At Ardent, the writing’s on the shirt

Neil Tasker’s new 1837 line is currently overtaking his office. This line strayed more away from calligraphy to focus on bolder lettering. PHOTO/SHELBY TANKERSLEY

OU News Bureau

Working at a small desk in a small office in Madison Heights is Neil Tasker. His business, Ardent Ink, is small, too.

But he has big dreams.

He runs his business alone: He prints, packages, embroiders and designs everything he sells. He said he’s glad he loves it so much because it consumes his days.

Ardent Ink is all about Michigan. The Great Lakes State is the theme behind every piece of clothing Tasker takes off the printing press.

“I chose Michigan because I grew up here, and I know it well,” he said. “I saw a lot of designs, and I knew that I could do it better.”

While there are what seems like a million stores designing Michigan-themed clothing, Tasker heavily incorporates calligraphy into his designs. Since he hand-draws everything, his designs are different from the run of the mill graphic T-shirts found all over the state.

“I was studying at Oakland Community College and all of the classes were full,” he said. “So I randomly signed up for typography without knowing what it was. After the first week I just fell in love with it.”

After that class, Tasker went on to study graphic design at Oakland University and graduated from there in 2014.

“I had no idea that people actually got to do this for a living,” he said.

Tasker sends a name out with an order as a way to personalize his link to customers. PHOTO/SHELBY TANKERSLEY

After about a year of studying graphic design and learning how to make letters on a computer, Tasker wanted to get closer to his work. So he bought a calligraphy set. That’s how he got into designing everything by hand.

One of his first and best-selling products, the Great Lake State shirt, incorporates calligraphy. It’s become a passion of his, which is rather fitting since “ardent” means “passion.”

He said not all of his designs incorporate calligraphy because he understands not everybody enjoys that style, but it had a heavy influence, especially on his early designs.

“When I started it was something unique because everything was coming right from me,” Tasker said. “I still do it today. I write everybody’s name on their order. I think it’s kind of a unique touch that other shops might not have.”

Tasker sends a drawing of the customer’s name with every order. The drawings don’t take him too long make since he spent a good year working on his calligraphy skills. He said he’s gotten feedback from customers that they love their drawing.

“All the time people email me thanking me for the customer service and personalization,” he said. “As a small business it’s great. I can be personal with people because I’m not some big business.”

While he said he loves the smallness for now, he eventually wants to see Ardent Ink flourish.

“My goal isn’t to always have just Michigan stuff,” Tasker said. “I would love to see people wearing this stuff all over the place with Michigan stuff in it, but not have Michigan so blatantly on my clothes like it is now.”


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Posted by on Feb 6 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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