Apparel Design

Some of my all time favorite projects fall in the Apparel Design category. In my opinion, nothing beats art that is both fashionable and functional. I love going out and seeing others in public wear my T-shirt designs.

Do you play in an independent band or own your own record label? You need affordable merch design, including shirts. If your company promotes events, then you are going to need shirts or buttons to promote them. Perhaps your business needs uniforms and hats with your logo on them for your employees. Want something more stylish? Why not a scarf or bandana then? Put my creativity and skill to work for you.

Contact me for your own apparel design

Scroll down in order to see samples of my apparel design work below. Then contact me to get started. I’m ready to work on your shirt or or other clothing graphic design project!

Kentucky shirt design detail for Louisville Bluegrass bandMisty Mountain String Band

Louisville, KY

I created this Kentucky shirt design for The Misty Mountain String Band, who are long time clients and friends of mine. They are the hardest working bluegrass and roots music quartet in America. I may be biased in this assumption, though. The Louisville foursome showcase traditional Kentucky instrumental and vocal sounds. Four voices create soaring harmonies over banjo, mandolin, stand up bass, and six stringed acoustic guitar. Their distinct blend of folk and old time music styles creates a crowd pleasing live show.

As with their previous records, the group called upon their fanbase to help crowd fund their 2018 LP “Kentucky Bound”. The Kickstarter online fundraiser service was a perfect platform to do that. Since a new record always calls for new merchandise, they needed a distinctly Kentucky shirt design as a reward for their donors.

Kentucky shirt design story – choosing the right images

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Their stand up bassist came to me with a concept that was based on a vintage postcard designed to attract tourists to the Bluegrass State. Like the retro postcard, the shirt would feature a variety of Kentucky landmarks and attractions. We worked together to flesh out a variety of examples. Finally, we all settled on an iconic group of eleven notable ones. We decided that the shirt’s title letters should feature the following inside:

First, I started by hunting down the most appropriate royalty free images that I could find for each of the attractions. I then assembled the lettering for the main title from a tall sans serif font. After outlining the text, I reshaped each letter to make them stand out like those on the original design. Using the Adobe Illustrator application, I stroked the letters with thick black strokes and added a thinner white stroke inside. Then manipulated the text. I added both warp and 3D effects in order to mimic the text style featured on the original postcard.

Main title and photo retouching for Kentucky shirt design

Next, I cropped each of the photos so that they would fit exactly inside of the letters. As with the original design, some of the items also needed to take up the space of two letters. Peabody’s coal shovel was so enormous that it warranted taking up the “B” and “O” to get the full length effect. The patterns on the monarch butterfly’s beautiful wings deserved the extra space provided inside the letters “N” and “D”.

After I laid out and cropped the images, I color corrected each of them. I did this adjusting their brightness and saturation factors so that each picture would balance the others out. Last of all, I blended some filtered copies together with the original photos in order to give them a painterly feel. I was ready at last to add the finishing touches.

Finishing touches on the Kentucky shirt design

Screen printed Kentucky shirt design for Bluegrass band

The finished product, hot off the presses! Mammoth Print Shop did a great job.

In front of the faded and pale sunset background, I then set the band’s name. I employed a mix of italicized tall sans serif and script fonts. A majestic cardinal, which is the Kentucky state bird, rests its sturdy talons on the letter “I”. The red bird looks straight ahead to a bright future for our commonwealth. The goldenrod is the official state flower of Kentucky. The yellow flower also appears floating in the bottom left corner of the postcard. You might even choose to say that it appears as a garnish to balance all of the elements out.

Finally, I placed an image of the historic Bill Monroe Homeplace in the bottom right corner of the postcard. This is a call back that is reminiscent of the Kentucky state capitol building featured in the original postcard. As with the main title, I blended the original photograph with a copy of it that I stylized with a painterly dry brush Photoshop filter.

I added an inside stroke to the rectangle shape in order to complete the postcard feel. To top off the shirt design’s composition, I later added a grunge texture overlay. This gives the whole piece a feel that looks both worn and weathered. A few minor revisions later, and we had a finished product.

Kentucky shirt design – fan reception

The design was roundly praised. When the teaser images were posted on the band’s social media channels, fans remarked that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new MMSB swag. That being said, this shirt graphic design turned out to be one of my favorite projects to date. The colorful postcard image really pops off of the mid grey colored shirt. It is always a pleasure to work together with The Misty Mountain String Band.

Contact me for your own Kentucky shirt design

Are you part of a Bluegrass band, a record label, or a small business which is based in Kentucky? Does your group need an original shirt design that pays tribute to your old Kentucky home? You can put full confidence in me to get the job done. Contact me today!

Filed Under: Apparel Design

Band shirt graphic design for The Rough CustomersThe Rough Customers

Lexington, KY

My friends in Lexington’s favorite (only) ska band The Rough Customers approached me for a new band shirt graphic design. They requested a parody of the famous Ale-8-One soft drink logo. Ale-8-One (“A Late One”) bottles their ginger based soda near here in Winchester, KY. Since it is a symbol of Kentucky culture, the band chose it to represent them at both local shows and tour dates. Also, the band had just added a new singer, so new merchandise would be a great way to celebrate the new era of the band.

Band shirt graphic design story

Many of my projects involve brainstorming ideas with clients. However, we did not need much back and forth discussion for this shirt design. The band simply requested a parody logo replacing the product name with their own. The design would go on a kelly green shirt, reminiscent of the brand’s bottles. I suggested replacing the stars in the original design with trumpets, in order to give it a subtle nod to the band’s genre.

Rough Customers band shirt design on display at their merch table.

The new shirt debuting on the band’s merch table.

I began the design by tracing the outline of the soft drink’s signature red and white badge. The brand name actually uses a hand drawn mark, instead of a conventional font. As such, I studied the original. I wondered what other characters would look like if they were written in this style. Then, I began working in Adobe Illustrator. I started with the conventional sans serif font Myriad Pro, spelling out each letter. After that, I outlined them, and warped them using envelope filters, as well as the pen tool. I spent the bulk of my time getting the sizes and weights of each new character just right in order to mimic the original logo’s feel. Finally, I substituted the aforementioned trumpets in place of the original’s stars.

The end result? The Rough Customers‘ fans loved donning the bright green, red, and white shirts while skanking at the band’s shows.

Contact me for your band shirt graphic design

Do you play ska, punk, metal, rock, or even easy listening? I’ve got you covered. I love designing shirts for bands and music artists. Contact me today to get started.

Filed Under: Apparel Design

Sempervivi "Always Alive" T-shirt designSempervivi

Lexington, KY

Just as with the T-shirt design for my previous band Analog Apostles, the first Sempervivi shirt design has been a big seller out of the gate. Releasing and promoting an album is a lot of work, but I never slack off when it comes to the accompanying merch. Therefore, I put in some serious time on the minutia of this apparel project. Since I was spending my own money to print these, and I wanted fans to actually buy them, every detail counted.

Lexington, KY Band T-Shirt Design Story

Sempervivi T-Shirt Design, modeled by Jeremiah Duncan of Lexington, Kentucky

My buddy Jeremiah modeling the design.

Shirt art was not originally in the plans or budget after finishing the record. However, my wife liked the idea and encouraged me to splurge, within reason. I felt like there were enough black and heather grey band shirts in the world. I needed my shirt art to stand out. My music is, generally speaking, positive and upbeat, so bright yellow seemed like a good choice. You can’t go wrong pairing it with red ink. The primary colors pop sitting on the merch table! Keeping the art at one ink color offset the cost of springing for super soft, vintage tees.

I wanted to go for a sports feel with the layout, similar to designs by Roots of Fight. The arching “SEMPERVIVI”, as well as “LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY” are set in the tall title font Moonshiner. I mixed it with the bold, trendy script Thirsty, which spells “Always Alive”. Since this is a promotional item tying in with the new record, I reused some hand drawn elements from the CD art. Specifically, I made the succulent the focal point of the art. The much smaller cicada at the bottom punctuates the composition. Finally, I used a grunge brush to create a distressed feel throughout the artwork.

Music T-Shirt Design for Bands in Kentucky

If you have a band or other music project, I’ve got your hookup for apparel design. I will work with you on a budget friendly design that will still stand out. Contact me to get started.

Filed Under: Apparel Design

Analog Apostles "Diver" Band Shirt DesignAnalog Apostles

Lexington, KY

Ahoy, mateys! This band shirt design for my former rock band Analog Apostles is one of my favorites. I created this two color screen printed art before we loaded up our van and left for our Summer 2014 tour of the USA. These eery shirts were instantly hot sellers. Several years after they were pressed, I still see them around town here in Lexington on occasion. Let’s plunge 20,000 leagues into the sea and talk about the thought and work that went into this band apparel design.

Analog Apostle Band Shirt modeled by a cool guy in Kentucky.

I’m not sure what the world’s coolest guy Fred is doing here, but the shirt looks good on him.

Band Shirt Design – limited inks for apparel printing on a budget

Everybody loves to wear a good black band shirt. I know I do, at least. Seriously, I have probably filled half of my t-shirt drawer with black apparel. Mostly for my clients’ budgetary reasons, my shirt designs usually feature only one or two screen printed ink colors. Also, black is the most popular shirt color. Many shirt printing businesses offer special discounts on them. I can still make a big impact, even though I am not drawing from a large color palette.

This design definitely got a lot of bang for our indie band’s very limited bucks! I chose a color combination that consisted of cool turquoise blue and a light green shade. They come together to create an aura that is both mysterious and soothing. This makes the two distinctly bright ink colors really stand out against the stark black background of the shirt itself.

Deep sea themed band shirt design for Kentucky indie rock group

The chilling deep sea diver bust is up front wearing a vintage style diving helmet. I feel that this element adds to the mystery of the overall design. Who or what could be lurking behind the mask? The unknown figure in the foreground makes for an unsettling and potentially dangerous focal point. How spooky is that?

It turns out that the uncanny valley has a body of water running through it. A pattern of waves comes together in order to create the green background behind the diver. I actually took the cool water shapes from a photograph of the ocean. I simplified the aquatic image down to just two colors using Adobe Photoshop. This way, it would work on the screen printed art. Then, I finished cleaning it up for the vector art application using the Adobe Illustrator application. This way, I removed the shadows so that it would only display the highlights in green.

Diving into band shirt design – fonts and styles

Finally, I added the band’s name at the top of the design in a tall serif style type. Because of the deep sea theme, I used a vintage font that I felt could easily be found on a pirate ship flag. Perhaps one might even find it emblazoned on a buried treasure map. In fact, it is the very same font that has been used by Major League Baseball team the Pittsburgh Pirates in the past, MLB Tuscan.

I began by first setting the word “ANALOG” at the top in the turquoise hue. Then, I continued by reversing out the word “APOSTLES” so that it would read in black over the green water background. Therefore, it makes the best use possible of the negative space of the shirt itself. It creates the illusion of a three color design. This way, it still remains legible as part of the name of the band, while adding some depth to the overall design. Do you get the joke that I was making there? Depth? Water? I am a dad with a young son, so silly puns are my forte’.

You need a professional band shirt design of your own

Way back in 1999, I was a student at Murray State University studying Art, with an emphasis on Graphic Design. During that time, I started up my own freelance graphic design business right from my dorm room. I have been playing the guitar and singing in independent bands all around Kentucky since 1997. Over the years, I have combined my two passions many times. I have made designing music merchandise for bands one of my specialties. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Networking with other musicians has taught me a lot about this print graphic design genre. This art was a callback to our most recent independent EP “The Other Side of the Sea”, which I also designed the layout for. Some players prefer more literal, music based interpretations in their merch designs instead.

Every band or artist needs to sell physical merchandise at their shows. If you want to successfully grow your fanbase, you must have some quality merch items on your table. Buttons, stickers, CDs, refrigerator magnets, and can koozies are great ideas. One of the most effective ways for music fans to support their favorite local artists is wearing their shirts wherever they go. An eye catching apparel design can start up conversations with both friends and strangers alike. Subsequently, this investment would make a great way to help spread the word about your own brand.

Contact me for your band shirt design

Let’s work together to find your perfect fit.  Contact me today if your indie band or record label needs a rad shirt design of your very own!

Filed Under: Apparel Design