I made this shirt when I was like 17 or 18, when I was a painfully enthusiastic teenager. I wore it all the time in the 90s. It’s the first shirt I ever drew on and wore. I was really impressed with my own drawing at the time, although looking at it now makes me shudder somewhat.
I was just deeply confident about all the work I did at that age and super excited about the art and music I liked. I collected lots of Frank Kozik posters for bands I listened to, redrew album covers, and wrote and drew pictures that I would send to my favorite bands. Once I called David Lovering from the Pixies on the phone. I had no idea what I wanted to say. I was just kind of silent, and he told me not to call him again. It gives me dumb chills to think about it now, but I think it is just part of adolescence. The same part of you that makes you think you won’t break your leg if you jump off a balcony (I didn’t, by the way – it was just a sprain).
I was proud of the ninjaman that I had started sketching. I was really into lettering, zines, and DIY (Portland!), and this was my version of a tag. I was too chicken to do it on a wall, so I did it on a shirt. Plus, ADAM isn’t such a great graffiti name.
I had a series of strange characters I used to draw, but I started sketching ninjaman in the first place because who doesn’t love ninjas? And the kind of faceplate he’s wearing let me hide the fact that I couldn’t draw faces so well.
The shirt is 17 years old now and impossibly soft. I still love making shirts. Still using sharpie, and about five years ago, I started doing airbrush too. I enjoy having this memento that I wear around the house or the studio sometimes. In public, well, not so much…