REAL MEN SWEARFebruary 27, 2013
This is a public broadcast warning! The following words will contain strong language, fashion satire, witty banter and a explicit interview with Real Men Swear creators Michael Kiser and Craighton Berman. Scroll down in caution as we take a look into how the blog started, and what the guys get up to they’re not pulling on fashions pisser…
With sharp tongues jabbing the cheek of fashion, these two gents are taking the blogging world by storm with their intellectual piss take captions, an extensive range of bad words questioning the integrity of high end fashion, all whilst battling a secret crush on great clothing and apparel. Their marmite minds create a hilarious platform for both those who love, and those who hate, the culture of fashion today.
We wanted to find out more about about the word wise duo, so we knocked up Q’s and sent them all the way over to their home in Chicago. Strong words imminent…
Guys, we love Real Men Swear – how long has it been going?
We’ve been doing it on and off over lunches and coffee breaks for over two years now, which I believe marks the longest running joke we’ve ever shared.
How did you come up with the idea?
I remember it as a moment in time when the play on words “real men swear” and “real menswear” happens in a natural conversation riff. However, email evidence from Craighton shows something along the lines of “hey, got an idea for a funny menswear blog called Real Men Swear where we grab overly earnest fashion pics and write funny captions, wanna do it?” So there you go.
Who does which bits?
Craighton does more of the image sleuthing and handwriting (he’s sort of amazingly famous for his sketching and handwriting talent), and I tend to do more of the writing/joke fine-tuning. It’s all the riffing in the middle where the actual ideas happen, it’s an incredible challenge to identify what’s actually funny about a photo, how to point to it intelligently, and then find the perfect phrasing. This can take seconds, or days, and we’ve had some jokes go back and forth for a month or more until it clicks.
Where did you meet? When you met, was it bromance at first sight?
We first met at a Unibroue beer dinner in Chicago, and then again randomly in the Mission in San Francisco about a year later. Eventually we ended up working at the same design firm in Chicago doing interaction design and most of our work hours were suddenly being spent bouncing absurd ideas off each other, drinking on the roof and starting Tumblrs, which mostly lasted a week.
Who swears the most?
Craighton is a bit of an iconoclast and separatist — probably part of his Virginia spirit coming through, so he has his go-tos. When he gets going, he’ll start half his sentences with “Fuck a (blank)”, which I find hilarious. I’m the one prone to flowery language and puns, so I like to build on the poetics of cursing. For me, it’s always a build, never a replace.
And what are your favourite swear words?
If you print these, I’ll give you $100. As stated, Craighton loves a good “Fuck a (blank)”. It’s his way of trumping any argument. For example, “Fuck a Starbucks” when discussing coffee roasting. Or, “Fuck a Peruvian Co-Op” when he feels like defending a middlebrow approach to socks. He’s an opportunistic hi/lo brow hater and he’s completely inconsistent.
I love bending the rules. “Whisker bitches” is one of my all time faves and I still don’t know what it means. Fucktard and Turbo-douche make me grin, and a couple of classics like goddamn and motherfucker are surprisingly adaptable. We both love those.
Which is your favourite Real Men Swear post?
Anything with Nick Wooster in it becomes an instant hit for me; I just can’t get enough of that guy, so much respect for his look and presence. His one of those guys that’s just untouchable. Every time we try to make a little fun of him, he somehow comes out looking even more badass.
You both seem to have a lot of side projects going on alongside your day jobs – what’s the secret to keeping them all alive?
Holy shit. It’s a constant, goddamn clusterfuck. I think the trick is to let some projects dry on the vine for awhile while you run with another, always having faith that if there’s something valuable there, it can come back to life in a second when you come back. We’ve never taken Real Men Swear too seriously, so it’s easy for us to just have fun with it. It’s an excuse for us to get together and shoot the shit. The minute we worry about an editorial schedule it might as well be the fucking Sartorialist (respect).
What are your favourite men swear blogs?
I fawn over the Street Etiquette guys out of New York, their style, and the way they tell a visual story is second to none. I used to follow Ryan Plett’s You have Broken the Internet, but now it’s all pictures of sports cars and artsy photos of women’s asses, so I follow that for different reasons. Call it a reframe I guess. The Midwest Style is slamming all the time, that blog alone makes it possible to love fashion in Chicago.
Are you both mega into fashion?
Yes and no. As much as we both get carried away with it, being in Chicago naturally makes us feel like outsiders to the main scene. So we’ve both developed a deep appreciation for authentic styles over fashions. Fashions come and go, and make a lot of noise, but a honed sense of style takes a longer arc. It takes patience, saying “no” a lot, and developing a personal attachment to the things you wear.
What are your shopping weaknesses?
I’m a bigger guy, 6″2′, 200lbs, so I’m a sucker for the structure that American workwear provides. If it’s architected we’ll, and cut to fit, I can’t even see the dollar signs. We both have an addiction to gingham, but we’re recovering. Craighton was pretty deep into the selvage scene for a while. Like, forum deep. But he pulled up.
Who’d win in a fight?
You trying to fucking start one? I’ll just refer you to my height and weight mentioned above. But I also have a trick shoulder, so I guess he could target my weakness.
In a dance-off?
Craighton every time! But we’d both rather watch someone else handle the dancing, if you know what I mean.
Craighton, we recognize the Real Men Swear jotting style from your fueledbycoffee blog – is that your real handwriting or is it special, work handwriting? It’s very nice.
Work, life—what’s the difference? I lump them all together in one tangled pile, so what you’re seeing is simply my handwriting. The way I letter a comic is the same way I write a grocery list. Continuity is key.
How does one become an industrial designer?
Design some things, mass produce them, sell them to people—you’re official. I went to school for it and learned how to design products, spent years designing stuff I would never buy for people I didn’t care about. Then I decided to start focusing on the idea part of it, and worked for an agency that focused on concepts and strategy instead of just making stuff.
Michael and I worked together at this firm for quite a while, and this is where Real Men Swear was conceived (and let’s be honest, worked on most of the time). Now I’m on my own and helping define concepts for clients and producing my own products. It’s my favorite formula so far.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I draw all day. Even on a bad day it’s worth reminding myself of that. The other best thing is the DIY business part, I love that technology and the web has made it incredibly easier to make and sell products independently. I’ve run two Kick starters to launch new products, I sell through my own online storefront. I love that Tumblr puts my illustration and design work in front of thousands of people every day. I think it’s an amazing time to be an independent maker.
Michael, in one of your many online guises you go beer hunting – what’s the best beer in the world and where can we get our hands on lots of it?
Good Beer Hunting is a side project that has absolutely blew up. Now I’m traveling the world on assignments, meeting incredible brewers, and drinking my balls off. Best beer? For me, nothing beats a French Farmhouse or Saison. I could never choose just one in that style, It’d be less of a Sophie’s choice scenario, and more of a “suffer the little children unto me.” I am their savior and I want them all for myself.
And dogs. You seem to love dogs. Do you have one?
Growing up I did, but not right now. I have too much respect for the spirit of a dog that I could never keep one in my urban apartment. I have two cats however, and I raise them like dogs, lots of tackling, arm chewing, fetch and guarding of the valuables.
If both of you could have one talent that you don’t already, what would you want? As in, one each – you don’t have to share.
Sing and play piano at the same time. I can feel it inside me, I can hear it in my head, but every time I take a crack at it, I’m complete human garbage.
And any super power?
Never needing to sleep. See above problems regarding the clusterfuck of side gigs.
What are your karaoke songs of choice?
Until recently, the only song I’d sing was Patsy Clines “Walking after midnight”, but lately I’ve worked Katy Perry’s “Firework” into the mix. Apparently I don’t mind none of my friends ever speaking to me again. Shit.
Tell us a joke…
That’s like telling a poet to write you a poem, or a clown to make you a balloon animal. Both are degrading requests, but clowns are on the clock. So in my best Craighton voice: “Fuck a clown.”
What a delight! We’re off to eat a bar of soap. Leave us a comment below if you just love what Real Men Swear do…