Arts & Events

Darkroom Collective: Photography inspired T-Shirts

Couldn’t necessarily describe the University of Puget Sound campus as “fashion-oriented.” However, beneath the surface, Puget Sound senior Nathaniel Skinner is using his artistic talent to create a collection of T-shirts that has the potential to redefine fashion.

“I had an inherent love affair with clothing,” Skinner said. “My mom is involved in fashion and she taught me the importance of dressing well as a form of personal expression.”

Along with childhood friend, Kahlil Dumas, who attends the University of Portland, Skinner launched Darkroom Collective, a collection of cyanotype inspired T-shirts.

“I wouldn’t call us a T-shirt brand,” Skinner said. “We’re more a lifestyle brand represented through clothing.”

Discovered in 1842, cyanotype printing is primarily used in conjunction with film photography. Skinner played around with this method in order to print transparencies directly onto cloth. He painted the cyanotype chemicals on the garment, placed an image on a clear transparency on top of the blue chemical ink and let the shirt sit underneath UV rays. To let the image set, he fixed it with water.

After the initial printings, Skinner and Dumas decided to collaborate in order to develop a line of different designs and commercialize their creations. They began adding graphic elements to their images representative of the Pacific Northwest and the urban lifestyle.

Darkroom Collective aims to keep things local and community-based.

Dark Room Collective founder Nathaniel Skinner (pictured) uses cyanotype printing in order to accomplish his designs, a method typically reserved for print photography.


“We wanted to create an aesthetic that appeals to the next generation of creative photographers, designers and people in general,” Skinner said.

Darkroom Collective had an immediate positive response after launching its online store. They created 60 shirts of two different designs. The shirts sold out within two months.

As a result of this success, Skinner and Dumas had the opportunity this summer to attend MAGIC and Liberty Fairs, two fashion conventions held in Las Vegas. They networked and met with different designers who gave them advice in growing their collection. Coming into the fashion world strictly as artists and designers, they were also able to pick up more insight on the way that the industry operates in terms of sourcing, advertising and sales.

Darkroom Collective is currently working on broadening its social media presence.

“Right now we have an Instagram account where we can post photos taken by budding photographers who reach out to us. We hope to use some of their photographs as future T-shirt designs,” Skinner said. This idea has created a lot more online exposure for Darkroom Collective.

“Our generation is the generation of photographers. Everyone with an iPhone thinks they’re a photographer now,” he said. They have acquired a decent following of contributing photographers who see working with Darkroom Collective as an opportunity to turn their work into something more tangible.

Darkroom Collective’s online store and website will be revamped in the near future to display new designs and more garments. In the future, the company aims to maintain its grassroots vibe and collaborate with other local artists.