• Justus Hayes

Dead Dog Guitars

Updated: Jun 1



Here's an interesting project that I have simmering away in the background. Through the design work I did for Luke and Sarah's Off Grid Life, I was contacted by Duncan. He lives in London, and refurbishes/rescues electric guitars under the name, Dead Dog Guitars. He has the idea of producing a line of shirts, guitar-deck graphics, and gear with the Dead Dog name as a cool marketing strategy. He's not an artist, and so asked me if I would be interested in participating. Sounded interesting, and I agreed.


The project is so open-ended and unlimited that half the battle for me has involved creating some focus. Duncan indicated that he liked Banksy-style graphics (as do I), has a particular love for the Stratocaster, and pretty much just left the door open for me. He gave me a list of famous Strat guitarists as a place to start.


For a while, I have been making black and white, stencil-style graphics of politicians that borders on Banksy (but not really - without the humour, and usually white on black rather than black on white, as is the Banksy tradition. For example:


That's a wonderful Banksy on the left (Wikimedia) that I have never seen before, and which has instantly become one of my favourites due to the presence of a very well-executed shopping cart. Next to that are two versions of a Biden graphic I created. As you can see, they might not be on the same page but at least are in the same book.


Below are some of the graphics I have made in this style. These are all based on photos that are in the Creative Commons, btw.


Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Joan Jett
Joan Jett
David Gilmour
David Gilmour
Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton

Duncan is not so interested in t-shirts due to their extreme ubiquity and more interested in short-sleeve, collared button-ups. I, myself, always (and I mean always) wear a collared button-up over a t-shirt or a long-sleeve. I need the pockets! Phone on the left, smokes on the right. At any rate, that sounded good to me, and so my first task was to find a good blank template.




I can't remember where I found the outlines of the shirt as drawn above, which I am now kicking myself about a little. At any rate, I used that outline to produce the above two blank templates. I have built these templates with layers so that any image can be placed on the shirts; for example, a photo of Rowan and me down by the Fraser River. It took a while to land on this final version of the template and I'm happy with it; it's very useful for trying out ideas. The logo and the crossed guitars on the collar tips are present on every design, so they float above the background images, along with the yellow outline details. Layers are where it's at!


Here are a couple of proposed designs:


One very important aspect here is the establishing of a "look." That is easily accomplished with the above style. I think that look still holds even when I take those graphic representations and manipulate them as I am wont to do:


Another thing to do with these graphics while still maintaining that look is make patterns, although the actual layout of repeating patterns is tricky using just graphic manipulation software like Photoshop and GIMP. Here's an early attempt:



Many possibilities. Further, I think I can maintain this look with the black/white background/foreground reversed, so that they are black figures on a white (or light grey) background. There is also the time-worn tradition of adding just one splash of colour to designs like these. Banksy does this often. Take, for example, the classic girl with heart-shaped balloon pictured here. I definitely don't want these to be attempts at Banksy, but I would like to evoke that stencil sensibility, and the feeling that any of these designs could be spray painted on a wall quite easily.



While I like the above style a lot, I would like to add another flavour to the mix. My love of radial symmetry combined with an appreciation of the guitar as a physical object inevitably lead to this idea:



This particular example used a B&W photo as source material, and I did that intentionally in an effort to stick with the monochrome theme. I am second-thinking that decision, though. One of the things that I really like about the kaleidoscope/mandala approach is that it can evoke tie-dye, which by its nature is colourful. I'm thinking modern, digital take on tie-dye using guitar geography... Hm....


Other possible products to apply graphics to include guitar straps, gear bags and guitar decks. Plus regular marketing material like stickers and magnets.


Lots to think about, lots to do.




12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All