15 NOVEMBER, 2023
Jake Roelofs is a tie-dye specialist who is definitely taking this discipline to a whole new level. He can spend about 12 hours to make one t-shirt that will be admired by thousands of people.

Why he does it in a such hardcore way and how his inner kitchen works — read our interview.
Remember the moment when you saw a tie-dye shirt for the first time. What was on your mind at that time? Can you describe what shirt it was?
I remember an older kid on the school bus wearing a tie dye. It was very basic and really just a white shirt with a few random spots of dye. He seemed cool and the random, messy nature of the shirt appealed to me as someone who grew up in a more ordered house.
We know that making a clean spiral isn't as easy as it seems. Same as a clean triangle. It needs time, practice, many shirts and paint. You're a specialist in tie-dye, but you don't do spirals, triangles and other "classic stuff". You do literally hardcore tie-dyeing. Why did you choose this way of tie-dye?
I tend to be quite obsessive. In 2015 tie dye started as something fun to do but as I did it more and more I wanted to improve upon my previous work. Today I’ve made over 2000 shirts. I think it’s just my nature to focus intensively on whatever it happens to be.
Your patterns look unlike anything else. I guess on the internet there's no any guides and instructions on how to do something a little bit similar to what you do. Describe your process in all steps: how do you create each brand new pattern? If it's not a secret :) What's your sources of ideas, how do you mix colorways, do you have a strong vision of the final tee look or your process built on free improvisation?
When I first began dyeing sometimes I wouldn’t even look at what color I was applying. Throughout each week while I am folding and tying new shirts I will spend time reviewing what I made the previous week and find aspects I like or don’t like. Many current color ways started as a small part that stood out to me from a previous shirt. Some color ways originate from an idea but others just come about from the interactions that certain dyes have with each other. For example maybe I want to do a shirt resembling the colors of winter, but other color schemes exist just because the color of jade dye has a special interaction with the boysenberry dye etc.

At this point many color schemes are fully developed and I will replicate them over and over. But I also will try new things and then develop them over time.
It seems that mandala is the main symbol you use for designing patterns. Why do you like mandalas? Does it have a sacred meaning for you?
Tie dye is much more limited in what you can realistically do compared to something like painting. There are a lot of different ways to make mandalas but at its core it is one of the few techniques in tie dyeing.

The person who taught me the basics of tie dyeing said that people would make big mandalas to put in front of people who were giving birth as something to focus on for them.
Each tee you do need a lot of time and resources. Your process are literally meditatively. What influence does it have on you? Is there anything special about it? Any rituals?
It is calming. I enjoy the repetition with the goal of improvement over time.
What's your current inspiration? Feel free to highlight any stuff from culture to your own life?
A lot of the time it’s the changing colors of the seasons but there are many things I’ve seen that I’ve based color schemes off. Colors of the area in a video game, animals, anything really.

Like I said before though a lot of my work isn’t from an external inspiration but a progression/development of what I made the previous week.
How can you describe the people who buy your clothing? Which feedback do they give you? Can you remember some weird or crazy feedback?
Someone told me they got lost in the woods once while on LSD. They had no phone service or internet and the only picture they had on their phone was of one of my shirts. That was probably the funniest story.
Why don't you do any collaborations? It seems that your dyeing will be super suitable for psych bands or "crafty / artisans" fashion brands all over the world.
I’ve done a lot of collaborations with other tie dyers. I’ve been hesitant to do printed recreations of my work though, preferring to only sell the handmade one of a kind pieces. Because each item takes so long to make it’s impossible to really do a "collaboration" with a brand without doing printed reproductions. It’s not that I wouldn’t ever do anything like that but that and my way of not really being very aware of what anyone else is doing are the main reasons why.
Would you like to dye something else besides tees / textile? Another fabric? Leather? Other unusual materials?
I would like to do more tapestries but it can be hard to find material that takes dye well enough to produce a good result. I know what shirts I can use that will turn out well so I end up just doing those instead of taking a lot of time experimenting and wasting time with problems.
Based on your big experience, can you share some advice to people who want to start tie-dye?
My advice is to just do something basic to try it first, have fun. Tie dye is a lot about experimentation. In the future you may want to put a lot of thought into what you do but just get started and worry about that all later.
15 November, 2023