May 22, 2010 10:03 PM.Question:I saw Pearl Jam the other night in Boston (incredible show!), and as we spent 45 minutes waiting to get out of the garage, we saw the bootleg shirt sellers drop prices to the point that one guy just gave them away. It got me wondering about the actual process and distribution system of these shirts. Like start to finish, how does it work?
Who designs them? Who puts up the money? Are they local or do they follow the band (which seems unlikely since they are literally giving shirts away sometimes)? Is there like a bootleg shirt distributor that people order from?
I haven’t really been able to find any information with my sometimes weak googling skills, so any information would be appreciated.
May 22, 2010 10:23 PM.Answer:You’re asking about the inner workings of what is essentially an illegal enterprise. It wouldn’t surprise me if no one can answer this question because there’s probably no single answer. Think about illegal drug distribution: some weed comes to NYC from Canada via a tightly organized network of people, some of it is grown by some highschooler in his garage on Long Island. Right?
The fact that they were dumping the shirts at the end of the night seems to indicate that they weren’t following the band, but instead are printing these shirts locally on a per-event basis. Again, these shirts could be coming from a local screenprinter with lax ethics and connections with people who can move the shirt, they could come from employees of a local screenprinter who are doing this behind the boss’s back, and they could come from some talented art school students with the know-how to print these shirts en masse in a studio (though this seems the least likely option). There are a lot of ways this system of production and distribution could be configured.
Even someone who has worked in such a network can only tell you how their particular network works/worked.
Printed Matter is very excited to present our first ever Bootleg T-Shirt Show.
20 artists are presenting their interpretation of the iconic bootleg t-shirt. From pop bands to Bart Simpson, cult movies to mammaries - we have covered all bases of appropriated images from popular culture and printed them on the best walking billboards money can buy - the common t-shirt.
We’ve worked with 8 artists to produce limited edition bootleg t-shirt, each design sold as a run of 10 and only available at the store when the show opens. Part of the Help/less Exhibition!
Artists include; Peter Sutherland, Matt Connors, Benjamin Critton, Mungo Thomson, Chris Castillo, Shannon Michael Cane, Eliza Koch and Marc Hundley.
Other contributing artists are Andrew Kuo, Jack Greer, OJ San Felipe, Eli Lehrhoff, Dean Sameshima, Adam O’Reilly, Michael Magnan, Christeen Francis, Jon Desimone, Harry Gassel, Dan Meth, Matt Chambers and Davey Field.
Show will open from 5 - 7PM, refreshments and bootleg cover jams provided.