The Artists Behind Your Favorite Band Tees: From Concepts to Cotton-Polyester
By Erin Christie
When browsing the shelves hoping to find the perfect piece that can express your love for something that means a lot to you, or expresses your personal style and individual taste, you may tend to gravitate toward t-shirts with logos and colorful designs. Many of these tees depict images or lyrics associated with your favorite bands and artists. Oftentimes, when you have the amazing opportunity to see one of your favorite bands or artists perform in a live gig you might want to buy some merchandise to remember this night; whether that be a shirt that displays all of the tour dates on the back or a decked out poster with insanely cool graphics. These pieces are handled by talented graphic designers and artists, each meticulously planning and creating the designs to represent the acts, but also to represent fans specifically as they will be the ones wearing the name and spreading the brand. However, when buying these shirts, do we as music-lovers ever think about the artists who contribute to the design and help us with our expression of that love?
Like any other design process, creating the perfect graphic takes a great deal of time, effort, and planning. This is to ensure that not only the band whose image is being used is pleased, but also the fans are pleased. This is what creates a strong consumer and band connection.
Rob Dobi is a Connecticut-based illustrator whose main focus is creating “bold images that anyone can understand on tight deadlines,” per his description. In approaching his design process, Dobi notes that he tends to consider the client and their audience prominently, leading to different choices concerning style, colors, and personas. Some of the bands he has created merchandise for include Pearl Jam, Weezer, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Blink- 182, Green Day, and much more. His work contributes to a huge part of the scene.
Graphic artist who specializes in simplistic yet intricate shirts, posters, album art, and logo graphics for bands, never constricting himself to only one are of expertise. Although, in his acceptance for versatility, Rike often tends to stick with “what he’s good at,” he says. He has a huge passion for attention to detail when it comes to tweaking letters around and slightly shifting and maneuvering pieces of a graphics to perfect it exactly as he has imagined. “Creating your favorite t-shirt,” he notes, “that’s my business- a graphic that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy to look at,” showing dedication to the consumers, i.e the fans who will cherish these designs. Rike has worked with and designed for artists such as Sex Pistols, Morrissey, The Killers, Coldplay, Muse, and countless more, having contributed to hundreds of fans’ ability to represent their favorite artists whilst out and about.
A fellow graphic artist and band merchandise designer from Columbus, OH, had a strong drive toward creating pieces that fans and artists could fully appreciate and feel proud to be a part of. To him, a band tee is so much more than a simple shirt, it represents the artist’s vision and the fan’s dedication to such a vision, represented through style and fashion. When Galloway goes about creating a piece of merchandise, he first considers the client: merchandise represents the music that a band puts out directly AND indirectly. In that sense, quality - no matter how hard-core or not - is incredibly important to appeal to supporters. Merchandise is a key component in a band, sustaining relevancy and helping to grow their loyal fan-base. Merchandise becomes a vital part of the process of succeeding in the music industry, which is why Galloway puts so much pride into his work and loves what he does by designing and helping bands thrive and connect with their audience.
Music, and the merchandise that represents it, has the power to unite people, and that force is exemplified when we have physical reminders of the way particular artists and bands that we love make us feel. When it comes to band merchandise, whether we go to concerts or window-shop, it closes the gap between the artist and the audience. It allows fans to support the artists they follow, and for the artists to see that they are appreciated by their fans. Band-tees are much more than a simple piece of fabric with a logo on them; they, serve as a statement for your love of music and support to that craft, which is a beautiful thing.