Pin It
Favorite

Hired Guns 

Two Spokane poster artists prove their design chops on a national level.

click to enlarge art18108.jpg

Something changed that winter, as Derek Landers and Trevor Sullivan stuffed hand warmers in their pockets and felt the negative temperatures seep in through the holes in the garage walls.

The two 39-yearold Spokane graphic designers — who refer to themselves as Dumbgun — filled their free time with printing custom T- shirts in Landers’ garage. Both worked full-time but wanted to do their own creative work on their own terms.

They froze just so they could feel creative.

“We fooled ourselves into thinking we loved what we did,” Sullivan says.

But when the reality of printing one or two shirts in the harsh winter dawned on them, they turned their interest elsewhere. To posters. To concert posters. To Pearl Jam.

Both are longtime fans of the band (Sullivan saw Eddie Vedder and Co. perform at the Bing here in the mid-1990s), and they decided, after years of making shirts, to reach out and ask to design a poster for them. They didn’t expect a response, let alone an actual offer.

Pearl Jam, a band long known for its contributions to charitable causes, was doing a 2007 benefit tour for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America — a cause dear to guitarist Mike McCready, who has Crohn’s disease. It’s a cause dear to Landers, too — his cousin died at a young age of complications from the disease.

A few phone calls and emails later, Dumbgun had an offer to do a custom show poster — as a part of a series — for the Honolulu stop of the band’s tour.

Landers and Sullivan got to work — designing a poster that characterized every member of the band as a tiki god. They took a risk: Pearl Jam usually doesn’t allow caricatures of themselves on their merchandise.

But the risk paid off.

“It ended up being the second-highest-selling poster … All the posters sold well,” Landers says. “Ours sold out in less than 10 minutes.”

Suddenly, Pearl Jam fans were scrambling on eBay for new versions of the poster — one of which sold for more than $600. And suddenly Dumbgun was being hired to do custom posters for McCready’s other band, Flight to Mars.

“We were like, ‘Let’s just do stuff for bands that we love,’” Landers says. “I’m not interested in doing stuff for Nickelback or anything like that. I just want to do stuff for bands we enjoy.”

Landers got on the phone with My Morning Jacket — and did several posters for them. Then Wilco — more posters, all bright, with the same stark, tongue-in-cheek imagery: boxing robots, magicians and birds, alien preachers. They’re funny, but they’re also art.

The two say that show-poster design, above any other creative work they’ve done in their careers, is the most gratifying. As they take conference calls with the bass player from My Morning Jacket and the manager for Wilco, they can laugh about that winter in the garage.

It’s almost if the cold made them take a leap they wouldn’t have before.

“If you don’t have the ‘why not?’ attitude,” Sullivan says, “you’re never going to do anything.”

GIG: A Rock and Roll Art Show • Fri, June 15, at 7 pm • Hamilton Studio • 1427 W. Dean Ave. • Free • 21+ • [email protected]

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Music

  • Hear This
  • Hear This

    How George Relles has helped shape the Festival at Sandpoint's sound since day one
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Human Touch
  • Human Touch

    Michael Franti makes the personal political in his new music
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Drinking Songs, And Then Some
  • Drinking Songs, And Then Some

    Whitey Morgan's independent streak makes him a must-hear modern country outlaw
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Leah Sottile

  • Imaginary Friends
  • Imaginary Friends

    The very real role that fantasy plays in our everyday lives
    • Aug 13, 2014
  • Expert Advice
  • Expert Advice

    Dab? Vape? Indica? Sativa? A few tips for beginners
    • Jul 9, 2014
  • In the Veginning
  • In the Veginning

    At the first Spokane VegFest, you'll get a bellyful, not an earful
    • Jun 18, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Subtraction by Ad Dishin'

    Vacation loses its comedic momentum through marketing overkill
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • No Stopping Him

    Graham Nash has written songs that moved a generation, and he's still creating
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


festival at sandpoint


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation