Famous Tees and their creators
The simple t-shirt began as a humble undergarment and is now a beacon of self expression and passions. If you love a band, you buy a shirt to reflect your musical taste. If you want to support a candidate or a cause, you get a politically-charged t-shirt. If you had a lovely time on holiday in a city you get a shirt. Self expression, commemoration – t-shirts play a role in almost anything we’re remotely passionate about.
How did that happen? Who moved these light cotton under-shirts from the background of the wardrobe to the forefront of the protest movement, as a powerful self-expression medium. We think these six designers played a huge role in that cultural shift.
Jim Fitzpatrick – An Irish artist specializing in celtic art created this iconic image as a young man. The two toned image of Che Guevara was taken from a photo by Alberto Korda. Fitzpatrick idolized the marxist revolutionary and the poster became an iconic symbol of communist ideals.
Owsley “Bear” Stanely – As the soundman for rock’n roll’s most important jam band, Stanley was faced with an problem. When the Grateful Dead was on tour all their gear looked like all the other band’s gear. Stanely needed something to distinguish the black boxes from those of the other bands. With the help of his friend Bob Thomas, Stanely created the iconic skull and lightning bolt logo.
John Pasche – Voted the most iconic band logo of all time, the Rolling Stone’s tongue and lips design is instantly recognizable by everyone on the planet not living under rocks. Pasche said about Stone’s front man, Mick Jagger, who commissioned the design for the band, “Face to face with him, the first thing you were aware of was the size of his lips and his mouth.”
The logo was originally designed for the Sticky Fingers album but eventually became on of the first examples of band branding. The Stones originally commissioned the logo for 50£ but were so pleased with it they gave Pasche a bonus of 200£, still a pretty good deal considering how much use they got out of it.
Katharine Hamnett – Taking the simple t-shirt and using it as a walking billboard for causes, Hamnett innovated the protest t-shirt of the 1980s. A british fashion designer, her popular Choose Life line is still being sold today.
Shepard Fairey – While enjoying underground fame since the late 80’s due to his Andre The Giant Has A Posse viral street art, Fairey’s more recognizable work is that HOPE poster of Obama from the 2008 election. Laura Barton from the Guardian said the image “acquired the kind of instant recognition of Jim Fitzpatrick’s Che Guevara poster, and is surely set to grace T-shirts, coffee mugs and the walls of student bedrooms in the years to come.”
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From 1985 to 1989, Christopher Menz was Curatorial Assistant, Australian Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Australia. From 1989 to 2001, he was Curator of European and Australian Decorative Arts at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. He is currently Senior Curator, Decorative Arts (International) at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Modernage Fabrics Silk and Textile Printers
by Christopher Menz
Christopher Menz, ‘1946. Modernage Fabrics’, Craft Australia, Summer, 4:1987.
Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Australian artists rarely work directly with industry, but when they do so it is generally in the production of books and textiles. In both cases the process of transforming an original design into a finished product is relatively straightforward and does not necessarily involve large costs once the printing itself is organised.
The first textile-printing firm in Australia actively to encourage artists to supply original designs was Silk and Textile Printers Ltd., of Sydney and Hobart. Formed in 1939 by Paul Sonnino and the brothers Claudio and Orlando Alcorso, with capital provided by a number of Australian shareholders, the company initially produced screen-printed dress fabrics using new Italian techniques, in a factory at Barcom Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. With the onset of war, production virtually ceased, although some camouflage fabrics were manufactured.
After the war Claudio Alcorso was keen to use Australian artists to design fine textiles for a market largely dominated by imports, a desire that drew an enthusiastic response from local artists. By 1946, when a large exhibition was held at the Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, small trial ranges of fabrics had been produced. The exhibition was opened by Daryl Lindsay, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, who, according to a reviewer in The Age on 2 October, ‘was interested to learn that orders for wools had been received from seventeen different countries, and that America had sent designs out here to be printed on Australian materials. Two elegant materials, Rhapsody in Blue and Saraband, had been created especially for Warner Bros.’
Encouraged by this initial success, Silk and Textile Printers decided to produce a range called Modernage Fabrics using some 46 designs from the following artists, most of whom were from Sydney and many of whom had never produced designs for textiles before:
- Douglas Annand
- Jean Bellette
- James Cant
- William Constable
- Mary Curtis
- Roy Dalgarno
- Alice Danciger
- William Dobell
- Russell Drysdale,
- Adrian Feint
- Donald Friend
- James Gleeson
- Geoffrey Graham
- Sheila Grey
- Paul Haefliger
- Peter Kaiser
- Mary Lewis
- Francis Lymburner
- Frank Medworth
- Muriel Medworth
- Hal Missingham
- Alistair Morrison Niny
- Justin O’Brien
- Desiderius Orban
- Carl Plate
- Margaret Preston
- Suzanne Rogers
- Loudon Sainthill
- Roderick Shaw
- Betty Skowronski
- Carrington Smith.
The actual range extended beyond the original forty-six designs, as most were avai lable in different colourways, and some were available on different fabrics. Given the ephemeral nature of textiles, the publication of a forty-page booklet, A New Approach to Textile Designing: By a Group of Australian Artists (1947), was the most enduring result of the Modernage Fabrics project.1
The booklet both illustrates and documents the project and, with a cover design by Douglas Annand, it is much more than an advertising brochure. It clearly shows the importance Claudio Alcorso attributed to Australian design. His brief foreword sums up the nature of the venture: ‘The designs reproduced in this book are not only a new approach to textile designing; they are also the expression of a desire to introduce creative thought and beauty into the everyday things of life.’ Alcorso hoped that the interest in better design would ‘spread to other industries and that soon we shall see … the establishment of a much needed Council for Industrial Design … [and] one day [ … ] see many Australian industries seeking the co-operation of Australian artists to design their product. We believe they will be amazed at the public’s response to better design.’2
Then follow brief passages by three of the leading figures in the art world of the day. Professor J.H. Burke, who held the Chair of the Fine Art Department at the University of Melbourne, laments the general standard of industrial design and encourages industry to seek the involvement of artists.3 Hal Missingham, Director of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales (and himself represented in the booklet by a design), comments on the proficiency of Australian artists in the use of line and on its happy application to these fabric designs, which he considers to have a ‘particular statement of their own which marks them from work produced abroad’.4 Finally Sydney Ure Smith, President of the Socie ty of Artists (New South Wales), states his belief in the great potential of these fabrics for use in furnishing overseas missions as well as government offices and agencies.5
What you need to do:
- Select one the designers from the post, your own designer/brand or from the presented in the class
- Make a post of 300 words about the selected designer/brand discussing the relevancy and the impact the works they produced.
- Source min 6 images related to the post.
- Acknowledge the sources of info at the end of the post.
- Tick the Categories & Tags Category “Wearable Art” before publishing
- Prepare a short (2-3 min) presentation about your post
- Note the post is due on the 5th of April 2017, presentation is due next session (after the holidays)
- Post min two comments (100+ words) on this posts from min two students from your group