Tigerbob: “Keep Going!”
Artist and founder Gossamer Rozen reflects on Tigerbob’s second year by discussing the process and response to the developing Tigerbob brand.
The Path to Evergreen
This was my second year establishing the brand, and my first year launching physical products integral to defining the experience of Tigerbob in the real world. tigerbob.store launched online in February 2023 with eight pieces of cashmere knitwear and digital collectible token-gating right out of the box. We finished the year with over 100 SKU’s, varying in product and price point from knitwear, art books, prints, socks, rugs, and more — all with available perks for holders of our Tigerbob Genesis digital collectible.
I continue to set my sights on Tigerbob being more than a fashion brand, character brand, digital collectible, or otherwise. Fans and customers are starting to fall in love with Tigerbob. Holders of our digital collectibles continue to cherish their pieces over a year and a half later, adding to their collections, and customers who bought our high quality clothes are sharing their love and appreciation for their pieces with friends and family. Focusing on creating specific, unique moments between my work and customers is a slow process, but it’s one that builds a fan base that isn’t in it for trends. I need to prove that Tigerbob is here to stay, and the path to evergreen will be viable.
A culmination of the last ten years’ worth of iterations in multiple mediums and styles, Tigerbob unites all of my interests, processes, mediums, product offerings, and techniques under one singular brand. Two years is a short period of time. Brands and trends come and go in periods shorter than this, and it’s up to me to continue this path so Tigerbob can be forever. What does this process look like?
From Formation to Refinement
I started designing the Tigerbob pixel tiger head motif that would headline the brand across multiple products and mediums in November 2021. At this time, I knew I wanted the project to have two main legs: explorations with fine art and blockchain technology in the form of fine art digital collectibles, and physical garments with the same motifs.
The digital collectible art sale helped finance the physical brand. The completion of both projects has been largely successful despite headwinds in global macro, like inflation and recession fears. Let’s take a look at the challenges and opportunities experienced in 2023.
This year came with a number of challenges for the Tigerbob brand. This was my first real year working with the physical brand; simultaneously, I was having trouble finding the path forward with digital collectibles. I intended to work with digital collectibles, tattoos, and the fashion brand together this year, but this effort was hindered because I had some health related issues, and the fashion brand needed additional support for marketing and production.
The Tigerbob fashion brand launched at an inopportune time for retail sales (February 2023), and I misunderstood the number of existing customers and fans (tattoos, fine art, digital art) who would also have interest in apparel. I also needed to move quickly to design new pieces and get ahead of seasonal drops.
The period between April 2023 and July 2023 was challenging as I struggled to find a rhythm for the brand. But everything came together quite well in the fall, with our unexpected and very successful long-term pop-up in Brooklyn which introduced the brand to thousands of new customers.
I intended to return to tattooing in a big way this year. I scheduled my first appointments at my solo studio in Brooklyn during the summer. Unfortunately, an injury in my right hand forced me to halt scheduling and focus on my health. I used this opportunity to find ways to ease chronic pain in my left hand, which has been causing pain and numbness while I tattoo since at least 2019.
Fast forward to October — I was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome in my left elbow, and the trigger finger in my right thumb was cured with an injection. It looks like the long-term solution for my left arm will be surgery, but I’ll be addressing that when the time comes in 2024.
Regarding digital collectibles, the Tigerbob 1st Anniversary Exhibition fell short of holder expectations, and my own expectations as an artist. This project was originally designed as a more bespoke experience for the Tigerbob Genesis collection, allowing holders to pair up their Tigerbob with its corresponding body.
Unfortunately, the market was no longer viable for such a custom, bespoke artwork. I pivoted and made fine art illustrations featuring each full-bodied Tigerbob and its environment so I could express the world of Tigerbob and the Elysian Garden and begin to share more of the narrative.
I struggled adjusting mechanics for the new editioned work, which was an important learning experience. Lastly, pitfalls securing developer support for the project pushed out the launch date which caused for an untimely drop. Thankfully, sales of the work allowed me to break even on the development costs.
Despite this, the art was purchased exactly as I intended — collectors bought pieces they loved and connected with, and held onto them. I’m so happy for the response to the art as a digital piece and physical print, and getting this project behind me has helped envision new digital collectible projects in 2024. New projects are publicly uncharted and will remain so, with the simple promise that I will continue to expand the Tigerbob brand.
From brick-and-mortar locations to new tools for digital collectibles, I’m delighted by the new and unexpected opportunities that cropped up this year.
Industry City, a 6-million acre historical complex of buildings hosting over 550 businesses across a number of industries from fashion, food, technology, media, and more, has been the home of Tigerbob since January 2023. The complex is located on the scenic waterfront of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn and is well known for retail shopping experiences with small businesses and artisans local to New York City.
This year, I was invited to share a pop-up space from October through December 2023, prime time for holiday shopping. The in-store retail experience was applauded by fans of my work and new customers discovering my art for the first time. In-person experiences have always been crucial to the presentation of my work, especially to understand the concept and materials behind the pieces. It’s also important to experience my work with the pieces all together, like a gallery exhibit.
Due to the success of this pop up, I was invited to move my private studio to a proper store front in the coveted Makers Guild. A hybrid of artist studios and retail, these store fronts focus on unveiling artisan creation processes while allowing customers to shop finished products created in the same space. The tigerbob.store flagship will open late January 2024, a combination of my fiber studio, tattoo studio, and retail store.
This is great news for my tattooing — I’ll have opportunities to take walk-ins at the store. Usually, I schedule clients a month or more out, and due to the nature of my work I prefer to work on larger pieces. Since I’ll be operating the retail store on a regular basis, I can afford to make smaller pieces especially if these appointments don’t need to be scheduled so far in advance.
A selection of Tigerbob pieces are available for purchase online and in-person at the New Museum Store. Our partnership with the New Museum was established back in March 2022 when Director of Visitor Experiences Daniel Thiem invited me to participate in an event in collaboration with the Ace Hotel Brooklyn.
This year, Tigerbob was featured in the museum’s annual holiday catalog, sent to the museum’s almost 800,000 subscribers and supporters. Our apparel was on display in the front window of the New Museum over the summer, and Tigerbob headlined the New Museum Store x Ace Hotel New York holiday popup on December 16th. I’m grateful for continued support from the New Museum, and we’re excited to work together on more activations in 2024.
Advancements in the web3 community have brought about new tools for artists to create, showcase, and sell their work. Platforms like Transient Labs, Manifold, and Foundation have streamlined processes once unavailable without custom development. I’ll briefly summarize some of the tools I have used or have piqued my interest.
Manifold has been a pioneer in no-cost accessible tools for artists, and has expanded their roster to include mint pages, claims, burn-to-redeem, and more. I’ve been using these tools to expand the hand-drawn 1/1 collection Tigerbob Bestiary and to create the Tigerbob Potato Bread series of digital animated stickers.
Foundation, the platform upon which my genesis piece was minted in 2021, has a number of artist curation tools and has partnered with Highlight to introduce generative art to the platform.
The Tigerbob 1st Anniversary Exhibition was minted with Transient Labs, who worked on a custom mint page for the project. I’m excited about the Doppelganger contract, which allows multiple metadata to point to a single NFT, and the soon-to-be-offered 7160 token standard which allows the artist and collector to take this concept to the next level. I can’t wait to dig into this in 2024.
(Art) Objects Deserving Existence
In this next section, I will discuss my approach to designing and producing meaningful products for tigerbob.store. From one-of-a-kind, to made-to-order, to mass production, it’s important for me to find a balance of products and price points that retain my values and artistry across a cohesive collection.
I use material and process constraints to hone in on my product offerings. My intention for the apparel brand was to build something sustainable that allowed me to experiment and iterate on my designs without worrying about trying to make items that follow trends or sell out quickly.
I knew I wanted to make knitwear because the simplicity of the process (sourced yarn as material, programming and knitting for both silhouette and design aesthetic) made it logistically possible to invest in one material to create a large variation of products (leaving out packaging and marketing). Adding made-to-order to the equation not only fulfills my sustainability and iteration goals, but it also provides a unique shopping experience compared to traditional retailers.
The one caveat to made-to-order is that there will always be a base price point for a product after it is in production, no matter if it’s a hat or a dress. This is because each product will still be created one at a time, given all the care and attention it needs from production to fulfillment. It’s important for me to make each product as unique and as special as possible to help justify this luxurious treatment, which is very similar to how I treat the creation and process of a one-of-a-kind art piece.
Scaling up from one-of-a-kind to made-to-order makes a lot of sense since the price points are similar, but what about customers who want something less on the luxury end? This is where small batch productions come in. It’s difficult to sustainably make a plush toy or a pair of socks with a competitive price point, but I’m finding that it is possible with a bit of research and some flexibility.
The most important part is being sure I am able to sell out of a batch of products I’ve made this way, so I’m not left with unsold inventory held in our warehouse for extended periods, or worse, discarded after time. So, small runs of prints, socks, and other items have been introduced slowly with a little effort on my end — I’ve counted each pair of socks, trimmed each print down to its required size, packed, and sent each batch of products to our warehouse for fulfillment.
Lastly, no matter what product I’m selling, I’m always encouraging customers to buy only exactly what they want, and to keep it as long as they can. The final act of sustainability lies with the customer. I can make and sell as many thoughtful products as I want, but it doesn’t do any good if customers don’t love their purchases enough to keep them.
This concept is lacking flair and a little boring, but the path forward is as simple as that. In 2024, I’m going to keep doing more of the same, but with refinement. Tattooing will become regular in my schedule, and digital collectibles and physical items will be dropping in tandem and sometimes combined.
The Spring/Summer 2024 collection of apparel was designed in October and is now in production. Physical drops of new art and products are lined up and ready to be revealed. The tigerbob.store retail space is set in stone and will open in late January. Tattoo bookings will reopen — with opportunities to accept walk-ins and consultations at the same location.
I’m finally in a place where I have established enough of the brand to feel comfortable exploring and expressing my art at its usual pace. My interest in generative art and 3D art has reached new heights, and I’m excited to dive into those conversations with a project in the next few months.
I’m doodling with thread and on paper in big ways, paving a path forward for new conceptual art pieces that expand the meaning of Tigerbob. The narrative of Tigerbob is developing, and I have several ideas how these collections will manifest — for one, the story and illustrative style of Tigerbob will be pulled into the 2024 apparel line in a meaningful way.
The Tigerbob brand survived 2023, despite existing in similar macro conditions that caused a number of web3 companies and organizations to close up and shutter, hundreds of thousands of small businesses to downsize, and Fortune 500 companies to bleed red.
But this isn’t just surviving. I started this year with my dream studio at Industry City and grew enough to require a retail location in one of the most coveted conceptual artisan retail spaces in Brooklyn, New York. Tigerbob was featured and headlined in the New Museum’s brick-and-mortar and online store experiences. We’ve received quiet but meaningful recognition from a number of artists, collectors, and designers from all over.
Earlier this year, I asked you to think about what Tigerbob means to you. This year, I wanted to show you what Tigerbob means to me — how important it is for me continue to convey my messages of intentional artistry and exploration. I go through my daily life finding new ideas that spark joy, and I want to share that with you through Tigerbob.
I cherish the support from fans and customers old and new. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I started my retail tenure at the Brooklyn popup, interacting with and receiving direct feedback from folks browsing my work for the first time. There’s nothing like the spark of an instant connection between the viewer and the art. Watching my digital collectibles, apparel, and prints get picked up, loved, and taken home with their new owner is something I hold dear to my heart.
I’m so glad I can share these pieces of myself with all of you, and I’ll continue to uphold my commitment to producing intentional, genuine art pieces and creating tailored experiences that share the evolving story of Tigerbob and you.