“Tribal Aa” is the self-explanatory name of this little print I made. And I’m just going to write a little bit about how it came about.
The plain tote bag was found (along with two other cotton tote bags, printed with store promotional images) around the house while spring-cleaning at the end of the summer holidays. I don’t know about you, but it is incomprehensible to use plain tote bags as they are. You’re supposed to do something with it, no?
So I was all excited because I had the design in my head already. It was going to be a typography thing, I knew it. I had to restrain myself from starting the project for several nights (because I wanted to wash the bag first and use proper materials, eg. fabric paint); it’s been awhile since I became hyped up about an idea like this!
Essentially, the inspiration came from these Helvetica Alphabet t-shirts that I saw some YouTubers wearing. So simple and bold, but quirky enough to be interesting. And then some days later I screenshot-ed a t-shirt that Fleur wore on another YouTube channel (yes, YouTubing is my guilty pleasure. But it’s not totally wasteful entertainment, see — I get inspiration from it! ).
I’ve always liked the tribal/”Aztec” pattern trend: of patterned clothing or hijabs that I wear, they are either tribal/geometrical designs, or paisley. I cannot do floral prints, I don’t know why. They’re one of those things that, to me, look great on everybody else but myself.
And so after purchasing some fabric paint at the art shop and sticker vinyl (a.k.a. contact paper or self-adhesive book wrapper) at Poundland, I designed the image in Adobe Illustrator.
Drawing it went pretty quickly: I started with stroked text, expanded it and then drew things on it like a digital doodle. In order to flatten and simplify the file, I rasterised the drawing then Image-Traced to make it a vector again. I then cut two pieces of sticky vinyl into A4 size (actually the other one was smaller than A4 since lowercase a is not as big), stuck them temporarily onto regular printer paper, and printed off the designs straight onto the paper backing.
Then came the cutting. See, I didn’t design the print to be a proper “stencil” design — you know, where the cut-out comes off in one piece, with bridges to hold the “islands” together. I designed it more to be like a screen-printing stencil. So if I were to own a screen-printing kit kinda like this one, the stencil-making part would’ve been aided with some fancy chemical emulsion process. But poor me went with the manual scalpel & cutting board method with various miniscule pieces of vinyl to peel off and stick onto my tote bag.
If I were to do this method again (which inshaAllah I would NOT ), I’d have purchased vinyl that wasn’t transparent. Heh. Oh, I also prepared the tote bag by ironing it smooth and placing a thick cardboard rectangle inside it. Then it was a matter of brushing on the paint: at first I used a stippling method, but then tried brushing the paint in a circular motion like how Debbie Travis always used to do, and that gave more coverage quicker. Next was peeling off the stencil pieces (I didn’t have to wait for the paint to dry), and tada! Best part of the project — seeing the print materialise.
Of course I then had to do the same with the lowercase a. After everything was dried, as per the fabric paint instructions, I ironed the bag for 5 minutes to set the paint. (It says it will be washable at 40 degrees.)
On the left there is my tote, with all it’s handmade imperfections, but on the right is a mockup from Society6, an online print service where artists and designers upload their art to be printed on various products for people to order. I figured since I had the Illustrator design already, why not put it up for good use. The pricing is understandably pricey, but honestly even seeing that mockup makes me happy. Kihkih.
Hope you enjoyed the little sharing, bye!