COVID art receives recognition


Mon Rêve, or My Dream, is what Diamond Bar High School seniors Ariel Tran and Crystal Rustom decided to name the clothing brand they started in June, with the aims to spread creativity and inspire others to pursue their dreams.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have dedicated their brand to raising funds for impoverished families who have been struggling financially.
Tran and Rustom sell original designs on T-shirts and hoodies on their website through the platform Bonfire, which allows users to donate money from sales directly to charities of their choice.
“Bonfire allowed us to create our own designs while still promoting it [the clothing business] as a nonprofit campaign,” Tran said. “Any profit earned goes directly to Direct Relief, which is a reputable charity organization.”
Tran said that the business originated from an idea she had about fundraising to support COVID relief organizations, at which point she and Rustom got together to come up with designs to raise money. So far, they have been able to raise over $800 for COVID relief efforts.
“We hope that our cause can reach a lot of people and that they can help because at the end of the day, we just want to spread positivity,” Rustom said.
The process of creating new products begins with Rustom and Tran drafting a design. Each uses a different application to create designs–Rustom uses Ibis Paint and Tran uses Photoshop Express. When finished, the art is uploaded onto Bonfire to determine its visual appeal on clothing. Once they are satisfied with the final product, they set pricing details and come up with a title, and then the shipping and handling is taken care of by Bonfire.
“We both split the work evenly, we both come up with and draw the designs but it’s mostly Crystal that does the drawings and handles the Instagram,” Tran said. “I handle our official website and our Bonfire website.”
Neither Rustom nor Tran have had any formal instruction in art and were inspired to start designing because of their passion for creating. Tran explained that their designs tend to be minimalistic to ease the printing process, though according to their Instagram account @monreve.official, they also try to create designs that they can see themselves wearing.
“We were brainstorming ideas and I thought it would be a fun idea to have famous icons wear masks to support COVID-19 safety measures,” Rustom said.
Recently, they won the Bonfire award for Best Design supporting COVID relief efforts with their “Maska Lisa” T-shirt, which features a sketch of the Mona Lisa wearing a blue surgical mask.
Other famous works and figures that have made their way onto T-shirts and hoodies include “The Phantom of the Opera,” Jimi Hendrix and the Vermeer painting, “The Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
As both Tran and she are seniors, Rustom said that they have struggled to promote their business, design clothing, and manage their websites while maintaining their grades. However, both she and Tran said that they are able to commit to their work because their motivation comes from their drive to design and to share their creations with friends and family.
“Even if some people don’t buy the shirts, it’s always nice to see our friends and family support us,” Tran said. “It helps when people spread the word so that more people are aware of our campaigns and can support us.”