If you believe Shehara ‘Bludgy’ De Silva and Arrvinda ‘Sala’ Salwatura, Bludge is not just a range of T-shirts, it’s a movement. “Bludge stands for people who live life doing what they love and loving what they do,” says Sala. “It’s for DJ’s, artists, dancers, architects, musicians, travellers, photographers, designers, cupcake makers and even adventure sports lovers who are leaving the mind numbing nine to five to embrace their own creativity and enjoying life on an island. And we see this happening here and all over the world – Bludging is what we like to call it and Bludge T-shirts are dedicated to free spirits all over the world!”
The name ‘Bludge’ itself is derived from a piece of Australian slang. When you call someone a ‘Bludger; you’re saying they don’t do anything much at all. Bludgy, for one, seems happy to take it as a compliment. “Our designs are inspired by island life and capture a side of Sri Lanka that people who live in Sri Lanka tend to forget. We want to bring out the islander in everyone,” she says.
The duo frequently share their inspirations on their ‘blodge’ blog. Their newest design, LunaTrip, was inspired by “the dark side and our inspiration comes from moonlit sky covered in bats to all the horror movies we love to watch,” says Bludgy, adding, “Each day the Bludge has given us inspiration. Each t- shirt has a story and a meaning behind it.”
It’s clear from the way they talk about it that nothing is more personal than work for Bludgy and Sala. In fact, deciding to open Bludge has been incredibly liberating for them both – they found work was getting in the way of what mattered to them. “We love to travel and we loved spending time with friends listening to music and creating awesome designs but work was always getting in the way so we decided to quit and start our own thing,” says Bludgy who abandoned the rat race first. (Bludgy had been working at Leo Burnett post her return from Australia with a diploma in design under her belt and Sala joined advertising right after he left school, working at reputed firms like Bates Asia, JWT and Triad.) Now Bludgy creates the t-shirts themselves and Sala handles the marketing and sales side of things.
They launched their website www.thebludge.com with a line of five limited edition Bludge designs in August 2011. They’re convinced that the ideal wardrobe is built around t-shirts. Launching their own label gave Sala and Bludgy the perfect excuse, though they don’t really seem to need one, to wear t-shirts everywhere they went - even to the most formal of occasions. “Style is personal,” argues Sala, “and you should not change who you are depending on the occasion or place you’re going to.”
They’ve been able to keep the t-shirts coming in part because of all the support they’ve received. “Our friends have always been a huge strength, they have modelled, taken photographs, made entire card board box lounges and painted them, stayed up nights, worn our tees, played major gigs and given us space for Bludge lounges…” It’s a long list and Bludgy and Sala are very grateful.
They’ll tell you it’s helped them sustain their commitment to full time Bludging. They do up to three new designs a month and there are 19 limited edition designs on sale. Each design has only around five to six tees available. The limited numbers haven’t always gone down well with people who don’t always get the concept. “They don’t get it when we say we never ever re-print a design, not even for ourselves,” says Sala. Apparently, the only way to avoid the disappointment is to be the first in line for a new design.
Though Bludging keeps them busy, they do take on the occasional project – most recently they worked on the communications campaign for Colombo Art Biennale.
This year will be a year of diversification for their fledgling company. They’re particularly excited about BludgeLounge events, where they’re creating a space for talented young people to hang out and inspire each other. “The brand aims to inspire and help launch a new creative wave throughout Sri Lanka,” says Sala. “‘Quit the rat race and join the ‘Bludgefest’ is our motto.”
Find them on www.facebook.com/thebludge