The idea of La Mort was first conceived in the summer of 2011, and was intended to be the name under which I, and others, would sell our own hand-made death art prints. It became so much more.
We arrived at Camden market at the end of September that year, and brought with us black funereal drapes, gothic screenprinted posters and our very first runs of T-shirts. We hoped, with time, that it would grow into something, and we spent the next there years trading every weekend and expanding our collection of work. Many of you will have first found us at Camden. Maybe you hung out with us while we sat and inked our designs.
We started out printing all of our posters and clothing ourselves and I borrowed a sewing machine so we could sew in all our own neck tags. Family and friends helped us, and in time we developed a style of illustration and a brand for which we are known today.
By 2013, stores started to stock La Mort, and our clothing was being produced in a factory. We stopped selling prints and posters and went all-in as a clothing brand, working hard to build an organic following and do things the right way. Along the way we've attracted a cult following of ultra-loyal customers, who have become part of our story and who allow us to make this business our lives.
La Mort is the banner under which we explore our ideas about art, death, and the occult and, today, we are a family-run art and clothing brand that still does things the same way as we always have. We have a fierce passion for what we do and we make sure that it shows in each new design we produce.
Over the years we have developed our own graphic language, and a distinctive visual style for which we are now known. This has been a very long and organic process and has come about through countless hours of research and the working and reworking of our inked designs.
Each new piece starts as a very simple concept. Though it may take weeks or months to arrive at an idea, the main forms are usually worked out very quickly and from there, a lengthy period of research begins. We may look at our library of gothic and historical art books, or we may sit and watch documentaries and listen to occult inspired music. Research could take any form and the final image is usually a melting pot of ideas gathered from different places.
A significant part of our aesthetic is inspired by the art of the renaissance and the medieval period. We use very formal, statuesque poses and include detailed backgrounds with their own narratives. Though our output looks macabre, we also include themes such as enlightenment, intoxication and dreams.
Once the research is complete, and any necessary sketches have been made, a detailed pencil drawing is worked on, where all the final details are decided and the composition is finalised. At this point we make decisions that will help inform the inking process later on, such as which areas will remain solid black and where we will leave open spaces of white. The inking stage, which follows, is the part that gives our work the consistent 'La Mort' look.
When the illustration is finished and scanned in, it is cleaned up using Photoshop, and then prepared for printing. All our clothes are screen printed, which means ink is passed through a fine mesh template directly onto the fabric of our shirts. It's an ancient print technique and one which echoes the hand-crafted nature of our work.
OUR ENVIRONMENTAL OUTLOOK
As La Mort has grown from a small market stall to an online company shipping products around the world, it has become ever more important for us to consider our impact on the environment and how we can minimise waste.
We have worked, and continue to work, on each area of our business to identify processes that could be improved upon, as well as working with suppliers and printers that adhere to guidelines that prevent the exploitation of workers and the safe management of waste.
Below are some of the steps we have taken to reduce the environmental impact of our brand:
- We have removed all unnecessary plastic packaging from inside the orders we ship and switched to recyclable polybags. All disposable promotional material has been swapped for beautiful posters and art cards, with information printed on the back. Everything in each order is intended to be kept and displayed.
- The brands that supply our blank garments are internationally known and have have a high degree of transparency with regards to their supply chains and the efforts they are making to counter human trafficking and modern day slavery.
- We work with a single UK-based printer, who acts in accordance with all laws concerning both the safe disposal of printing chemicals and waste, and the fair treatment of all their employees.
- Any printed garments that we have to reject due to printing mistakes or manufacturing faults are either sent back to the printer, to be used as practice shirts to set up other print jobs, or they are donated to Humana.
- The discharge inks we use on our black shirts are free from Zinc Formaldehyde Sulfoxylate, which is a toxic chemical, often found in such inks, that can cause neurological problems and and contact dermatitis.
We are constantly aiming to improve in this area and are open to any suggestions on how we can do so. Feel free to email us with any ideas you have.