Today we’d like to introduce you to Lile Kvantaliani.
Lile, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The creation of Sublyme was actually accidental since originally it was done for my own satisfaction, expressing my views and inner thoughts through art. After returning from Vietnam, I felt prompted to experiment more with my designs and happened to have a blank t-shirt and heat transfer papers hidden away in my junk drawer. Hours later, I had created Sublyme’s very first t-shirt featuring my graphic art and immediately received messages asking where to buy the shirt. Overnight, the pieces of my brand fell together and tumbled into a rapid domino effect. I was presented my very first challenge of having orders I had no way of fulfilling at the moment but didn’t turn any down and figured out a way to find a print warehouse and fulfill the orders right away. Building a website and establishing branding usually takes a long time but it all came to me within a day and I knew exactly the aesthetic and name I wanted for my brand, which at the time was still a hobby. I chose “Sublyme”, pronounced as “Sublime”; the word is defined as “beyond the threshold” or “to inspire great admiration or awe”, which is the feeling I wanted connected with my art. As the brand started to develop, I took on various projects including the design of logos, album covers, and custom pieces such as surfboards and snowboards, all of which I continue to do. I was also picked for an exhibition in a San Diego gallery which unfortunately was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the last few months, I’ve worked hard to find stores I envisioned my brand to collaborate with and met amazing artists and small business owners throughout this journey. Sublyme has grown beyond just an online store and is now displayed in stores/galleries along the West and East coast and is still in the process of expanding.
A few months ago, I was thrilled to come across a post by “Dude with Sign” wearing my t-shirt which was later reposted by Rihanna and sparked excitement in my customer base. The theme of most of my art experiments with how objects behave and make us feel when they are displaced from their natural habitat or comfort zone. My art can sometimes be perceived as controversial depending on who interprets it. More specifically, a lot of people view the “High on Light” graphic as a drug reference since it shows a figure inhaling the sunset with a rolled up dollar bill. However, this piece communicates that one should be addicted to beauty in the world and inhale the good things in life, such as sunsets. Taking things out of the context of a negative environment and placing it in a positive setting changes the entire connotation and with my art, I’m determined to show this. My newest collection, “Stay Horny For Art” revolves around the idea that art extends beyond the canvas and is instead manifested into everyone’s individual passion. Whether through photography, fashion, skating or surfing, people create art. “Stay Horny for Art” is an edgy expression of identity and a subtle rebel against monotony. What started to be my passion has turned into a growing business aimed to inspire and my passion for what I do will always remain.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As the brand grew, more challenges were presented along the way. I never really prepared to become a small business owner so I learned (and still do) the majority of what it takes to run a business as I went on. At first, it was challenging to find the right print providers for both my art prints and apparel because I wanted to support local and make sure all of my orders were fulfilled through a local warehouse but this way was a little more costly. Although I would have made more profit if I proceeded with a big corporation, the quality of my products would not have been nearly as high and working with other small businesses gave me the chance to customize the little details of my product and build a solid relationship with my providers which I believe is very important. A current challenge I’m facing is that I now have to be in charge of the marketing and finance part of Sublyme even though I only possess experience in the creative field (equivalent of a math major having to take and enjoy a painting course). Trying to excel at the business part of my brand can be distracting from creating new art but it’s something I’m determined to become more knowledgeable about. Also, because of COVID-19 and the overall decrease of in-person shoppers, not a lot of stores are taking in new vendors which has limited the retail expansion opportunity. In the past year, I was faced with many challenges and rejection but as long as my passion to create still exists, I’m nothing but excited for what the future holds for Sublyme.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I work mainly with digital and mixed media art. Through Sublyme, I sell hoodies, crewnecks, tees and art prints. I also do a lot of custom work and design album covers, logos, and paint snowboards and surfboards. My art is very vibrant and experiments with how objects behave and make us feel when they are displaced from their natural habitat or comfort zone. For example, in my “Fruity Sunset” series I often replace the sun with different fruits in order to combine the familiar and the unfamiliar. My work can sometimes be perceived as controversial depending on who interprets it. More specifically, a lot of people view the “High on Light” graphic as a drug reference since it shows a figure inhaling the sunset with a rolled up dollar bill. However, this piece communicates that one should be addicted to beauty in the world and inhale the good things in life, such as sunsets. Taking things out of the context of a negative environment and placing it in a positive setting changes the entire connotation and through my art I’m determined to show this.
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I believe that passion and dedication is key to success. I enjoy the aphorism “do what you love and the rest will come” I live by this everyday. Creating art is a meditative state of mind, where I channel my subconscious and express myself through execution. That’s why I don’t concern with other’s opinions or financial gain. My designs are outlets of my mind, expression of thoughts and ideas, which in turn become a canvas of endless possibilities. Success to me is the execution, giving a living form to my vision.
- Hoodies/crewnecks: $55
- Tees: $30-35
- Hard Paper Art Prints: $20
- Metal/Glass Art Prints: $200-1.000
- Custom boards: $200-500
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://sublymeart.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sublyme.art/?hl=en