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Check Out Steven Ludwig’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steven Ludwig.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Tie-dye has always been a part of who I am as a person. When I was younger, I’d go to Nature Camp and we learned how to make hemp necklaces and tie-dyes when we weren’t canoeing or fishing. These experiences resonated greatly with me. So on and off over the years, I’d make more shirts here and there. They’re great for a fun date! One time four years ago, I did a spiral design on a shirt and I was really proud of it. I also got a lot of compliments on it. With all the buzz, I decided to look up how to make them on a professional level. After doing my research, I ordered professional grade materials and began to experiment. I became addicted to it really quickly. No one item is ever the same, and you never truly know what you’re going to get which keeps it fresh and fun. I am a perfectionist to the max. I am always driving myself to be better by refining and fine-tuning everything I do when I pick up my shirts and dyes. The first couple of summers, I did mainly online sales and local community events throughout Howard County and surrounding areas. In the fall of 2018, my friend Donut introduced me to his friend Jess (Wide Awake) who took me under her wing and brought me into the festival scene as well and helped link me up with my printer, Navid (Owner of Hive Syndicate in Baltimore) and graphic artist Brian “Bones” O’Rourke (Supreme Nature Design) who designed my logo.

Through all of their help, I have met countless new amazing people who like my dyes and have booked me in their events or used me to make merchandise for them in collaboration with Navid doing the printing. Some of our collaborations feature festivals like Nightmare Festival, Big Dub, Flower Of Life, and Yonderville. DJ’s and bands such as Try and Imagine and Relentless Souls, as well as collaborations with other companies such as The Buried, Patch The Soul, and Bitter Sweet, catapulting Shine On Dyez’ fan base and notoriety to levels I hadn’t imagined possible. Since COVID-19 hit and festivals went away temporarily, my gears shifted to online sales which to my amazement kept pouring in. I had to stop taking custom orders as I was so overwhelmed with requests. Then the conclusion came to me after many talks with my parents and my girlfriend that I need to take the leap and make this hobby a full-time business. In November 2020, I did just that, and now with COVID-19 clearing up and festivals returning, I’m looking at my busiest year yet. Shine On Dyez has events in several states up and down the East Coast with the even bigger leap of going on tour! This August, I look to hit the road and get “on lot” at Dead & Company and Phish shows. I’m living my version of the American Dream!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Yes and no. For the most part yes. I’ve been extremely fortunate to meet the business owners, artists, and festival organizers that have helped bring me into and up in the scene. I have never had a shortage of opportunity. My main obstacle has been…me in one way or another. Believing in yourself as an artist and newbie entrepreneur isn’t easy. It’s taken a great deal of time for me to develop confidence in my art and my process, as well as trusting myself that this is the path I’m meant to follow. Hearing your family and friends talking up your work aren’t the reviews that develop belief for me. Hearing old Deadheads, business owners, other dyers, and folks at events are the reviews that do. I have had a few physical setbacks in the last two years as well. After an incredibly successful weekend at Flower Of Life Festival, my friend Jess and I had our sites set on a very busy Fall. We were all set and ready to go until one night while working on a batch of shirts, my right hand went completely numb and I developed something similar to carpal tunnel. It took over two months before I’d touch dyes again as I couldn’t grip anything. I still deal with this issue today but it’s become more manageable. Toward the end of 2020, I had my most debilitating injury to date when I fell square on my tailbone on ice. It’s taken the past six months to finally get back to a sense of “normal” while not touching dyes for about four of those months for the most part. I’m a tank though, and I will always persevere and do what I must to keep building Shine On Dyez to new heights.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I make professional-grade Tie Dye apparel and decor for retail sales through my website or booth as well as collaborative work and wholesale. I specialize in the Ice Dye method, applying it to shirts, hoodies, tapestries, pants of all kinds, dresses, and headwear and more. I am known for my clean design work and high contrast color schemes which help set me apart from others. There are many people out there that do tie dye but not all of them are tie dye artists on a professional level. My peers and I aren’t your Walmart or Michael’s hobby dyers. We have a deep love for this craft and put countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears into perfecting our work. I’ve had people tell me several times that my work looks computer-generated even though it’s just me and brain full of knowledge with a body willing to do the work. Tie Dye is art!

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Exploding! Tie dye has come out from the underground and entered mainstream fashion yet again with its classic and timeless appeal. With Millennials and Generation Z putting self-expression at the forefront of their nature, tie-dye couldn’t be more in right now. In the next 5-10 years, I see another hippie movement that could rival the 1969 Summer of Love with tie dye being its fashion frontman. The unending calls around the world for peace, civility, and equality are a driving factors in that. Most notably as well is the easing of State and eventually Federal Marijuana laws. I’m no expert, but if you ask me tie dye and weed is as good a match as peanut butter and jelly! Things can only grow higher from here!

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1 Comment

  1. Ricky

    September 20, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Steven dyes are absolutely the amazing! The colors and designs are so sharp i see why people have thought they look computer generated…but they’re not. Nope just a master at work making the best above the rest.
    We buy at least one item every time we see him and his awesome booth that you cannot miss!! All aspects of life good stuff aint cheap, and cheap stuff aint good. I believe his prices are 100% very reasonable. Just do it because you’re not gonna find the clarity and quality anywhere else i promise. -ricky

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