Black & white tee: Make Up’s tribute to Love

Make Up are mostly famous for their talented frontman Ian Svenonius (you will nowadays find him with his recent band, Chain & The Gang, who are also a lot of fun but in a different way). Back in 1997 Make Up released their Sound Verite album, with a cover that paid tribute to the classic 1967 Love album Forever Changes (another extraordinary persona there, the great Arthur Lee). Art in both included the faces of band members mixed in a psychedelic sort of way.


My idea for this was to simply reproduce the Sound Verite cover for a black & white transfer on a black tee. To do this I just Photoshop-ed it a bit to change the red color to white and smooth the design lines a little. I used the JET-Opaque II iron transfer paper as I needed the design to have that white base (otherwise it wouldn’t be visible on a black tee).


As you can see, after some washing was done, the transfer lost lots of that original heavy black ink color and shrinked a bit in the bottom right. For the first one, I’d say follow the washing instructions that come with the paper (washing in higher temperature will result in this discoloration). The shrinking on the other hand, may have appeared ’cause I didn’t put enough pressure with the iron on that side of the design. I do not own a professional heat press which has the best results with this kind of transfers (however, screen printing remains the best way to do t-shirts I hear), so if you don’t too, apply as much pressure as possible when ironing over the paper.


Black Flag’s album cover detail on a white tee

So Raymond Pettibon did play the bass for Black Flag back in 1976 (at least according to Wikipedia, they were called Panic back then). Of course he didn’t continue his music career but did a lot of art, the famous four bars logo and stuff like that for the band (his most adored album cover however remains Sonic Youth’s Goo, more on which you can find in this older post). The detail on the t-shirt below is from Black Flag’s 1984 Family Man album done by the same artist. I just love the bright colors for this dark subject depicted and thought it would look great on a white tee.

To do this I used the Jet-Pro SofStretch iron transfer paper which you can find in the yolö online store (if you live somewhere in Europe anyway, for dark fabrics refer to the previous post). The paper worked pretty good to begin with but, as you can see, there were a lot of cracks after washing a couple of times. To avoid this I would suggest following the washing instructions that come with the paper, usually something like cold water, wash inside-out etc. Never did follow those which I think would be a good idea to start doing.


To be honest, I don’t mind those cracks that much, they give an old feel to the t-shirt.

Never got to find out what that “November 23, 1963” date is all about. In fact, it’s one day after the John F. Kennedy assassination. Other than that I really don’t know. If you have a better clue let me know people!

Burned iron-on transfer: Girly Sonic Youth tee

There’s such a huge gap in the t-shirt photos I have. I used to make a lot for friends and now have to go looking as I didn’t keep an archive unfortunately.

This is a much more recent one, done probably around 2010, girly tee involving Sonic Youth’s Goo back coverGoo’s album cover is surely one of the most loved, heavily printed and altered for fun pieces of art. Same goes for almost all the album covers done by Raymond Pettibon, whom you can check out in OFF!’s Black Thoughts video doing his thing (great artist, definitely refer to his bio if you’re not yet familiar).


For this tee, I went with the back cover as an alternative to the exhaustively used front one (don’t get me wrong, I own a Goo tee too and love both, album and t-shirt art). The line goes “NOTHING….LIPSTICK, A LITTLE BLOOD”.


See that brown-ish decolorization on the transfer? That ought to be the tip for this post. It’s better not to go buying iron-on transfer paper from a chain store brand. Such bad quality. I ironed this one for a few seconds more than I should have and suddenly turned to burned brown paper. Be careful choosing your paper, do your research and spend a bit more to have a nice result.

First iron-on transfer attempt: Fela Kuti t-shirts

So I’m missing photos of the first stencil t-shirts I did back in 2002. They’re all gone now, used for dusting or something like that.

I remember two specifically. The first one was a simple black spray paint FVGΛZI” white tee, same as the stencil Fugazi used on their equipment. Didn’t tag it with anything else like, let’s say, the typical “This is NOT a Fugazi t-shirt” phrase. The other one was a Smiths inspired “THE QUEEN IS DEAD” green spray paint on white t-shirt, done in common stencil fonts, sort of like that sign Morrissey used to hold in 80’s concerts. Forgot that somewhere, never got it back…


Anyway, it was 2003 when I decided to try iron-on transfer paper for the first time, bought some Pelican sheets (were pretty good actually) and a couple of Pull & Bear t-shirts and headed home. My idea was to photoshop and print a classic Fela Kuti album cover in black & white and use it on light, yet bright color t-shirts.

First attempt was a disaster. Paper got stuck on the yellow tee and I couldn’t find a way to get it off. Got thrown in the garbage bin so I could move on to the next one.


Red one turned out pretty good. Pulled the paper up as it was still hot so I could get that matte finish instructions suggested. Had some missing parts on the corners though and decided to use remaining parts of the sheets to cover those up. After years and years it turns out that corners are still pretty black and that Fela Anikupalo Kuti name tag in the bottom right didn’t go anywhere either.


Here’s a tip, I got that pulling the first tee out of the garbage bin… If transfer paper gets shredded as you pull it off and you have small pieces all over, slightly reheat those parts with the iron and use a knife for removal. Works great!

Photos were taken recently. This is what they look like 10 years on. Don’t wear them that often nowadays…