Almanac of Contemporary Aesthetics
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COMETEESinterviewbyEsraSorayaPadgett

Functioning both as an underground streetwear imprint and an artist moniker, Come Tees is a project founded in 2009 in Los Angeles by artist Sonya Sombreuil.

Sonya Sombreuil is everywhere, but quietly. Her clothing line, Come Tees, crops up in skate parks in NY, on streetwear connoisseurs in LA, has been sighted on celebrities like Kanye and Rihanna, and yet is still rocked, perhaps with a more worn-in flavor, at punk shows from Providence to Baltimore. Come Tees logic—text derived from pre-existing but unexpected sources, often musical, combined with images not immediately related—bleeds into other aspects of Sombreuil’s life as well: in her paintings, which have been shown in New York at Bridget Donahue; in her store in LA, Classic Hits; and in the plans for her upcoming participation in the Hammer Museum’s “Made in LA” exhibition.

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ESP:So, I know this is hard to answer or define, but you can describe what Come Tees is?
SS:It’s where you are placing yourself in relation to something; one is putting it on a huge pedestal above you, and one is acknowledging it’s influence on you, and your love for it.
ESP:Speaking of idols, one of your most recent shirts had the text “The Most Powerful Manifester.” Can I ask you who “The Most Powerful Manifester” is?
SS:That phrase is a little bit of a joke to me, because it has to do with these cosmological suspicions that I have, but don’t actually give much credence to consciously. I think the concept of manifesting is useful as a mantra: it’s supposed to be you that is the most powerful manifester in the world. It’s a hype slogan…
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ESP:Well, speaking of slogans, your recent endorsement of Bernie Sanders with the Come Tees Bernie 2020 shirt went pretty viral. Can you tell me the story of the Bernie shirt?
SS:Well, I never intended to produce the shirt. I made the image as a gift, and then for months I was processing the idea of making an endorsement. I’m remiss to speak online, but I also see that as a space where I listen and become informed; I feel humbled by so many people’s ability to vocalize and the energy that takes. So I kind of reluctantly shared my experience, and I was blown away by the response. So then I just saw it as a fundraising opportunity: money is so impactful, and if you can funnel money into something you care about, do it.
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Photo credit: Justin Cole Smith

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