Creative types have two options: DIY it and create amazing work nobody ever sees, or contract with a company that'll package their vision for the masses (Bret Michaels originally dreamed of a career in jazz flute). Giving artists the best of both worlds, and you great t-shirts: Thriving Ink. Run by a Pleasanton mom and her two talent-spotting kids, Ink puts their screen press/stockpile of American Apparel blanks at the service of international artists, then, along with a pouch of Capri Sun, hands them near total control over product and marketing. First, the artists come up with designs: in "Mix Tape", Manila's AJ Dimarucot depicts an ode to obsessively curated soundtracks for romance/ pumping iron, while Torontoan Herman Lee's "Lion" shows us he clearly still mourns Mufasa. Then the artist fully claims the work by creating his own labels, which range from colorful/ animal-sprinkled to black and white calligraphy; all are printed directly on the fabric, as no one's vision includes irritating the back of someone's neck. Finally, because control of message is more important than talent, the designers handle their own media inquiries, a practice that's already led to some artists starting independent labels, and one nabbing a spot on reality TV -- apparently, whether you sell out or DIY, in the end your dreams will still be Poisoned.