For stand-up-comic Nate Huntzinger, designing a catchy sticker is just like delivering a joke for laughs.
“When I come up with a design for a sticker or a joke, I make sure it’s completely original,” says Huntzinger. And like a joke you have no idea how it’ll land. But when it works, he says “it’s exciting.”
While his career performing bits on stage is currently on hold, his business, Menottees, is at full tilt and producing a colorful selection of stickers and tee shirts that are popular items at Second Gear and that, well, make people grin.
And Huntzinger has plenty to smile about these days. In 2011 he came to Asheville for a stint at CooperRiis, a residential healing community.
“It’s been an amazing journey from where I was then to where I am today,” he says. “Through art I was able to heal.”
For Huntzinger, his design career launched in college when he began contributing tee shirt slogans to Threadless, an online community of artists and an e-commerce website. It’s also how he found his way to comedy since many of his slogan bids were one-liners.
During his recovery at CopperRiis he continued crafting jokes and slogans and eventually launched his business in 2014. Huntzinger admits the name isn’t easy to pronounce (it’s me-not-tees), but that’s just fine with him. It’s a nod to his late grandfather, Dr. Amel Menotti, whom he adored.
“It’s not easy to pronounce, but the name of the business is for me,” he says, “You need to do stuff for yourself. If you do, it’ll show in your work.”
In fact, the quality and matchlessness of his designs are why Second Gear co-owner Chris Webster didn’t hesitate to carry his merchandise when Huntzinger pitched them to the shop a year ago.
“They really have an understated vibe and they’re all interesting designs. You have to really look at them to pick up all of the details.” And frankly, adds Webster, Huntzinger’s sense of humor makes him snort with laughter when he visits the shop.
But transforming Huntzinger’s personal healing journey into art isn’t easy. His merchandise comes from artists and designers he collaborates with via the internet. Although the look matters, Huntzinger says it’s more important and challenging to nail the “feeling”.
For example, among his best sellers is his “Heal the World” sticker, a slogan that surfaced during his treatment and, according to Huntzinger, captures the theme of his business.
“If you can create fun things you can help others,” he says. “That’s what I hope people gain from the art.”
What’s currently on his design table? Space.
“My next shirt is going to be about Mars. I think you’ll love it.”
– Jack Igelman