We first met Eric Lara ― artist, silk screener, and half of the creative force behind BAXTER ― about a year ago. At the time, Eric and his wife, Christina, were running their operation out of a shop off San Pedro Ave. Not surprisingly, we became instant fans of their work, which reflected their love for San Antonio and ― as you’ll learn later on ― their cats.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Eric to discuss how BAXTER got started, learn more about what inspires their designs, and find out where their favorite spot is to grab some tacos!
BarbacoApparel (BA): Who is BAXTER? Is there any meaning or inspiration behind the name?
Eric Lara (EL): The inner depth and meanings of what ... Is ... BAXTER. Actually [we] named the company after a stray Border Collie that used to hang around the shop. Originally the shop was called "The Coat Rack Shop", but since we didn't sell coats ... it was a little confusing to some folks.
BA: How did BAXTER get started and why?
EL: I've always wanted to own a business. Self sufficient, fully able to express myself creatively. Initially the shop was a brick-and-mortar and [I] decided to "wing it." Business wasn't running as successful as I had hoped. The name changed and then [we] started to network with local artists. The community is what made BAXTER successful. The artists of SA helped navigate and gave opportunities to help get BAXTER to where it is today.
BA: What are some of the services BAXTER offers? Not only do you design and make T-shirts, but you also do custom silk-screen orders too, is that right?
EL: BAXTER designs and screen prints in-house. Not only do we create and make our own shirts and totes, but [we] make customs shirts for just about any occasion: business, club, teams, groups, family reunions, just-because, you name it!
BA: How did you learn about silk screening and how long have you been doing it?
EL: I got tired of buying shirts, and decided to figure out how to make my own. It's been 10 years of trial and error, and I'm always learning new techniques and tricks. I've never taken a class or apprenticed ... I've probably made more mistakes than I'm proud to admit, but I don't regret it at all.
BA: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
EL: I think one of my favorite things about being a business owner is being able to be in control of the future and make it how I want. It takes guts and it takes hard work. You have to [be] OK with owning not only the success, but failures too.
BA: What’s your inspiration for what you do, your art, and your design process?
EL: I obviously find inspiration in my cats ... But also all that is Local. Inspiration honestly comes from everyday life. There's moments that stand out and you sort of need to go with it, trust your gut. Trust YOU. Inspiration is like personality, don't force it. OWN IT!
BA: I personally own a "Scratch Post Tower of Americas" tee and love it! Do you have a personal favorite design, or one that is most memorable for you in any way? What have been some of your most popular designs?
EL: That's awesome! "Scratch Post Tower of Americas" tee and "Bandit Cat" have been probably our best sellers. Ironically each one was mirrored after our cats. I'm personally fond of [the] "Bandit Cat" shirt, partially because I'm more fond of that cat ... But don't tell my other one. Another popular design were the day of the dead shirts.
BA: Can you give us any hints or clues for possible upcoming designs (art/prints, shirts, totes, etc.) that are currently in the works?
EL: One of the newest is "Taco Kong"! Really excited about the design. King Kong takes SA and tacos by storm! As for any new designs, there's several in the making and hoping to release another in the next month or so. For every one good idea, there are about 10–15 that end up getting scrapped. But it's a process, and on the bright side eliminated 10–15 designs that didn't work.
BA: Where can people usually find BAXTER around town?
EL: People can find BAXTER at events centrally located downtown. Five Points Market [for] Second Friday at The Cove and SoFlo Market every Second Saturday.
BA: If you weren’t doing BAXTER, what would you probably be doing or would like to do?
EL: Hopefully professionally skateboarding!
BA: Do you have a favorite artist, either local or non-local?
EL: I really like urban street art, and some of the more strange artists like Francis Bacon or Dali. If we're going with local Artists, I have to say any and all artists! To put your heart and put yourself out there like that ― much respect. There is no good or bad art/artist. It's something personal and something that moves you not what someone tells you you should like.
BA: What’s your favorite taco and favorite spot to grab one?