We had the good fortune of connecting with Lile Kvantaliani and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lile, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I believe when you do something you truly love, it does not need to be separated into another portion of your life for the sake of “balance,” because enjoying your work is something you do not need time away from. For many people in this country, it seems that work is usually kept separate from the pure joys of life because people settle for choosing a job that they do not genuinely enjoy. In my opinion, the obvious secret to creating a natural balance between work and life is to find something which you do not have to set apart, as it naturally intertwines with your everyday thoughts and desires. I immerse myself in my work because I indulge in it as much as absorbing every ounce of life’s treasures. I realize that I am lucky to have something I am so passionate about that I never truly consider as “work” the way other’s view it. Creating is something I choose to do everyday and my passion for it will never die out.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The theme of most of my art follows a similar concept as I experiment with how objects behave and make us feel when they are displaced from their natural habitat or comfort zone. Consequently, my art can be perceived as controversial depending on who interprets it. For example, people might view the “High on Light” graphic as a drug reference. However, this piece communicates that one should be addicted to beauty in the world, as it depicts a woman inhaling a sunset. Taking things out of the context of a negative environment and placing it in a positive setting changes the entire connotation. My newest collection, “Stay Horny For Art” revolves around the idea that art extends beyond the canvas and is instead manifested into everyone’s individual passion. Whether through photography, fashion, skating or surfing, people create art. “Stay Horny for Art” is an edgy expression of identity and a subtle rebel against monotony. The creation of Sublyme was actually accidental since originally it was done for my own satisfaction, expressing my views and inner thoughts through art. After returning from Vietnam, I felt prompted to experiment more with my designs and happened to have a blank t-shirt and heat transfer papers hidden away in my junk drawer. Hours later, I had created a t-shirt featuring my graphic art and immediately received messages asking where to buy the shirt. Overnight, the pieces of my brand fell together and tumbled into a rapid domino effect. I was presented my very first challenge of having orders I had no way of fulfilling at the moment but refused to turn any down because I knew I could find a solution. My ability to work well under pressure with a positive attitude prompted me to find a local printer and carry out the orders as soon as I could. As the brand started to develop, I took on various projects including the design of logos, album covers, and custom pieces such as surfboards and snowboards, all of which I continue to do. I was also picked for an exhibition in a prominent San Diego gallery which unfortunately was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the pandemic presented some challenges and put a pause on retail expansion, I used this time to create and plan for future collections. With the steady opening of businesses, I often explore neighborhoods to find stores which fit the lifestyle and aesthetic of my brand, with the goal to spread the message that creativity lies within us all. Sublyme is now displayed in stores/galleries along the West and East coast and is still in the process of expanding. A few months ago, I was thrilled to come across a post by “Dude with Sign” wearing my t-shirt which was later reposted by Rihanna, and sparked excitement in my customer base. A current challenge I’m facing is that I now have to be in charge of the marketing and finance part of Sublyme even though I only possess experience in the creative field (equivalent of a math major having to take and enjoy a painting course). Trying to excel at the business part of my brand can be distracting from creating new art but it’s something I’m determined to become more knowledgeable about. During the journey of starting my business there are a few important lessons I have learned. To start, one does not always need to have a meticulously thought out plan in order to successfully launch a business. I had no idea what I was doing when I first started and I’m constantly figuring new things out but the pieces tend to fall in place when you do something you are truly passionate about. In addition, trusting your instincts is a key necessity but being open to others’ opinions facilitates the exploration of a new perspective for your vision and pushes you to explore the unfamiliar. I want to connect with people who are passionate about channeling their creative energy, whether it be through surfing, traveling, or creating. My vibrant designs emanate inspiration and encourage individuals to explore their imagination. I am determined to establish a lifestyle brand which unites people of all backgrounds of passions into a bold community which is not afraid to reject conformity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start off the morning with beach yoga at Law St. where the PB locals gather for a relaxing but challenging flow. Then, we would head over to Birdrock Coffee Roasters on Garnet Street for an amazing experience of fresh cinnamon oatmilk cappuccinos and friendly staff. Next, we would bike to the bay and paddle board at the Mission Beach Aquatic Center to soak up some afternoon sun. Since by this point we’ve earned some food and drinks, we will drive over to Ocean Beach and drink one of the best draft beers from Killowat Brewing Company. Now we’re starving so we walk down the street to the Holding Company, walk up to the rooftop and order the renowned orange walnut shrimp and Pho dip sandwich. After taking in the beautiful sunset at dinner, I will take my friend to Connect San Diego in North park, which is a gallery space displaying art and apparel by local artists. Following our experience of seeing unique art, we’ll head over to the thrift stores around North Park and return to Pacific Beach for a late evening cocktail at Miss B’s Coconut Club which exudes modern tropical vibes and lively customers.+
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My best friends have supported and believed in my work since I started creating art even prior to bringing my brand public. They represent my brand as often as they can and are always so excited to go on adventures which are catalysts for my inspiration. My friends are always enthusiastic in being apart of my designs and modeling for my creative photo shoots. Most importantly, they push me to reach my full artistic and personal potential and encourage me with every step.