Escape The Grave: Part One

Walking corpses…  Rotting away day by day… leading to our final breath on this earth…

Do you feel alive?  Do you feel free?  Do you feel like your life is all it could be?

ETG OG 1 cropped

It’s time to escape the grave.

ETG Front Text

You were made to experience life in all it’s fullness.

 Escape the Grave Back Cropped Adrian

Escape the Grave is a new line of art from Sotare that includes shirts, hats, and accessories.  The first release is the title shirt.

ETG OG 1 Back Beauty Shot

Cosmic white ink printed on a jet black, ringspun 100% cotton Los Angeles Apparel tee.  These shirts are made in American, sewn in Los Angeles, and screen printed by hand in Western Maryland.

ETG Hem Tag

Leaping Forward,

Adrian Black


Dead Republic Snapbacks

Welcome to the Sotare Republic… home to a small but growing group of individuals…

DR San Francisco

Individuals with purpose… dreamers with their eyes fixed on the unseen horizon…

Visioneers who invent the future…

These are more than a stylish snapbacks… they are a symbol to the world that you are AWAKE and ALIVE.

DR San Diego Hat 1

The San Diego is a jet-black snapback with a crisp white and dark black “Sotare Republic” patch.  This is the hat you want to wear to the skatepark, the local metal show, or when it’s time to jam in the garage.

DR San Francisco 2

The San Francisco is a heather grey snapback that comes finished with a grey, hand screened “Sotare Republic” patch.  This is the hat you wear when it’s time to go shoot some hoops, tag a building, and hit up the town with the homies.

Dead Republic Lifestyle Shot

Are you going to be a part of the Dead Republic?  Wake up and LIVE.
DR San Diego Hat Front croppped

Leaping Forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner


You were created with a voice to be heard.  Your life was created to make noise…

Sotare Amped 2

Not a noise that brings attention to yourself…

But to make a noise that brings attention to something greater. A noise that echoes across eternity.


Too often our silence and inaction endorses the status quo. We see a world crumbling and in need of reform. But we stay quiet… Out of fear, out of laziness, out of self-doubt.

Sotare Amped Adrian 3b

It’s time to stand up for what we believe in. It’s time to fight for the truth and let our voices be heard.  You were created to amplify something bigger than yourself.  Don’t stand silently by as the world spirals into chaos.


Amped is is hand-screened in Maryland on a 100% cotton, ring-spun, American Apparel tee.  Each shirt is finished with a blue Sotare hem tag.

Sotare Amped 1

It’s time to GET LOUD.

Leaping forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner

Screen Printing: The Split-Fountain Technique

I take pride in the DIY nature of Sotare.  From creating designs, packaging, resin casts, sewing tags, and now screen printing all done in house.  It’s fun to create things and have a hand in as much of the process as possible.

Take a look at the process used to print shirts like Zombie Joey, The Chief, and Dead Republic.  Below you will see my friend Jeff printing up a batch of shirts.  I’m not quite as quick as Jeff, but with each new batch of shirts being printed up, I’m learning, growing, and leaping forward.

Want some more behind the scenes?  Check out my post about “Five Manufacturing Tips for Your Art Brand.

Leaping Forward,

Adrian Black

Dead Republic Split-Fountain

Dazzling colors… flashing lights… glitz and glam… California- the land of dreams.

Dead Republic SF Adrian 2 Cropped

But what good is a dream if you’re dead inside?

It’s nothing more than a temporary goal.

Dead Republic SF Full

Like a sandcastle on the beach… awaiting the impending tide to wash it away.  You were created for more than this.  There is a life beyond your eyes that awaits you.

Wake up and come alive.

Dead Republic SF 2

This new version of the “Dead Republic” tee is printed using the spilt-fountain technique.  This process creates a unique fade from blue to pink, guaranteeing that no two shirts are exactly the same.  Your clothing should be as one-of-a-kind as you are.

Dead Republic SF Adrian 3

The “Dead Republic: Split-Fountain” was designed, manufactured, printed, and sold in the USA.

Dead Republic SF 1

Leaping forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner

Dead Republic

They say California is the land of dreams… but what good is a dream if you’re dead inside?


You were created for more than a temporary dream or goal.  You were created for more than just appeasing your own desires.

Sotare Dead Republic Cropped

Wake up and come alive.  It’s time to live for something more.

This jet-black, ring-spun cotton American Apparel shirt was crafted in America; hand screened in Maryland; and ships to your door.

Sotare Dead Republic Close Up

Finished with a Sotare hem tag.


Leaping forward,

Adrian Black

Five Manufacturing Tips for Your Brand

Over the past few years of running Sotare, my art/lifestyle brand, I’ve learned quite a few things along the way.  There are a lot of people starting clothing brands and the market is saturated.  If you’re looking to develop your company into a full lifestyle brand you will need to step outside of producing only shirts.  I’m sharing a few things that have helped me develop not only my shirts, but other products in a cost-effective and efficient way.

Remember there’s a big difference in making art, making art to sell, and making art as a brand.  This post features some tricks that I’ve learned about manufacturing products so that you can duplicate your work and sell quality art.

1. Be Smart About Printing Posters

Posters are a great addition to turning a clothing company into a lifestyle brand.  If you are looking for a printer, Overnight Prints is my first choice in getting poster prints made.  You can order a variety of popular poster sizes from them, upload the art, and receive them in a timely manner.


I started off selling 11 x 17 posters but have since decided against it.  For one, the posters are larger than the bags I use at live vending events.  I put each poster in an envelope for my customers, but it still is not a secure way to carry it.  Although I’m still pushing my remaining stock, I have switched to printing 8 x 10 posters.  They’re a little smaller and they fit perfectly into the bag along with some shirts.  You can get 8 X 10s printed at your local office supply store… or you can do something a little bit smarter to save on some cash.  Here’s my secret-  I like to put four 8 x 10 prints and two 5 x 7s on a single 19 x 27 uncut sheet.


For $50 you can get 25 of these made and shipped right to your door.  All you have to do is spend some time cutting out and trimming your posters, which will give you six posters per sheet.  This means you’re getting 150 posters for $50.  You can turn around and sell these posters for $5 or $10 each giving you a 14,000% – 29,000% profit margin.

Sotare Bubble Letter Poster Beauty Shot

You can also include posters as giveaways in your online orders or use them as an incentive at live vending events.  For example, if someone spends $30 I give them a free poster.  It helps encourage my fans to buy additional merchandise so they can get a nice poster.   It mostly costs me the time of creating content and cutting posters.  Not a bad trade off for the cash I save in printing and the cash I make in sales.

2. Slap a Sticker On It

Everybody loves stickers!  If you have not produced stickers, this is a must for your brand.  I have used a few different companies over the years and all the stickers have turned out pretty well, but I would definitely recommend StickerApp over any other.

Sotare Sticker Slap

Sticker App is my favorite place to get stickers printed.   I enjoy the simplistic user interface of the website.  One nice feature is that the site allows you to adjust the size of the stroke (white outline) you wish to add to your sticker.  You can also adjust the size of your sticker little by little and watch the price calculator change.  This all comes in handy when ordering stickers on a budget.

Stoare Stickers 16 CU

The stickers themselves are great quality and appear to be very durable.  I’ve put them on my skateboard and the only signs of deterioration comes from doing boardslides.  I’ve also slapped quite a few around town and the ones that haven’t been removed by authorities have lasted almost a year without signs of degradation.


Getting well designed stickers printed is fairly cost effective and you will always sell them.  People LOVE stickers.  I sell my stickers for $1 each in person, or a pack of 6 for $5.  On my personal Etsy, I sell stickers for $2.

3. Find a Manufacturer for Unique Products

Making a variety of different products will really help your brand to stand out.  It also gives you a way to sell different types products at different price points, offering more variety for shoppers.  I cannot give you too much information on this because depending on what you wish to create you will have to scour the internet for a manufacturer that meets your needs.  I found a PVC manufacturer on Alibaba that would create custom key chains.


Creating PVC key chains was a lot of fun.  Getting a bag filled with over 100 key chains felt like Christmas.  However, there was also a lot of emailing back and forth with a company in China.

Sotare Keychain Tiny

4. Hem Tags

When re-starting Sotare in 2013, I wanted to increase the quality of my art and the quality of my products.  For each Sotare shirt, I chose to have them hand-finished with a hem tag.

Hem Tag Quick

After searching through many websites and Google pages I came across Kiki Kreations.  Looking through their gallery I could see that the tags were of excellent quality.  I also recognized some of the tags from other indie clothing brands which made me feel comfortable with my initial order.  I was not disappointed!

Sotare Akumu Tag

The hem tags are reasonably priced and add value to the shirts.  I frequently get compliments from customers and passer-bys about the hem tags on Sotare shirts.  Many remark about the style and how cool it makes the shirt look.  Others talk about the professionalism it adds to the shirt.

5. Always Look for Creative Solutions

When it comes to manufacturing products always seek creative solutions to your problems.  Whether this is finding a creative way to design a product or a creative way to  execute the production- be continually searching for a way to get the most out of your manufacturing and design.  For me, a lot of the focus is on the design and printing of my shirts.

My friend Jeff printed Sotare shirts for about two years and allowed me to purchase smaller runs.  This was an amazing advantage.  It allows me to test out shirt designs without having to purchase a high quantity right out of the gate.  The only hitch?  His personal set up only allowed him to print one color shirts.  This means that I had to create designs that will look good in one color ink… or look for the creative solution.

This is how my most popular shirt has come about- the split-fountain Zombie Joey.

Sotare Zombie Joey SF Matt Profile

The split-fountain screen printing technique involves putting two colors of ink on one screen at the same time.  As shirts are printed the ink will bleed together, fading the colors together.  We chose to go from blue to pink, creating a sweet purple fade in the middle.

Split Fountain Detail

Let’s be honest- it’s freakin’ awesome.  These shirts look sick and are my top seller.  The design of the shirt was simple.  It only took 5 minutes because I already had the artwork done from the Zombie Joey sticker.  It was just a matter of being creative with the printing process.   Jeff has printed three runs of these shirts, and I’m going to be printing a fourth.  We also used the split-fountain technique on The Chief.  I’m hoping to be able to do some more split-fountain prints in the future!


Whether it’s stickers, posters, shirts, or a novelty item- be creative about the way you get your art manufactured.  You just might be surprised with how it turns out!

So there you go!  Five tips and tricks you can use for your art as you create an art brand.  Now it’s up to you to challenge yourself to take the leap of faith in turning your dream into reality.  You can do it- and I’m here to help.

Do you have any tips to share?  Do you have any questions?  Comment, email, or DM me and I’ll answer them in a follow-up post down the road.

Leaping forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner

Akumu “Death to Life” Edition

He’s back…

Akumu Death to Life Cropped

Akumu, our lovable, cute, yet dark and creepy monster is now available in a new Death to Life colorway.

Akumu Death to Life 2

Akumu is a small, smiling, lovable looking monster. But don’t be fooled by his outward appearance. When angered, Akumu will attack in the most surprising of ways.

Akumu Death to Life 3

This resin figure is hand cast, hand painted, and hand finished.  This plastic figure is approximately 2.5 inches tall and 2 inches wide.


DEATH [to] LIFE centers around our journey of spiritual and personal awakening.  We were all created for something great, for a purpose, for a specific reason.  Too often we get sidetracked, depressed, overwhelmed, busy, or lost.  We put our heads into our phones, stare at our own reflections, and cut off our peripheral vision.


We must look up and look outside of ourselves if we want to become truly alive and awake.  It’s time to come to LIFE!

Check out the short film we made for the Death to Life project here:

Leaping Forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner

“Death to Life” Button Pack

The next part of our elaborate “Death to Life” project is here!

Sotare Death to Life Beauty Shot cropped

Now you can spice up your button collection with the four different Joeys!

Sotare Death to Life Button Pack

The Death to Life collectible button pack includes:


Check out our “Death to Life” short film!

 Leaping forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner


Looking Back on Three Years of Sotare

December 16, 2013 we launched Sotare.

Technically, it was a re-launch and a re-birth of the brand.  The idea for Sotare actually came about in 2008.  I designed a few shirts, a website, and sold them at local band shows.  Eventually the idea fizzled out and went on hold.  I thought of it from time to time wondering what could happen if Sotare was done the right way.  In February of 2013 I begin plotting away.  By fall of 2013,  I had shirts, stickers, buttons, and more all ready to launch.   We put up the website, announced it Matt’s 12,000 Instagram followers, and went about on this crazy journey.


In three years, I’ve experienced quite a lot with Sotare.  Some positive, some negative.  During this time I’ve seen many other indie brands rise and fall.  I’ve watched styles change, social media change, and the brand itself evolve.


We’ve had quite a few high points in the past three years.  It’s the good stuff that keeps the brand running of course!  Making the initial online sale was exciting and memorable.  Prepping for the first live vendor market was weeks of exciting, and sometimes tedious, work.  We got to plan out the booth, package the products.  And then selling shirts, belts, posters, and a painting that first day was awesome.


One of the biggest highlights has been UpriseFest in Shippensburg, PA.  It has been an incredible experience both times we’ve gone.  It was a big risk the first year, putting so much money on the line with no guarantee that we would make a profit or even make any back.  We took the leap of faith and went.


I was not disappointed!

We’ve met so many awesome people and sold a ton of shirts.  I’m already looking forward to going to Uprise later this year.  I think it’ll be a blast!


The biggest highlight over these three years has been the sheer amount of content we’ve been able to put out.  I’m an artist, so I love to create.  Sotare is basically run by myself, with the assistance of my brothers Aaron and Matt.  In the past few years we’ve released 14 shirts, 20 buttons, 10 stickers, 7 poster prints, 2 resin toys- with one being released in 3 colorways, 3 paper toys, a key chain, a belt, and more framed art that I can count.


It’s a dream come true.  I wish we sold more stuff so that I could create more shirts, posters, stickers, and toys.  It’s a childhood dream come to life.


It hasn’t all been pizza parties and sunshine with Sotare either.  With the extreme highs come the lows.  I recall one time at Fenton Street Market in 2014 that was especially discouraging.  Matt and I went to set up for the day to find out the market was hosting politicians that weekend.  The place was arrayed with signs from different candidates- local and state level.  Needless to say, this meant not many people were shopping, especially not for what type of product we create.   We sold a few buttons that day… making $2.50.

Yep… not even five bucks.

It was heartbreaking.  I sat there and wondered if we should even continue with Sotare.  Yet at the same time, sitting there feeling down and trying to pass the time, I wound up drawing what would become Zombie Joey.


AwesomeCon this past summer was also a bit of a bummer in some respects.  We got all of the 2016 shirts printed by May so we could tag and bag them for AwesomeCon.  There were supposed to be 40,000-60,000 people.  I figured we’d make a killing.  Only problem?  No one wanted to buy shirts!  We sold three shirts the entire weekend.  Yep, three shirts.  If it wasn’t for our framed art and sticker sales, we’d have never made our money back.



I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned with Sotare has been consistency.  The brand is always evolving, from our colors to the aesthetics to the places we chose to sell.  Yet, we haven’t quit.  We’ve had some low, rough, discouraging points.  Times where I just wanted to quit and give up.

 Yet we persist.

The lows come with the highs.  You gotta push through these dips sometimes in order to make your goals work.  You also have to figure out when to stick and when to quit.  I’m glad we didn’t quit.

I have put in countless hours designing products, writing blogs, taking and editing photos.  I’ve grinded away at vendor markets, traveled to conventions all around DC, PA, and Maryland, and dropped lots of dough to get spots at UpriseFest and Skatefest.  I’ve gone months without online orders.  I’ve mailed out dozens of free stickers.  I’ve submitted to blogs more times than I can count and have been rejected by half of them.

Sotare Zombie Joey Adrian Graffiti Cropped Small

Three years later, Sotare is still kicking.  I’m proud to say that we are slowly picking up steam.  People have been buying more things online.  Some people who shop in person at events have been shopping online for more.  Our following is small, but it’s filled with the most awesome people on earth.  Check out some of the messages I’ve received over the past few months:

“ I just got your package yesterday, yay!! :-D Thank you for the extra stuff I really love them!<3 You have such a artistic gift in you and I am really looking forward to seeing more stuff you will make in the future! :-3 “

“I got your package and WOW it was amazing!!!! Thank you so much!!!”

“Love your artwork on every piece of product you have on your site and wishing to buy more stuff in the future. Thanks for making these lovely creations and bringing them out to the world so others can love them too!”

“I’ll be sure to keep buying! Thank you so much!”

It’s worth it.  If you’re starting an art brand or indie brand- keep at it.  You have to be consistent.  Consistency is so important to success.  Just keep figuring out what works for your brand.  Keep producing shirts and accessories.  Keep going to vendor events.  Keep selling.  Keep promoting.  Keep making friends.  Keep being generous.  Keep at it!  Over time you never know what could happen.

Thank you for three awesome years of Sotare… Here’s to three more!

Leaping forward,

Adrian Black

Artist // Designer // Owner

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