Local Artist Spotlight: Slumptown Supply Co.


At Searchlight San Jose, we always love when folks support local artists and businesses, but especially now in the wake of the pandemic. We caught up with artist Kai Kwong of Slumptown Supply Co. who shared a bit about her designs and aesthetic, as well as some things she particularly loves about San Jose.

What’s the thinking behind your design style/how did you develop your particular style?

My designs are based around the goal of presenting my most authentic self and helping other people be honest with their own emotions. Even though I’ve never been formally trained in art, it’s always been a way for me to express myself. I’ve had previous experiences where I didn’t feel like I was conveying what I wanted to, due to forcing myself to work in a style that was heavily focused on technique, but limiting in so many other ways. Several years ago, I discovered hand-lettering, and realized that I had a lot more fun just drawing words by hand and applying bright colors to them than I did making fully rendered digital paintings.

How did you get your start? What was it like opening your business? How long have you been selling your unique products?

I started regularly going to events and craft markets as a vendor last summer, right after I’d taken a full year of screenprinting classes. I was pretty new to the whole tabling setup thing, so I relied a lot on my more experienced friends when I first started and was pleasantly surprised when people genuinely enjoyed what I had to offer!

What are 2-3 favorite items you offer and why?

My two favorite items are the BSOD longsleeve and the “Communication” sweater! I designed both of these shirts as two sides of the same concept – the constant struggle of trying to find and maintain genuine connections with people. The Communication sweater addresses the more positive side of things, with two friends keeping in touch through snail mail and online messaging. The BSOD longsleeve, named after the infamous blue screen of death that every PC user knows and loves, represents the negative emotions that come when that connection fails. It’s a really personal piece that addresses a lot of things I’ve been feeling over the past year, but I’m still proud of how it came together even if it makes me feel a little vulnerable sharing it!

What do you love about living and working in San Jose?

San Jose is my hometown! I don’t think I had a very clear picture of what the city was like growing up, as I live somewhat on the outskirts. Now that I’m more active in the local scene I’ve been really enjoying the laid back and welcoming community. We actually have a very unique maker-focused attitude here, and I’m very grateful for places like SJMade for giving a voice to smaller creators.

Name one San Jose location/local store/restaurant etc you love and why.

One of my favorite places to be is Academic Coffee – I’m not always in downtown, but when I am I always make an effort to stop by. I’ve always loved the atmosphere in small independent cafes, and Academic is always offering new and innovative ways to enjoy coffee. I had a pandan cold brew once and I miss it a lot.

You can check out Kai’s merch at Slumptown Supply Co. (I bought this tote and I love it!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *