In a sea of mediocre graphic tees, Daniel Pavlovic is making waves. Perth born and raised, Daniel is an old artist who bests his cerebral palsy every single day with creativity. Through that timeless trifecta of hard work, ambition, and a burning desire to make, Daniel had started selling his t-shirts around Western Australia by the age of twenty.
Now, Daniel’s company, Daniel (ink.) has taken him from Perth to Melbourne, to Hong Kong to New York and back. CONVICTS caught up with Daniel and got the word on his first trip to America, the importance of mentorship, and his upbeat worldview.
What’s up Dan, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your business, Daniel (ink.)?
My name is Daniel Pavlovic, I am 24 years old and the creator of Daniel(ink.). I do my own hand-drawn illustrations, have them screen printed locally, and play wheelchair basketball in my free time, where I’ve played twice at the state level.
How has your time been since you’ve got into the USA?
My time in the USA has been fantastic. It’s very different to Perth. Been doing a lot of sightseeing and business.
Is the first time you’ve been to the U.S?
Yes, this is my first time to the U.S; been everywhere else around the globe, but yeah, this is the first time I’ve been to the U.S.
How else have you spent your time since you arrived over here?
We had one day at Melrose Trading Post.I was well received and sold a few shirts. I compare the Melrose Trading Post to the markets I do in Perth called Kalamunda.
Can you talk a bit about the markets you sell from in Australia?
Yeah. I go back to Kalamunda once a month. I do Darlington Art Festival once a year, I do Perth Art Market four times a year, and then we do another one called Perth Makers Market and that happens every second month.
How did you start on this journey to create Daniel (ink.)?
I went to TAFE and studied art. I received a Certificate level three then worked up to Certificate four and a diploma. In the Certificate three level, we were given the task to do a screen printing and I did an illustration of a face as a t-shirt idea. I screened printed it and a few of my friends asked me how and where I did that. They suggested, “What about a business?” so I said to dad, “What do you think about a t-shirt business, as like a hobby?” It’s taken off.
Would you consider yourself more of a designer or an artist?
Tough question but I think I consider myself as an artist cause of the drawing.
How long has Daniel (ink.) been operating?
I tried it 2012 in local market in Darlington in Western Australia. I had like thirty t-shirts and they sold all of the styles over the two days. We formally launched in January of 2013.
Do you have certain artists or influencers that you look to when illustrating for your designs?
The number one artist I look up to is Robert Juniper. He is a Western Australian artist. Anthony Mueller, another local artist, was my mentor for twelve months.
How did that mentorship help you?
He took me on a journey to make four new designs. The designs he helped me with were “Apple Face” and “Skeleton Heart.” We were doing a thing with skeletons and clowns…I did this clown with a red nose to support charity. Anthony and I are very good friends, we do catch ups probably every a couple of months and he’ll look over what I’ve been doing and give me his feedback.
All of your designs have an air of positivity about them. How does your personality play into your work?
I am a positive person, I like doing positive designs. I see people as smiling and happy, childlike.
I have read that you have talked about your cerebral palsy as a full time job in itself. Can you talk a bit about that?
CP is a full time job because you’ve got regular appointments, go to a lot of physio, we also do walking, a lot of walking to keep moving. I treat my chair as my legs, but some things are harder than others things. It has helped with my travel cause I am able to walk on a plane without a chair.
What’s your favorite part of the Daniel (ink.) business?
My favorite part of Daniel (ink.) is talking to customers and selling t-shirts, doing the shirt processing, money — just because it gives me more math skills — and learning how to use a process machine.
How important is it for you to give back to CP charities that have helped you in the past?
Since day one, it was very important for me to give back to a charity that has helped me out since I was two years old, the Ability Center. I give 10% back. It’s very important to give back to charity and hope that other businesses do the same thing.
Can you talk a little bit about your support network and how those people have helped you along the way?
Nat, my sister, has been a good personal assistant, organizing my markets for me. I couldn’t do it without her. My Grandma wants to be involved–she doesn’t have to be but she wants to–and has just been there driving me around and making sure everything is above board. Dad and our family friend Karen helps with the PR stuff. She and Dad select and give me feedback on my work.
Do you have any ideas on where Daniel (ink.) is going from here?
People suggest like socks, jumpers, and pajamas. It’s like “slow it down.” T-shirts are hard enough to keep track of, especially with online ordering. It does have potential to go to a shopfront — people at markets always ask me if I am in a shop front, but I like to keep it low key and just do markets.
Thanks very much for your time Dan. It’s been a pleasure, and best of luck with everything.