April 11, 2019
The inside of Inksmith Graphics is asking you to create something.
The shop near College Corner Pike, near Walmart, has a strong smell of ink and wood. The black painted walls are hung with T-shirts and plants dot the window sills.
It is run by James Hamblin and his aunt Chrystal Matix, both born and raised in Oxford.
Hamblin graduated from the Art Institute of Cincinnati in 2005. Eager to do everything that allowed him to take advantage of his art studies, he worked in various screen printing shops before deciding to open his own.
“I just got on Craigslist and bought used screen printing equipment,” he said. “I did it in my garage and then just built as many customers as possible.”
As soon as Hamblin started bothering with orders, he started thinking about getting help. Realizing that the garage wasn’t the best place to hire employees, he moved the company to its current location.
Inksmith Graphics is a family-owned screen printing company based in Oxford. Photo by Erin Glynn
Matix had opened its own vinyl business separately and mainly produced window stickers. She and Hamblin decided not long after that they would band together.
“Fortunately we are a good match,” said Matix.
“Yeah, we grew up together so we already knew each other’s annoying traits,” said Hamblin.
In fact, the only adjustment Hamblin required was getting used to the increased amount of glitter in the store.
“At the end of the night you come home and change your clothes and look and it’s like you have glitter all over the place. And I guess why didn’t anyone say anything? “Said Hamblin.” You know, I’ve been looking a lot nicer since Crystal got here. “
“So does the shop,” said Matix.
Both Hamblin and Matix are passionate about small businesses in Oxford and eager to help other entrepreneurs.
“I want people who have a passion for print or art,” said Hamblin. “If you want to come in and learn how to do it, I want to be able to show you the process from start to finish so you can see what is being done. There is no wizard behind the curtain. “
“We know so many people between us [the community] is something that is really important to us. We want other people to be successful and we hope that they will also help us, ”said Matix.
Matix, a boy scout troop leader, with two daughters who are boy scouts, brought in a troop to learn more about the printing process.
“We opened the store on a Saturday so they could learn how to screen print. I gave them three different designs so they could see the whole process, how to do it, and they thought it was super cool, ”she said.
The shop helps a number of local fundraisers by making jerseys for local sports teams and making jerseys for events like the Walk for Leukemia and the recent Taylor Metcalf Memorial Hockey tournament.
“I want you to be able to raise money,” said Hamblin. “I mean, I may not have deep pockets, but if I can give them the best possible price with shirts, I’ll be more than ready.”
One of Hamblin’s recent favorite projects was for an English teacher at Talawanda High School whose students were creating a snake design based on Hamlet.
“He wanted to wear it while they read Hamlet and the design turned out so well. I just love to be able to take someone’s artwork and put it somewhere so they can wear it every day, ”said Hamblin.
Matix and Hamblin are currently preparing for their next local event: a table at the Oxford Wine Festival on June 1st.