Sage Trail knew he should branch past traditional drawings and prints when he heard the reactions to an exhibit of his work while he was in college.
"A lot of the feedback was that my art would look great as a T-shirt or it would be an amazing tattoo," said Trail, an Ashland resident and 2012 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Trail, 23, creates intricate black-and-white ink drawings inspired by tribal art, Japanese woodblock prints, Buddhist symbols, Indian Mehndi henna tattoo designs and masks — which he said can both conceal and project identity.
"I did some T-shirts in college for myself and friends," he said. "People would notice the design and want to know where it came from. I could say, 'I made it.' "
Like many artists who want to get their art out into the world, Trail has discovered that an entrepreneurial spirit is just as important as creativity and talent.
He's expanded his line of products past T-shirts to include hooded sweatshirts and adhesive, fabric-like material that can be used to decorate cellphones, tablets and e-readers, or to serve as wall posters. The material can be removed and repositioned over and over, without leaving behind a glue residue.
And, of course, Trail has traditional art prints.
He has his archival-quality prints made in Talent, while Jess Gleasman of Basement Ink in Ashland screen-prints the T-shirts and hoodies.
Trail is in the midst of a campaign to gain exposure for his art and expand his sales using the Internet fundraising site Kickstarter.com.
In less than a month, he's raised more than $3,800 and has received donations from as far away as Korea and Russia.
Trail calls his new collection of gear the Gods and Demons Collection. His art for the collection explores mystical idols.
The drawings he's created for the collection are symmetrical and obsessively detailed, each one taking weeks or even months to finish.
Trail said he usually starts with the eyes, then improvises as he works his way out to design the overall shape and structure of the drawing. Then he goes back in to add details.
Since he works in ink — not paint or pencil, which allow for subtle shading — Trail uses a stippling technique he borrowed from tattoo art to create shading.
A video he made for his Kickstarter campaign includes time-lapse images of one of his drawings in progress, as well as details about his various products.
The young artist and entrepreneur also enlisted his friends to serve as models for the T-shirts and hoodies for video footage and product photography.
Trail's Kickstarter campaign ends on Dec. 2. Visit kickstarter.com, then search for Sage Trail.
To view his drawings and get an inside look at his sketchbook, visit www.sagetrailart.com.
Trail can be reached at 541-601-1731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or email@example.com.