As soon as I print a shirt and hand it off to a customer it begins a journey. It may end up on the back of a politician in the white house. It may be used to wipe baby spit off of someones arm. It may end up in a landfill in New Mexico. Who knows. I recently printed a shirt whose journey ill never forget.
Anyone who has been to my shop for more than 30 minutes has heard music by an artist named Citizen Cope. I have NO idea what it is about this man’s music that makes me feel at peace, but it does. His soulful, hip hop laced way of telling stories is on HEAVY repeat here at the shop. I mean like….literally every day of the last year and a half has been graced with his guitar plunking. Needless to say when I heard his tour was coming to this area I got really excited. So I began to plan.
I am a designer by nature, so I began to think of potential designs for a shirt I would wear to the concert. My love for all recognizable corporate logos led me to create a play-on-sight of the Coca-Cola logo. Its perfect. Citizen-Cope…Coca-Cola. Anyway within a few hours I had about 5 shirts, very high quality printed to bring them to the show.
One thing occurred to me as I packaged these really…NON AMATEURISH looking shirts into see-through poly-urethane bags: “I hope this dude doesn’t think I’m trying to bootleg his merch and make money at the show”. So I went to his website and emailed the merch account a mock-up of the shirt. I let them know I was coming there and wanted to give a shirt to Clarence (Cope’s real name) and wasn’t trying to land an account or anything. No response. Here’s where it gets good.
So I arrive at the show, with the shirt on. Awesome. I’d say about 5 people asked me where I got the shirt. What a tough question. I couldn’t tell them that I MADE THEM just in case when they realized Cope’s merch table didn’t have any, they run to the promoters and blab. My response was,”I dunno…you better ask him later.” We were right by the front of the stage so my shirt was in full view. I had to have acknowledgment. From stage right enters his traveling band…then Cope.
Immediately he saw the shirt. I don’t mean like after 30 seconds of being on stage…I mean like as soon as he got to the middle. His face lit up as he clasped his hands as if to mime his approval. The crowd was roaring, so I had to mouth,”Hey I made you a few.” and gave the hold on 1 second sign. I reached into the bag and threw the shirts onto the stage. He picked it up and then mimed,’Meet me off stage let me get your number.” Double Awesome.
The show ends and his assistant meets me off the side, gets my info and introduces me to Cope after all his fans are done swarming him. He says “Let talk about this behind the trailer.” So to make a long story short we ended up chatting for about 10 minutes about my shirt, how I designed it, if I’d print for him, shirt quality etc. I KEPT saying how important it was to me that he didn’t think I made the shirt TO get a printing contract I really did it for the love. Which is true.
So I told you that to tell you this. I make A LOT of tshirts every day. Its fun. But there’s NOTHING like creating something that one of your favorite artists respects and is really interested in, enough to pull you away from the crowd and talk with you one on one about. THAT’S why I’m in the business. Weird to think he could be looking at the shirt right now smiling.
Update: They ordered 440 of these shirts. Uggggggaaaawesome.