Friday, November 07, 2008


What can I say; we're ecstatic to have this man in office. We made this bag for the Obama Alleycat in DC, which took place on November 1st.

Why We're Just Better Than Everybody Else

You know, we've been doing custom graphics bags for over ten years now. That's a good many years more than most of our competition. And it shows. Personally I don't like to toot my horn too much, but since these bags were made by Gerik and Carrie, respectively, I can technically give them props while keeping my own ego in check.

Here we have a pretty nice bag with a sabertooth tiger on it. Nice enough, you can tell, by this pic....but the true test of an applique stitcher is if their work still looks good as you get closer and closer to the bag. A lot of stitchers can make a what appears to be a nice image, but as you look closely, you can see how chunky and uneven the line work is, and - with enough experience - how flawed their original layout plan is. Layout and determining which layers go in which order is actually as important in applique work as stitching skill itself is. It's not even necessarily something that comes with experience per se; it's just innate in the stitcher's thought process. Yes, as a stitcher encounters more and more different types of images, they get a better feel for the proper technique in a given situation, but its not something that can really be "taught" or will definitely come with time.

Ok, we're a little closer now and still looking lovely.

Some more of the intricacies of the color layering are becoming apparent here.

Ok, so now you can fully see that the teeth and their shaded areas are in fact areas of tapered stitching rather than fabric cutouts. This painterly approach - which is mirrored throughout the body and feet of the lion - is a trademark style for Gerik's work, and allows him to pull off interpretations of detailed artwork far, far closer to the original idea than would be possible if he had to rely strictly on the classic technique of stitching over fabric using a static stitch width. It takes an amazing amount of control and knowledge of the machine to pull off work like this.

Carrie from Fabric Horse worked on this guy a little earlier this week. Basically, the same fundamentals that I spoke about with Gerik's bag apply here. This is, quite simply, work that a lot of other companies could not pull off this well.

Carrie made this bag right before the messenger world championships (which took place in Toronto earlier this fall). While the detail work is not as intense, the amount of color layering and preparation required is substantial. Doing this graphic without the artwork becoming a thick, chunky mess is very difficult.

Sometimes we just gotta let people know: our methods for putting graphics on your bags are NOT capable of being learned overnight. We are constantly working on new and better techniques so we can remain a few steps of the competition. Hopefully you'll agree!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

:: Biz Markie Commission Bag ::

A few months ago I was contacted by a customer in Canada about the possibility of doing a Biz Markie music series bag. I was excited, to say the least, because I absolutely love the music series in general, and understanding peoples' connections to their favorite musicians, I am completely open to fashioning bags of all sorts with inspiration from all genres of music. But I have to admit, I was even more excited on this particular occasion because the artist that they wanted on the bag was Biz Markie. Biz Markie's debut LP "Going Off" was actually the very first cassette tape I personally owned (along with Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew), and I instantly remembered being in 8th grade and hearing "Pickin' Boogers" for the first time. The year was '88 (yes I'm old).

Biz was the original clown of hip hop in my mind, and moreover I love the fact that his music references a time when you could listen to songs about simple going to the mall, or going to a party. When a video was basically filming you and your crew, beginning on a stoop and maybe ending in a park. His cut "Nobody Beats the Biz" is a classic no doubt, but especially for NYC kids it was extra nice because it parodied the "Wiz" electronics store chain's commercial jingle.

I can't go on without mentioning that Biz was part of The Juice Crew, a classic group of emcee's and dj's featuring himself, Marley Marl (one of the pioneers of hip hop in radio and production), Craig G, Roxanne Shante, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, MC Shan, and others. Red Alert's weekly radio show was completely inundated with Juice Crew tracks, and "The Vapors" was maybe one of my favorites. Check out a young Marley and Kane...and also peep TJ Swan's fresh dipped gear. This was the era of suits, chains, Travel Fox, Troop, MCM, and Gucci and Louis Vouitton velour, and Biz represented it well.

The song that made him famous as far as the mainstream goes was "Just a Friend", a single from his sophomore release ("The Biz Never Sleeps") in 1989

Biz's future albums never again really reached the peaks of the first couple, but since then he has switched his focus to dj'ing and is actually extremely successful at it. Not to mention the various appearances on television on everything from kiddie shows (teaching the youngsters how to beat box) to VH1. Biz is definitely a living legend and I'm happy to have a Biz bag out there.