Drama with Kreayshawn, bad grades in design class and trading his artwork for retweets. We sat down with graphic designer Christian Tachiera over a Blue Moon each and felt really uncool as we tried to keep up with his hip-hop knowledge. “We love Drake.” At least we didn’t reference Macklemore.
If you’ve seen the billboard for Carnage’s new Vegas gig on Sunset Boulevard, you wouldn’t guess that the designer behind it is a 21-year-old college student in Orange County. Christian Tachiera, better known to us as Pretty Boy Swag, is a designer, photographer and yung creative from the Bay. He’s a totally modest dude, but casual designers don’t just have billboards in Hollywood and Vegas, or stories about drama with Kreayshawn.
In high school he was introduced to the Oakland hip-hop scene through his cousin Spadez, whose music group was collaborating with artists like Zion I, Bobby Brackins, and the Ying Yang Twins. #Casual. He was hanging out in the studios everyday, but realized he had no direct involvement or specific purpose in the music scene. He didn’t want to just be a fan, but a contributor.
He’s crazy passionate about music and had to find a way to get involved. He didn’t make beats, wasn’t a producer or a rapper, but graphic design was something he could do. He taught himself Photoshop on his artist mom’s computer and started reaching out to musicians via Twitter. He was ahead of the curve and intuitively knew that building a social media following would be valuable in the future.
Christian’s first real gig was designing for hip-hop producer Nic Nac (Chris Brown’s Loyal), whom he had lived down the street from. He was able to get some promo off of that and continued to reach out to his favorite musicians. His motivation was never driven by $$$, he just wanted those retweets and twitter followers. He’d been a fan of Indie Pop Records (Dev, The Cataracs, Carnage, Yuna, Martin Solveig, Kyle, Lincoln Jesser) for a long time and serendipitously got linked with their creative director, Carlo Fox, at a Cataracs party in the Bay. He’s been collaborating with their roster ever since.
Although he has an impeccable eye for design, his intention wasn’t to be a designer. Rather, he saw design as an opportunity to get his foot in the door in the music industry and to potentially be a creative director / A&R rep one day. Starting out, most of the pieces fell into place for him, but he quickly realized that sometimes there’s not a lot of love for people behind the scenes.
Christian followed Kreayshawn way before Gucci Gucci even came out, while she was on tour with Bobby Brackins and Ty Dolla $ign (both my bitches drive Rannnge Rovas~). The day before the song dropped he linked with Kreayshawn on Twitter to discuss artwork for Gucci Gucci. She liked his stuff but once her label reps got involved, they wanted his original files to make some “minimal” changes. Christian’s original designs were on iTunes for the first 24 hours of the single release. But by the next day, the label had taken it down and reworked his file, ripping off his designs without giving him credit. DA FUCK!?
“I wasn’t planning on charging her, I didn’t really care. All I actually wanted was for her to follow me on Twitter… I wanted that retweet. And she didn’t follow me on Twitter! She still doesn't follow me, not a retweet, nothing.”
He was pissed, obviously, and conveniently hadn’t heard from Kreayshawn, or her reps or managers regarding it. He hadn’t dealt with a situation like this before (he was 18 years old!) so his mom told him to send an invoice to Sony (a minimal amount of $250… ok). That’s when the managers started responding. Shit got awkward, but overall, it made him more industry smart. It was a good lesson to learn early on, and makes for a good story today. He still respects Kreayshawn as an artist and is homies with her baby daddy… but still no Twitter follow.
Four years down the road, with a more established portfolio and network, musicians, filmmakers and managers are reaching out to collaborate with him. Generally, if he’s not into the music, he won’t take the job unless he needs the money. Now that he’s consistently working with Indie Pop, he’s designing for music he genuinely enjoys. Indie Pop is a label and content-creating company based out of DTLA that’s a hybrid production/publishing company/record label and reps artists, producers and filmmakers.
Recently Indie Pop, along with Colin Tilley (www.directorcolintilley.com), were executive producers on the movie Licks that premiered at SXSW last year. Written and directed by Jonathan Singer-Vine (Campa from The Cataracs’ twin brother), Licks is a film that follows a young man in Oakland after having served two years in prison. Christian worked on the art for the film and its screenings.
“It’s a good ass movie. I’d like to work with directors and stuff, probably more from a creative producing standpoint because I don’t really film. I do photography too, but that’s not what I wanna do either, but it’s a skill that I can do.” Another skill he ‘can do.’
Concurrently, Christian juggles internships while pursuing a college degree in Public Relations & Advertising at Chapman University. With graduation right around the corner, companies like William Morris Endeavor are already hitting him up, although his dream company is Kanye’s (Kimye’s) creative agency Donda. We feel like proud moms.
Although Christian seems like he’s totally got his shit together, don’t worry if you’re ever feeling discouraged - because he got a C in design class.
I like beer a lot - I’ve been drinking like a lot of straight Jameson lately. [#HARD]. But I like having a beer, because I don’t like the taste in my mouth for that looonggg - I really like Pacifico, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas.
Favorite brunch spot?
I love Urth Caffe. And Kitchen24 was alright.
Bloody marys or mimosas?
I’ve never had a blood mary. [We are horrified.] Are they spicy? I like mimosas though.
I like simple stuff. San Serif fosho. Probably my most used one is Bebas Neue [<3 BEBAS NEUE]