You Be Better – Interview with Soloman Sanders of Hobby

Rain Henderson

Introduce yourself! What’s your name, what’s your favorite thing to do, where ya from?
My name is Soloman, I’m from Fort Myers FL but have lived in Gainesville FL since 2012. My favorite things to do are Thrifting/Finding stuff to use for art/inspiration.

I’ve seen you put on art galleries/pop-up things, what kind of people go to those? Is it a type of thing where everybody knows everybody? Jacksonville has a pretty tightknit “art” scene.
Kind of a small skate scene locally but Gainesville has a solid music/art scene. Gainesville is very transient due to it being a college town. People are always leaving and new people are moving in. Very supportive community

How did hobby start?
I used to run a clothing company in Fort Myers with a friend called FourFive. When I moved it was harder to communicate with my partner so I decided to start something new. I wanted to create something of my own that would lend itself to my interest/art style.

You thrift the clothes and print yourself right? What’s the ratio between drawing/designing and thrifting/printing/shipping?
I try to print on as much vintage as I can but I also print on new blanks. It’s getting harder to find enough vintage blanks to keep up with my production quantity. I print everything myself at my house. It makes it possible to do smaller runs / I’m able to save all my designs and reprint at any time. I feel like most of my time/energy goes into ideas for Hobby. It’s always in the back of my mind when I’m out doing anything. I try to do an equal balance between illustration/found imagery with my designs. Balance originality and history/past.

What’s your work space look like? Are you working out of your house? Is it a wreck in there?
I have 2 small rooms that I use for my office/screenprinting/storage. The storage room is pretty full of vintage/hobby shirts/ blanks. My print room/office fluctuates between organized and chaotic depending if i’m in the middle of printing shirts / working on graphics. A lot of fold up tables/shirts covering all surface areas.

In my mind, you live in a USPS store because I always get a shipping notification the same day I order, what’s up with that!
I have a pretty solid system for shipping off packages. I buy/print/package all my orders at home and just drop off the orders at the post office. I used to stand in line at the post office and that got old pretty quick. Much love for the USPS works though. People are dicks to them. Be nice to your local post office. USPS DELIVERS FOR HOBBY. I want to work for USPS when I grow up.

Is hobby just a hobby for you?
It keeps me busy with my free time and helps me with depression. But also stressed me out in its own way. I make money off it but not much for how much time/energy I put into it. It is a full time hobby

Is it just you or do you have a team? (i wrote in this question because i thought that is was the question before this said)
It’s all me as far as production/designs. I have friends that help me burn my screens for screen printing.  Also have a small team that I sponsor.  I was recently thinking of looking for someone local to intern/help me with sourcing higher quality blanks/ production of products other than shirts.

I want to try to describe your work but feel like anything I say would diminish it, when I pitched this to my editor I just called it lowbrow which I don’t think is the correct term because technically it means “not highly intellectual” but your stuff is genius. How would you describe it if you had to?
Ahahah I like that. Hobby is both lowbrow and highbrow depending on who is looking at it. It can be interpreted as “childish” or “highly thought out” depending on the viewer’s mindset. Open for interpretations / attaching your own ideals.

And how do you come up with the sayings, they’re so good.
I’m dyslexic / not so good at spelling / grammar. Some of them are typos that have just made me/my friends laugh. Example – “You Be Better” I think I was trying to type “are you better” Others are just popular sayings/movie influences that I have mixed/altered. Usually just go into my Notes app and see what I haven written when I was under the influence.

I know a lot of skate people in Jax love your stuff, I’ve seen it around town. Why do you think people are so drawn to it?
I think it’s just approachable. The skate scene has been super supportive and has helped grow interest from “normal” people ahaha. I also try to stay aways from making it a “logo/name” based company. Keep more focus on the graphic and try to keep the branding unintrusive. Also try to supply all sizing from kids sizing up to 2XL. I don’t know what i’m doing also.

I always want to think that theres a secret meaning behind the graphics but at the same time I don’t want there to be…is there? For example: the shirt with thumbs down girl and a screw, my barista friend wants to know what it means. I tell him I like it because I don’t know.
The secret meaning is whatever you want it to be. If someone asks me I try to just make up the most bullshit answer and see what they say hahah. Just something to start a conversation/get a laugh out of someone you might have not talked to without wearing that shirt that day.

Lastly, where did you get the gummo-look-alike rabbit hat!
I sewed it myself for a halloween costume a few years back. I think I have used it for at least 4 different halloween parties/events. I think it’s in my storage room under a pile of clothes. It got kind of dirty from partying in it so often. A lot of guys hit on me when i’m wearing it ahaha. Chloë Sevigny (the costume designer for Gummo) liked a picture of me wearing it on instagram. That was pretty cool. 

Clothes are here