When you've seen a child actor grow up on television, you come to feel like a babysitter who did a poor job monitoring the adolescent pitfalls which pop up along the way. In the case of Ethan Cutkosky, who plays the second youngest Gallagher sibling on Shameless, Carl, he's been so convincing as the larcenous, morally-corrupt character, that you'd expect Cutkosky himself to be a close composite to the role that changed his life while he was living in his childhood hometown of St. Charles, Illinois.
The only similarities between Ethan and Carl are that they have both gotten older. And with the prospects of Shameless shooting a 10th and almost assuredly final season, the recent high school grad is forced to reconcile with life after the show in the same way that other child stars have had to. There's of course, more acting. There's the opportunity to take time off from a rigorous shooting schedule that turned the Warner Bros. backlot into a second home. And finally, he could simply close the book on a career that has almost assuredly netted him several millions of dollars in salary and potential backend residuals when the show is syndicated.
When Cutkosky makes an appearance at the headquarters of Los Angeles label, Chinatown Market, he greets everyone in a similar manner, saying "it's a pleasure to meet you" in a genuine and non-ironic take on manners.
He's recently moved into his first apartment in North Hollywood with a childhood friend. While new digs in close proximity to Hollywood suggests a recommitment to acting, Cutkosky makes it clear that he bemoans the audition process. It's not a vanity play; rather, he comes off as someone who is shy in front of people he doesn't think understand him.
It makes sense then why Cutkosky has come to meet with Chinatown Market founder, Mike Cherman. After exchanging DMs on Instagram, Cherman was gracious enough to give the 18-year-old tutelage when it comes to brand ownership.
Whether or not a season 10 of Shameless happens remains to be seen. Regardless, Cutkosky is moving forward with his brand, Khaotic Collective.
Speaking about it for the first time, here's what he has to say about his foray into fashion.
What have been the biggest challenges with Khaotic Collective so far?
The biggest challenges were actually trying to figure out how can you be motivated and execute what you wanna still do, and also keep up that same vibration you wanna bring to everybody. It's also trying to be treated like a legitimate business owner while still being such a young kid, and [understanding when] people are talking you up, and "yes manning" you.
It was a lot to try to figure out. It still is a lot to figure out; like trying to figure out the right manufacturers and financially where things are gonna be going.
What do you hope the brand will look like in six months? What's the goal?
In six months, I would just like to be having it out on more people, and just people changing their own thinking process and seeing that and realizing how they could apply more positive vibrations to their daily lives, and how they can bring those to other people's daily lives. But also not doing it in some spiritual, hippie-dippie sense that, "we're 18-years-old. We like to do some grunge shit."
Have you had people push back and say, "Stick to the acting. Let us do this."
I've been told, "why don't you just stay in your own lane?" I also want to start branching out into music. I'm using this stuff to kind of expedite each other, and it's like, "stay in your own lane. You already have your own thing?" [For me] you can't grow unless you put yourself in uncomfortable positions and realize what is relative and not relative. And so it's just like, "thank God, I have a very supportive family and parents." Those are really the only people I need.
You're in a good position because you've had a stable job for nine years, and it's paying you better than if you had a job as a camp counselor. So you're afforded the opportunity to do things that other kids your age might not have the opportunity to do, right?
Yeah. That's the thing that I think I started to realize. I did work my whole childhood, but also learned a whole lot doing that. But I also wanna be able to bring positivity, and this isn't just pure gluttony from me.
Let's say you're not shooting Shameless, because obviously you have to take that in consideration. What does your day look like in terms of managing your brand?
Managing my brand is just mostly trying to figure out what are the next steps I could execute since I'm still such a young brand. What designs can I be making today? I'm always trying to meditate on different designs, and I get lost in the sauce with that. So I've gotta pull back.
So are you a one-man show right now?
Pretty much, yeah. I mean I have my buddies help me out, but I'm not working with anybody and not working with any investors. This is all me.
What's the timeline now on when it'll be out, and what we can expect from the first season from your brand?
The first season's gonna have a darker vibe to it, but also a lot of weird, light-hearted, sense of humor, psychedelic thought. But what I mean by "psychedelic" is "psy" meaning "mind" and "del" meaning "reveal." Just like mind-revealing thoughts and mind-revealing substance. So having jean jackets, hats, face masks, but stuff that really puts kind of like an indent on culture. Talking about the killings that is never mentioned on the news. How are we gonna put these people to justice? And all this other shit.
Where is this perspective coming from? Do you think that the show business aspect of things matured you faster? Or are these thoughts just inherent to your personality?
I think that the show expedited it because my parents really instilled a lot in me. I've always been into metaphysics, conspiracy theories since I was like four years old. So this is just stuff that my thoughts were bound to take somewhere.
Do your castmates know what you're cooking up?
So, so. This is definitely something to push me away so that I'm not Carl from Shameless. That is just something that I do in my life. That is a job that I have. But I'm about to hit multiple other aspects.
What other brands have influenced you?
One of the first images that I saw that kinda made me think, "You should just be doing your own stuff, but doing it for also a certain reason" was of Virgil's Abloh's Fahrenheit 451 piece. It's a pretty raw piece. It's a screen print, but this is like the type of shit that I'm thinking about constantly. Very worldly, kinda conscious, meme culture.
I was like, "wait a second, this is something I've been thinking about since fifth grade, sixth grade. Why the fuck don't I just do it?" I have the money to invest. I don't buy anything for myself. I wanna be a businessman. I wanna understand that stuff.
Who are some people that you would envision rocking your gear?
I love Joey Bad$$, the whole Pro Era crew, and Flatbush Zombies. I've given some shit to Zombie Juice before so I was super excited about that.