The History of Seventh.Ink
Seventh.Ink is one-man art and clothing brand run by designer/artist Matthew Johnson. What began in 2007 as a fun side project quickly grew into a business that is now known worldwide. As my art style evolved over the years, it became apparent that Seventh.Ink was more to me than just a way to create fun shirts. My goals for the brand shifted and I began to focus on illustrating more artistic designs while refining my style. Once screen prints were added to the arsenal of available products, I knew that Seventh.Ink had made a major change in the direction that I wanted to take the brand.
"Seventh.Ink has always been an evolutionary brand that continues to grow with me as I explore new concepts and artistic ambitions."
I originally started Seventh.Ink because I wanted to make cool and humorous graphic tees. However, I quickly found that the market for funny shirts was overly flooded. Although some of my most clever designs were very well received, I felt that I wanted to make more of an impact with my brand, so I began concepting new ways to restructure Seventh.Ink without stepping completely away from everything I had done. This was about the time when I started releasing concept lines and collections that were cohesive and went together. Customers could now purchase an entire set of designs that were related, and I felt more of an artistic sense of accomplishment through these releases. The most popular collections to date have been the Haunted Collection and the Gods & Goddesses Series, both of which are typically well received and exciting to work on.
Being A One Man Brand
I think that Seventh.Ink has always been one of those brands that has sort of been a mystery to people. Is there a small or large team behind it, or is it just one person who pulls it all together? Over the years, it's been interesting to see how many people still think that Seventh.Ink is run by a group of individuals when all along it has only been run by one person. I've stated it since the beginning, "Seventh.Ink is a one man brand", but there must be something that continuously drives people to think that there must be more to it than that. I think a large part of the mystery comes from the online presence that Seventh.Ink has. I've always been able to design and develop custom websites for Seventh.Ink thanks to my background in graphic design and web development. Putting a strong website up has always been an integral part of the success of Seventh.Ink.
"When I get asked about running a brand by myself, a lot of people assume I outsource inventory, shipping or illustration work, but the reality is that those are all tasks that I manage."
The things that I do outsource are product production and photography (see the Partners section below), but all of the design, illustration, marketing, branding, and everything else behind Seventh.Ink has always been on my plate. It's not easy, but because Seventh.Ink is past time of mine I really enjoy the work I do for the brand.
Attention To Detail
About the Shirts
Seventh.Ink shirts are printed with water based inks on American Apparel and Next Level and have custom printed tags. All of my shirts are printed in the United States. One of the main goals of Seventh.Ink is to create shirts that you've never seen before, and offer them at an affordable price. The unique blend of art and story that I put into my designs help them stand apart from what other brands are doing. All of the shirts have always had the Seventh.Ink logo on the left sleeve as a way to incorporate a bit more of myself into the brand being that I'm left-handed and my favorite number is seven.
About the Prints
In 2012 I decided to try designing some screen printed posters, and I was immediately hooked. Ever since, I have put out more and more screen prints every year while trying to maintain a balance of shirts and prints in my brand. All of my screen prints are printed on high quality stock (typically French paper) by the finest professional screen printers around. I typically do 18x24 prints, but I have been experimenting with other sizes as of late. Some screen prints also have metallic or glow inks to give them that extra finesse. I'm excited to push myself more into this new realm as my style continues to evolve.
About the Artist
Matthew Johnson is the force behind Seventhfury Studios and Seventh.Ink. His artistic skills include illustration, graphic design, web development and painting. As a graduate of AI International MN, Matthew has learned to look at things from both design and artistic standpoints, which help him further strenghen his brand. Raised mostly in Minnesota, he married his high school sweetheart and they moved out of state in search of adventure. In 2008 they moved to Syracuse, NY and then in 2009 they moved down to Tampa, Florida, where they had their first child and currently reside.
My Design Process
There is a great level of excitement when it comes to releasing new products, even if it's just a single print or shirt design. The anticipation of waiting to see how well something is received is riveting, and if the response is good the resulting euphoria of knowing that something was done right is even better. I often get asked a lot of questions about my design process, which is actually really quite simple. I usually start with a thumbnail, which I have been known to make very small and quite lacking in detail. I then import the thumbnail into Photoshop and do a blueline sketch to refine the layout and get some extra details in there. Once I'm satisfied with the sketch, I begin inking and finish with color. I use a Wacom Cintiq to illustrate digitally, it's a great tool to have and it really helps speed up the process.
Over the last few years, I've been recording my illustration process and have been posting them on the Seventh.Ink YouTube channel. Below is an example of one such video, for more be sure to check out the channel. I've been working to make more as I go, people seem interested and I find that it's a fun way to show my process.
Real Thread - Exclusive Apparel Printing Partner
We are innovators in the apparel screen printing industry. We dedicate 100% of our time to using, understanding, and developing the craft of printing with water based and discharge inks. Why? Because your project demands the utmost knowledge and expertise to be completed correctly. We believe our approach to apparel screen printing is a far more creative method than the industry standard, which makes use of plastisol inks. Between your outstanding designs, the quality of our inks, the availability of print sizes, and our retail-ready finishing services, your options are truly endless.
Want to hire Real Thread to print your shirts? Tell them Seventh.Ink sent you!
Burlesque - Screen Printing Partner
We have completed design and illustration projects for a diverse range of clients including Nike Sportswear, Target, Arcade Fire, Rhymesavers, Kidrobot, 3M, Walker Art Center, Stones Throw Records, and many others. From logos to album packaging to posters to stage design, we would love to create the visual elements to help you develop your brand, promote your event, and add excitement to your business. We are ready and equipped to help bring your screenprinting project to life. Quality and service are the names of our game.
Want to hire Burlesque to print your posters? Tell them Seventh.Ink sent you!
Blackgraph - Screen Printing Partner
Blackgraph, aka Steve Chase, is a one man screen printing army with some serious skills. Besides being a fantastic printer, Steve's severe attention to detail help him stand above the rest when it comes to screen printing. Perfection is the name of the game, and with skills like this it's good to be on a winning team.
Want to hire Blackgraph to print your posters? Tell him Seventh.Ink sent you!
Visual Soul - Exclusive Photography Partner
Visual Soul, aka Jason Keomany, is a professional photographer based out of Detroit. His skills include capturing amazing photographs and finding unique venues for his shoots. His gritty yet flawless style is a perfect mixture to bring out some truly stunning photos, and is what makes him the exclusive photography partner of Seventh.Ink.
Want to hire Visual Soul for photography work? Tell him Seventh.Ink sent you!
LemonStand - Shopping Cart System
Within the realm of eCommerce best practices, there is a lot of room for creativity in design and functionality. Every business is unique, including yours, and you shouldn’t have to change the way you do things to fit the mold of an eCommerce platform. There’s no 1-size-fits-all solution when it comes to eCommerce. At LemonStand, we strive to offer an eCommerce platform that is flexible, and accommodating to your business requirements. We believe that beautiful, custom designed online stores are more than a "nice to have", but a necessity, if your goal is to grow and succeed.
Want to open an online storefront with LemonStand? Easy as pie!