Today our artist interview is with Tessa from Krmbal. Tessa is one of the great people I've met through the Storenvy community. Tessa is a huge supporter of Indie businesses and the Indie community and offers fun eco-conscious t-shirts in her shop.
Tessa - www.krmbal.com
How did you get started doing this thing you do?
I actually went to college and decided to be a graphic designer. I really loved the fine arts though, but decided I'd have to find a job, so GD was a better option. I really loved the screen printing and printmaking classes (letterpress is so awesome). So, a few years after I graduated and had been working in a community college computer lab, I got a job at a collegiate apparel company b/c I'd had screen printing experience. From there, I worked my way up until I was working at a Fortune 500 corporation, but I wasn't doing a ton of stuff that was really creative. I really love making t-shirt graphics, so I decided I wanted to start my own indie brand to give myself a creative outlet and after seeing a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, I wanted to dedicate my brand to eco-consciousness. It's really hard to make 100% eco-friendly apparel, but I work hard to make sure Krmbal provides a better alternative that puts less waste into our environment.
A few years later, I got laid off, moved to NY state for an Art Director job that made me miserable and then I decided I'd take a chance and make Krmbal and freelance graphic design my full-time job.
Right now, I live in Binghamton, NY. We rent a beautiful old house that was built in 1906. It has some really awesome stuff, like pretty wood floors you can't really find anymore and lots of windows, but also some not-so-great stuff like creakiness, a tendency for bats to get lost and find their way in and isn't quite as heat-efficient as I'd like. I ended up converting the dining room into my studio because I have a standing desk that fits perfectly into one of the corners and I use our dining room table to store my art and craft supplies anyway. I've also got a bookshelf that I keep the t-shirt inventory in and I've got a stockpile of jersey and fleece that I saved from being thrown away that I make coasters, bookmarks and sometimes rugs from.
What materials and tools do you use to make your art?
Sometimes I'll sketch out a design and then transfer it to my Mac, but other times I'll just start right up in Illustrator. Once I have a design where I want it, I'll do the separations and send them to my printer with instructions on the ink I'd like it to be printed with. I'm really lucky to have developed a great relationship with my printer. I used to work with them a lot in my corporate job, so he knows what I'm talking about and will trust me to try something if I suggest it and I can trust that they'll print how I'm envisioning the design. That's actually even more important since we moved out of the area, so I can't just hop in the car and drive over like I used to, but I'm confident that Mike and his team will do a great job or that someone will call me if they're not totally sure. That's a huge thing to have that kind of trust with someone you work with.
I also use a printer because while I have screens and could technically print the shirts myself, screen printing for apparel requires some serious chemical systems to both make the screens and in the ink to print the shirts. In fact, screen printing ink is considered hazardous waste until it's cured. So, I want to make sure that those chemicals are handled and disposed of properly. Also, I use plastisol ink, which I know doesn't sound as good as water-based ink, but most of the time, water-based ink requires something called Discharge, which contains formaldehyde and releases a toxic gas. It's considered safe when handled properly, but there are additional chemicals required to make the screens when you use water-based ink, as well as a greater chance for waste. It's kind of a toss-up and lots of printers will argue over which is more sustainable, but after all the research I've done, I'm more comfortable using plastisols.
Our tees are 100% organic cotton and sourced from a manufacturer that has been 3rd party tested in their sustainability claims.
|Krmbal - Sky Buddha|
Where do you find your inspiration too create?
I write down ideas when they come to me and then I have a pool of ideas to work from, sometimes they don't really make it beyond the list.
Shop Indie was inspired by the indie/maker community and as a wish for what Krmbal would be, both with it's eco-consciousness and paying it forward with Kiva loans.
Heart Tree was inspired by Game of Thrones and imagining what a Weirwood would look like.
Lucky Cat was inspired by the metallic gold ink that I used. I decided I wanted to use that ink to print an original Maneki Neko design and collaborated with my cousin's daughter on it. I think it came out really great!
Hipster Tesla was my snarky joke about Edison and Dullahan was because I was totally interested in learning more about him in Irish mythology.
I wanted Hero to be inspirational and Sky Buddha actually came into being because I'd had a Buddha tee that I really loved that I'd gotten from a thrift store, but it was at the end of its life and I wanted another Buddha tee to wear. It's totally different from the tee I had and I probably incorporated some of my love for Avatar the Last Airbender :)
That takes cares of the serious questions! Time for some fun ones!
What color are your bedroom walls?
Blue, like our Sky Buddha tee
|Krmbal- Lucky Cat|
Spiders, do they count as an animal?
A dolphin would be fun. I wouldn't mind being a house cat either, think of all the napping!
What kind of pet person are you?
I've had lots of pets throughout my life. We've had mutts as family pets, I got my first cat in the 2nd grade - we went to a pet store that had a sign that all black and white cats were sold, so immediately I wanted a black and white one. I settled for a gray and white one and Alex was my buddy for the next 18 years. I adopted a cat from the Humane Society in college to give me a reason to actually go home and not work 24/7 in the art studio. Max had super yellow eyes, which were pretty neat. I also had a long-hair teacup chihuahua, who was the awesomest (and cutest) dog ever. My dad had gotten her from a breeder who let all kinds of dogs run in packs and she was so little she never got any food. She weighed 3lbs when we got her, but she soon fattened right up to about 6, heh. Both she and Max passed away a few years ago, about a year apart. I wasn't planning on getting another pet after that, but we visited the Humane Society here last October and couldn't say no to our one-eyed friend, Nick Fury. She's pretty great and I'm really glad she's here to keep me company now that I work at home all day.
Jeans (and a t-shirt, of course!)
A Potterific world would be pretty fun, as long as you weren't a muggle.
|Krmbal - Heart Tree|
Oh man, I can't decide. There are so many cool things that would be awesome. Like the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, where there would be a ton of things to do and see or seeing Martin Luther King Jr's I Have a Dream speech in person or maybe just Woodstock (the first one, obvi, not the one from 1999).
If you have a box of popsicles which color do you eat first? Why?
Hrm, blue or red. I can't decide, they're both good.
Sock, sock, shoe shoe or sock, shoe, sock shoe?
Sock sock shoe shoe and usually left first, for some reason.
What's one of your guilty pleasures?
iPad games. All of them. I should really find something more productive to do with my time.
|Krmbal - Shop Indie|
Knock on wood?
I'll usually eat breakfast while I work. Most often granola with coffee at my computer. (PS - there's a great granola recipe on my blog)
A cat, a laser pointer and an ipad that won't die (a wireless signal would be nice too, but you know it is an island, so just having my drawing app and games is fine too)... oh and if it's a sunny island, I'll swap the laser pointer for sun screen, the sun is my frenemy.