I've always had geeky rock star fantasies. While I always knew at some level that I would never be a world famous rock star, I did still want some of the trappings. This was the impetus to do silly things such as get customized guitar picks. Yeah, not absolutely necessary, but there's something to be said for stupid joy in what is at least partially an exercise in ego in the first place.
This is why, when the rest of my first band was less than enthusiastic about getting tee shirts made, I set up an online store at a print on demand company. There were a lot of drawbacks, most notably that the shirts were very expensive...too much so for our few broke fans. Plus we didn't have anything to sell at shows, so we ended up selling next to nothing. That was okay, though; I mostly just wanted a shirt for myself.
My next band did get shirts made. Moreover, they were both good sellers and moneymakers for us. Quite often, we would make more money from merchandise than we would get paid for the show itself (which, to be fair, is also due to how badly we were getting paid as much as anything else). In fact, we would've ultimately done okay financially, but we broke up a few days after ordering more of the damn shirts. We had to give away our back stock of shirts at that last gig just to get rid of them.
My next band didn't stick around long enough to get shirts made...much to my chagrin. I didn't even get a sticker for my car, and I'm still ticked about that. Any my current alt country band doesn't have any merchandise either. In a certain sense, it's like those bands don't fully exist in a physical sense...I have no evidence of my efforts in either, and that hurts my geek sensibilities.
For my solo work, I have made progress on the physical artifact end of things. I got stickers early on, mostly so I could see my name in print. I released my album, and I got actual CDs made in addition to making it available online. I spent way too much time doing the artwork, particularly for something so few have purchased. I don't care. I just wanted a physical manifestation of the album. After all, I do have an ego...somewhat.
To this point, though, I have not done shirts. Even though they could be moneymakers, I just haven't had the available cash. Hell, I'm still trying to pay off album one while socking away enough to get album 2 pressed. But shirts have been on my mind. Aside from the ego thing, I could use another source of income. I do hope to be able to do more albums in the future, and they don't come cheap. I just hadn't figured out a way to make it work.
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered something which might change everything. I ran across a web page on how to make bleach stencil shirts. The end results look pretty damn cool, actually. They would also be a whole lot more durable than any other DIY shirts I've seen. Every home silkscreened shirt I've had has started to peel within two washings, and that just can't happen with a bleached design.
The best part about the process, though, is that it seems eminently affordable and doable. All I would have to buy is some shirts, bleach, and freezer paper. Finding the freezer paper would actually be the hardest part. And this should be cheap enough to where I can have an attractive price point. I'm going to have to engage the crafts-oriented portion of my brain (which generally are not tremendously adept), but I'll do it if it gets me cool merchandise.
So, hopefully, I will have shirts by this weekend's gigs. Shirts. My geeky fantasies demand them.