Today we’d like to introduce you to Lile Kvantaliani.
Lile, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
At the age of 11, my mom, sister and I left the Republic of Georgia to move to the US with my soon to be my stepdad. This is still the most dramatic change I have ever experienced since I only spoke a few words in English and knew no one except for my family members. Not to mention, 6th graders were not exactly the most welcoming crowd. That year was extremely difficult but within a few months, I learned English and things started to feel normal again.
My whole life, I’ve had a very strong passion for art. In high school, I started a jewelry line and sold my work at local shops in my town of Ridgefield, CT. Over the summer of my senior year of High School, I created a project to redesign teenagers’ rooms who outgrew their childish space and wanted something more adult. For those three months, I redid two rooms, from new paint and furniture to small details such as floral arrangements. As my passion in design and architecture grew, I decided to study Interior Architecture at San Diego State University. Moving to California was my childhood dream.
Although I stayed active in my interior design classes, my interest grew specifically in graphic design and digital art so I taught myself how to use adobe photoshop and illustrator. At first, I would just do it for fun and play around with my pictures, photoshopping in a certain fruit instead of Sun. However, my friends took notice and then people started asking me to design their album art which I still love to do. My sophomore year of college, I got on board for an underground magazine at my school which featured my digital art.
It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I decided to take my art a step further. I was going through a difficult time in my life, so I made an impulse decision to buy a flight to Asia and travelled around with my sister for a few days. After returning, I was so inspired and channeled my new vision to create many more pieces. One of the pieces I created was “High On Light,” which features a female figure snorting up the sunlight, symbolizing the idea that not all addictions have to be bad. One can and should be addicted to good things in life, such as the sunshine and nature surrounding us. This piece was not received well by my sorority, in which I held a position on the executive board.
My art was understood as a drug reference rather than the symbolism it expressed. Therefore, I was asked to resign from the position, which I gladly agreed to. I did not see the point of having to limit my artistic freedom by being around people who were closed-minded. The experience intensified my passion as I wanted to express the fact that negative things in life can be turned into positives and everything has several interpretations. So, I decided to make shirts from this artwork. I actually ended up selling a ton and received such positive feedback from people. A few days later, I built my own website and created my brand “Sublyme”, coming from the word “Sublime” which means to “inspire great admiration”. I wanted to keep my brand simple so I only sold wall art, hoodies, and Tshirts which were all unisex and only came in black and white.
In my designs, I often put objects in places you wouldn’t normally (or ever) see, such as flowers blooming from the human body or replacing the sun with fruits. The reason I do this is to show that the world as we see it is not the only way it can be perceived. My merchandise received such a great amount of online success which made me want to expose Sublyme to a much bigger audience. Therefore, I was thrilled when Simple Local, a store in North Park, asked to sell my art. I am currently creating new designs and recently had two of my art pieces chosen for two art exhibitions at SDSU, which I could not be happier about. For the future, my main goal is to further expose my brand to the surf and skate community and participate in more exhibitions. I think that doing something that excites you is one of the most important things in life, and for me, exploring art means everything.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sublyme story. Tell us more about the business.
My brand is a representation of my vision and passions expressed in a form of digital art. In my designs, I often put objects in places you wouldn’t normally (or ever) see, such as flowers blooming from the human body or replacing the sun with fruits. The reason I do this is to show that the world as we see it is not the only way it can be perceived. My purpose is to show different perspectives and expand the viewer’s imagination.
I get inspired by different colors and my surroundings, from which I create new designs. I want to keep my brand simple so I am only selling wall art and unisex T-shirt and hoodies which are unisex and only come in black and white. I think what sets me apart from others is displacing objects from their natural environment and incorporating them in an unusual context to show a new perspective. I am most proud of my ability to take risks with my art; I had no idea how to run a business or how much work all of this would take at first but I still went for it and learned so much along the way. I believe that the best way to learn these things is through the process itself. I currently have many designs up on my website but I am always looking to creating custom work for those who are interested!
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
In all honesty, I don’t think luck played too big of a role in the success of my business. I truly worked hard to create inventive ideas and pieces every day, as well as taught myself how to run a business. I contacted several different warehouses, tested different qualities for printing my merchandise, and used my own savings on every project and endeavor. I also built a larger following of my art off of previous connections and took every opportunity to attract exposure to Sublyme.
- T-shirts $29.99
- Hoodies $39.99
- Wall Art $15.99-$19.99
- Address: 14 Outpost Ln
- Website: www.sublymeart.com
- Phone: 2039177129
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: sublyme.art
- Facebook: sublyme