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Brandon Rike T-shirt Design Superstar


WHO IS BRANDON RIKE? more than likely wearing something that Rike designed. Some of the well known artists he’s been able to design t-shirts and logos for include Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, Blink-182, and Bruno Mars, just to name a few. The most impressive fact about his success is that he has accomplished this completely independently within his own office in his residential home.


Brandon Rike is an Ohio-based freelance designer who specializes in designing t-shirts for bands and artists. His design can be found anywhere where music exists. Rike’s designs are so popular and his clients are so well known that his products can be found at venues, concerts, and music shops. Any person sporting a band t-shirt, no matter what genre, is


EARLY LIFE THE KID WHO CAN DRAW Growing up, Rike was known as “the kid who can draw.” At a young age, when his mother asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, little Brandon raised his head from his coloring book and replied, “Can I just do this?” as he pointed to the pages he was coloring. Even then, he knew


at a very young age that all he wanted to do was to be an artist and nothing more. He never once had ambitions to become an astronaut, a doctor, or an actor. The only thing that ever appealed to him was to create art.

GOOD AT OWNING SKATEBOARDS As Rike grew up, his friends and peers picked up skateboarding as a popular activity to participate in. Though he tried to join in with his friends, the most amazing thing that Rike could do on a skateboard was not fall off. While his friends were able to perform impressive stunts and tricks, Rike never had that ability. Though he couldn’t participate with his friends in skateboarding, he would still purchase boards to start his own skateboard collection. The thing that

drew him to the boards were the creative artwork that appeared on the bottom. While his friends destroyed these images by grinding and scratching up their boards, Rike appreciated the beauty and became obsessed by the various designs and graphics that were printed on the boards. After discovering these graphics, Rike began talking to his friends about creating new skateboard designs instead of focusing on skateboard stunts.


ALBUM LAYOUT OBSESSION Aside from skateboard designs, Rike also obsessed over music album layouts. Unlike today, kids in the mid-nineties were equipped with booklets that were printed with layouts of lyrics and graphics that they could unfold and look at. When the American punk band, Green Day, released their album Dookie, Rike couldn’t get enough of their album cover. It had hand written type and several illustrated details in it including a monkey throwing poop, a burglar robbing the police, and more poop. It was like a “Where’s Waldo” kind of image where you can find all


sorts of different items throughout one scene. Rike sincerely enjoyed the images and would look at the cover for hours. He also appreciated Pearl Jam’s layout for the album Lightology, which was a completely different style from Green Day’s illustrated Dookie. Pearl Jam’s album had more weird and creepy visuals that mimicked their odd style of music. Rike liked the connection with the bizarre images due to the fact that Pearl Jam’s music was so bizarre. The music and the visuals complimented each other and opened more doors for Rike when it came to designs and graphics.

HIGH SCHOOL BAND A.K.A. FIRST DESIGN PROJECT With all of these discoveries, Rike spent the majority of his time drawing, even in his math and science classes. Rike got his first experience of designing band logos when he was thirteen. He and his friend started a rock band called Dead Poetic and Rike took this opportunity to hand-design their logo and all the graphics for their very first demo tape jacket. He sketched for weeks and used graphing paper intended for math class to create the perfect logo for his band. Later on, he start-

ed designing flyers for the shows they played every weekend. He would use a photo copying machine and loved how he could change little details and get different textures while experimenting with the photo copying machine. As the band progressed, Rike continued to design their album covers for their later records they created throughout high school. At this point, he never realized that while he was designing logos and posters for his band, he was actually doing graphic design.



Dead Poetic Logo Designed by Brandon Rike for his high school band


INTRODUCTION TO GRAPHIC DESIGN During high school career, his school did not offer any art classes that would benefit his interest in design. They mainly offered courses in ceramics and tie-dye shirts, which Rike found frustrating. Once he enrolled himself in a post-secondary program, Rike was able to attend college-level classes and finally got involved with

the college’s design department and was introduced to the term “graphic design”. There he learned how to use Photoshop and Illustrator and was exposed to good typography and good composition. He took several design classes though he never completed his education due to Rock ‘n Roll taking over.


ROCK N’ ROLL TOOK OVER SIGNED AND TOURED After graduating high school in 2001, the band he had formed in high school continued to play and they jumped at the opportunity to go on tour and perform in other cities. They traveled from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio all the way down to Florida and back again playing shows. The success of this first tour allowed them to continue touring around the country and his band eventually got signed to a record la-


bel in Seattle, Washington. The band toured from 2002 - 2004 and was nationally recognized and this band was Rike’s number one priority. During his downtime, Rike was able to take some art classes at Sinclair Community College in Ohio. Though he did benefit from what he learned in his design classes, due to the band’s success and schedule, he never achieved a college degree.


Brandon Rike singing live in Dead Poetic


DESIGN ON THE ROAD While playing with his band, Rike continued to design their album covers and merchandisem which included t-shirts they sold during their shows. Though he was only designing for his own band, other bands appreciated his work and asked if he wanted to do some design work for their band. As Rike and his band continued to tour, more and more band members from other various bands would approach Rike and ask him to create designs for them. This routine continued and turned into a snowball effect that grew larger than what Rike could have ever expected.


One day, Rike received a phone call from one of the global merchandise companies that major bands work with. The company wanted him to design t-shirts for Megadeath, Sum 41 and Interpol, which were internationally recognized bands. That phone call was a milestone for Rike and his designing hobby that suddenly became his career. Without question, he took the offer and designed t-shirts for these bands in his power book while he continued touring with his own band. This is how Rike’s current, successful business was developed.


Taking Back SundayTee Design One of the first bands that Brandon designed for

Tooth & Nail Records Tee Design A record company based off Seattle, WA



Bamboozle Tee Design Bamboozle is an music festival in Asbury, NJ with performances by major artists of different genres

Wiz Kalifa is one of the succesful rappers that does not hide their love for cannabis


GOODBYE ROCK N’ ROLL, HELLO FULLTIME DESIGNER In 2005, Rike decided that he wanted to become a full time designer. Being an artist was what he had wanted to do ever since he was a little boy. He appreciated his band for being the tool that pushed him and opened the doors to design for him. The band soon became Rike’s hobby while Rike

focused his full attention on design, and the band finally completed their final tour in 2006. After that, Rike bought and remodeled a house in Ohio where he currently resides. He has been freelancing from his home full time ever since and his clientele continues to grow and grow.


THE GRIND TYPOGRAPHY IS HIS GREATEST HIT Like most designers, Brandon gets a variety of projects from a variety of clients. But he is well-know as one of the leaders in designing band t-shirts. He gets to work for artists from all different genres: from rock to pop, from folk to hip-hop. And on all of his t-shirt designs, typography is the main focus. He loves letters more than any other element in design. He loves the forms that


each individual letters can provide and how letters interact to each other. He is obsessed with finding great fonts and he spends a lot of money on fonts to work with in his designs. He is fond of using the direct-selection tool in illustrator to modify bits and pieces of letters as well as printing out fonts and hand painting over them to enhance the certain feel that the project needs.


They Fray t-shirt design conceopt. The Fray is an American rock band based in Denver, Colorado


Racing Machetes T-shirt Design Brandon identified his design work as The Racing Machetesbefore using his full name


THE PROCESS Aside from using already made fonts, Brandon also enjoys hand lettering and creating his own typefaces for projects. His process usually starts of with him sketching out his ideas and along with how he wants the letters to look like like and interact to each


other. After that he would bring it to illustrator where he would trace and edit his hand-drawn letters with the pen tool. He would then add subtle images that would complement the typography before encapsulating all these elements as a whole graphic.

CLIENT FIRST, EGO LAST Brandon takes pride of being a freelance designer and working hard for his clients. He believes that his designs should be a representation of his clients and not of his own. He does not worry about creating the most sophisticated and complex art work and promote his skills but rather focus on understanding his clients’ needs and solving their problem through graphics. He strives to get into their

brains and see what exactly they want rather than just doing whatever he desires. The design could be the simplest thing, but it may work better for the clients than an overdone graphic that is submerged in embellishments. He does not try to be the best typographer with the fanciest typefaces but rather strives in satisfying his clients with the appropriate design.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Thread’s Not Dead (Abook about apparel design)

COLOPHON This book was written and designed by Mikko Dumadag in the Spring of 2014 as a project for Typography II in Towson University. The images are from This project uses the font, Dirty Ego and Adobe Garamond Pro. A combination of a Mac book pro and Macintoch Desktops were used to design this project along with Adobe indesign and Adobe Photoshop. The book was printed in the Creative Services in Towson University and it was bounded by Mikko, himself using thread and needle provided by the professor.

Brandon Rike  
Brandon Rike  

This is a book project about a typographer named Brandon Rike. He is a t-shirt design super star that uses typography as his main element fo...