After spending months fixing bikes and getting all my nicest jeans eternally stained with blood, sweat and engine oil, I invested in a set of overalls. They were plain black, and that's just not exciting enough. So I decided to come up with some branding for them encompassing my approach to 'fixing' bikes, which often results in them working slightly worse than before I got my hands on them.
I started off like any design project should. Coffee. Then I sketched up a whole load of thumbnails for potential logos, drawing inspiration from classic logotype styling.
I wasn't quite sure how to get the design onto the final garment at this point. I had access to screen printing, but that's a medium I've explored before. I thought about going woodblock or stamp printing, but I felt the most fun and effective method would be lino. So with that in mind, I selected the sketches to move forward with based on what would best translate to lino.
I made up a couple of quick illustrator renditions of my concepts, using both a freeform vector illustration of a bike and by simplifying an earlier illustration of one of my own bikes.
Finishing up the two logos was the easy part. Printing them out and getting halfway through a square of lino only to realise your design will print backwards isn't. Once I'd realised my mistakes, I flipped the designs round and suddenly they were much closer to being real!
Cutting out designs into lino is something I'd done. Once, briefly, many years ago, and only with a simple sketched design. Figuring out how to do it both much smaller and larger with a higher level of detail took time, and once I had figured it out, it took a good few hours in the evenings across two weeks, but I ended up with two very close to digital versions of my original designs.
In a previous undocumented attempt, one print wasn't quite enough, and on a second attempt I couldn't get it lined up properly. This time I used my homemade shirt screen printing rig to get it taut whilst a few layers of masking tape acted as the hinge and also a marker for the top.
Using some Speedball white fabric ink, I was able to ink up the lino, press it down with a mixture of brute force and a large jar of various loose change which, for a single coat, came out fantastically! The detail translated beautifully, and once more ink was applied and a second round of ink was applied, it helped to lock in the vibrance of the white.
The two successful attempts ended up being on an old sweatshirt as a test to see if the concept would work, as I hadn't worked with lino printing in a while, and definitely not onto fabric. Once I'd established it would work, I repeated the process on the overalls that the whole project started with. The smaller, front design was perfect for the front pocket.
Now I've got a fantastic pair of overalls with a brand that represents nothing more than my inability to fix bikes and keep my clothes clean whilst doing it. There's a delightful beauty in the texture and unique look achieved by lino printing, and I think this project exemplifies that perfectly.