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.
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 started 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.
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
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!
Ahoy, ye scurvy sea dogs! 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. We’re going to plunge 20,000 leagues into the sea and talk about the thought and work that went into this band apparel design.
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 provided 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 a 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 father who has 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 own 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!
I made this parody shirt design for the Tennessee based country music singer Christopher Sprankle. When Chris moved to Lexington, KY, his manager contacted me for a two color shirt art. She sent me a favorite photo of Chris’s dog Grizzly, since he is popular with Chris’s rabid Instagram followers. Then she sent a photo of a rusty can of Grizzly brand smokeless tobacco to incorporate.
First of all, I mocked up the word “Sprankle” in place of the Grizzly logo. Since the logo is a hand drawn design, rather than a commercial font, I had to draw up the grunge text manually. After that, I simplified the photo of Grizzly in Photoshop into a black and white image, then I further contrasted it in Adobe Illustrator to finish the effect.
Topping off the parody shirt design
Photo of Grizzly the dog used for the parody shirt design.
Because I had a few more elements left to work with, I made a few suggestions. The client loved every one of my ideas, so we ran with them. First, I reworded “Long Cut Wintergreen” to Sprankle’s hometown Franklin, TN. I also improvised “American Country Music” instead of “American Snuff Co”.
Finally, I wanted to use “Est. 1903” from the original oval text, so I decided to change it to to Sprankle’s birth year of 1994. I added in some grunge around the edges since the design needed a weathered feel. In the end, Sprankle’s fans loved it, so I guess you could call it a smash hit.
See the photo I started with on the right, then follow Chris’s music on Instagram here.