Rock n roll merch is something we all love. Wearing a Motorhead shirt is uniform for me and if it wasn’t for those that worked hard designing and printing them then where would we be?
Black Sunday Magazine chatted to Josh Elowsky who has worked for bands such as The Misfits and Metallica (among others) on their merch.
How did you get into designing shirts?
I got into designing band merch from the ground up. Nobody was hiring when I came to Oakland from Dallas, TX, and that’s when I found work in the warehouse of a local print shop. Turns out the place was owned and operated by half of the band Tilt and since I cut my punk rock teeth on Bay Area bands as a teen I was happy to clean screens and whatever else was needed until I finally landed a spot in the art department.
Which bands have you collaborated with?
Right now I’m working on something for my local heroes Shannon and The Clams. I’ve done work for bands like Green Day, the Misfits, Dead Kennedys, The Pogues, Flogging Molly, and recently I got to work with the Dropkick Murphys (rounding out the Irish Folk Punk Trinity), Dolly Parton, Kid Rock, Anti-Flag, Queensryche, Bon Jovi, Weezer, Afghan Whigs, Julie Ruin, Metallica, Brokencyde, Hatebreed, The White Buffalo
How do these collaborations come about? Do you work directly with the bands?
The majority have come about from being lucky enough to be the in-house designer and art director at a large music merchandiser. These bands have a manager and the manager has a contact at the merchandiser and so you have to wade through this gate-keeper culture surrounding the bands but I would be put in direct contact with clients a lot because it’s a lot easier when it’s artist to artist. But the collaborations I’m most proud of our the ones I’ve done on my own.
There’s some crossover because when I’m freelancing some of the bands who liked working with me reached out, like The Misfits. I got to work with Kathleen Hanna by winning her Julie Ruin tee design contest, that was a goddam privilege let me tell you. I try and reach out to people I want to work with and hope they’re looking for new designs or like my work enough to commission one. I’ve learned, too, that a big part of it is who you know, and it’s always cool to make new friends in this industry.
Desert island time: favourite book, record and movie?
Dune, for sure. Or maybe I’d re-read some Louis L’amour. I’d bring my VHS copy of True Romance and listen to Iggy’s Lust For Life.
What’s coming up for you?
I’m trying to branch out and do more lifestyle work and local work, I’ve had some things fall in my lap recently that are really promising and doing work local bands and bro’s, their record and bike shops, is really rewarding. It’s easy to get burned out on tour merch and the industry in general. So, I’m ust throwing that out there and maybe it’ll galvanize this new path I’m trying to blaze.
Check out his site here