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Cryptic Apparel gives meaning to street-wear

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The fashion industry is seemingly overrun with screen printed T-shirts. With so many styles and designs available, they all just sort of blur together. It seems that the art of design has become pure business, with no thought process put into the products whatsoever. It’s about time someone brought passion and skill back into the T-shirt industry. And who better to do it than an ISU student?

Kurt Marks, a senior graphic communication major, has his work cut out for him. He recently started his own exclusive clothing brand, Cryptic Apparel. Marks intends to put meaning behind each and every one of his pieces, using his unique conspiracy-inspired imagery.

Nick Thompson/Photographer Founded by Kurt Marks, senior graphic communication major, Cryptic Apparel brings something new to the world of graphic tees. Outfit styled by Kelsey Stiegman.

Nick Thompson/Photographer
Founded by Kurt Marks, senior graphic communication major, Cryptic Apparel brings something new to the world of graphic tees. Outfit styled by Kelsey Stiegman.

“[Cryptic Apparel] is influenced by ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, the Mayans, the Romans and all the ancient mysteries of the world. I try to put hidden meanings in all my designs,” Marks said.

Having always harbored an interest in graphic design, Marks began pursuing his passion after he began school at ISU. Tirelessly, he contacted artists, created designs and printed shirts by hand, in order to fill the orders that were flooding in from family and friends. The word about his designs quickly spread and Cryptic Apparel was born.

Marks began to develop his brand and eventually opened his own website, www.crypticapparel.bigcartel.com. The site offers affordable T-shirts and hats not available anywhere else. The fall 2013 line is currently available on the website, but Marks has big plans for his upcoming collections.

“The first collection I want to have all Egyptian-based imagery and then maybe Greek mythology, then maybe a series on aliens, or a series on presidents. I want each line to kind of have its own story behind it,” Marks said.

Nick Thompson/Photographer Founded by Kurt Marks, senior graphic communication major, Cryptic Apparel brings something new to the world of graphic tees. Outfit styled by Kelsey Stiegman.

Nick Thompson/Photographer
Founded by Kurt Marks, senior graphic communication major, Cryptic Apparel brings something new to the world of graphic tees. Outfit styled by Kelsey Stiegman.

Although Marks is the founder and head designer of Cryptic Apparel, he often reaches out to fellow artists from across the country. Together they collaborate to create fascinating designs for the brand. He also features select artists, because he believes it is important for members of the art community to be interconnected.

Recently, Marks was awarded second place at the ISU Startup Showcase, a competition for young entrepreneurs looking to expand their business opportunities. His aim is to promote Cryptic Apparel until it can one day stand alongside other well-known street-wear brands, like Obey and Adidas.

“My goal is to be the future of street-wear. I want to leave my mark and make a legacy, and maybe one day Cryptic will be around when I’m not,” Marks said.

Cryptic Apparel isn’t just another meaningless T-shirt brand trying too hard to be edgy. Marks researches before he creates, to ensure thought-provoking designs that can appeal to his customers on multiple levels. The pieces that result are both daring and artistic; two qualities the fashion industry is in desperate need of.

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