Are you a free market libertarian who is interested in starting your own business? If so (and even if you’re not), you’ll find the following exclusive interview with Libertarian Country a fascinating journey into the world of capitalism, entrepreneurship and yes, even personal freedom. But there’s also plenty to talk about here in regards to designing culturally relevant artwork for clothing, as well as how an individual might break free from the whole left/right paradigm – and end up on the road to liberty. So put on your favorite libertarian shirt (that you’ve hopefully bought from Libertarian Country), and enjoy this awesome and honest discussion about all the cool stuff that makes libertarianism great!
Thanks for talking with us! To start with, could you tell me a little bit about your involvement as a libertarian artist / business owner?
We started Epicdelusion Clothing Company in 2011 (which is currently being revamped) that offered Libertarian tees among various other types of cool shirts. We soon ran into an issue; some of our conservative followers were offended by our “liberal” material and some of our liberal followers were offended by our “conservative” designs (namely our pro gun shirts). It was through this schism that we decided to open a secondary niche store that would carry only Libertarian products and so Libertarian Country was born.
People sometimes downplay the role that a Libertarian clothing store can play into the liberty movement. In actuality It’s culturally effective. What would the 60’s Anti-War movement have been without the music, the clothing, the style and the culture?
As a businessman I have a monetary interest in selling Libertarian clothing, to which I have no qualms in admitting, but we are also passionate about liberty and we see that creating these designs, advertising our clothing, signing on affiliates etc. is a way of spreading the liberty message. The exposure of these ideas via t-shirt designs validates them and they become culturally significant in some regard. We’ve had young Libertarians email us a thank us for doing what we do because they don’t feel like outcasts in the political world anymore; a world where it seems like you have to be either red or blue. Being a part of the Libertarian movement and this great community is something we value highly, and above all else we hope we can help make a difference and bring more awareness to the important issues our country and our world faces.
Have there ever been any particular media that helped raise awareness of libertarian issues in your life? Would you mind describing this process?
Our Grandfather was a delegate for the Democratic Party in the late 80’s/early 90’s when my brother (co-founder of Libertarian Country) and I were kids. Surprisingly, however, we were rarely exposed to political rhetoric or political influence growing up. It wasn’t until high school that we took any sort of interest in politics, and this was through our own volition.
Our eventual involvement with Libertarianism cannot be accredited to any specific writer, speaker, movie etc. In our teenage punk rock years we enjoyed freely discussing ideas that were unpersuaded by previously established philosophy. We would find someone to buy us beer, sit in the woods with a few friends, drink and have deep, intellectual conversations; which was something of a rarity for 15-year-olds to be doing (having political discussions that is, not the drinking part 😉 ). It was through this freethinking discussion that we learned of philosophers and political writers; we would befriend intellectual types and were frequently given recommendations of writers to check out based on our own ideas that we were presenting.
As politically undeveloped teenagers we began reading Nietzsche, Proudhon, Marx, Anthony Burgess, George Orwell, Schopenhauer, Camus, Machiavelli, Voltaire, Descartes and various other political writers and philosophers. We wouldn’t necessarily read them to teach ourselves, but rather to weigh our own ideas against established writers to see how they compared and contrasted. By our late teens and early 20’s we were predominately reading left-wing and anarchist literature which would eventually serve as the catalyst to our entrance into Libertarianism (although at the time I had never even heard of Libertarians.) I began to detect fundamental flaws with left-wing ideology (anarcho-communism, socialism etc.) and as I educated myself further I started rejecting it altogether.
The first time I heard about Libertarianism was at a party. We were having a political discussion and I expressed a severe distaste for leftism, the democratic party, the green party as well as religious right-wing conservatism and the Republican party. I laid out my political beliefs and in frustration declared that I didn’t fit in anywhere. My friend’s older brother then said “dude, you’re a Libertarian.” I will always consider myself a freethinker who transcends political affiliation, but after reading the platform of the Libertarian party I understood that this was the party that most closely resembled my political stance. I thus became a registered Libertarian.
Do you have any unique experiences so far through creating content and marketing to the libertarian community?
The Libertarian community attracts a lot of debate. Even if someone isn’t a self-proclaimed Libertarian, they realize they are more likely (in my opinion) to find honest and intelligent political discussion among Libertarians than with other groups. With any community that largely prizes itself on its intellectual capacity, there’s always an anticipated level of disagreement. This is a good thing. It is through this debate and discussion that we evolve. I love watching people debate in an intelligent, respectful manner. It’s quite an experience to see how people are thinking whether you agree with their ideas or not. Our t-shirt ads are responsible for a lot of this type of debate 😉
What might your goal be for the future working in this area?
Libertarians are sometimes accused of disregarding the world outside of themselves. One of the key interests we have, contrary to this notion, is growing monetarily in order to financially support the charitable organizations we are passionate about. We currently donate to pit bull rescues and have donated to cancer benefits, but would like to expand our business so we can branch out to fund more charity projects. One of my personal interests in relation to the liberty movement is eventually becoming involved with film writing/film making. Some of which would bring libertarian ideas to greater audiences through creative cinematic exhibitions.
Any recommendations on how liberty-minded people could get involved (or start their own business) in their community, and be a positive ambassador for libertarianism?
My advice to anyone who is interested in starting a business is to always remember this key to success: Do not accept failure as a possibility. You will throw many gutter balls before you get a strike, but always keep rolling. The moment you give up is the minute that you’ve failed. Many great entrepreneurs were forced to declare bankruptcy, their business didn’t work and they had to start from scratch. What allowed them to become successful is that they remained intrepid, determined and never gave up.
When you’re the business owner you’re the leader, you’re the boss. This means that you have to implement strategic business tactics, manage yourself and others, and ultimately rely on your own judgement. Hear other people’s advice, but listen to your own decisions. To give an example of this: in 2013 I was faced with a business related dilemma. I was gainfully employed at a respectable company working full time. I was also working on our business every other waking hour I could give. I realized that in order for us to effectively grow that I needed that extra 9 1/2 hours that I was losing to my job every day. Only being in business for about 2 years I was heavily advised NOT to leave my current employer. Our counselor from the Small Business Association warned against quitting my day job. Aside from a couple die-hard believers, everyone thought I was crazy to take a pay cut to work at my own business (which at the time was hardly lucrative.)
On paper it was a bad idea, but in my mind I knew it had to be done. So in 2013, just turning 30 years old, I respectfully waved goodbye to my old career and settled in for the bumpy road ahead; the road of self-employment. There were many times in that first year where I thought I had made a huge mistake, but we persevered. Today I can say that they were wrong. I made the right decision. We were able to rapidly grow by giving our full focus and we owe, in part, our current status to that one big decision. I’m not telling people to quit their jobs on a whim and start a business… all things must be carefully calculated and considered, but I do believe fortune favors the brave.
As far as being a positive ambassador for Libertarianism, I think that whether a person is a Libertarian or not they are representing a very Libertarian idea when they start a business and compete in the marketplace. If you are a Libertarian business owner you will find that credential and financial stability are valuable not only to yourself but to the community that shares your ideas; as you are a demonstration of your own conviction. This will serve as an example that Libertarians are successful, good people with valid ideas.
Where can readers find out more about what you do?
We have a few blogs up that go into what we’re all about that you can visit at http://www.libertariancountry.com. If you have any specific questions you can email libertariancountry (at) gmail (dot) com or come hang out at our facebook page via www.facebook.com/libertariancountry.
I don’t have any specific libertarian artwork at the moment. We keep our tee designs relatively simple. I’m not the greatest artist in the world, but I did a recent drawing of Hunter S. Thompson as a psychedelic bat. I feel that Hunter S. Thompson encompassed a lot of the Libertarian attitude. Thanks again!
If you thought this interview was pretty cool, don’t forget to take a look at our libertarian artists page for more great artist interviews and artwork from a variety of different artists in our community! You can also check out Libertopia’s own artwork page here, or download our 60 page art ebook at Libertopia: Collection One! Also, if you have any thoughts about the free market or a recommendation for a libertarian business owner interview, please let us know! Thanks for reading!