Craig Hunter runs Brooklyn-based Cubist Literature. He designs and produces silkscreened t-shirts and handmade knit garments.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Craig.
I started Cubist Literature as a sort of diversion to the mundane academic life of university. I started out appliquéing felt pieces to vintage/thrift clothing. Eventually I got into knitting. When I moved to NYC about two and a half years ago, I dropped the appliqué and learned to screen print. I fell in love with screen printing because it enabled me to get my designs on clothing very quickly. The extra time gave me more time to come up with more designs and outlets for Cubist Literature.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Knitting! I love to knit sweaters mostly. They're great to work on while watching movies or riding the subway. It's probably one of the best stress relievers I can think of. I like to hand knit---and can do so pretty quickly---but when I thought Cubist Literature should have a line of knit garments, I figured I needed a knitting machine. This has also proved to be very satisfying because I can see my ideas come to fruition much faster than if I were hand knitting everything. Hand knitting everything didn't make much sense to me. (That would be like hand sewing a whole line of garments.) I had to teach myself how to use the knitting machine. It was a LOT of trial and error, but I got the hang of it. I did my first collection last fall.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The biggest challenge I can think of is the fact that you have to be your own motivator. It's easy to go into a regular job that you don't care about and put not a lot of heart into your work because it's not really you that's on the line. When you work for yourself, however, that sort of half-interested attitude will not cut it. If you aren't 100% enthusiastic about your work and your business, others will notice. And your business will suffer.
To quote Kim Gordon, "People pay to see others believe in themselves."
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was five, I wanted to be a birdwatcher.
And then in elementary and middle school, I thought I wanted to be an engineer. The kind that works on roller coasters.
Then in high school, I thought I was going to be a psychologist.
In college, I thought I was going to be an English professor.
And now I'm doing this...
What item in your collection would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
If someone were shopping for me, I'd want this!
This sweater is so comfortable and warm. It can also go with a lot of things.
It is a piece that truly makes me excited about the oncoming fall and winter.
What other artists out there do you love?
There aren't too many visual artists I'm in love with. But Francis Bacon comes to mind. I like his paintings.
I fall in love with A LOT of garments/outfits in fashion shows, but I definitely only have a couple favorite fashion designers: Martin Margiela and Sandra Backlund. They work on a much more conceptual level than I would say I do, but they are truly inspiring to me.
And right now since it's really hot in my studio, I'm thinking about cool sweaters I own, especially this really intense Fair Isle knit cardigan made by this really awesome Norwegian fashion company called Arne & Carlos. I love their (over)use of Fair Isle knitting.
Favorite writers: Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein.
What does your future hold?
I am just going to keep designing t-shirts and knitwear on a small scale for the time being. I have hopes/plans for Cubist Literature, but since I'm doing this all DIY, things happen more slowly and naturally. I wouldn't want this any other way. When I get to that level of success I'm heading toward, I want to make sure Cubist Literature (and myself) is truly ready. I don't want to get in over my head.