Story by Anna Debald
Creative Direction and Photos by Dom Khun
“Just a word we use when someone says does something unbelievable or unreal and you ‘gotta call them out for it.”
“It’s, like, a way to describe your friends when they are being one of three things: hilarious, ridiculous or obnoxious.”
“Ya know. It’s when your friends are being dumb stupid and a geek.”
These are three examples of definitions I received when I asked my friends what the word “headass” meant. Moving from Philadelphia to Richmond last year brought a lot of changes to my life, but one that I hadn’t anticipated to stand out was the slang people use. (I heard “y’all” and “I’m hip” more in one month than I had in my entire life living in Philly.) Within the first week I moved here I was called a “headass.” At first, I was offended. However, after living in Richmond for over a year, I’m actually flattered. I now know it was a way to compliment my goofy, sometimes out of the ordinary behavior. This is a great way to describe what Zak Goldwasser has achieved with his brand, Headass Co.
It’s a rainy day in Richmond. Goldwasser puts earphones in and eats a sandwich. He listens to the motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols talk on the topic of overcoming obstacles. He is motivated and fired up for the day. He looks to his desk and glares at the pencil and the eraser on its end. He grabs a pen. No time for sketching or rearranging. The pen gracefully skims the paper. Three mouths, four eyes, two noses and three legs later, the idea Goldwasser had for Salty Dan on a hoodie comes to life on paper.
Goldwasser began drawing the designs you see on his apparel today when he was in high school. After randomly choosing margins from papers his teachers handed out to sketch in, he realized people really enjoyed his spontaneous drawings.
Today, his drawings come to life through his clothing brand. “A random shower thought” became a design a few minutes later. Straight to pen and paper he goes. No planning. No second guessing. Headass Co.’s designs reflect this aspect of his creative process. The product designs consist of characters with several heads, eyes, mouths and joints emerging from figures fashioned within his creative realm. They are cleanly drawn, but the characters are grungy and imaginary. Their expressions are unamused, but also goofy. Most of them have been assigned a name, like Salty Dan, Krangaroo Johnathan and Sparktopus. Each suggesting an other worldly curiousness.
But where does all this inspiration come from? What Goldwasser realized by the time he finished college was that his margin drawings would be far more interesting than working a nine to five office job. Therefore, his main inspiration stems from his desire to free not only himself, but those who encounter the brand. He set himself free from a mundane life and took a career path that most do not have the chance to, nor the courage to. He wanted to end the stigma that declares that one must settle for an ordinary job to be successful and therefore, happy.
That is why Headass Co. has attracted such a wide variety of individuals. Skaters, rappers, and people who just seek out different are typical customers. The brand does not offer traditional patterns. The designs are broken up. Each shirt utilizes one bold image that either chaotically fills the entire shirt or one that stands alone. Through these unique designs, Headass Co. welcomes a diverse group of people who detest the boring and appreciate hand-drawn innovation.
The brand is now moving in the direction of new media. Goldwasser constantly uploads graphics and animations he creates to their Instagram. Their website also features thirty second short films he has produced. Each incorporates the imaginative, peculiar characters featured on the brand’s apparel. One that stands out is titled “Rick and Morty Headassified.” They have also recently made the front page of Reddit, thanks to Goldwasser’s work.
This is definitely going to be something to look out for on the internet. His animations and shorts are what I imagine if Rick and Morty and BigMouth combined, but even better and newer. And what is ever more rad is the fact that you can wear merchandise that incorporates the same ideas from the shorts! If you aren’t hip to Headass Co., I would change that ASAP! (Look at me, a northerner, saying “hip” and “headass” in the same sentence.) Trust me–It is a whole lot of headassery that you don’t want to to miss out on.