Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sweet Baby Jesus! Check Out The F***ing T-Shirt!

Pinned Image

See, this is the kind of thing I was talking about last night. That's the kind of copy I wish I could use on my Etsy stuff. Except, you know, I want to sell it. But it would be awesome. 

OK, here's my very slightly sought after post on the process of one of my t-shirt designs, from the original photo that served as the inspiration to the finished product. Currently I'm working on a series of very minimalist portraits of early punk musicians, primarily the ones from the New York scene in the mid-70s, though obviously Joe Strummer was British. The original one of these was a drawing I did many years ago of Jules Shear, from an article or maybe even an ad in Spin magazine. Jules isn't  particularly punk, I know, but it was a good drawing.

 I don't have any photos of the actual embroidery in progress, because frankly I don't find that particularly interesting. If you dig that sort of thing you can look for some of the billions of embroidery tutorials that are on the internet.

So here's the photo of Joe Strummer that's the basis for my design. I found it on Pinterest, and I liked the effect of the contrast between the smoke and the curls in his hair, though I knew I wouldn't have the smoke in my final design. 

I did some sketches and came up with this one that I didn't mind too much. Still liking the curls. 

I wanted to refine the design even further, to make it as minimalist as possible while still keeping it representative and fairly recognizable.  If I may be self-indulgently arty, (and I may, otherwise why have a damn blog?) currently I'm into making things as linear and gestural as possible. How little can I actually put down on paper and still retain the essence of whatever it is I'm drawing? (It's awful, isn't it? Soon I'll be going on about "mark-making". Someone please kill me if that happens.)

I decided to go with the design above, and then all I had to do was the embroidery, which is the fun and easy part. It's getting easier and faster all the time, which is good from a production standpoint, and makes it more relaxing and therapeutic from a mental health one. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.

Here's a closeup. I went with red and black, because the Clash, you know? Also I had a black t-shirt. All these designs are done in stem stitch, because it's nice and linear and lets me keep some of the sketch-like quality I want. I'm getting a lot better at it, too. I hardly ever have to rip anything out anymore, and if I do, it's usually because of a mistake in the design and not the quality of the stitches. 

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. In fact, I won't mind if nobody buys this, because I'll happily wear it myself, though seriously, check out the fucking t-shirt!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Once, I Made a Good Choice

It's always refreshing (and novel) to realize that something you did in the past turned out to be a good idea. God knows it doesn't happen very often. But I've been editing photos from a batch of embroidered t-shirts I've been working on, and I'm finding it profoundly fucking tedious. Now I'm having the chance to be very grateful that I never decided to go into graphic design, as I've considered at several points in the past, usually when I was feeling conflicted and unsure about my abilities and inspiration. I can see that I'd be driven absolutely ship rat nuts if I had to spend my life "staring every morning at a hundred nearly identical photographs of moodily lit tubes of toothpaste", to quote Douglas Adams.

I still have to spend a certain amount of time staring at nearly identical photographs of moodily lit t-shirts and pieces of jewelry, but since I'm the one taking them, there are usually only a dozen or so, and I don't have to do it every day. Then there's the copy writing, which is whole different kettle of suck, and always leaves me feeling stupid and slightly unclean, though I'm finding it's getting easier. I'm learning to set aside my dignity and self-respect and compunctions, and just write some nonsensical blather so I can post the shit. If I could get away with labeling everything "Oh just buy it already, you know it's awesome", believe me, I would. (And I'm thinking that should be my tagline when I go global. Actually, I have gone global; my first sale was to someone in France, and I also had a sale to Australia.)

The actual making of stuff is the fun part, naturally, not at all like work. Embroidering or putting together something while listening to music or audiobooks and drinking tea, and then later getting real live money for what I've made is still pretty miraculous to me. Not a lot of money, but I've sold several things this month. I really dig the series of minimalist punk portraits I've been working on lately. Who knows if anybody else will like them, but I'm enjoying doing them. Above are the Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone shirts I've got completed. I've also finished a Richard Hell one for myself, though I don't know if I'll make one of those for general consumption, I'm not sure how popular it'd be. Yeah, in comparison to the unbounded popularity of everything else I've been making. (Well, the Mark Twain bacon embroidery actually was pretty popular. Gotta get another one made soonest.) It would be nice if these really did take off, because I have several other ideas for the designs. I think they'd be awesome on onesies, for a start.

Like this guy was. He's the one who went to France. (If I think about that too much it's mind-boggling.) I'm really just putting him up here to show off the sheer technical perfection of the french knot that makes his eye. I realize no one but me cares, but that is a textbook fucking example of a french knot and I think it should be noted. So it is.