Arts festivals and tie-dye are a sure sign that summer fun is here. Arts festivals and tie-dye are also a sure sign that Ian Weston is going back to school in the fall.
Three-and-a-half years ago, Weston was ready to start college, but he didn't have a job to pay for it. What he did have was a friend with tie-dye supplies.
"I started making a lot of tie-dye, and selling a lot, and it grew and grew," he said. "It's paid for school so far -- no student loans."
The Layton student will be earning his tuition this weekend, selling tie-dyed clothing, bed sheets and wall hangings at the Ogden Arts Festival. The festival kickoff is from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, June 8, with half of the artists showing their work on Union Station's Fountain Plaza, at 2501 Wall Ave.
The festival continues 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 9, with more artists, live music, film screenings and activities at Union Station, and east along Historic 25th Street. Admission to most activities is free.
More than one tie-dye artist applied to sell work at the festival, but the jurors selected Weston.
"His stuff was so much more interesting. Instead of plain patterns, he had icons of imagery in his tie-dye," said Tracy Ehrig, a member of the festival committee.
In addition to the traditional swirls of color, Weston creates tie-dyed pieces with everything from hearts and eyes to pumpkins, butterflies and trees.
"I made two electric guitars, crossed -- that's a super-sweet shirt," he said, adding that almost anything symmetrical is possible. "The coolest thing I made was a Rasta guy with dreadlocks."
Weston says he uses quality materials and processes, so the colors are bright and don't fade.
"They aren't printed, they're actually dyed," he said.
Because of that, no two are exactly the same. His company name, One of a Kind Tie-Dye, emphasizes the unique nature of the work; the name is part of a logo Weston screen-prints on each finished piece.
"I brand my product, rather than just being another hippie selling my tie-dye," he said. "I'm not a hippie ... I'm more just a businessman."
Weston, who is studying business administration at Weber State University, has been able to apply what he's learned in school to selling his tie-dye art.
He keeps tabs on things with spreadsheets, but mostly relies on experience to know how to stock a booth at a festival.
"Usually, I have 30 shirts of every size, a bundle of yoga pants, and about 30 each of skirts and dresses," he said, adding a dozen each of four sizes of one-piece baby outfits, plus some tapestries, underwear, bandanas, socks, tank tops and more.
Prices vary, based on the time invested in the design. Online prices for baby clothes start at $11.95, men's T-shirts start at $15. 95, and ladies shirts at $19.95. Tapestries can go for up to $174.95.
To keep up with demand, Weston usually works in his studio from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays when he's not going to school. The studio -- a large space with screen-printing equipment, a worktable, and room to let items absorb the dye for 24 hours -- used to be his mother's art studio.
On weekends, Weston hits the festivals. In spring and fall, he travels to other states, such as Arizona and California. Midsummer is festival time in Utah.
"I have four next week," he said.
He can't be everywhere at once, so he's training employees -- other college students in need of work. At first, they'll just sell at festivals, but if a couple of them are interested, they may be asked to help with the dyeing.
There's not only the festival work, but also the special orders.
"More and more people are calling me," he said, noting that he's done team shirts for dance groups and cheerleaders.
One of the biggest orders came from an unexpected team: "I've been doing shirts for the Mitt Romney campaign," said Weston.
The shirts are tie-dyed blue on top, with red and white stripes on the bottom, then screen-printed with Romney's name and a campaign slogan.
Weston says a Reuters news photo showed Romney with a crowd of people wearing the shirts.
Weston taught himself to dye shirts, using undershirts from his chest of drawers. Before long, he was coming up with some unusual ideas.
"It's not all about making money," he said. "It's also about being creative and artistic."
Some of his more creative pieces take much longer to fold and dye. It took about six hours to create the design for a tapestry with trees, a rainbow and mountains.
"If I never made anything other than a spiral, I'd have been done two years ago. I definitely have to be creative and change the job every day," Weston said.
How much longer will he keep making and selling tie-dye?
"It depends on when a real job comes around, and when I'm all tie-dyed-out," he said. "I'll probably get my M.B.A."
That gives fans about three more years to pick up a One of a Kind Tie-Dye original at a festival. After that, they'll probably have to make special orders through the website, www.oneofakindtiedye.com.
Events are free, except for the Taste of Downtown; tickets for food samples are $10.
The Ogden Arts Festival starts at 3 p.m. today, June 8, with art booths on Union Station’s Fountain Plaza — and inside Union Station, an exhibit and sale of plein-air paintings from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Taste of Downtown, with samples from many of Ogden’s most popular restaurants, starts at 6:30 p.m. and continues until 8 p.m. in the station’s Grand Lobby.
The main event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, with additional artists showing and selling their work at Union Station and east along Historic 25th Street.
The plein-air exhibit and auction continues, as well as a Quick Draw Exhibition and sale, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the plaza. (Festival-goers can watch as the Quick Draw paintings are created between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.)
The Art Truck, a traveling exhibit from the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, will be parked at the festival all day.
Local and regional bands take turns on two stages from 10 a.m. until the 8 p.m. closing. Acoustic music will be featured in front of Union Station, and rock bands play the stage at Lincoln Avenue.
Films from the Foursite Film Festival will be screened from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Union Station’s Browning Theater.
Free art activities for kids are planned from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Union Station’s north lawn.
Youth with the Nurture the Creative Mind Foundation read poetry from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the Union Station south lawn. While they read their poetry, artists will create paintings inspired by the poets and their words.
For more information, including a list of participating artists, visit www.ogdenartsfestival.com.