Bozeman is chalk full of young inspired entrepreneurs who are starting up small business’s even in this floundering economy. One of my good friends Walker Howard, a graduate of the graphic design program at MSU and amazing artist, recently partnered with another friend, Vesa White to found DubVTees, a printing and textile design company. DubVTees mainly operates printing shirts, but has recently expanded into other fields of graphic design and custom apparel production. I got together with Walker at the production warehouse and he showed me the printing process while we talked the talk.


What prompted you to start a shirt company?

I participated in printing at a local T-shirt making company called Shtumpa in Haynes , Alaska when I was there in the summer of 2008 living and working as a Kayak guide. I had a great time designing my own work and then seeing it printed onto shirts. I saw printing onto clothing as an awesome way to spread my art in a wide expanse with a much lower price for the customer.


Who is your main audience?

Young adults who are into wearable original artwork are our main target audience. We sell a lot of shirts at music festivals and music venues as we tailor some designs specifically to a musically inspired crowd. We also tailor our shirts to appeal to anyone and everyone who might be out and about at cultural events such as Music on Main. We also do individual orders for companies with custom designed graphics.


What has your most popular design been?

A fellow artist and friend of mine, Luke Tanaka; collaborated on a shirt design that has speakers on it and the word “WHOMP” and new pop-culture slang term referring to the loud dropping noise accompanying the base drops in much of the new electronic music you hear at music shows and festivals these days. That design has definitely sold the most online for us as well as at festivals and concerts.


What kind of shirt making style do you use?

Well here at DubVTees, we employ an extra custom screen-printing technique. I am the designer/ artist for the company, so I will draw up a design, which we then stencil onto a screen and paint over with light sensitive chemicals. We put the screen with wet chemicals under a light and expose the chemicals outlining the design, which hardens the chemicals so we can then wash out the solution where the image is leaving it free to be pressed through. Once the screen is ready with the design in it, we go to the press where you place a shirt down on a board, set the screen over the shirt and then pull paint over the top of the screen, pushing the paint down through the empty section and onto the shirt. We then take the shirt up and put it under a heating unit to cure the paint.


Do you have any plans to expand the company?

Eventually we plan to expand into a larger operation with a larger production facility and a few employees that work doing the production. This of course needs to be accompanied by more investment in the company, and of course more/ larger clients. As of now we do all the printing ourselves, and work with mostly small local clients.


What do you enjoy about this type of work?

Working printing shirts allows me to work for myself, make my own hours and do what I love to do (art), and put that towards making a living for myself. Working for myself allows me to hustle at my own pace, which is great because I can work towards what I need at my own pace and in my own style. Owning a company and acting in its operations keeps you on your toes; always trying to hustle more work and keep on growing.


Upcoming projects?

We have recently done large orders or shirts for Montana Whitewater, and I just designed and printed a bunch of shirts for Sacajawea Middle School for a charity dance-a-thon that they are holding. I have also started painting custom wayfarer style glasses with custom designers per pair, which we have sold a bunch of and hope to sell many more of in the near future. Everyone can always use a fresh pair of new shades .


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