On his fabrics, he creates from well known pop-art pieces (famous movies, characters or personalities), to custom paintings – anything the client wants. His work is even more impressive since he paints each T-shirt carefully, by hand, in a process where mistakes are not allowed. Adrian Simion, the artist who started this business, is 24 years old and living in Bucharest. He graduated the School of Fine Arts Nicolae Tonitza and the University of Journalism, which, according to him, “makes no sense right now, but I wanted to excel in another area”. Which makes perfect sense to me 🙂
The name of his brand, Trois Tone, stands for the fact that Adrian’s early T-shirts were all painted in only 3 colors. In the meantime, his work evolved into a more complex pallet, but the name remained. He tells more about his techniques, the shop and the business in the interview below:
The best part of painting a T-shirt is how the colors combine on my pallet, it’s a visual orgasm
You paint some awesome T-shirts! When did you start doing this and how did it happen, how did you learn?
I have made the first T-shirt I think in 2008, when I was experimenting with different kind of colors on different textures, and I said to myself: “Why not T-shirts?”. And the first T-shirt was a picture of me (you can say that I am that self-centered to make the first shirt with me). The first one was made only in one color, purple, and it was a total success. Well, to be fair, the first T-shirt was made with a stencil, that I have cut off from a plastic sheet and turned out to be the negative version. But the second one was awesome. And all this time I have learned from my mistakes and experimenting with the colors on cotton.
It usually takes me between 6 and 14 hours to paint a T-shirt
Tell me a litlle bit about your shop. Are you by yourself, or do you have help?
My shop is a little bit to much to say. All the T-shirts are made at my home and I paint them all by myself and the process of making them is quite difficult. It usually takes me between 6 and 14 hours to paint a shirt and the fabric matters very much, because it can be too spongy, too nappy, or the fibers are too close to each other and the T-shirt will not absorb the color properly.
I used to buy all the T-shirts from stores like Bershka, H&M or Pull and Bear, but the material was very poor and the cut was not my favorite. And so I have made a partnership with a tailor, they give me all the cotton that I like, I make the designs for the T-shirts and the cost of this is half of the T-shirt bought from the stores.
Can you give more details about the partnership? Business wise, how do you work with the tailor, do you split the income?
Well he’s a friend of mine who helps me with learning how to sew and making the designs of my T-shirts, but I have to buy the fabric for making them on my own.
Right now I don’t pay him because he’s teaching me stuff about tailoring and when I start receiving a larger amount of orders, then I will make an official partnership and all the T-shirts will be made by his workers. So now I basically only pay for the fabric.
If I happen to damage the T-shirt by pouring a little too much color or spill where there’s no drawing, either I throw the T-shirt and get really mad, either I reinvent the design
What is the process, when painting a T-shirt? It must be super difficult, since you can’t “delete” any mistakes, so any mistake will probably cost you the tshirt.
To make a T-shirt, first of all I need a picture of what I am about to paint. If it’s one of my drawings I paint it directly on the fabric and maybe use a special pen to mark some of the lines of the drawing to have a better accuracy.
If I receive a picture from the customer (and that means I do custom T-shirts), I have to edit the picture to reduce the number of colors to 15 maybe 20 and paint the image on the T-shirt only by brush and sometimes air brush, but no stencil.
If I happen to damage the T-shirt by pouring a little too much color or spill where there’s no drawing, either I throw the T-shirt and get really mad, either I reinvent the design. I forgot to mention that I paint with acrylic, a type of color that stays on for a longer time and won’t wipe during cleaning.
Do you make a sketch first, before putting on the paint (like on paper)? Or you just start off with paint?
If the picture/drawing is complex I have to make a little sketch just so I can follow the outline, but not all the time. If the picture that I’m about to paint on the T-shirt is not that complicated, I let the brush lead my hand into completing a masterpiece.
Typical client profile? From the 18 year-old girl that wants a T-shirt with some flowers, to the bass guitar player that wants the face of Miles Davis
Who are your clients? What is usually the typical profile?
Uff… the typical profile. I really can’t describe that person because they are different from one to another. From the 18 year old girl that wants a T-shirt with some flowers, to the bass guitar player that wants the face of Miles Davis.
How do you promote your shop?
Right now I’m in the beginning and I really don’t have time to promote myself. First of all I’ll have to make an online shop where the buyer can choose what type of cotton he prefers, the next step will be choosing the design of the T-shirt, then uploading a picture of what he wants or pick one from my gallery and finally placing the order.
After the website I want to make viral videos on YouTube of how it feels to wear a Trois Tone T-shirt and how it’s made. And for that I hope a good investor or a PR could see me and my potential and make these things happen a little bit faster.
Would you say it’s a profitable business, opening your own shop when you’re an artist?
It could be a profitable business, opening your own shop when you’re an artist, if you came up with a unique blast, but you have to have a big crew behind you to work on selling you and make you known.
What is your favorite thing about painting T-shirts?
When I paint a T-shirt everything around me stops, I am concentrated on what I’m doing and the music plays a big role in this process.
I can’t listen to the same music over and over again, so I found lots of good musicians who I didn’t know exist (like Funkadelic, Stray Dogg, No Sinner, Eddie Hazel, Lance Lopez, Metronomy, U.N.K.L.E., and lots of others). But the best part of painting a T-shirt is how the colors combine on my pallet, it’s a visual orgasm.
Any advice for artists who aspire to doing what you do?
Those who want to do what I do will be invited to my workshop, when I’ll have one, and they could work side by side with me, learning my techniques and maybe work for me.
Follow more of Adrian’s work on his: facebook page