With spring all but here (at least in San Francisco) I thought it would be a good time to whip up some new tees using American Apparel’s summer-friendly Tri-Blend Heather shirts (50% Polyester / 25% Cotton / 25% Rayon). The result is this new 1976 on American Apparel Tri-Blend Heather Blue. When I first designed the original version of the 1976 tee, I had this sort of vintage track tee vibe in mind. At the time, AA didn’t offer a Tri-Blend shirt in blue so I ended up going with the cotton baby blue — which I think has it’s own thing going on — but once I saw the new tri-blend blue I knew it would be perfect for a subtle remix.
Shirts have always been a fun design challenge for me. Unless you’re a pretty big company, you’re pretty limited in your color choices when it comes to blank shirts. Sure, American Apparel (one of the blank shirt manufacturers with the best cuts and colors) has a great selection of colors, but most are pretty straight-forward, bright colors. For most of my designs I envision washed out, faded colors and there really aren’t that many companies offering that kind of blank these days. AA’s tri-blends come very close and the fit and feel are incredible, so I usually end up going with that combo. But it can be a rather daunting task to balance your Pantone ink choices with the dye colors to try and reproduce the style and look you’re going for. You can always mock it up in Photoshop, but you really never know what it’s going to look like until you print one up and see the real thing.
After all that comes the task of trying to get photos of the shirts that accurately reproduce the color and texture, which can be even harder than designing the shirts in the first place. This time around I had a Gretag card and some color-correct CF lights so it went a little more smoothly. I shot in NEF format RAW on the Nikon and got some pretty usable output this time. The process of brining the RAW shots in is always a bit tedious, but it definitely yields more accurate and flexible results. I usually try to get one shot that’s as color accurate as possible (first shot above) for the storefront, and then another, more effected version (second image above) to give another perspective on the shirt. I’m still planning to rent a better lens for a day or so and see if that helps any, although after this most recent session I am feeling a little more confident with my D80. Also, a quick thanks to my little brother Kirk for modeling the shirt! I usually have to hold the remote while taking the shots of myself and it’s a lot harder to frame up shots and get the settings down that way.
At any rate, the ISO50 1976 Tri-Blend Heather Blue is now available for your enjoyment, get them while they last!