• Artist Editions: Jeremy Dean X UO

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited edition graphic t-shirts created by a rotating roster of artists from around the globe. 

    Jeremy Dean is a Philadelphia area artist and designer. He runs a small t-shirt project called DES, and is best known for his “Wonders of Black Flag” t-shirts, a mashup of iconography that explores the cultural crossover between Black Flag and the Grateful Dead. He also makes zines under the name The Hardcore Archaeologist. 
    Photos by Noah Sahady
    Words by Anthony Pappalardo  

    As a t-shirt obsessive, what first drew you to t-shirt designs and what were some early ones that got you psyched? 
    I have two shirts that I remember distinctly from when I was really little that started it all. One was my first ever iron-on t-shirt. It was of Mr. Bill saying “Oh-noooooo.” How I knew who Mr. Bill was at like six years old is beyond me. He was on Saturday Night Live. I didn’t stay up that late at six, but I NEEDED a Mr. Bill shirt. The other was my first Kiss iron-on shirt I got for my eighth birthday. It had my nameon the back in fuzzy Cooper Black letters—I truly felt like a badass in that shirt. It changed my whole perspective on life and who I was at the time. Who knew something as simple as a t-shirt could make you feel that way? 

    What spoke to you about the iconography of punk and specifically the shirt designs? 
    Ever since I saw the Let Them Eat Jellybeans! compilation LP in a record store in maybe ‘82 or ‘83, I became obsessed with the punk design aesthetic, although I didn’t really start to listen to any of it until 1985. Creating something seemingly so simple and immediate is more difficult to achieve than one would think. The first little blips of design—in relation to what the music sounded like, and how that translated to paper—have always intrigued me. My Favorite shirt designs hit me at the point when I first entered the whole scene. The Dischord Records logo and t-shirt is still one of my favorite designs, because of the photo where everyone is piling onto each other, mixed with hand-drawn type. I still have my original I ordered from Jeff Nelson years ago. 

    Wishingwell and Schism Records t-shirts have stood the test of time, too. They are built mostly on type and a simple image and that’s what makes them work—the simpler the better, I find. Again, the music as translated to design. Hardcore, no frills—quick and to the point. Get the mes-sage across as fast as you can. I’ve kept that with me ever since. 

    Talk to me about the “integrity” of your design work for this project. 
    That shirt is based off an old design from the Cleveland band Integrity. I loved the phrase “SYSTEM OVERLOAD” and the general aesthetic of the shirt—simple and straight to the point, so I took it from there. Integrity had some great early shirt designs. 

    The other shirt is made up of found type from various flyers. I love the Reggae t-shirt design aesthetic as much as punk-based ones; that early punk scene mixed in with dub and reggae has always intrigued me. The type is all made from old press type, so it is pieced together from whatever was on hand to make that flyer. Why Bookman? Why italic swash caps? I don’t know, but it hits me in all the right places. The capital L’s made into 7’s? Again, great and weird. It hits all the right notes.

    How did your “Wonders of Black Flag” project come to be? 
    I was really interested in the fact that both Greg Ginn and Henry Rollins were really into the Grateful Dead—it was such a weird concept to me, and I wanted to know more. If you look at the Black Flag roadies from around ‘85, they all look like they should be on a Dead tour, not working with some hardcore band. That cultural crossover has always fascinated me. 

    The shirt itself is based on an old Grateful Dead lot t-shirt I found an image of. I made it as a joke, sat on it for three years, and then made a run of shirts to give to friends. It was only supposed to be one run. It’s taken on a life of its own and I like where it’s gone. 

    What makes a perfect t-shirt? 
    Simplicity. Basically, one or two elements. Not too many colors. If it can’t really hold up on its own anywhere else, it will make a great t-shirt. You need to put it on your body and not feel stupid. That’s my whole goal, not to feel stupid. 

    Head to UO’s Space 15 Twenty at 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd in Los Angeles, CA on February 25th to celebrate the launch of UO Journal issue 2 and the second release of our ongoing Artist Editions series.