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Meet Joe Lydon of Stega Clothes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Lydon.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve loved drawing ever since I could remember. I would draw constantly, usually sea creatures, and my favorite cartoons characters like the Ninja Turtles and Beetlejuice. When I got to elementary and middle school, my interest in cartoons turned into skateboard graphics and metal bands. I didn’t care much for academics and by the time I got to high school, the only things I was concerned with was art and going to the skatepark.

In high school, I had a pretty standard art education. I would paint a lot. We would do a lot of acrylic and oil still life paintings, which I liked. As far as my personal art outside of school, I would stencil out and make my own T-shirts. My art at the time was heavily influenced by skateboard graphics and metal bands but I would add my own twist, which was usually something darker. Be it swear words, skulls or weapons, I just liked pushing buttons. I wasn’t an angry kid. I was far from it, but there has always just been something about offending someone with a T shirt that I’ve always loved.

I graduated from high school and attended Montserrat College of Art, where I majored in Illustration. I wanted to learn as much as possible, so I took a wide variety of classes. After I graduated, I remained in Beverly, MA and knew that I wanted to start a clothing brand. It had been a dream of mine since my beginnings with sharpie and stencil T shirts. I adopted the name “Stega” and put out my first run of T shirts in May of 2011 with what little money I had. I was determined to learn screen printing. I had learned a very primitive version in college which was enough to get my foot in the door. I learned anything the industry was willing to teach me as far as printmaking, even embroidery. Long story short, I’ve been working full time as a screen printer for about the last six years and running Stega Clothes in every other waking minute of the day. I design and hand screen print every Stega shirt. My brand has turned into a second full-time job. It started as small side projects, just selling shirts to friends, and has grown bigger than I ever imagined.

Please tell us about your art.
I wanted to make shirts that expressed my thoughts and ideas. Sometimes humorous, but usually pretty dark in context. My work often starts with phrases and thoughts that resonate in me. I am constantly in my own head and have a hard time turning my brain off. A lot of my drawings and pieces will have a deeper meaning for me personally but what I’m sharing is only a segment of it. A fraction of a personal reflection. People usually see my work and either relate or take their own meaning from it.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
The definition of success is one I’ve honestly never thought of. I suppose I’d define it as being happy with your quality and quantity of work, and also being able to pay your bills and support yourself. I’m pretty tunnel vision when it comes to my work and I always have a lot of things going at once. Art is one of the toughest professions you can get in to. It’s hard to get noticed and it’s hard to make money. I personally am not happy with myself unless I know I’m working as hard as I possibly can. I have student debt, rent, and goals I’d like to achieve. Art is one of those things that you get out what you put into it, and if I’m not working as hard as I possibly can, I’m only hurting myself. There’re a million artists out there and if you’re not working hard, others are.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I update my Instagram constantly with info and new art, @stegaclothes. People can buy my shirts online at Stega.bigcartel.com, and if you’re in the area, you can come to see me at one of my many events this fall! I host an annual art fest in Beverly, MA called the October fair! This year is Sunday, October 7th at 140 Elliott Street in Beverly, MA!

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Image Credit:

Joe Lydon

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