Don’t Sweat It: Artist Nashuan Lemay Has Plans for Your Hoodie

Morgan State senior and architect major Nashaun Lemay expands his artistic ability outside of the classroom with the creation of painted crewneck and hoodie sweatshirts.

Lemay began painting in high school. “My brother wanted a gift and I didn’t have any money to give him one so I thought I’ll get some fabric paint and make him a sweatshirt,” Lemay says. “I didn’t connect that I could make money from it, I just started realizing it.”  Suddenly aware he could profit from his designs, he started to paint sneakers for his high school peers. In his junior year at Morgan State, he began painting sweatshirts. Today, he sells approximately four sweatshirts a week and takes in $150 to $400—which is a nice chunk of money added to his paycheck at Men’s Warehouse.

Lemay’s first and most important step in creating his shirts is communicating with customers about their wants. Beyond the size and color, he needs to discover what details they want on their sweatshirts. Most of his customers—non-artists—are vague about what they want and let Lemay’s freestyle visions take command.

He is often inspired by scenes of his everyday life. One of Lemay’s most recent paintings for a member of Alphi Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. was designed with a gorilla peeking through letters. The artwork for the gorilla played on the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” movie poster.

Some sweatshirts take a few hours to make, while others need a full week of inspiration. Customers who have to wait a little longer for Lemay’s inspiration to kick in may get antsy with the shirt process but he believes his products are worth the wait. “I would never give someone a sweatshirt with an unfinished concept. Some people think I’m BS’ing on their sweatshirt, but if it’s not right then I’m not giving it to them.”

He promotes his work through social media sites Twitter and Instagram. Some day, he hopes to sell his shirts through a website, but he does not have an official name. “I don’t think the sweatshirts really need a name,” he insists. “No one can duplicate my art, it’s just me.”

Still, he is already broadening his artistic designs with a full clothing line that does have a name, Panache Cartel. “I want my clothing line to be bigger than my sweatshirts,” he says. “I want my clothes to be seen as a luxury item.” He wants to develop the fashion for Panache Cartel, work the business for a while, and then dreams it will “blast off and be sold at a higher price.” But that’s all in the future. “For right now it’s cool, it’s just a little side hustle.”

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