Danger's Art Pad

Danger's Art Pad

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Monster Shirt Revival

  So as some of you may know, modern graphics-based t-shirts were heavily influenced by the old 50's hot rodding tradition of airbrushed "monster shirts", pioneered and established famously by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and Stanley Mouse at car shows on the west and east coasts, respectively. Well, being something of a purist in my enthusiasm and pursuit of ginchy old art forms and culture, I got an airbrush (it's even a Paasche, just like Big Daddy used to use!) and a compressor some time around my freshman year in college, and tried my hand at it. Similarly to my earliest attempts at brush-and-1shot pinstriping and brush-and-india ink comics, I wasn't very good, and became very frustrated. Shortly before leaving for Germany in 2007, I had only really airbrushed a small handful of times, and was very self-conscious of my as-yet unblossomed prowess with this unfamiliar medium. Starting work at Junkyard Jeans upon getting back from the Fatherland threw me right into the deep end, as I was asked to airbrush more monster shirts in the first weeks of my employ there than I had ever attempted before. This forced me to become better acquainted with the airbrush, but I still became discouraged when looking at the monster shirt work of Johnny Ace, Kali Vera, VonFranco, Ed Newton, etc.  (anybody would). I did maybe one or two non-work shirts last summer, and then took a major leave of absence from my lonely Paasche while at school in Provo. After the return of my good friend and fellow lowbrow artist Shaky Sullivan (with whom I am in constant but very friendly competition) from his mission this spring, and his return to monster shirt painting (a craft which he had much better learned than I while I was away), my friendly jealousy at all the cool shirts he was making came to a head, and I decided I needed to give monster shirts another shot. The photos above are from the four shirts and one apron that I painted tonight in my renewed airbrush effort. I'm pretty stoked with how they turned out. I painted all of these shirts from freehand pencil layouts I drew directly onto the shirts themselves, but must credit Ed Newton, Robert Williams, and Roth Studios with the basic design of all but "Surfite Sufari". ("Surfite" I drew originally in a letter to Shaky while in Germany. The others were drawn by me from observations of old Ed Roth waterslide decals or, in the case of the Coochy Cooty shirt, ZAP Comix.)

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