Introducing Dre Forgotten to our wonderful roster of Makers & Shakers to the Pop Shop Blog. Dre is a long time Pop Shop America Festival Exhibitor and also happens to be our festival Fashion Show Runway Coordinator.
Hey Dre! Tell us about yourself and your artistic background. Where are you from? Where are you now?
I was born in Chicago, and my family moved to Wisconsin when I was a baby. My mother was a practicing artist and very involved in the art community during my childhood, so I grew up in art galleries, museums, and festivals as a child. I also attended a prep school with an extremely advanced art program. We had an Artist in Residence at the school, master artist Bill Reid, whom I was able to interact and watch him in his studio everyday as a child, which was truly inspiring.
I continued my art education through high school, taking any art class I could get into, photography, metal-smithing, painting, watercolor and pottery. In college, I studied art education, in hopes to become an art teacher, though after 3 semesters, I could no longer see myself as a teacher. Once I envisioned myself as a working artist, I decided to change my major to 100% art emphasis. I thought it would be a good idea to get a background in business, so I could sell my work in hopes to make a living. I received a Bachelors Degree in Art & Communication with a studio emphasis, along with a minor in advertising.
After I graduated from college I knew I needed to start getting art related work experience. My goal at the time was to work in a museum or gallery. I landed an internship at the Racine Art Museum, a contemporary craft museum, in the event planning and marketing department for 4 months before getting a job as a digital tech at a vinyl sticker company.
I worked at the vinyl sticker company for 7 months before I decided I wanted to move to a bigger city with more opportunity and no snow, so I moved to Houston, Texas!
I recently learned that I am a manifest-er. When I want something, I see it in my mind, like a dream, and I make it happen. I have envisioned being my own boss since childhood. I’ve had a handful of jobs but none seemed to fulfill me. I couldn’t sit back any longer counting the days go by on someone else’s clock. So, I started racking my brain on what kind of creative business I could do that would be profitable.
With this heavily on my mind one summer night in 2008, I had a dream. This dream was a free flowing matrix of ideas. It was almost as if someone was uploading the plans to my business in my dream, telling me exactly what I needed to do. My entire creative future was mapped out in this dream and that next morning I knew what I had to do. I was going to start a hand painted clothing line! The dream even gave me my name as well…Forgotten Arts, I went immediately, the morning after the dream, and had Forgotten Arts tattooed on my wrist. My nick name from high school was Dre and I added Forgotten at the end, and boom…my artist name was born, Dre Forgotten.
Deciding to go for it was a pivotal moment in my life. 8 years later, I am still doing the clothing line and continuing to grow.
What had to happen for your initial idea to become a solid, profitable reality?
I literally went to Hobby Lobby with $165 and bought what I needed to get started. I wanted the line to be true to my passion, so I consider the line a wearable art line. I started designing t-shirts for friends using stencils I made and fabric paint applied with a paint brush or spray paint. I wanted to customize my shirts even more; so I began dyeing the fabric and cutting it with scissors as well. And over the years I’ve added many more items to the line: dresses, leggings, hoodies, scarves and hats.
I had done a lot of market research, learning from others mistakes and learning from those who succeeded. I would reach out to people that inspired me and ask them questions which helped me set realistic goals for myself.
Lots of trial and error, patience, never giving up, and staying focused on the end goal, have been the main ingredients to my recipe. The body is servant to the mind, I have never lost site of my original vision.
How did it feel watching your ‘I Bang Texas’ design trickle into the local limelight and become a staple in urban Houston?
I Bang Texas is the most well know design in the line. I started by hand painting it on shirts with a stencil I had cut. As demand grew I had to begin screen printing the shirts. I used to do it myself but now I’ve teamed up with a local printer to mass produce.
I worked very hard and spent lots of money and time producing the design. I would vend any and every event I could find trying to get my name and the design out into the universe. I have slapped ‘I Bang Texas’ stickers all over the great state of Texas, and all over the country. I have also grown my printing services to include merchandise packages for local bands and artists. So you can find the design making appearances in local musicians music videos. It was worn by an NFL athlete and has been mentioned on National Public Radio (“NPR”).
I have sacrificed a lot, and it is an amazing feeling to see my hard work pay off. I could not have done it without the support of my friends, family, and the Houston community!
What’s your process like? What gets you in the groove to create?
My tie-dye process is a unique one. I like to switch it up, have fun, and experiment. My process is much like the way I live my life, spontaneous and free flowing. I try to make my tie-dye mimic an abstract painting, while being conscious of the bodies curvature.
I consider my tie-dye and hand-cutting as wearable art. I try to be innovative and experimental, not only in technique, but in my patterns and color choices.
Since I only live in my head, I’m inspired most by my surroundings and what emotion it provokes. I always have music playing and that can trigger emotion during my process. When my surrounding is depressing, I can find inspiration and channel a darker side. Some of my favorite pieces have been made from a darker place within me.
I work from home, and my studio is the entire dinning room. Though, sometimes it’s outside. I like to be in nature as much as I can, so when the weather permits I’m outside. I wouldn’t say it’s strictly organized but I definitely know where everything is. I hate wasting time looking for something.
So basically to describe my workspace: organized chaos.
I am considering going to fashion school to take my skills and Forgotten Arts Clothing to the next level.
I want to get more involved in the Houston Fashion scene. I’d like to host more fashion shows for myself and other designers. Currently I’m in 3 stores all located in Houston. I want to have the line in more stores, states, and countries! I also want to collaborate with other local and national artists.
The line’s popularity has landed me in many different creative opportunities, like coordinating fashion shows for myself and other designers, hosting events, being a judge in art competitions, being asked to be a guest speaker, managing a local band, and joining an all ladies noise band.
Overall, I want to always keep growing as an artist and expressing myself in other creative outlets, stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself. I strive for more always, and in all ways!
What are your favorite art supplies?
As an artist that has practiced many media, I find the most meaningful and fulfilling supplies are the ones I find or recycle. It is a great feeling turning something that was once disregarded by one person, then altering it, to create something beautiful and useful.
Lastly, and most importantly: What makes you happiest in life?
I’m most happy when I feel connected to nature and to the people around me, and most importantly to myself.
Being free makes me most happy. Although having your own business is a lot of work, it allows me to make my own schedule, allowing me to be as free as one can in our consumer, capitalist culture.
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