When I first saw the Akumu Ink designs it was love from the first sight, mainly because the characters on them were so striking! The style reminded me the artwork by Tim Burton, but somehow mixed with the Japanese art. All in all it’s dark, funny and I’d say even addictive in a way. I mean when it comes to Akumu Ink it’s never about “I’d like to buy that t-shirt”. It’s more like “Damn, I gotta have ’em all!!!” :)
It all started in 2008 in a 3-roomed apartment in Montreal, Canada when two friends Joey and Aldora decided to quit their jobs and start working on their own clothing brand. Joe’s initial goal was to do what he liked the most and stop spending all his time on his regular job as a children’s book illustrator. Opposite to him, Aldora didn’t draw, but had an MBA degree (Master of Business Administration) and was eager to start taking care of a young real business. Of course it was a long way of trial and error, but smart decisions and original art have finally made Akumu Ink happen.
What surely makes this brand original is a sort of mutation of bloody, gloomy and twisted art with… cuteness :) I bet without Akumu Ink you could never think of how cute monsters or serial killers could be. Only on their t-shirts, but still counts. Though the idea of likeable evil is not really new and I’m sure Joe was deeply impressed by “Nightmare Before Christmas” and may be even “Corpse Bride”, but somehow he has managed to develop his own style that simply drove Burton’s imagery a bit farther. Speaking about “farther”, I don’t remember many artists who’d create characters to make them return on more designs. Many of Joe’s characters have become so popular they were brought back on more than one occasion. Zombie Cat, Voodoo, Miss Umami, Tokyo Chan or my favorite The Bear – if you like them you can really expect to see them again, may be in some other (bloody/gory/miserable… but still cute!) situation.
Akumu Ink do really everything to let you know them, because they’re everywhere and you can hardly find an underground clothing shop (even in Europe) where you couldn’t buy or order their products. Same with the comic and gothic conventions and expos where you can quiet frequently meet Joey and Aldora themselves in flesh presenting their annual new collection and meeting fans.