IndyInk brings art for the people
The t-shirt is the new canvas
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 00:10
IndyInk, a ramshackle independent art gallery/clothing boutique/bicycle shop on South Broadway, isn’t exactly your average hoity-toity gallery.
Having just celebrated its 10th anniversary, IndyInk qualifies as a Baker institution, growing from a humble silk-screening operation to a full-blown Mecca for many of Denver’s underground artists. “We started out just showing our friends’ work, and used it as a way to advertise for the shop,” said co-owner Dave Roggeman.
The shop’s wisely cultivated art and shirt designs reflect a gritty, delightfully lowbrow aesthetic, drawn from the inky beauty of tattoo art, the anarchy of graffiti, and the grime of 70s horror movie posters. But the dozens of artists that exhibit at IndyInk aren’t easily categorized; they represent the diversity of the city’s creators.
“We keep our ear to the ground, watch the art scene and attend shows at other places. We connect with artists that way,” Roggeman said. “We don’t have to be an upscale gallery.”
For its 10th anniversary exhibition, IndyInk’s art curator, Max Kauffman and the owners gathered over 50 local artists who had been a part of IndyInk in the past decade.
Included in the showcase are the works of many artists who have represented the shop’s off-kilter sensibility for years, like Scot LeFavor’s acidic collages, or the clean and jovial posters of John Vogl.
LeFavor, Vogl and a slew of other IndyInk favorites also designed a few t-shirts trumpeting the anniversary. What better way to celebrate the shop than by emblazoning its name on a shirt?
Considering that the t-shirt is an especially affordable and democratic artistic medium, Roggeman said the combination of shirt making and shirt selling was a natural fit. “We figured it just meshed well,” he said. “We were making some shirts with our own designs and we decided it would be a good way to get cheaper shirts out to people. And it’s just evolved throughout the years into these other things.”
The screen printing operation takes up the store’s back half and basement, on display for all to see, and most of IndyInk’s shirt inventory is made there. “Ninety percent of the designs here are printed in-house, and the other 10 percent is all local brands,” said Roggeman. An artist or company will send the IndyInk team an image, the different colors are separated into layers, and the hard-working team in the back rebuilds the colors on the design and transfers it to the shirt, poster, or what have you.
Roggeman’s egalitarian philosophy extends to his prices. T-shirts are affordable and printed on high-quality Next Level Apparel shirts, and most of the works sold are small original pieces under $100. The reserved and classy coats and jackets are provided by Ambiguous Clothing, and the bicycles are provided by beloved neighborhood shop Velowood Cyclery.
If this doesn’t sound like your normal clothing shop or art gallery, well, that’s kind of the point. IndyInk’s messy and loveable approach is a lot like the visions of the artists that decorate its walls. Here’s to another decade of wearable art at IndyInk.