For every Rick Ross, there's a Rudy Mage. That means a creative professional hustling work in the County of Dade. For Mage, that means running Inked Productions, a graff writer-founded printing company that started out of an efficiency apartment selling "dead rapper tees at the flea."
Now the company does everything from custom clothing to vehicle wraps to stickers to flyers. Five months ago, Inked moved from Mage's garage to a warehouse and retail storefront in the Bird Road Arts area. We spoke to Rudy about wasted talent, killing the competition, and custom baby gear. Read on to learn how you can win a free Inked Productions T-shirt.
New Times: What are you working on right now?
We're doing some custom shirts for my homeboy Daze. He's going up to New York and he's gotta look right, nah mean? Custom everything. Right now I'm doing a vinyl transfer with gold foil.
How long you been over here off Bird Road?
Been here goin' on five months. I was runnning a home business out of my garage, but I started this in an efficiency slanging t's out the trunk of my car. Every year I just kept progressing and growing and here I am still going.
Where can people find your work?
We're doing stuff for Soles Inc., pretty much all the sneaker shops, Foot Soldiers, shout out to Sole Fly etc.
What are some goals for the company?
Just wanna keep growing, get more machines, be your local printer for everybody around the way. RIP to the competition. It's all about networking and exposure. That's the keys right there to success.
Do you consider this an art or a trade?
Well, the art part of it is creating the artwork for the screen. The screening part of it is manual labor, that's pretty much it. There's an art to it, not everybody could be a silk screener. You gotta be an artist to be like able to align stuff, ya know, so it's a combination. You definitely gotta be creative. Everybody in here is creative.
Omi does the screenprinting, Jorge is an intern and Juice is an intern, so they're pretty much learning how the business runs, learning the aspects of it, and little by little, they're gonna grow with us. All we're doing is giving them an opportunity to grow and learn, something that no one ever offered me, so it's a plus, and at the same time they got talent as artists so you wanna let artists express themselves.
What good is your talent if you can't express it and people can see it. If you at home drawing then you're literally just a waste of talent. No what I mean? Like not in a disrespectful way, but that's what it is you gotta let people know what you do. Thats how it works.
How'd you get into doing custom baby gear?
I have a one-year-old, and when he was born I was like "I can't just be the only one making this stuff." So I went to Macys, Target looking for like cool gear for our generation. I'm 31, and everything was just so generic and so I was like "let me just start doing custom gear for the kids."
Anything else you want to add?
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Shout out to all the supporters, to everybody that keeps it real. Much love to everybody. Wish everybody success, and you know who to come to if you need custom gear or printing. Get at me. Follow us on twitter @inkedpro. Peace.
For a chance to win a free Inked T-shirt, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Inked" in the subject line.