As old clothing lines shut down, new ones make their presence known. It isn't some evolutionary process around here, its just how things happen in this state. --- Last year the locally produced names started to dry up, either by going out of business or simply not wanting to do it anymore, giving way for some new names to take their place in shops, festivals and even replacing many familiar brands at this past SLC Fashion Stroll.
Cignia got it's start back in 2009 pushing out t-shirts with unique and simplistic designs. The localized brand started gaining ground around the fashion community when it branched into recycled wears, finding it's way into several shops across the valley and becoming a recognized name at craft events. Today we chat with founder Greg Domm about starting up the line, the work he's done in developing the product, his thoughts on local craft and a few other topics.
Gavin: Hey Greg! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Greg: I grew up in Rochester, New York and moved here around 14 years ago, it did not take long to know that I would stay and make this my home. Since then I married my wife Cindy and we have two great little boys, Cameron who just turned six, and Owen who is three.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in art, and what were some early influences on your work?
Greg: Street art always played a major role. I love to see how creative someone can get without the typical guidelines. It’s not like you can take a class from Bob Ross on the subject. Because it is still a fairly new art form, there is no envelope to push when there is no limit to what you can do. The possibilities still amaze me. I started tagging and painting on old street signs that I would come across. Then it moved to other mediums, like wood planks and junk lying around. Currently, I work mostly with hand cut stencils and spray paint on canvas. I kind of miss working with junk lying around though; maybe I’ll start that back up.
Gavin: Did you seek out any college in art or was it more learning from experience?
Greg: I would say that I have always learned more from experience. I did go to school, on and off, but I never had a teacher who pushed me. Maybe I just got stuck with unmotivated or burned-out teachers. I had an art teacher who graded my doodles that I would create in English class. So, you can see where I am coming from. I am sure there are great art teachers out there, I just never got one. I think there is a lot to be said about an artist who has gone though every form of art just to find the one that works for them. Whether you are in school or not, it’s something you need to find out on your own.
Gavin: How did you land your current gig with Ferrari Color, and what kind of work do you produce for them?
Greg: I love my job at Ferrari Color. We are a large format printing company. Turn on the TV or drive down the street and you’ll run into something we have produced. I get to work with some great people, and some very large, very demanding clients. The funny thing is that I have absolutely no creative input at all. All of our clients have their own artist and designers. I would only slow their posting date if I told them that Pantone 186 was just a shade too dark. I am just glad I have my own outlet. I can create what I feel works, and I do not need to verify it past six editors and designers before I can go to print. The only verifying I do now, is to show my latest design to my wife and kids. What I say goes. I only print what I like. My only wish is that people enjoy what I print.
Gavin: How did the idea for Cignia come about, and where does the name come from?
Greg: I came up with my logo a long time ago. I use it on everything. I even stopped signing my art and started just using the logo. It became my “insignia” if you will. When I went to register my business name, I realized that just a logo would not do. So I shortened it to Cignia. I have used it ever since.
Gavin: What's the process like for you in creating new designs and producing the shirts?
Greg: You would laugh if I showed you the entire process. Here is the picture I would like to paint in your mind. Me, stuck in my basement. Exposing screens with my light box which is under the stairs, and kids running under my feet as I am trying to print shirts for our next festival. It is definitely not glamorous. But I do enjoy creating more than the circumstance. I get to create something and have people actually wear my clothing. It still freaks me out to see my designs walking around in public. I got stopped in the mall once by a girl, just to tell me the shirt I made was her favorite. How can you top that?
Gavin: What was the public reaction to the work when you first started displaying them?
Greg: I loved my first year selling at festivals and at the Farmer's Market. The reaction was fantastic. I felt like the hard work I had put in was paying off. We just hoped we had enough sales to pay for the booth fees by the end of the season. I was not expecting to get such great feed back. I took most of the comments back with me and tried to adjust to demand, without compromising my designs. It was a good learning experience. That first year was a lot of fun.
Gavin: What made you decide to incorporate recycled bags as part of the line?
Greg: I am always open to new ideas. Last year I sold mostly men’s t-shirts. Last season, I had some request from women that they wanted more for them. I knew that I needed to focus a little more on women this season because of the comments I had received.
Gavin: How do you decide the material to make them out of, and what's the process that goes into making those?
Greg: I really do not know where that idea came from. When I was thinking of making bags, I went though a lot of ideas. I priced out some cool fabrics, but I like the weathered look. Then I had an idea to take a pair of old wool Army pants and sew them into a bag. It turned out to be a good impulse. I might have gone though twenty other impulses to get one good one. But, you have to follow them if you hope to have anything work. I am just glad my wife entertains these weird impulses to Jo-Ann Fabrics or the Army surplus store. She also does not mind having a husband who likes to sew.
Gavin: Your designs have found their way to a few local shops and you've started to become a staple of fashion and craft showcases. What's your take on the success you've seen so far?
Greg: I would say that all of my success comes from unique individuals that are looking for original designs. Salt Lake is full of good people that want to stand out, in a positive way. I have tried to tailor my designs with them specifically in mind. I can honestly say that I try to stick to designs that I have not seen before. All of my designs are 100% original. If you would like to shop at Old Navy, go ahead. Someone in Kentucky is wearing that same shirt right now. I feel that those select few that look for an artist like me, appreciate the work I go though. I hope they understand that I truly appreciate them as well… I really do.
Gavin: Are there any plans to expand beyond what you're doing now, or mainly sticking to what you've got going on?
Greg: Short term, I would love to expand to more shops! I have been getting some positive feedback from more and more local shops. Who knows what that can lead to? But don’t be surprised if I follow one of those impulses and add something completely different. Like my Air Plants, you should check them out on my site. Long term, I would love to get to the point that this is my full time job. I would love to have my creativity support my family. In the meantime, I will gladly show up to all the festivals that will accept me and peddle my wears.
Gavin: Going local, what are your current thoughts on the art and craft scenes in Utah, both good and bad?
Greg: I am only seeing good things happening. We are seeing more focus on buying local, and more venues for local vendors are popping up. We are moving past the ideas of mass produced items, and moving towards handmade and quality. Salt Lake City is booming with talent. If you want to see for yourself, run a local search on Etsy.com or come to Craft Lake City. I think you will be proud of our local artists.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make things more prominent?
Greg: At this point we are making good progress. I would love to see all artists get back what they put into it. I do not know if we will ever end up in the mainstream. I do like how you do need to dig a little to find people like me. It leaves a good story to be told when someone asks “where did you get that?”
Gavin: What's your take on the craft festivals like Craft Lake City, Craft Sabbath and the Beehive Bazaar, and how they've come into their own to help artists out and promote their work?
Greg: I do not know where we would be without festivals like these. I know I depend on them to sell my artwork and clothing. It also brings all of the awkward people like myself out of basements and garages and brings us together. Behind the scenes, it is fun. We all get to know each other and see what we have come up with. It is like a little collective of creativity. I am sure that I am not the only one to say thank you for all of those who work hard to make these festivals happen. We know it is a lot of work.
Gavin: What can we expect from Cignia and yourself over the rest of the year?
Greg: This year is going fast so I have a lot of work to do. Right now I am focusing on keeping the shelves full with new designs. Then, after the festivals pack up for the season, I will move my attention online. Next thing you know, it is back getting ready for the summer. It does not end. I do hope to keep things fresh and push myself more then I have in the past. I have some new ideas I need to get on paper.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Greg: Support your local artists. I do not care what you are into; there is one of us made for you! Also, thank you Gavin for giving me the spot and the support. Come check us out every week at the Farmer's Market. Craft Lake City is on August 13th, so swing by. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me at our website. Thanks again for everyone’s support!
|Follow Gavin's Underground:|