As I close out the month of April, I wanted to take a moment to feature one of the most inspiring artists I’ve met. I have known Jared Johnston, also known as JJ Parkz, for several years now and in the the time that I’ve known him, I was able to experience his creativity and constant pursuit of refinement in all things apparel and consumer goods. Jared, like many artists see the world differently than most, and it is an honor to tap into his inspiration and perspective.
This is his story.
“Known as JJ Parkz to most; born and raised in paradise, Hawai’i. I love experiencing new skills, traveling, design with solution-based purpose, sharing good meals with loved ones, and working towards self-accomplishments.”
Okay- now the good stuff; questions:
Tell us a little bit about what you do for a living/your profession?
I’m currently the Production Manager at FITTED HAWAI’I, but also do a lot of logistics coordinating, marketing strategies, team management (more of a bridge between the office, shop, and online store), and design.
How long have you been designing apparel? Did you know that someday you’d be doing this?
I’ve been designing for about 10 years now; all 10 spent at FITTED HAWAI’I. Never knew I’d end up where I’m at, but it seemed to be a natural progression that started after a long introduction into the industry. I’m an 80’s born, but shout out to growing up in the 90’s; I feel it gave me an identity platform of some sort.
Why did you choose to be in this industry? what influenced you? what continues to influence you and your work today? what inspires you?
It really just chose me to be honest. Shouts again to the 90’s… Music, skating, cars, individuality, analog living, problem solving (very much different than today’s lifestyle), doing hands on things for yourself instead of calling a specialist, and the evolution of social media; just plain old school shit… These are my roots. My influences today kind of bridge all that with almost any positive learning experiences within my studies, travels, or just daily life.
Does your work influence your life, or do your life experiences influence your work?
Both ways, always. I try my best to never self-limit any influences or resources, simply because knowledge of anything will always help something within me. Work and life have become quite seamless, and I feel like it was an unforced, natural occurrence that’s a great personal step toward mastering life (to my own definition), if there is such a thing.
What lessons have you learned in your career today, both from a creative standpoint and in business?
Way too many to list. My work is a constant learning experience and I don’t believe there’s ever a point where it stops. My creative standpoint to always produce the best possible work will always be my overall intention, but I’ve embraced that my outlooks beyond that should always change/evolve. As far as specifics dealing with business, I’ve went through nearly all aspects… I’ve been the kid that dusts and sweeps, provides customer service, and counts the cash in the shop for many years, as well as hand-drawing designs to computer design and tech work, handling shipments, e-mails, logistics, and production in the office. The beauty of a small business is that it’s shaped by how well the team weathers growing pains. This includes opportunities to step up and handle whatever needs to be done, as there’s always room for growth!
Where do you want to go from here? (answer this question in any way that you interpret. This could be professionally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.)
I think my mind is constantly progressing towards peace as far as my every day living habits, so it’s more of the normal life goals that are starting haunt me. Hopefully I’ll be able to start a family and afford a house some time soon… Just adult shit. haha
Being a creator is difficult as much as it is rewarding. As a designer, what advice can you give to those aspiring to create?
It’s one thing to dream and another to actually work towards it. Just do both and really give it your all. Designing and creating is amazing because it has no limits. Always have an open mind, learn from mistakes, and keep it moving!
What is your favorite project/ design? This could be either apparel, or anything else that you’ve created.
This is an impossible question for me to answer, only because I really do try and love everything I produce. Just to name a few projects that I’ve been very fortunate to help with, there’s Hawaiian Airlines, beverage companies including Hawaiian Sun, Primo Beer, Miller Light, a few artists from both local and afar, sports athletes/organizations (on professional, college, and high school levels), major footwear brands such as Vans and Element, various clothing brands such as Hurley and Tori Richard, and restaurants such as Zippy’s, Herringbone, and Nobu. In the end, design should always be coming from a good place within you, and integrity is so important. Creating for the sole purpose of making money at the expense of self-integrity can simply be defined as a shitty job; I’ll never have one of those as long as I’m in my design career.
If you could sum up your artwork in one word, what would it be?
Calculated. I’m my biggest critic and constantly struggle with finding excuses to change things. It’s been very tough at times.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Never fall out of love with creating.”
You can find some of Jared’s most prominent clothing designs at Fitted Hawaii located on Kona St. across of Ala Moana Shopping Center in O’ahu, HI. Like Jared, I view this place as a second home as well.
I asked Jared to finish these sentences:
I am an eclectic, eccentric, very particular, complicated thinker, who enjoys learning, loving, and being my personal best at all times.
Design is amazing. I believe it to be one of the most important, underrated, and under-appreciated aspects of life, that directly contributes to the growth and evolution of any culture or society. Good design equals better quality of life on all levels, which in turn will result in higher refinement of individuality.
The world needs refinement. There are so many things the human race can improve on, not only for ourselves, but for the world itself. Whether it’s together in unity or within individuals, I don’t think it matters much… We can all just strive toward getting better in any small or big way possible. I know it’s a broad statement, but it really couldn’t be more simple in my mind.
I believe in energies. Each person has the ability to determine their way of life to a realistic extent. I always try my best to pick the positive route through any thought or decision. Happiness emanates from good vibes.
Fitted is my vessel for learning and growth… It’s tied for being my first home.
My job is a blessing. It’s truly not often that someone gets to do what they love and meet amazing individuals along the way. I’ve been here for nearly 13 years and don’t regret a single day, despite having many learning experiences and hard times along the way.
Hawaii is one of a kind. It’s beauty is arguably unmatched, the food is amazing, people are loving if you show them mutual respect, you can go to the top of a mountain or into the ocean and anywhere in between on any given day, and not to mention our rich history and culture that the rest of the world absolutely loves to exploit.
More about Fitted
*Majority, if not all photos were taken by Jason Ko. Other photographers are unknown, but I do not own these images nor do I intend to take credit for the beautiful photographs portrayed in this feature.
Courtney Reiko Calicdan
You may have noticed the first video, Water is LIFE, produced and filmed by Andrew Tran. I attended high school with Andrew at Moanalua High School where we had the privilege of being a part of the Mene Mac TV Production community. In those four years, I studied Andrew’s work, admired his cinematography and photography, and have been following his creative work since. Stay tuned for more on his process, life, and future projects.