When Pete de Gail, founder of TEE INK, was first introduced to Indonesian tattoo legend Froggy (of Bali Ink fame), he couldn’t help but think how cool it would be if he could somehow take Froggy’s tattoo art to the world, beyond the tattoo parlour, beyond the flesh. All he needed was a platform. A medium less permanent than skin so more people could embrace and appreciate his work, and the work of other artists like him.
18 months later, Pete is launching his first line of TEE INK clobber – wearable art on premium cuts that will continue to be a platform for artists to design for in the future. With the first line of signature ranges ready to hit the shelves, we had a chat with Pete about the journey so far and what’s on the horizon…
Tell us a bit about the concept.
TEE INK is kind of a minimalist architect of the fashion world. We create wearable, unique, fashionable platforms for original artwork and design, but we’re very specific about the size and placement of the artwork.
I was sick of walking into the large urban chains and only being offered a blank tee, or something at the completely other end of the spectrum. What we’ve tried to achieve in our artist signature range is something in between – high quality blanks where the art is prominent, but not overwhelming. Much like the space in an art gallery, three-quarters of our t-shirts are blank for a reason!
So tell us about this artwork then Mr “Tadao Ando”?
All of our artwork is 100% original and commissioned solely for our products. What you see is exactly what the artist created for you to see – the artwork hand drawn on paper, and straight from the artist’s pen to our print press and silversmith.
Yep, we took Froggy’s artwork and created a line of high-end accessories, partnering with fine silversmiths and 3D designers to develop a range of bespoke jewellery that includes 925 Sterling Silver pendants, rings, and bracelets.
Very nice. So where to from now?
Our online store is up and running but we’d really like to partner with some quality retail. Our online presence has been an important part of our launch but there is no substitute for the traditional retail experience.
We’ve also launched a TEE INK ORIGINALES range, which has given the label an outlet for us to play around with some off the cuff ideas.
And is Froggy your only artist?
Nope, we currently have our second artist locked in a secret room producing some killer stuff for our second range! 18 years of age and from Western Australia, he is very much a freak of nature in tattooing years!
Then we will probably go overseas again as it’s very much our aim to be a collective community of artists, searching all of planet earth, far and wide, for some new creatives to partner with. And not just tattoo artists either – our only criteria is finding masters of artistic craft, whatever style that may be.