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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 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 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
Parody shirt design for Lexington, KY Country Music Singer Christopher Sprankle

Christopher Sprankle

Christopher Sprankle koozie design

Sprankle also used the design on a drink coozie.

Franklin, TN

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.

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.

Contact me for your parody shirt design

Whether you are a country musician or a Christian bookstore, parody shirt designs can be big sellers. Contact me today for the right fit.
Filed Under: Apparel Design

"Girls Who Code" retro shirt design front and backGirls Who Code

Murray, KY

I created this retro shirt design for a Murray, Kentucky based programming club. Since the organizer loved my shirt design for her previous group “Women in Computing“, she reached out to me once again. Since she asked for housewives from vintage ads on pink shirts, that design was decidedly more “girly”. This time around, she wanted something less feminine, since there were also males helping with her new group “Girls Who Code”. She still wanted to continue our previous kitsch art theme, while keeping the “nerd” vibe going. Her only other requirements were for the design to be two ink colors screen printed on navy shirts.  I was happy to comply. I excel at this format because many of my apparel clients stick with only one or two colors. My specs were on paper, so I got to work right away.

Retro shirt design empowers females in technology fields

First, I searched through my vast stock photography catalog. I quickly found a retro photograph of a wind-up robot that would obviously be a perfect fit. The robot’s colors were then simplified down to only cyan blue. Next, I overlaid it partially on both the white strips and the negative space. Thus, I added contrast. I then laid out the text in mixed “Chicago” and “MT Script” fonts to add to the fun. I tilted both the robot and text section at opposite angles, so I could give the art a little more movement. Therefore, it really jumps out at the viewer instead of a more conventional design. Finally, no coding related design would be complete without incorporating some ones and zeros. Thus, I had to top it off with a few.

Contact me for your own retro shirt design

If you’re in a technology club looking for a shirt design that stands out, then contact me today!
Filed Under: Apparel Design

Murray State University "Women in Computing" kitsch shirt designMurray State University

Murray, KY

The head of the Women in Computing club at my college alma mater MSU contactacted me for a kitsch shirt design. Women in Computing is a club that encourages female students to pursue programming and other technology fields of study and work. The client encouraged me to turn up the kitsch factor and use a vintage style illustration. She wanted me to mix all of the elements in a feminine color combination.

Kitsch shirt design story – retro apparel graphic

First, I chose to use a royalty free stock image to base the whole composition around. It was a retro black and white image of a 1950s style housewife. Originally, the stock art showed her smiling and holding up a sign which advertised a cleaning product. I started by removing much of the lady herself, so as to simplify her down to just her hands and face. I also removed the sign by using the Adobe Illustrator program. Then, I replaced it with a tablet device which displays the requisite 0nes and zeros to signal a technology based club.

I mixed the two fabulous retro fonts together on the pink shirt in order to help convey the “wink and nudge” feel. The focal point large paintbrush font appears, roaring “WOMEN” in dull red! I chose a cute, fine script to set both of the phrases “murray state university” and “in computing”. I reversed that text out of two dull red swaths at both the top and bottom. Finally, the kitschy housewife pops up at the bottom flashing her smile to complete the piece.

Contact me for your kitsch shirt design

Do you have a great idea for a retro shirt to promote your school club or maybe your local business? Contact me today and let’s get it ready to print!

Filed Under: Apparel Design