Posts Tagged ‘ink’

I don’t like big prints on tees. I mean, it depends on a certain design, sometimes it may look appealing to me, but you can call me “the man of middle sized prints”, as far as the T-shirts are concerned. With that said, I simply LOVED what a fairly new tee company called ARKA Clothing from Tarzana, California had to offer at their simple and clean online shop. And when Shant Der Ashodian, the man “guilty” for all those designs there, offered me to choose two ARKA shirts for a feature at my blog, I just had to go with the two I liked the best, called “Reign” and “What’s On Your Mind”.

ARKA 001Some weeks later I was informed shirts arrived at my place, but due to some unfortunate circumstances I wasn’t able to see and try them on immediately (I was away from home), so I was more than nervous to finally do it. And when you wait like that for something you really want, the pleasure is even bigger. Both shirts were packed in nylon bags, with the ARKA stickers on it (with their cool little owl logo), and there were bunch of those stickers thrown into the envelope (must I repeat I’m a sticker nerd? I liked big ones so much, that I had to stick one on my old acoustic guitar, there with Flogging Molly, The Gaslight Anthem and some other stickers).

ARKA 006Once I’ve tried “Reign” shirt on, I was more than happy to find out that it fits me perfectly. See, I asked for a medium sized tee, but it’s a trick sometimes, because sizes can vary from one company to another. Other than that, shirt felt really comfortable, being thin (but not that much) and really, really soft. As far as the design itself is concerned, like I’ve said – I absolutely love it. It shows a cloud with bombs falling from it, instead of raindrops, and the word “reign” is written there at the umbrella. This little ironic wordplay says really much about the world we live in, so if there was a tee contest based on it and I was the member of a jury, I would give it a maximum score.

ARKA 007The other shirt, called “What’s On Your Mind”, felt just the same on my body. Since their shirts are tagless, ARKA is printing their logo inside, on the back just below your neck, which is a practice more and more companies are using. Now, this particular design is a bit abstract and deals with (human) psychology, showing a Victorian time dressed man, with a gun pointed into his head and some kind of roots or flowers blossoming on the other side of his head. Although we can all talk and argue about it’s meaning, I think this design speaks for itself – it’s kinda imperceptible, but when you look closely at it, you can’t help but start thinking about it. And I really love this kind of (tee) designs.

ARKA 004It is important what you wear. It doesn’t have to be some major brand or something, but it is well known that T-shirts are medium which represents you (maybe) the most. Your views, your lifestyle – you. It is also great when you find out that this particular shirt company you’re buying from is environmentally and health-wise conscious. With that said, I am more than happy to inform you that ARKA Clothing is printing all their designs with non-formaldehyde (read: non-toxic) inks that doesn’t cause cancer and are not harmful to the environment. Plus, I was informed by this company that they use the highest quality materials for their shirts. That justifies a bit higher prices for their shirts (all of them are $39.99, except for the ARKA logo shirt, which is $29.99). Just to mention – they recommend washing their tees inside-out in cold water to avoid fading.

With all written and experienced, I think you might find ARKA Clothing one of your favourite new tee companies (though I don’t want this to sound as if I’m praising them for sending me their shirts). Relatively new and already profiled, I think ARKA definetely do this tee stuff the right way, and I am more than happy to be the first Croat to wear their products (but I hope I’m  not the only one soon)!

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It’s interesting how the “Lion Of Judah” term is often used as a synonym for Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who believed that he is a direct descendant of the Israelite Tribe Of Judah. If you look carefully, almost every other kid in your town wears a shirt with this image of a fearless lion, mixed with green / yellow / red colors of Etiophian flag. Not to offend all of you rastas, but when speaking of Christian tradition, that term represents Jesus Christ Himself (there are some other interpretations of “Lion Of Judah”, too).

Following that path, newly launched American indie label, called Paid In Full Apparel, prints their designs based on some motives from Christian tradition, along with their nicely put slogan “fresh graphics / eternal message”. In fact – I’ve written about them last month, some of you may remember that… I must say that Paid In Full is printed by 316 Graphics, and Philip Hepler – the man behind it – was really kind when he asked which one of his designs / tees would I like to review at my blog. I chose Lion Of Judah tee right away, because it’s a strong design with kinda hidden message (the title “Lion Of Judah” is nicely made as a part 0f Lion’s mane).

Lion 01

My sample shirt arrived a couple of days later, and it was all wrapped and banded with Paid In Full tape. Once I’ve unwrapped it, I noticed a really cool detail, attached to a shirt’s sleeve by a safety pin. It consisted of Paid In Full Apparel’s label, with an explanation of a company’s philosophy (their designs are meant to be a conversation starter to witness to others about Jesus Christ), plus an unique scripture verse selected at random (mine was Matthew 22:37 – “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind”). Now, that is a really nice idea!


Once I dressed the shirt (it comes in 3 colors – sand, military green and cream), I noticed that it’s a bit longer than I’ve expected. I mean, I regularly wear M size and all my tees seem to suit me fine, but this one is up to my legs, fitting nicely at my body at the same time. However, I don’t mind wearing it that way, ’cause I don’t think it looks bad (and my problem is I’m not that tall). I am mentioning that fact just for you to have that in mind when ordering from Paid In Full.

The image itself is powerful, I mean – just look at the eyes of that Lion! If I’m not mistaken Philip drew it himself, and if so – he made a great job! Lions are known to be fearless (mostly), they are crowned “kings of all animals”, and having in mind what this particular design is representing, I would say this shirt is done really clever. I always felt religion as something really personal, and even if it’s a Christian tradition to witness your religion, I like the fact that the message of this design / shirt is somewhat hidden and ambiguous.

Paid In Full

Since this shirt is tagless (there is no label sewed on the inside) Paid In Full printed their logo on the inner side. That’s also done with a style, and there are instructions on how to wash / iron your shirt incorporated into the design. Regular price of the shirt is $18, but right now this tee is on sale for $16. I must repeat that when buying from Pain In Full Apparel you’re supporting ministry (at least 10 percent of each sale is given to that cause). All in all, I would say I got really great done, comfortable cotton shirt, which is a bit heavier (I guess it’s 180g) and I’ll sure feel good wearing it (and I do that often).

At the end, I’d like you to see 3 brand new Paind In Full designs that are being printed these days (2 are women’s and one is men’s design). They’re called Saved By Grace (it will feature crystalina glitter ink), True Love Throught Christ and Rooted In Christ (I like the latter the best).


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Printing your own shirts became something much more than a side-hobby nowadays. It became a REAL business, with all it’s components (branding, marketing, whatnot…) Having that in mind, it is certainly hard for a starting underground tee label to make a name for itself. Designs HAVE to be unique, recognizable, and look appealing to many. Florida based IronSpider Clothing started in 2007 and from what can be seen on their website, they seem to make some really eye-catching designs, often transferred onto tees as big prints, which you’d really like to wear. I especially like the “less is more” concept, so don’t expect to find like dozens of designs when shopping at IronSpider.com. Rather expect many styles, such as longsleeves, hoodies and dresses. Since I really liked what I saw (plus, I’ve recognized their honest approach to me as a tee blogger), I thought why not asking them a couple of questions, in order to present them to you. Hope you’ll enjoy what follows!

owl-dijon-menCould you introduce yourself and tell what you do at Iron Spider Art?
We are IronSpider Clothing – a small indie label from US. We are basically a team of two people and we do everything ourselves, from creating t-shirt designs  and websites, to printing and marketing.

What is the concept behind your company? What was the motivation for starting a tee / clothing company in the first place?
The concept in the beginning was to create designs which are different from the mainstream, from what you usually find in the malls, and of course  more artistic. We are still working on that and there is really no final point on this road. We are trying to improve our style with different printing techniques and design ideas. The motivation behind starting a clothing line was to have t-shirts which we would like to wear and hopefully people will like them too.

How long have you been in business, and can you tell me what did you learn so far from it? What are the good sides, and what are the downfalls of having an indie tee label?
We exist since 2007. Pretty short time for so many things:) I don’t think I can mention everything we’ve learned so far, but some of the major things are – printing on t-shirts, using different inks, creating artworks (halftones and vectors),creating websites, communicating with all kinds of people and institutions, making mistakes, working hard and never give up :). The knowledge in this field is endless so we never stop learning. The good sides of having small label is that you are the company the company is what you do and it is kind of adventure every day. For the downfalls – we think that these days they are too many clothing/t-shirt companies out there and the market is overflowed.

alien-women3What can you tell me about your designs? Who design them, what they represent mostly…? Any special stories behind some of them?

Our designs are created entirely by us. Creating design and transferring it on a shirt is s a long process of trial and error. We are perfectionists and quality freaks, which also is something that the big companies are missing sometimes because it is time consuming, but for us it is the part of the process. Our designs represent mostly our inner expressions that’s why we are not profiled in one direction. Sometimes we are funny, some times mystic and dark.

What is the method you’re using when printing your designs onto fabrics? Which fabrics do you use? Which inks?
All of our designs are hand screen printed on the garments, there is no automation in the process. We use manual press. Doing it by hand is our policy and it is part of the uniqueness of the whole process. We use only 100% cotton fabrics from American Apparel – made in US which are really high quality and pleasure to work with. For now we use plastisol, discharge and water based inks.

ruins-black-men-lonslvYou ship internationally, right? What is the strangest country you’ve ever had an order from?
Yes, we ship internationally. So far we haven’t had any strange countries in our list, but it will be great to have some. It is always exiting to know that someone on the other end of the world likes our designs.

When purchasing your product, what is it an eventual customer is really buying?
When purchasing from us, a customer is getting our work with a signature of high quality garment and print,original design and a little bit of us.

Is it hard to specialize in the tee business, being a small underground label as you seem to be, with so much companies out there? What methods of marketing do you use?
Yes, it is not that easy being small limited company these days, but this is our passion and we really believe that working hard is the answer. Creating different designs with quality also will help. For now, we are using mostly online sources of marketing – blogs, websites, submission sites etc.

creative-power-women-hood3How do you look upon T-shirts themselves, do you think they’re just clothing objects, or they’re somehow became a media for sharing certain kind of messages? What attracts you to that media?
The t-shirt for us is like canvas where we can share our visions and expose them to the public. The main reason why we chose that media is that the t-shirt is very affordable, everyone wears one and actually they are the most wearable and simple part of the fashion world.

What is your opinion on (even indie) labels that are obviously overpricing their tees?

Overpricing any product is not really nice thing to do. I can only guess that some people are just greedy and with appetites only for money. Personally, I think this kind of companies are mostly with short existence and they are doomed.

Is there any specific label or a company you look up to? Any labels you’d like to mention, too? Or artists, maybe?
We are really influenced by artists from the industrial , dark , ambient , punk music movements, movie makers like J. Svankmajer and W. Herzog, painters like H. Bosh and A. Durer and etc…

IronSpider.com is having a sale for some of their designs at the moment, so make sure you check their site out!

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