"Sitting atop a pink, red, and black chair atop a pink, red, and black ottoman in a room bursting with every color and pattern imaginable, Storm Ritter appeared as regal figure. She was dressed to the nines, from her dramatic eyebrows to the shimmery pink paint all over her fingers. Her steel-toed boots were splattered with paint and she wore two pairs of glasses: a fuchsia-tinted pair on her face and a blue pair resting on her head. She seemed to represent a queen for rebels and artists alike. Her red, wide brimmed hat might as well have been a crown and the vibrantly colored chair might as well have been a throne.
Her mission? “I make cool shit and I sell it,” she said."
At Storm Ritter Studio, Storm creates unique clothing items from her original paintings. A recent college graduate and lover of academics, she jumped around from school to school before eventually ending up in Enlightenment Studies at New York University’s Gallatin. She has done costume work for Saturday Night Live as well as freelance work for Vogue. In 2016, she opened Graey Studio, an experiment in individuality and rebellion. In 2017, Storm Ritter Studio became the newest iteration of this experiment.
“It’s a bit of a mess,” said Storm as she showed us around her shop. Mess might be one word for it, but it was a carefully curated mess. To the Manhattan Sideways Team, it represented a kind of beautiful chaos.
Ritter grew up in Florida with “hippie” parents and as such, finds inspiration in the creative energy of the 1960s, among other things. Many of her customers feel this influence and see her work as a “throwback” or homage to the Village of the beatnik and bohemian days. However, Ritter’s designs are much more than recycled inspiration. Because she paints ambidextrously, her work has a sort of whimsical, surreal, and ethereal quality. Her paintings and designs also incorporate a lot of symbolism, concepts that she learned from her mentor, celebrity psychic Frank Andrews. Storm is nothing if not a spiritual person, and she strives to imbue all of her creative work with spiritual energy. In addition to her original creations, she also sources vintage items – including jewels, sunglasses, books and dresses – altering them in one way or another before selling them.
“Everything in this store is touched in some way, if it’s not homemade,” Storm informed us.
Amidst the spectacle of color, she explained her creative process for her unisex clothing. First, she paints her works on the second floor, unofficially her studio. Then, these designs are digitally printed onto the fabrics in Georgia, and afterwards the fabrics are sent to Florida to be cut and manufactured into clothing before arriving in New York. What sets Storm apart from other clothing stores, she says, is the “interactive quality” of her products, not only because they require a combination of painting and textile manufacturing, but because customers can also commission works.
Of course, she could not do it all without the help of her lovely feline sidekick. A lover of animals, Storm has five cats. “One of them has three legs,” she told us, proudly, “he fought a coyote. He’s a veteran.” As she continued to share her story, a beautiful gray cat in a green dress paraded across the floor. “That’s Velvet,” said Storm, “she’s a little sass factory.
Sitting in the perfectly organized chaos of Storm Ritter’s shop, a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo raged on in the background. Colors and vibrant patterns and images surrounded us. “I just wanted to create a job where I could paint and be myself,” said Storm."
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