It’s currently Hot Rod Season here in NZ. Just this past week we’ve had both the gargantuan Beach Hop in Whangamata, and the street-cred-heavy Hot Rod Blowout in Auckland (see a bunch of my photos from the day here). As you may have heard, the Burbank Choppers from California were here to shake things up at the Hot Rod Blowout this year. And amongst their crew is the talented modern-retro/lowbrow artist, Keith Weesner.
Keith and I had a chat about art, cars and visiting NZ last week; go have a read!
Now, onto the design collab we worked on. As a hot rod artist, builder and enthusiast, Keith will often be seen in the easiest of streetwear; tees, hoodies, and jeans. Things that are hardy and easy to chuck in the wash over and over. But hey, every hot-rodder has to have a nice button-up shirt or two in his arsenal. Something with cleaner lines and a pop of colour to woo and schmooze their lady-friend in at night. In Keith’s case, that would be his stunning wife, Melissa.
So I knew I wanted to make Keith a nice button-up to add to his wardrobe; something that could be saved for the evening, or for layering open over a white Burbank Choppers tee. I looked to Keith’s artwork for inspiration; mean hot rod machines teamed with curvy femme fatales, and came up with a couple of design options for Keith. One featured a dramatic lead sled on the back, and the other a sultry woman with va-va-voom curves on the front. I coloured each one with the colours Keith had chosen for his website, and of the two, Keith chose the sultry woman on a Chartreuse Yellow offset. And so we have The Weesner Shirt…
Keith with the gorgeous Miss Bettie Rage, Miss Hot Rod Blowout 2015
For an easy-to-wear combination, I used black cotton shirting as the base fabric for the shirt, and for a bit of textural interest I used linen for the Chartreuse panels. Linen is nice for hotter weather (which Cali gets plenty of!), as its looser weave allows more cooling air to pass through. And cotton is a nice hardy fabric for wear and for keeping its structure.
The shirt style has a retro lounge shirt aesthetic, but in a custom slim-fit made to Keith’s measurements. It features contrast black collar, buttons and stripes down the front, and a contrast Chartreuse back yoke.
And of course, the fun artistic bits! I designed up a simplified, graphic version of one of Keith’s leading ladies for the design on the front, and decided to cut her dress a separate layer (instead of paint it on), kind of like paper dolls! Then I took Keith’s ‘Weesner’ branding he uses on banners at events, and simplified it down to just the ‘W’ we are all most familiar with. It’s the most signature part of Keith’s signature. It features on every piece of artwork that leaves his hands.
I made templates of the designs, applied interfacing to panels of black and white fabric for structure, and transferred the designs via the carbon impression method. From there I cut the designs out and started piecing them together. The ‘W’ banner was hand-painted with textile ink, and then heat-set, and the voluptuous lady was layered together and stitched in place.
I really do love making pieces of art from textiles, which is why I love taking my garment designs just that one or two steps further than what you might find hanging on a rack somewhere. It makes the garment utterly unique, which makes both it and the wearer feel just that little bit more special. It’s a feeling that just can’t be beat, in my opinion!
So if you or a badass lead-sled-head that you know would like your own Weesner Shirt (NZ$290, or $230 without applied artwork), then don’t hesitate to get in contact, and we can get started on a custom lowbrow garment of your very own!
Girls and Gasoline,
This is my collab project for March, which also includes my 6 Questions With Keith Weesner.