This one goes out to all my fellow students:
Sometimes, after many tiresome, late nights in the studio, do you ever wonder what you could possibly do with an art degree in this day and age, wondering if it’s all been worth it?
(Coughing, I raise my hand from behind the computer screen and whisper, “Yes.”)
Well, here’s an interview with a local artist who’s made it worthwhile – he’s found something he truly enjoys, using his art degree to boot! Rickey Trant, a 2012 graduate of Alamance Community College, has done just that. Rickey studied Advertising and Graphic Design, and now puts it to splendid use in his work with his clothing line, Arkon Apparel. Making due with our snowy and cold Valentine’s Day, we met up for a Skype interview.
He started his first clothing line with his brother which taught him the ways of screen printing and how to get his designs on paper ready to print. Arkon Apparel came along in May 2013 with his friend, Rob – “He has money but no artistic talent!” Rickey laughs. Funding meets art – what bliss.
“We were bored with doing jobs that meant nothing to us. We wanted to get into something that was fun. I wanted to do something that was what I wanted to do with my life…All the designs are Illuminati and Free-Mason based. Those two things get a bad reputation nowadays…” This spun off into a truly interesting discussion about the misperceptions of these organizations in today’s society. The Illuminati have been received negatively within our culture because they’ve been incorrectly attributed to modern “knock-off” groups around the world claiming to be the Illuminati, and in misrepresentations from popular culture, when in actuality, the real Illuminati was a Bavarian secret society formed on May 1, 1776 to fight, among other things, prejudice and gender inequality. Going along with this real origin’s beliefs of enlightenment, Rickey says, “I guess to me it’s about ‘illuminating yourself,’ creating something for yourself and becoming the best you can at whatever it is you want to fulfill in life.”
Next I asked him about how the internet has helped Arkon, and before I could even properly get my sentence out, he got really excited. “OH YEAH! That’s my main way to promote! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – Everyone uses it, it’s free, and it’s the fastest way to connect with your audience.” Currently, the Arkon Apparel Facebook page has 735 likes – quite a large number for something that started a little under a year ago!
He also says, “music’s brought forth another amazing way to promote. That’s why we endorse local bands. Their fans like us and our fans like them.” Networking and getting work out there is one of the most, if not the most, important things for an artist in the public eye.
Aside from everything else, Rickey’s designs are amazing: clean, sophisticated, modern, with just the right touch of classic elegance. From what I’ve seen, he’s a very keen and perceptive artist, sensitive to every line in his work. He designed the cover photo of my own Artist’s Facebook Page, and though the design is quite a bit simpler than his work for Arkon, he still picked up on the minor details of my signature, from the way I lace certain letters together to how my A’s look more like triangles.
So if you really do find yourself wondering if what you’re doing is right, don’t worry. Do what Rickey’s done and continue to focus on what you love – that’s the only way you can truly “Illuminate Yourself.”
Check out more work from Rickey and keep up with Arkon Apparel on: