Throwback Thursday – The First “Distressed Shirt?
In 1995 (I think, maybe earlier) we worked with Rykodisc to do a promotional shirt for a re-release of the Frank Zappa album “Lumpy Gravy.”
On the cover of Lumpy Gravy Frank Zappa is wearing a shirt that is printed with the simple lettering “PIPCO.”
We were asked to reproduce the shirt as exactly as we could. We got a cut and sew place to make a perfect shirt, with the wonderful green tone of the cover.
The worn character of the word “PIPCO” of the print was more difficult. This was pre-photoshop being ubiquitous. Our first attempts were to mess with the ink and make it as crappy as t-shirt ink must have been in the early 60’s when that shirt was originally made. We would add stuff to it and wash it and actually we had a hard time because the ink kept looking too good, not enough like the Zappa shirt.
So eventually we messed with the art instead and faked the look of the ink being washed off. I believe that this may have been the very first intentionally “distressed” shirt design.
The PIPCO shirt allegedly was a shirt for a pipe company’s softball team. For a shirt that they must have made 15 or 20 in the first place, it sure became famous.
Funny how something that was mostly to be avoided, namely ink washing off the shirt, because an incredible established art technique and it seems like half the designs in the marketplace are “distressed.”
We made quite a few shirts, every once and again they turn up in photos or in videos (on a band member in a Shelby Lynne video, for example.)
By the way, the rarest Zappa release ever is supposedly an 8-track version of Lumpy Gravy, I heard that the Dude lost one along with his Creedence tapes…
If you want more Lumpy Gravy, my lord, check the history out. Record collector geek fest on many sites including this one: