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Ciara Couture And Queensbound Designer Ciara Elend

by Serena Liu on June 8, 2009

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I love that Ciara Elend loves Queens. She shares this love through chocolate bars, tshirts andteaching others to create. Her vintage style designs are unique, urbane and totally soft to the skin. (My well worn Sunnyside tshirt can attest to that.) She’s community minded and eco-conscious to boot.

Name: Ciara Elend
Occupation: Graphic Artist
Borough/Neighborhood: Live in Sunnyside, have art studio in L.I.C.

Tell us a little about Ciara Couture and Queensbound… how did you get started? My American-made graphic tees fuse unique modern graphics with old-school block printing techniques. I currently offer two graphic tshirt collections.

My couture line (Ciara Couture) features ultra soft, ultra comfy hand-dyed vintage style tees, limited edition handmade totes and organic scarves for women. These shirts have great fit and and a great urban look that fits perfectly with the block printed designs. With this line, I can be very experimental as an artist with new colors and designs.

My Queensbound Line offers Queens, NY-inspired tees for men and women. The designs reflect the spirit, culture and tonality of Queens. I also offer a selection of Queens-centric accessories and products. This collection offers printed basic tees at an affordable price.

Ugly Bettys Ana Ortiz
Ugly Betty’s Ana Ortiz

I started my apparel collection right after I graduated from Parsons. While I was job hunting I worked on some personal art projects like painting, collage, and block prints. I created a set of Queens-centric block prints to hang in my house and I also thought they would make great tshirt designs. My friends loved the designs so I stopped job hunting and began working on my own business.

Your tshirts are beautifully crafted; Tell us about your process. How long does the process take from designing to completion? With my couture tees, I create twelve new designs each season. I draw out the designs in pencil and transfer them to the linoleum blocks. Then I carve each design which takes about a day or two. I hand dye the tshirts in my studio with dye recipes I come up with. Then I print them with hand-mixed block print inks and then wash them so they stay soft.

With my Queensbound tees, the Queens-centric designs are available year round on a limited selection of basic tshirts.

Are your materials locally sourced? I know you are conscious about the environment and sustainability, how does this affect your art making? I try to always use American companies for my supplies. My tshirts, labels, and inks are manufactured here in the U.S. My couture tees are tagged with paper seed tags that people can plant and grow.

How would you describe the Ciara Couture man/woman? Ciara Couture customers are urbanites/city dwellers. They value style, education, travel, the arts, and the environment. They appreciate quality over quantity. Our customers tends to be highly computer literate, own a laptop, has a cell phone and probably an ipod.

What designers inspire you?

  • Fashion: Betsey Johnson, Carolina Herrera, Narciso Rodriguez
  • Graphic Design: Paul Rand, Paula Sher, Hatch Show Letterpress

You’re also teaching art classes this summer? Yes, I teach affordable art classes out of studio in LIC. I also offer a scholarship program for the recently laid off.

Any other current projects or projects we should look forward to that you’d like to share with us? I am working on a line of Astrology tees that are coming out this July.

Favorite music to listen to when designing/creating your tshirts: A little bit of everything.

Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: The Turkish Grill

Little known fact about your neighborhood: The Sunnyside Arch used to have lights that they would turn on at night.

sunnyside arch

Favorite watering hole: Don’t have one

Favorite place(s) to shop (clothing, shoes, food, art supplies etc.): Stray Vintage

Best pizza in your hood: Not sure.

If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene? Sunnyside!

What is your all time favorite monster and/or horror movie? I hate horror movies because they leave me freaked out for weeks. The last scary movie I saw was The Sixth Sense and that wasn’t even considered a horror flick.

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Check out Ciara’s tshirt lines here or follow her blog.

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