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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Student-run design company branches out

The Imaginary Zebra (TIZ) was born out of a mixture of graffiti and modern art, freedom of expression and imagination.

Founded in 2006 by junior managerial economics major Benson Chou, TIZ specializes in custom designed clothing – currently, T-shirts with an aim to expand – and creative performances at events.

TIZ began as Chou’s graffiti crew in high school. Upon graduation, he transformed the crew into the professional company that it is today.

“Zebras have the perfect characteristics of what I plan on bringing to the clothing line and ‘imaginary’ zebra [makes it so] the brand doesn’t have to be fixated with just monochromatic colors. It gives people the freedom to use their imagination,” Chou said.

Chou said that he wants to emphasize the fluidity of the image of TIZ, experimenting with basic typography, cartoon graphics and other playful ideas.

The designs take the company’s main image of a zebra head and incorporate it into colorful, diverse situations on the fronts of the T-shirts.

“One of the things that’s always satisfying is the product, the whole presentation,” said Kevin Han-Chia Chen, a junior design and East Asian studies double major who has been assisting with TIZ in various ways for the past three years. “With helping out you get a feeling that you’re doing something that makes a difference.”

TIZ did not start out as being a performance group but when they were invited to participate in a fashion show last March they accepted.

“I always wanted to give the audience a little more than just the fashion show, because I appreciate the traditional show where models walk with flamboyant outfits on the catwalk but sometimes I find it a bit boring,” Chou said.

He explained how he decided to add breakdancers, modern dancing, instrumental performances and an emcee to allow the models to make the show more interesting with different poses and a rapping element.

Since then, TIZ has participated in numerous other events, including Expression Redefined, an artistic showcase hosted by student literary group Nameless Magazine, and have added film as a performance medium in addition to beatboxers and spoken word.

“For one of the showcases we filmed haikus from various individuals on campus. We spliced the haikus and mixed a few together into their own stanzas,” junior managerial economics and international relations double major Rasikh Jawaid said in an e-mail. Jawaid assists TIZ with event and film production.

TIZ does not currently have any upcoming events but Chou said they are always willing to go out and do a performance.

“Albert Einstein said ‘imagination is more important than knowledge,’ and that’s the motto that I run by when I run this company,” he said. “There’s nothing in particular that we’re focusing on. I want it so that TIZ is open to interpretation and to promote the use of imagination.”

For more information or to peruse the online store visit theimaginaryzebra.com.


ELENA BUCKLEY can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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