Buying vs. Making: Concert Shirts for J. Cole!

Let’s talk about concerts for a minute, shall we? It has gotten truly ridiculously expensive to go see your favorite musician lately. Ticket prices + venue fees + parking/Uber cost + refreshments/food at the venue + artist memorabilia = where do I file for bankruptcy?! It’s a lot. When I was little, of course I’d beg my parents for the shirt or hat or bandana or keychain or any memento I could keep as a souvenir, but now as an adult, I dare not even glance over at the merchandise section.

I usually wear normal clothes to concerts, but as the date for the J.Cole concert in Orlando was approaching, my brother suggested I should make some shirts for us. I was super surprised he had this idea because 1. Neither he nor I are the type to do this and 2. I really hadn’t thought about making myself any artist-related clothing item for a concert, ever. But this was a cool moment for me, since my brother never asks me to make anything and I was so touched he wanted me to do it that I was 100% in.

When it comes to these things, I try to be as frugal as possible. If it’s not something I can see myself wearing often, I will not splurge on it. Plus, if it’s a DIY, it should be cheaper, right? Right. So, when it came to the Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV), I decided not to buy any, but make use of what I already had. No need to spend extra or go crazy with that. And for the shirts, since I had the experience with the ones I made for my Game of Thrones watch party, I knew I’d find something at Walmart. I found a black shirt for me for under $4, and even though my brother actually didn’t like any of the options there, he ended up finding a v-neck at TJ Maxx for $4 as well. With the amount of HTV I ended up using, each shirt basically came out to $6!

When it came time to design it, I wanted to have J.Cole’s face and hair silhouette which has become a big part of his brand, and also incorporate the crown from his Born Sinner album artwork. I ended up designing/cutting/putting it all together the same day of the concert because #ProcrastinationNation. And the crazy thing here was that since I was only using what I had, there was no room for error. Whatever I’d cut, it had to work. Because of the amount of each color I had, I decided that my brother would get Cole’s face silhouette, and I’d do my shirt with only the crown. I looooved how they turned out!

 

And here’s the best part of it all: during the concert, there was a lot of camera focus on the audience, and at some point my brother caught us on the jumbotron, BECAUSE he recognized the print on his shirt! It was so cool to see my shirts on the big screen, looking like official merch, but made by me :’)

 

Guess who’s never paying for merch ever again?!?

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