Ruben Gonzales will always have b-boying on his mind.
From a young age, Gonzales was a regular with the Arizona breakdancing scene; but he had another passion -- design. When he wasn't dancing, Gonzales did graffiti art until a friend pointed him to instructional videos on Youtube for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Without any formal training (besides the Internet), Gonzales bought a T-shirt printing press and got to work. That was 2 years ago.
Now he runs (and is the only employee of) 11th Monk3y Apparel and Designs, a local clothing design company based out of a small studio near Gonzales' day job in Downtown Phoenix.
More about Gonzales and some designs from 11th Monk3y after the jump ...
"I just look at a building and try to imagine what it would look like on a shirt," Gonzales says.
When Gonzales first started the project, he stuck to his roots by marketing to breakdancing events and competitions, sometimes hosting his own. But his shirts quickly became popular with people outside the b-boy scene, and Gonzales found his shirts popping up across the state and around the Southwest.
As the project expanded geographically, Gonzales got a shot to expand creatively, creating anti-SB1070 shirts and more to appeal to a wider audience.
"It's more than just a shirt," he says of his protest design.
Despite somewhat of a cult following, Gonzales is reluctant to let just anyone carry
his work. Part of his reasoning being that he markets his clothing based on low prices, and if a store charges too much for them, he pulls the plug on providing them with clothes.
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So, what about the name 11th Monk3y?
The number 11 just sounded right, Gonzales says, adding that he found out the number has an online following. As for the "Monk3y":
"You know, I've just always liked monkeys," he says, laughing.
Check out more of Gonzales' designs on 11th Monk3y's facebook page.