Featured Designer: The Devil Keeps Dancing

FK chats to Arnie of Sydney based T-shirt label The Devil Keeps Dancing.

Tell us a bit about The Devil Keeps Dancing and what we can expect to discover?
The Devil Keeps Dancing was established in 2008 and produces originally designed high quality men’s t-shirt. The shirts are non sweat shop shirts imported from the USA, the designs are produced through an in-house team and are printed by locally renowned Sydney based screen printers.
Since the establishment of the label we have been building the t-shirt collection and a steady base of repeat customers who have come to like our take on design printed professionally on quality shirts.

What is your background and how did you started working with men’s t-shirts?
I have worked as a graphic designer for many years in both the music and the advertising industry. Making the transition from a generally print based industry to a fabric one with prints on it has been a relatively easy step. The great thing about working for yourself is that I am the art director and the client rolled into one, so that was a very appealing pro that got me into this.

Which other clothing labels do you love? And what inspires you?
I have always had a lot of respect for Mambo as a street clothing brand. They were one of the first clothing labels to really embrace the art on a shirt concept working with artists like Reg Mombassa & Richard Allen to create a graphic style that was unique & fun. Although our style is not anything like Mambo, being one of the originators of art on a shirt strikes a chord with us.
I have always loved the art that has accompanied modern music, be it the covers of various Blue Note Records artists, favourite rock albums of my CD collection, songs that inspire me, or the posters that promotes these artists. This is a constant source of inspiration. I also get inspiration from places you’d might not expect, like an art exhibitions, designs in nature, the iron work from old Australian terraces, you never know what may trigger off a great idea so I try not to limit myself to where I might get inspired.

What is your workspace like? and what is your creative process?
When we started my workspace was my mac on my desk in my room in sharehouse in Newtown, but now I have a design studio room at home in Collaroy.  I have my guitar in there to help with any creative blocks that might arise. We converted the spare room into a stock room to hold the expanding design range and the sunroom is often turned into a workshop for tagging and processing the printed shirts.
I usually have a look or feel of something in mind when I start a design, it can sometimes takes weeks for me to complete a design, for me it’s a bit of a trial and error process. Coming from a graphic design industry has taught me that to get to the finished product right can sometimes be a bit a slow. I often show draft designs to friends to get their opinion as you sometimes need a fresh set of eyes.

What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
The main challenge of starting your own label is time management – fitting everything in. The balance of external work pressures, ensuring enough energy is spent on the business to see results and managing family and home commitments.
Working on the designs has always been the fun part of the job, its the thing I have always enjoyed, the hard bit is that you also have to look after the all the other aspects that come with running any business, and it’s going to take time to build. On the flip side being your own boss is probably the most rewarding aspect of owning your own label from independent decision making to seeing the final product; especially if its at the pub on a Friday night as it’s rewarding to see people get what you do.

What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see The Devil Keeps Dancing in the future?
Currently we are working with a couple of artists on signature prints, this is a new development for The Devil Keeps Dancing as the current range has all been designed in house. The new collaboration will bring an additional community and energy to the range. I would love to see the whole thing get bigger as far as getting more TDKD designers on board, and also see our designs expand into a female range.


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