Dipped Shirts to a Clothing Line
It all started with "dipped shirts." Jose Robinson has been designing clothes since high school. He would take an all white tee and use sharpie, paint or airbrush to make designs.
"I just love the idea I can create anything."
Jose is the creator of the clothing line Instant Karma Apparel. The name comes from a John Lennon song "Instant Karma." He wanted to take the line "Instant Karma is going to get ya," and turn it into something positive. Karma doesn't necessarily mean something negative will happen, instead, Jose wanted to show his community that if you do something kind, positive karma will instantly come back to you.
Jose didn't get into the arts until high school and he's been creating ever since. He's always been into taking things a part and putting them back together because he likes to know how things work.
He knew he wanted to start a clothing line after he graduated from high school, but first he had to do his research.
One of the most important things Jose wanted to know was how to not get his ideas stolen. He researched all of the legal processes because he knows what it feels like to see his work out there without getting credit for it.
Jose went to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) for computer engineering, but he hated it. He chose to change his major to undecided. That same day, Jose saw a student working on an oriental poster, but at the time he wasn't outspoken. He gathered all the courage he could and asked the young woman if she could explain what she was doing, and how to do it.
That moment he discovered what graphic design was. He immediately went back to his adviser and started on a new college path.
Instant Karma is currently being sold in Milwaukee, Chicago and cities in New York, but Jose is now trying to reach the west coast and the south.
Jose is trying to show his people in the city of Milwaukee that they can be more than what people tell them.
"I just love this city so much."
If he could change anything about Milwaukee it would be the city's skyline. They're not paying attention to where they're putting the buildings, which doesn't add to the skyline, said Jose.
Jose is also tired of the urban decay and empty homes because "these houses can be put to use." If he could, he would give the houses to the starving artists around Milwaukee, so they can prosper.
For some reason, people have assumed Jose was from the Bronx. Jose finally visited New York and he felt right at home. Who knows, he might live in the Bronx one day. But it's hard for him to leave the city because he has so much he wants to accomplish before he moves.
"I have the vision to change this city," said Jose. "[I] just don't have the backing or revenue."
"If you do what you love, everything is secondary."
He wakes up happy and goes to sleep the same—Jose is making the best of everything in his life.
"Things aren't always perfect," said Jose. "Sometimes life just falls into your lap."
Jose believes people don't do enough to improve their lives and he hopes to change that mindset.
Photography, clothing and music: Jose is a busy man.
"I'm a man of many hats."
Helping the youth is also something Jose is interested in. We "have to help each other build up" if we want things to change, especially in Milwaukee, said Jose.
Jose knows not everyone loves the city like him, but he wants people who leave to never forget where they come from.
"If you do leave Milwaukee, take us with you in spirit and voice."