Today we take you to a fictitious continent called “Carkayous”. It’s located off of the west coast of the Galapagos Islands and is populated by strange creatures, cute little animals in cartoon colors, like the Bunnybird Butterfly Eater and the Hornless Rulkin.
The creator of all this is the famous tattoo artist Jess Smith owner of the VA tattoo shop in Richmond, a volcano of ideas and creativity that ranges from tattoos to murals to always create new worlds for his colorful creatures. They are walking, living, breathing pages of his own comic story in his Carkayous world.
In addition to limited edition shirts, Jess Smith recently released limited-edition sneaker designs in partnership with Brand Your Walk. He releases three new shoe designs every month. They feature creatures from Carkayous, like the Gopher Bat Wolf. Designs are released as a part of Smith’s One Tricky Pony apparel and lifestyle brand. What does the name “One Trick Pony” mean? It comes from a term other artists from Ink Master (the tv series he was part of) used to describe Smith, as he tells us in this chat.
Hi Jess first of all a couple of words about you as a tattoo artist; what would like to tell us?
My name is Jesse Smith and I’ve been tattooing since March of ’98. I specialize in New School tattoos and own a shop called Loose Screw Tattoo in Richmond, VA. I was also a contestant on the hit TV Show Inkmaster season’s 2 and 7. Since then I’ve taken over the Richmond Tattoo and Arts Festival, started my own T-Shirt line called One Trick Pony Apparel, invented a modular organizational system called Method Tattoo System and started a non profit called the Giving Arts Foundation where we use art to raise awareness and money for various causes that we feel need attention.
You decline your style on ever-changing media: from leather, to paper, to walls and now on a clothing line. What came first?
When I was growing up I would only draw on paper with a basic pencil and then right around the age of 17 I started introducing color into my work via color pencils. It was right around that time that I started painting Graffiti in Heidelberg, Germany so spray paint became one of my mediums of choice around then. At the age of 22 I started tattooing and shortly after that I took up airbrushing. I only airbrushed for about 6 months before tattooing and college consumed all of my time. It wasn’t until the last year of college that I began painting with Oils (2004ish). I’ve always felt that each medium can teach you different things so I try to explore as many mediums as possible.
And let’s see the novelty of this line of shoes and t-shirts that you have recently launched. How did this idea come about?
I started creating T-Shirts back when I was 19 yrs old. I started this little company called Sketchwear. I would just put my art on T-Shirts and try to get them into stores. I remember making the shirts for $18 and selling them for $10 to the stores. Needless to say, that business model wasn’t self sufficient so it didn’t last long, but it was really exciting to see people wearing my art. This was pre tattooing. Since then I’ve always made shirts and prints to run in tandem with tattooing just to have something for people to buy that may not want to get tattooed by me. A couple of years ago I decided to make another run at pushing a T-Shirt line and that is when I started One Trick Pony Brand. The name came from when I was on Ink Master and they would call the a One Trick Pony. I thought it would be cool to run with it.
What is this line made of?
Different products are made of different materials. The “Endangered” and “Feral” Shirts are all created through a process called “Cut and Sew, Dye Sublimation” and they are printed on a Polyester/cotton hybrid material. The “Exclusive” line is printed on a Bella Canvas cotton blend shirt.
Which creative subjects did you choose? How did you choose them?
All of the characters on the shirts and shoes come from a fictitious continent that I created called “Carkayous”. It’s located off of the west coast of the Galapagos Islands and used to be used by the Pharmaceutical companies and Military to run experiments. They abandoned it about 40 years ago and since they left a lot of the creatures that they created have morphed into these super weird species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
On which channels will it be launched?
Everything will be launched at onetrickponyapparel.com
One Trick Pony is an original lifestyle apparel company featuring designs by Jesse Smith in collaboration with other artists.