Right after dropping out of Art School, I was looking for a way to make money with art. This was 1988, barely anyone had a computer, but lucky for me I got into apparel, which had stat cams, and inks and screens, rubylith and xeroxes. Pretty much everything I needed to build out whatever business model I dreamed up. Artwear was my first apparel company and Visual Voice was my zine and catalog of apparel designs. Rough around the edges, down and dirty, this is where my journey begins. It seems a thousand years, but it's only been 30. What started with an idea to give an artist a % of every shirt sold from a few xeroxed pages, has grown into a 35 Million Dollar apparel company called The Mountain. This is how it started.
I really tried to focus on specific events or seasons on the tours after awhile so I didn't have to have tons of different shirts. I could just have a few friends working with me slinging shirts and trading for burritos and other tasty treats. Tours were getting to be super sketchy if you didn't have permits. The whole industry was growing up and cracking down on everyone. After one Dead show they confiscated all my shirts, my full inventory. I was completely self funded always rolling the last profit into the new line and that was devastating. Same show, my van broke down and I had to have it towed form NY to NH. It was definitely a sign.
I stopped selling on Dead tour and started up on Phish Tour. I was living in Burlington from 89-91 so I saw them coming up and I'm a huge fan, so I decided to jump on Phish tour and focused on generic tour shirts and at the same time gathering artists and starting to build the Artwear and Visual Voice brands.
I started selling shirts at Grateful Dead Shows and then after a few run ins with "the man", I decided to try and start a Shakedown Street with tees on Phish Tour and that worked out really well. The band even approved me selling shirts as long as I stayed away from using the Phish logo. I never liked bootlegging, there were plenty of great artists out there to build original artwear shirts with so I tried to stay away from licensed images as much as possible. Every so often someone would sneak a drawing in that was too close for comfort, but for the most part we tried to stay unique to ourselves and our own expression. From 1990 to 1992 we started to build out Artwear. This is some of the art and some of the artists from that project.