Ugly Betty's Ana Ortiz
I started my apparel collection right after I graduated from Parsons. While I was job hunting I worked on some personal art projects like painting, collage, and block prints. I created a set of Queens-centric block prints to hang in my house and I also thought they would make great tshirt designs. My friends loved the designs so I stopped job hunting and began working on my own business.
Your tshirts are beautifully crafted; Tell us about your process. How long does the process take from designing to completion? With my couture tees, I create twelve new designs each season. I draw out the designs in pencil and transfer them to the linoleum blocks. Then I carve each design which takes about a day or two. I hand dye the tshirts in my studio with dye recipes I come up with. Then I print them with hand-mixed block print inks and then wash them so they stay soft.
With my Queensbound tees, the Queens-centric designs are available year round on a limited selection of basic tshirts.
Are your materials locally sourced? I know you are conscious about the environment and sustainability, how does this affect your art making? I try to always use American companies for my supplies. My tshirts, labels, and inks are manufactured here in the U.S. My couture tees are tagged with paper seed tags that people can plant and grow.
How would you describe the Ciara Couture man/woman? Ciara Couture customers are urbanites/city dwellers. They value style, education, travel, the arts, and the environment. They appreciate quality over quantity. Our customers tends to be highly computer literate, own a laptop, has a cell phone and probably an ipod.
What designers inspire you?
- Fashion: Betsey Johnson, Carolina Herrera, Narciso Rodriguez
- Graphic Design: Paul Rand, Paula Sher, Hatch Show Letterpress
You’re also teaching art classes this summer? Yes, I teach affordable art classes out of studio in LIC. I also offer a scholarship program for the recently laid off.
Any other current projects or projects we should look forward to that you’d like to share with us? I am working on a line of Astrology tees that are coming out this July.
Favorite music to listen to when designing/creating your tshirts: A little bit of everything.
Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: The Turkish Grill
Little known fact about your neighborhood: The Sunnyside Arch used to have lights that they would turn on at night.
Favorite watering hole: Don’t have one
Favorite place(s) to shop (clothing, shoes, food, art supplies etc.): Stray Vintage
Best pizza in your hood: Not sure.
If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene? Sunnyside!
What is your all time favorite monster and/or horror movie? I hate horror movies because they leave me freaked out for weeks. The last scary movie I saw was The Sixth Sense and that wasn’t even considered a horror flick.
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Check out Ciara’s tshirt lines here or follow her blog.