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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

5 of the Most Inspiring T-Shirt Designers

This post is meant to be a spotlight featuring t-shirt designers we feel have influenced the t-shirt design and printing industry and to hopefully introduce new fans to their artwork. Many of the designers are multi-talented meaning they may not have started with the intention of lighting t-shirt culture on fire, but their design aesthetics translate really well into t-shirt art. They are featured in no specific order

Lots of professional artists would just be happy working but not this guy, he left a corporate artist gig to become a freelance artist only doing the type of designs he appreciates. After having been ignored by the record labels he reached out to merchandising companies and found a back way into the hearts of some of the biggest band and artist names out there.  He’s designed for Deadmau5, Eminem, the Foo Fighters and even brands like Adidas. According to his 2010 interview with Go Media, Geoff gets his inspiration from other graphic artist like Chad Lenjer, and Angryblue as well as 50’s iconic pop art. 

Geoff May via GoMedia Creative Commons License

Jimmy Heartcore, otherwise known as Jimmy Breen has been involved with the designing graphic tees for a very long time. He’s owned several businesses including the now defunct Heartcore Clothing brand. Don’t worry though, he’s still designing phenomenal t-shirt art and illustrations and working with a handful of choice record labels and brands such as Sleeping with Sirens, Young the Giant and the Wu-Tang Clan.

An entrepreneurial spirit spurred Johnny Cupcakes to create the first ever bakery inspired clothing brand. His very original concept was initially launched because of the nickname coworkers had given him, Johnny Cupcakes. The original t-shirt design was a combination of his nickname with a heavy metal edge.  What is most inspiring about this t-shirt designer is his passion to have fun with brand and come up with different ways to insert cupcake imagery within the bounds of popular and iconic references. His brand goes beyond the design to create an entire experience with the way the t-shirts are displayed in his retail store and pop up stores when “on tour.” He has essentially built a Cult of Cupcakes as he shares his experience, passion and entrepreneurial spirit with fans around the world. 

The man of the hour, Mr. Johnny Cupcakes via Rachel Kramer Bussel, Creative Commons License

Obey is much bigger than a clothing company, it’s an ideal that began with Shepard Fairy a designer, artist and idealist from South Carolina. He started his career in art at the Rhode Island School of Design where a sticker intended to make viewers question their views and belief systems turned into the iconic Obey Giant. He turned his passion for underground based art into a business of t-shirts and stickers.  He later co-founded the design studio BLK/MRKT which focused on guerilla marketing for major brands. His body of work expands to pretty epic proportions including multiple Times Magazine cover illustrations, President Barrack Obama’s “Hope” poster as well as numerous design donations to non-profit organizations.  He collaborates with designers Mike Ternosky and Erin Wignall to realize his vision in the clothing aspect of his story. 

Image1330 Obey Andre the Giant billboard. Fortitude Valley, Brisbane via JAM Project, Creative Commons License.

Isaboa is otherwise known as Joe Carr publishes under his brand, Antiquated Press. He’s been working with pen and ink always and finds that his creations translate well to t-shirts. His work can be found on commercial products and illustrations as well as a handful of artist community themed t-shirt sites like Threadless and The Shirt List. His work is highly detailed and imaginative and he likes to create his own prints using intanglio printmaking. He’s been an invaluable contributor to t-shirt culture and furthering the t-shirts as art movement.

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