• Artist Editions: Linas Garsys 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. 

    Baltimore and DC-based artist Linas Garsys creates graphics inspired by punk rock, hardcore, and modern politics. We visited him at his Baltimore home studio to take a look at his newest work. 
    Photos by Micah E. Wood

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? 
    Hello, my name is Linas Garsys, I'm currently a 17 year old trapped in the body of a 43 year old and reside in Baltimore, Maryland. I'm work full-time for a newspaper as a graphics editor, and burn the candle at all ends working on art for bands or other projects, and on the rare occasion for myself. No professional schooling or training to speak of.

    What’s the first visual work you can remember creating? 
    Honestly, as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawing. Art is one of the few things that I've just always done and have always gravitated to. One of the first things I remember making was drawing AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back, I was fixated on how cool they were. I'm sure they were ridiculous drawings, but I remember trying to be hyper realistic with the renderings, like every weld and tube on them.

    You’re heavily involved in the hardcore and punk scenes. How has music influenced your visual work? 
    Music is something that I have in my life constantly. For me, punk specifically was a refuge for not seeming to fit in and was a place in which I gravitated towards other weirdos and outcasts. There's an urgency to be understood and to express yourself. A majority of my work is based on song lyrics or turns of phrase. There's something about being able to take a slogan or anthem and editorialize it into a bigger meaning that people can digest visually and form even more of a bond or attachment to it. 

    Can you tell us a bit about your day job at The Washington Times?
    Typically, I go in and have a few stories to read, or am assigned a story to illustrate. From there, I have to go through and create an image that describes the story, or is able to show policy issues to a more general audience. Sometimes this ends up being portrait work, other times more abstract thought pieces. After the first piece is done, I have to create any other graphics needed, like stock charts, technical data, diagrams, maps etc. It can be hectic because the window of time for the main assignment is small, so there's a rush which is refreshing. The downside is, getting different, repeat opinion pieces for months on end about the same subject and having to come up with new ways to illustrate the dead horse.

    Would you mind walking us through the creation of a new piece? 
    It varies generally. But for the most part, once I nail down a theme, whether it’s through lyrics pr brainstorming, I sit down, sketch and try to look up reference material depending on the final expected outcome. Once there's a concrete idea, I usually start playing around in illustrator to try and figure out shaping and spaces, or just draw until my hands hurt and I have something I can scan in and clean up. When I have a good final idea, I use it as a base and either ink it, or clean it up and redraw it digitally. What the final product is intended for usually dictates how I arrange it, but I generally learned best to have any final inking structure on its own layers. Then there are times when things just flow and its a manic whirl and it’s there. 

    Can you tell us a bit about your designs for artist editions? How did the ideas come about? 
    For the Artist Editions, I tried to think of songs and ideas that I wish I had the chance to work on before. I had worked with THE EXPLOSION a few times and still absolutely love them, there were to songs with lyrics that resonated and always wanted to do, I settled on the line IF YOU DONT KNOW, THEN YOU WEREN'T MEANT TOO. To me, it summed up a lot of people’s experiences and involvement with punk and subcultures. There are people that dabble and dip their toes in, then there are the lifers. I just feel like some things are meant to be experienced, and cant be explained. That’s where the idea of the locks keys and secrecy came from.  

    The second shirt was based on CIRCLE JERKS song WILD IN THE STREETS. It’s just so anthemic and vital feeling. Punk and Hardcore are always viewed as places of danger and chaos by outsiders, but there's a comfort in it for those involved. We're well aware though its a crazy thing that it has teeth and can bite you at any moment. 

    For both the designs, I wanted to go to an older, more collage feel and use a palette reminiscent of a lot of the early ‘80s skateboard shirts I was first allowed to pick out for myself to wear. It’s an homage to what got me where I am, and still keeps me interested.

    What makes a t-shirt design so important? 
    For me, what makes a good shirt design important is that it can say everything about you. Whether it's a band shirt or just a design, it can reveal tastes, ideas or just give a wink and nod, a secret pirate handshake. Growing up, band and skate shirts were the easy identifier of who to gravitate towards.

    Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to t-shirt design?
    Not really. A big thing for me is the limitations and trying to find work-arounds for them. I had one design that I created that was intended to look like a cut throat and bleed out from the collar, but the company refused to print it as such since would have had to be all hand screened. It frustrated me mainly because I thought I had figured out a work around. For the most part, people I work with, I either have a good relationship with them, and we brainstorm out ideas and i understand their edits and why, or i have someone doing that for me for bigger projects. I am pretty blessed that I am able to come to the table with my full idea and am able to defend why I did certain things and given the chance to argue the design.

    Do you have any favorite t-shirt designs of all time? 
    That I’ve designed, hands down the AMERICAN NIGHTMARE Angel and the HOPE CONSPIRACY bomb wings, seeing them just dead center on a shirt they're just recognizable and so so sick looking.  For all of the world I tend wear a lot of band shirts. I like good, classic ones that don’t need to say much, I feel like a design should do that for you. Then there are just shirts that make me giggle. I have a Ghostbusters slimer parody shirt that's amazing and a few bootleg bart shirts that just rule.

    What’s next for you? 
    Now I have a few fun projects I’m in the early stages of dealing with people on: mainly lunch, my pug, still seeing bands, hanging out with friends, being a big goofball and just having the opportunity to keep making art for as long as I can.

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