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Custom T-shirt shop’s designs lean toward the esoteric

  • A T-shirt sold at a new business called Esoteric Empyre in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • From left, Andrew Kuppermann,Tyler Craig, and Christopher Harman work on the website for their new business, Esoteric Empyre in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS



@kate_ashworth
Sunday, September 24, 2017

EASTHAMPTON — Using math he learned from working in construction, Christopher Harman took a pencil to paper, creating entrancing geometric patterns.

His art led the 31-year-old to a new business venture: designing custom T-shirts.

When Andrew Kuppermann met Harman and caught wind of the idea, he invested in it.

They opened Esoteric Empyre in June at 26 Cottage St.

Using an Epson direct-to-garment printer, priced at about $15,000, Harman can print an original deign in less than a minute.

The custom appeal shop allows customers to bring in a design of their own or work with a graphic designer to come up with something.

The prices range from $25 to $30 per shirt, which can go up depending on the complexity of the design and involvement with the graphic designer. They can also design logos for businesses.

But there’s a little more to the shop than T-shirts.

Harman started out in the construction industry and has run Concept 1 Construction for the past six years. He’s worked on residential construction and has built furniture such as tables and shelves.

He grew a passion for ancient knowledge and became fascinated by books such as “Secret Teachings of All Ages,” by Manly P. Hall, “Fingerprints of the Gods,” by Graham Hancock, and the Bible.

Harman said he’s a “seeker,” questioning some of the humans’ biggest mysteries: What is life? Where did we come from?

By looking into ancient wisdom and spirituality, Harman said the one thing they all have in common is the geometry — some known as sacred geometry, which includes the golden ratio.

The golden ratio is a geometrical spiral pattern seen throughout nature, including in the spiral nautilus shell, eye of a sunflower, Romanesco cauliflower and in human DNA.

One day Harman grabbed a pencil and paper, and started drawing geometric shapes and sequences, creating captivating and almost hypnotic geometric patterns.

“When you look at it, there’s something about it,” Harman said about the patterns. “You may not know what it is, but there’s something about it.”

The name “Estoreic Empyre” popped into his head.

“Esoteric empyre, esoteric empyre,” Harman said, recalling his thoughts.

He created the Facebook page “Esoteric Empyre” where Harman would share wisdom quotes, sometimes paired with a geometric graphic he designed. Within a month, the page had thousands of followers.

“Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth. Buddha,” one post read. Another said “it is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed.”

As he got into drawing and graphic design, he started looking into direct-to-garment printing.

Harman met Kuppermann, 58, around May when he inquired about selling furniture at a flea market Kuppermann was setting up in Wilbraham.

Kuppermann, former assistant vice president for MassMutual Financial Group, invested in Harman’s idea to make custom T-shirts. They found a spot for a shop in Easthampton and opened in time for Cultural Chaos on June 10.

Amazed by Harman’s talent, Kuppermann said something is sending the images to Harman.

“I think it’s the universe, but I’m not sure,” Kuppermann said.

At the shop on Tuesday, graphic designer Tyler Craig worked on the shop’s website 

When asked about job titles, Harman said he considers himself as the creator of Esoteric Empyre and sees working with Craig and Kuppermann as a “partnership.”

The shops is filled with shirts with geometric designs, with wood displays Harman built. 

And they hope to grow. Possibly adding a laser woodcutting feature to their business to create custom jewelry and maybe even taking their business on the road.

“When you accept that there are things we don’t understand,” Kuppermann said, “you’ll start to understand Esoteric Empyre.”

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.