. ZeroThreeTwo continues to help expose these creative works by conducting interviews and features of those deserving. Today is no different, we have an interview with one of the owners of the more popular clothing lines in Cebu. Tagged as gorelicious, the clothing line Mermollie Ink is known for crazy color combinations and way-out-there illustrations. Without further ado, let’s give a round of applause to one of the owners and concept designers of Mermollie Ink, Mr. Ken Racho!

Hello there Ken!

032: For the benefit of our readers, could you please introduce yourself and give us a little background information?

Ken: My name is Ken Hensly Racho others know me as Kensuke. I’m a 22 year old stranger born and raised here in Cebu City. I do freelance work as a graphics artist, designer and illustrator. On some days, I make music.

032: I’ve been a fan of your art ever since day 1 of my interest in local clothing lines and brands. It’s hard for me to describe how your art style is like. In your own words, how would you describe your style and who or what influences your art?

Ken: I can’t really give a clear description of my work, but most pieces I draw are just random and depend on my mood. When I’m happy I tend to draw the toony and colorful. When I’m in the zone I like doing intricate and serious line art. Ever since I learned to draw, I’ve looked to cartoons for inspiration. My influences stem from various artists like Thurop Van Orman, Jhonen Vasquez, Pendleton Ward and too many more to mention. After all the drawing, I eat cereal.

032: With regards to the success behind the giant that is Mermollie Ink, what is the main concept behind this brand? Why do you think it has become so successful? What are your possible plans for the future?

Ken: The word “Mermollie” didn’t mean anything from the start and because of that we had the freedom to make it anything we wanted. The idea was to have crazy color schemes, pop culture, the unusual, food and creatures doing weird things. These days colorful does not mean cute anymore. We wanted softcore aggression turning into something appreciated by many. Success didn’t happen overnight in MMink’s case. We worked hard and persevered 101% without any days off aside from the usual 8 hour sleep. The inner perfectionist in me made me work 16 hours a day and if a design didn’t satisfy me, I would do it all over again. Mermollie Ink has just began with shirts and won’t just stop there. It’s open for anything. We could even conquer the food industry who knows? Anything is possible nowadays (laughs). Only time can tell. We’ve got a lot of plans and we’re doing it step by step: walking, not running. Watch out for us.

032: What are three surprising things that fans don’t know about Ken Racho?

Ken: (1) Eating huge prawns is the best! 15 pieces is not enough. Thank you god for giving me taste buds! (2) I love toys and go to siege mode when I’m in toy stores. (3) I have a scar on my forehead because I climbed the rooftop of a two storey home when I was a kid. I thought I was batman. I lost my footing and fell face down. Beat that Harry Potter!

032: I’m sure you’ve made dozens of designs for all kinds of brands, not just your own. Out of all your apparel designs, which are your three personal favorites and why?

Ken: Every piece will always be a personal favorite because I’ve put time and effort creating it.

032: Quick. You’re stuck on a deserted island with no hope of ever getting rescued. But you get a chance to grab 3 record albums.

Ken: Pierce The Veil – Selfish Machines (For the “freaking out because I’m at a deserted island” phase.)
* Sleeping With Sirens – Cheers to This (When I’m overcome by the urge to do Tarzan moves.)
* Owl City (I’ll be sleeping to this on my imaginary desert island.)

– But then there’d be no chance of playing any of the records because the batteries would run out before I’d get there.

032: You play guitar for the bands “Drive Me To Juliet” and “August Skyline.” The success of Mermollie Ink has been able to bring your bands to different places in the country, branding an appreciation for the apparel and the music at the same time. What are your thoughts on bridging music and art as a general lifestyle?

Ken: Music and art are both aesthetic therefore it’s not difficult to bring them together since they mutually benefit each other through endorsements and promotions.

032: Mermollie Ink is one of the major brands stationed at the Pick-Up Shop. We recently did an article regarding the Pick-Up Shop here on 032! We heard that the shop had its first year anniversary. Congratulations! What are your thoughts on the Pick-Up Shop and how it continues to garner support from eager fans and friends?

Ken: The article you did was a fascinating read and thanks for covering it guys!

Just to clarify things, The Pick-Up Shop is really 2 years old. It was originally established 2009 at B. Rodriguez St. The location it is currently found now is the one that is a year old. I’m just glad that the Pick-Up Shop is still going strong. I never imagined it would be flooded with people, before it was just a refurbished garage turned DIY shop. Everything suddenly happened and now we’re situated between two major fast food chains!

032: When you’re not busy creating gorelicious designs or playing at a rock show, what do you do in your free time?

Ken: Fingerboading. Fingerboarding. Fingerboarding and fingerboarding at the DIY skatepark I made. If I’m not doing that then you’ll see me grabbing a guitar and making new songs for both bands.

032: For the aspiring graphics artists who might have their own clothing line or are trying to put their designs out there, what is the best advice you can give them?
Ken: Aim higher and always do more than what you can do right now. Starting a clothing line will not always be a sure success, but as long you put your heart and efforts into it then you’re on the right track. Open your mind before you start opening your mouth.

032: For those interested in your art, do you have an official website and design portfolio page?

Ken:  You could visit my site

032: For those interested in buying your shirts and apparel, where can we get our official “Mermollie Ink” and “The Plague” merchandise?

Ken: Just go to the Pick-Up Shop located at 99 Arlington Pond Osmena Blvd Cebu city. They can also check out their respective Facebook pages. Also you can try checking out The PickUpShop Express on Facebook all details are posted there. Please take note that I’m not the one responsible for handling the shipping.

I dislike being called “sir” or “kuya,” if you know what I mean.

032: There we have it! Again, thank you for your answers! Any shout-outs you’d like to make before we close?

Ken: Thank you,thank you,thank you! That’s all I can say to everyone who appreciates my work and supports me in what I do. Also thank you 032 for this awesomesauce interview.

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