Getting To Know: Alex Dondero – LQQK Studio

Established in 2010 by Alex Dondero as a printing studio and later on as both a clothing and record label – LQQK Studio first began as a creative hub for printmaking and design work based in Brooklyn, New York. Alongside offering top of the range printing and creative design services for both local and global clients, LQQK has developed a reputation for its seasonal and sporadic apparel and accessories offerings which push the boundaries in both the graphic design and screen-printing realm, producing totally unique takes on the classic hoodie, tee, cap and more.

In conjunction with our first delivery from LQQK Studio at HIP for AW21, we caught up with Brooklyn based LQQK founder and designer Alex Dondero to talk studio life, records, Brooklyn as a local hub and more.

Hi Alex – we’re excited to get LQQK stocked at HIP for AW21 – firstly, please introduce yourself and your role at LQQK?

My name is Alex Dondero – I am the owner and founder of LQQK Studio. 

How was LQQK born and how would you describe it in its current form?

LQQK was born from the need for space. It was originally a shared space with many individuals who had other brands or projects but needed a collective space to use equipment. Fortunately most of the people involved in the formation of the collective space shared similar passion for art and music. We would throw parties that engaged with the community we appreciate being part of in Brooklyn. Over the years LQQK has streamlined into a business that has 2 main functions, Commercial screen printing, and the LQQK Brand. We still like to party. 

What is your daily routine in the studio like currently?

My ideal day starts with me not dropping my coffee as I try to open the heavy rollgate door in the morning. I power on all the machines so they are ready for whatever production we are printing. I pick 3-5 albums from the record collection that matches the mood that I’m in. I really like being the first at the studio so I can pick the tunes. By that point everyone who is working that day has arrived and we pow-wow on what we need to accomplish this day. Depending on how many guys are working I will reclaim screens, coat screens, expose screens, register screens to press, print a run, stack shirts, box shirts, schedule pick up, and repeat the process. Somewhere in between that is lunch and I would ideally get general tso’s tofu from the Happy Garden.

Alongside graphics and printing, music and records are big part of LQQKs DNA – what have you guy’s been listening to recently?

It’s true music is at our core. I have recently been listening to my friend Person of Interest’s new music project called OpSec. I also have been bumping a lot of Time Dance records. Also Hardline records has been really hitting the spot also. Besides that i listen to Roots reggae and dub a lot, It’s the best printing music.

How do you go about the creative process when creating each LQQK drop? We are big fans of the fun accessories such as the Scented Paint Candle in this collection or the well-known “Cash Cushion” you did.

I just keep notes in my phone of ideas that come to me – or if i see something that I think is cool or “usable” I’ll take a photo and add it to a shared album i have with some guys at the studio. The worst thing you can do is not document your ideas and inspiration, even if they are not fully resolved or totally understood. Eventually they might be used for even a part of a concept that gets made.  I like to push my ideas as far as away from my restraints of printmaking. LQQK is known for being t-shirt printers, so when we can make objects other than shirts I really want to nail it. 

Brooklyn has become a thriving creative hub as of recently, alongside your nearby neighbours at ARENA Embroidery and Blue Sun Records, are there any other local businesses you’d like to shout out?

Arena and Blue Sun are family. But I would like to shout out the following brands, designers and businesses who are very close to us both in proximity and communally.

Vintage Sponsor, D’Emploi, Emma Sienkiewycz Tailorin, Daytime NovellaMankind Studio, Emersin Studio, Young CoffeeLichen furniture, Hmmmm.., COMMA, Victoria Adrian Design

Looking into 2022, what is next for LQQK? 

I want to keep making sick clothing, I want to work with cool brands and designers who appreciate what we do on a local level, and I want to work with wood more often, like making elevated objects with function. 

Lastly, what advice do you have for those starting a brand right now?

It has to be authentic. If you aren’t really about anything then I would wait until real passion hits. Also trends are the worst thing to follow when trying to draw inspiration, and having the discipline to stay focused is very difficult especially when you need to pay rent.  But all that shouldn’t stop you from making things, LQQK never intended on being a brand, it just evolved.

Keep up to date with Alex and LQQK here.

LQQK Studio – new to HIP for AW21. Online now.