Inkwell Press is on it's grind. Gabe Flores started his business with a dream and confidence that he could break away from the 9 to 5 life and make something that truly belonged to him. I've been a fan of his art and music for well over ten years. In fact Gabe is one of my oldest friends in New Orleans. He's always treated me and my people with the utmost hospitality and respect anytime we came to New Orleans. So in turn we supported him both by buying his shirts and traveling to see him perform as Soapbox. He was one of the first people I looked up when I first moved to the city, and I'm incredibly happy to see Inkwell taking off.
Gabe was the very first sponsor of DMC New Orleans, and I'm proud to feature this interview here.
T5: So what got you started with designing, and more specifically t-shirts??
GF: When I was 16 i got caught spraypainting my high school. As punishment my principal suspended me and made me submit to an art contest that Coke was having for a new soft drink called "surge". I ended up winning the contest and getting exploited, (I think that was the first time my art was on a billboard though) and afterwards a local screenprinting company hit me up to see if I would come to learn to do the graphics at their shop. That's how I got my start back in 96'...I even had my own streetwear company called Evrywear back then, R.I.P.
T5: Hahahahah, yeah it 96 was the first time you art was on a billboard, but most certainly wasn't the last. I remember EVRYWEAR, I still have two old Evrywear shirts. So back to spraypainting... How'd that contribute to your development as a recognized artist/designer??
GF: Contribute? Im not sure. I guess I got a little street fame from painting. God Awful Krewe painted the entire upstairs Jungle room of the State Palace back in '98-'99, and I used to design flyers for Children of Bass and Family of Light as well as our Gray Area shows. I think that spraypainting taught me alot about technique, style, and rendering. I didnt go to art school so most of what I know about design came from graff and street styles.
T5: Who are some of your biggest influences in and out of the art world?
GF: My main influence is Hip Hop. The mentality of making something from nothing. Plus the culture encourages keeping your game up so that your skills are sharp, because life is really just a battle with yourself. I learn about a new person killing it in their artform everyday, and thats what inspires me. Whether it be someone from my krewe or somebody I never met...I like the underdogs and the unappreciated masters of their craft.
T5: DOPE!! I like that... The underdogs, the unappreciated masters... Well, I've always known that you've had a passion for making badass t-shirts. So how'd that translate into Inkwell Press?
GF: Well, like I said, i basically learned the graphic side of printing by working for other people. In the late 90's I was pushing my line called Evrywear. I had about a dozen or so designs out, some are still in circulation. This was before Sean John and Roca Wear and all that. I think Wutang had a clothing company around that time though. Anyways I was pushing my gear on Decatur in front of a Redman/Methodman show at HOB and I met their tour manager Seven, who claimed he would get me in the show and get Meth and Red to wear my shirts. After I was done hustling I went to get in and they told me I wasnt on the list, so I thought I got beat. Next thing I know the owner of Urban Trends (A streetwear chainstore that used to have spots all over New Orleans) calls me up yelling about how Method Man and Redman were wearing my shirts on stage! After that dude tried to buy into my company and wanted to mass produce and take it to China and all that, but I wanted to make sure the trademark was in my name. It never panned out b/c he didnt want me to have that kind of control so I walked away. Unfortunately the whole affair left a bad taste in my mouth so I quit fooling with t-shirts for awhile. I was 18 back then. After that I worked a bunch of odd jobs and then I started working at a print shop in Metairie. I worked from the bottom up and eventually learned to print and everything else about the production side. Couple years later I Micheal J. Foxed my way into owning my own business...
T5: What are you working on now??
GF: Right now i am running the bizz and printing for a lot of local artists, as well as doing DVD and CD duplication for cats who are trying to put music and videos out. Im still painting canvas and permission walls. You can see my work on Desire and St. Claude and also Press + Dauphine. Im looking into buying a house real soon and making sure my 7yr old has what he needs. Some of ya'll might know me from my days on stage as Soapbox, I played shows allover the city and went on tour with Galactic and Media Darling records. I have put the music aside for the time being to get my business in order but I plan on releasing some new and old unreleased material soon, in collaboration with the Able Chris and Prospek of GPC. So stay tuned. Big ups to the God Awful Krewe, Guerilla Publishing Company, Private Pile, Impulss, and all the DJ's keepin the wax spinnin'...R.I.P Bionic Brown & Money Mike...you are missed.
Of course you can catch up with Gabe in the various ways. He's got a Facebook page, also checkout myspace.com/soapbox2012 which I'm sure he put up for his 2012 Presidential Run. Lastly check out THEINKWELLPRESS.COM
So hit him up for all your printing needs. Spread the word because INKWELL, does ink well.