This is my friend Jasmine Basci and she is the latest interview subject of my jobs series, So What Do You Do Exactly? She just launched her very own apparel company, TobyLou (named for her two cats), selling original screen printed t-shirts and bags.
How did you get started designing t-shirts? Well, it was sort of just grew from a Christmas gift for my brother. I used one of those online “build your own!” t-shirt websites to put a very specific image he wanted on a shirt and have it made. It was there that I started to play around with all the clipart they had, adding clip art on top of clip art, to create a whole design. I also really enjoy animal t-shirts, but had been finding it harder and harder to just find simple, uncomplicated designs, so that is when I thought “Maybe I can just do my own?”
How did you learn how to screen print? It was very “DIY”, printing using a sheer curtain, an embroidery loop, glue, paint, and a spatula—that’s a whole other story. After about a week of that I thought maybe it would be worth it to take a class, which I did at Spudnik Press.
How does a t-shirt get made? The process is actually quite simple, but it’s the little things that can trip you up. It all starts with getting a high-res image in black and white and then burning it, with light, onto a screen with dried photo emulsion on it. The parts of your design that are black will wash out with water and the rest of the emulsion will have dried onto the screen from the light. This process is what makes the stencil, which you then put on top of the shirt, plop some paint on there, and push it through with a squeegee. BAM! A shirt with a design on it.
It’s the little things like aligning your screen straight, little holes popping up in the screen where they aren’t supposed to, pulling the squeegee at the wrong angle, etc, that can cause tiny imperfections. I typically go to the studio for a 4 hour block, where I can get about 15-25 shirts done (but it also depends on how many colors are on the design). The longest part is setting up and preparing your screen, which takes about an hour or so.
Do you have your own studio? I currently became a member at Spudnik Press and they are amazing. For a reasonable price, I can go in and use their studio space, equipment, etc to print shirts. They have open studio hours, staff on hand to help you out if you run into any problems, and they also play some nice jams. It’s actually very relaxing to just go into the studio to create things while being surrounded by creative/talented people. On Thursday, December 6th, they are having an art sale, where I will be there selling TobyLou shirts alongside other artists.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs? Any animal really, but I love cats……like, love them. I have two (which the company is named after): Toby and Louie. Cats are just weird, odd, and mysterious creatures, which is why I like to use cats, more so than any other animal, as my main inspiration for any design. However, I will also incorporate some other aspect of life, objects, or ideas that I think look neat. I like to keep all designs simple and off-beat.
How’s business? Any success stories? Has Oprah worn your shirt yet? I think the greatest success I feel right now is just officially opening up for business and making some sales. The fact that someone wants to buy something you created is rewarding. On that note, Oprah has not rewarded me….get with it OPRAH. I actually have a design that I created called the Zooey Deschanmeow which slightly resembles the look of Zooey Deschanel. I’m going to send her a shirt soon in hopes that she may wear it one day.
If you dream big, what does TobyLou look like down the line? A store? A television channel? T-shirts for dogs? Down the line, I want to see TobyLou look like it does now, but everything is 100 times bigger. More designs, a bigger selection of different styles of shirts for all ages, and maybe a shirt for cats……maybe, MAYBE one for dogs, too.
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