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Archive for the ‘horn tootin'’ Category

Hot off the press & touring the country: t-shirts for Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans

February 13th, 2011

I’ve written about and posted videos of singer/songwriter Jim Bryson here before, and also about him playing with The Weakerthans here too… so obviously I’m a fan. You can imagine how excited I was when Jim approached me to do a couple of t-shirt designs for his cross-Canada tour with The Weakerthans, promoting their Falcon Lake Incident album.

Jim and his Winnipeg buddies recorded the album at a cottage on Falcon Lake in Manitoba, and named the album after a 1967 UFO sighting in the area. It was a secluded spot where they were visited by deer on a regular basis.

I submitted four initial concepts, and we ran with two…

1) The Camp design — I did the below deer illustration in Corel Painter, then added in all the other elements (trees, RCMP report of the UFO sighting and text) in Photoshop; the tilted square on the top right is a zoomed-in shot.

Props to my husband — as a reference for the first design, John let me use this image of a deer he’d recently taken when we were at Parc Omega:

2) The Chesspiece design — My original mock up had a couple of variations of this very rough concept, which I did in Adobe Illustrator:

Jim came over to work on the designs and we boiled them down to the essentials. For the Camp design, we removed the RCMP report, played with text placement, and decided to print it on a Heather Lake Blue polycotton tee with a darker blue ink — something like this:

The Chesspiece design got its name from how we cropped the deer, plus I went back and redrew the silhouette to be a little more finessed and detailed; the final graphic was printed in white ink on black tees and hoodies:

I don’t have actual pictures of the shirts, because they were printed and shipped just in time to make it to the first tour date in Barrie, Ontario… I’m itching to see them in person. I bumped into Jim’s partner at a wedding yesterday, and she told me that apparently the first round of women’s tees already sold out.

The tour just finished its first leg through Ontario and Quebec, but they’re picking back up at the end of the month in BC and the prairies, with a final show — where else? — in Falcon Lake. If you’re able to catch a show, please say hullo to the merch for me :)

horn tootin', music

To OFF I go…

August 12th, 2010

This weekend is the Ottawa Folk Festival, and I’m a little more excited about it than in past years… that’s because I’ve been working fiendishly on the event’s t-shirt and program design! I can’t wait to see all the volunteers and staff wearing the duds (sneak peek here, courtesy of Ming Wu :) — plus there’ll also be merch tees being sold.

This is the final t-shirt design:

I’ve shown it on a turquoise background because that’s what the women’s tees will look like (the unisex tees will be heather grey, and the kids’ tees will be red).

They asked me to come up with a design that was clearly music-based, funky, community- and nature-oriented, and not the typical banjo or guitar imagery… so I came up with this Seussian fellow and his critter bandmates.

Behind the scenes, my process went a little like this…

After a few sketches on paper, I did up a rough illustration in Corel Painter (as always, on my trusty Cintiq):

I brought the graphic into Adobe Illustrator, did a “Live Trace”, then cleaned things up a little; that’s what I presented for my first round of mock ups. For the next round, I went back to do a more complete drawing, again in Painter:

And again, I brought it into Illustrator to vectorize and clean it up, plus I added the text. Apparently, the woodpecker on the keys was a big hit at the OFF office :)

As for the program, I was able to use a lot of different elements from the t-shirt illustration throughout. Here’s the cover and a sample two-page spread looks like:

It’s been tons of fun to work on (though admittedly hectic!) — and I am so grateful to have been asked to do it.

Here’s a funny thing: I started up m chen wears a couple of years ago because I wanted to do more illustration. And as a direct result of doing these crazy t-shirts, I have been getting more creative work in my graphic design day-job. I never knew that my side gig would end up feeding my main gig! This particular project came about because one of the OFF staff had seen my shirts.

Just more proof that if there’s something you really love to do, then do it — and it might just grow into something bigger.

horn tootin', m chen wears, music , , , , ,

Hart of iron

July 28th, 2010

Last Sunday, my buddy Hart completed his first-ever Iron Man race. Cheering him on all the way were 40+ of his closest friends and family (a.k.a. The Red Army) dressed in matching t-shirts that I had the honour of designing.

I know Hart through my wonderful friend and his superstar sister Liz, who hired me to do this project — one of the most fun and rewarding jobs I’ve ever done. This is what I came up with:

If you’re wondering about the bare feet, it’s something Hart’s known for… though he did wear footwear for the event. Here are a few photos of his day, taken by his stepdad, Rod MacIvor:

I can’t possibly comprehend what must go into preparing for an event like this — what makes someone even want to undertake it, what sacrifices go into training, how surreal and grueling the day of must be, and how proud one must feel after having done it. Hart did a wonderful job writing about part of his journey here, but as a spectator-from-afar, all I can do is be in awe. I mean 16 hours in a row of anything is nuts, right?

As for the Red Army, here’s a shot of part of the team (apparently, this is only half the group!):

Thanks, Rod, for sharing your photos and generosity.

Thanks, Liz, for bringing me onboard; I only wish I could’ve been there and suited up with y’all.

Thanks, Hart, for being a huge inspiration… and for having fun eyebrows to draw :)


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