“I always wanted people to just focus on the work and the artwork and not me,” the man behind Inv.sion, who remains anonymous, tells me as we wrap up a conversation about the multi-hyphenate brand he has been running for the past few years. What started as a hub for some of his creative work in college has ballooned into a clothing brand and “idea lab” that just eclipsed 100k followers earlier this month, and has quickly shot past that milestone. We caught up to hear about the genesis of the page, the future for Inv.sion and the ethos imbued in the mysterious artist’s work.
Inv.sion is Far More Than a Clothing Brand, It's an Idea Lab
The multi-hyphenate artist's IG page just eclipsed 100k followers
The Genesis of Inv.sion
Inv.sion was on an engineering track in high school, but ended up pivoting into industrial design for his education at Purdue. Coincidentally, he was classmates with another friend of ONE37pm and designer, Joey Khamis.
Of his time in school, he tells me: “That's kind of where I learned the base skill set, foundations in art classes there. I took some painting classes and learned how to use Photoshop and Illustrator.” After graduating, he would embark on a career that would later inform a lot of the themes in the artwork and graphics that have become synonymous with the name Inv.sion.
“I just got a regular nine to five job doing product design work and stuff. This was in the end of 2018,” he explains. He had been utilizing the page Inv.sion (formerly “FuckInv.sion” before he opted to remove the profanity) since 2016, but 2018 is when the page started to take shape around garments.
“It started to build a bit of a following. I always had an interest in clothes, but never really any expertise in it. So, the very first thing I did was—I had taken some painting classes—so I did some painting onto some jean jackets. It was my very first crossover into some type of wearable fashion stuff. And got some decent responses from it; people seemed excited about the project.”
From there, he started conducting some small drops of ready made streetwear piece—tees-shirts and hats—throughout the later half of 2019. “I got myself a little at home embroidery machine and then a little screen printing setup and I kind of just developed the skills over the next few years, and then got a lot more into video editing. And getting on TikTok, and then with the emergence of Reels and everything over the last year, it was kind of a nice storm of just all of that between 2020 until now. The last three years I've really been working pretty seriously on trying to market as an upscalable kind of streetwear and clothing art collective brand.
When I ask him about the inspiration behind his art style, it often comes back to his first few years post-grad in the corporate world. “Originally I started making stuff without too much meaning, I was into human figures, human facial studies. And then as I was getting more and more into my art career, I tried to start to develop a little bit more of a theme instead of it always just being aesthetic-based. I try to portray the stuff that I've had more experience with, being some of the corporate grind—that I don't like. So I have a lot of themes of people wearing business suits and dressed up attire, but a lot of times some kind of distortion going on with their head or face, a symbol of like, get yourself out of this corporate rut.”
He goes on to reference a favorite movie that explores similar topics: “There's a good movie, Trainspotting, that talks about the theme of getting away from this super corporate mindset.”
It just feels rewarding, spending so much time putting work into just trying to develop a skill set and trying to get good.
As a trained artist in one discipline (Industrial Design) who pivoted into clothing and other visual art, Inv.sion has felt deeply rewarded by the process of getting good at the work. When I ask what his favorite aspect of his brand is, he tells me: “It just feels rewarding, spending so much time putting work into just trying to develop a skill set and trying to get good.
“I think the reason a lot of people get into whatever field they want to get into is because they have taste in it, right? You know that you're not that good when you start and anything you make, it's not as good as what your taste is, right? So it can be really frustrating at first, making stuff that you know is just not as good as you want it to be. But I think, finally, if you’re able to reach this point, kind of three, four years into it, where you're starting to make stuff you're actually proud of, that feels good, when you can start to make stuff that you really enjoy yourself.”
When we turn to the future, Inv.sion is excited about bringing aspects of the brand into the physical realm through events, pop-ups and potentially a storefront down the line.
“I’ve been able to meet people face to face and start to reap some of the benefits of working hard towards trying to grow somewhat of an audience.” He’s also eager to see the continued evolution of how Inv.sion can exist outside of the box of a clothing brand.
“I try to avoid using the term clothing brand. I really try to keep it more broad in the sense of, this is a project, and this is an idea lab. Whatever output comes out of it—clothes, paintings, we do some graphic design work, some customization—I'm really hoping the focus of it can just be becoming a real thought leader and an innovator as far as pushing new creative ideas forward and continuing to build on the legacies of so many great creators that have known to come out of Chicago.”
This is also part of why he has kept himself anonymous: “I wanted to be separate from it so that it can exist beyond me and outside of me. This is not just me doing stuff. I would love to have other designers and other artists and have this exist beyond just what I can handle myself.”
If you look around, it doesn't take very long to get inspired.
This conversation quickly segues into how the over-saturation of content right now means we are privileged to be surrounded by more good work than ever. “If you look around, it doesn't take very long to get inspired. You spend a few minutes scrolling around online, there's so much good art and just so many good creators out there nowadays. If I can just do a little bit to contribute and add my little bit of flavor, hopefully this project can continue on beyond my years. That's what I'd consider a success and something that I'm striving toward, building Inv.sion as its own entity.”
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