Psychedelic T-Shirt Gallery

Psychedelic T-Shirt Gallery

Psychedelic T-ShirtThe psychedelic t-shirt has been with us since the sixties, the format is generally similar insomuch as the goal is to display some reference visually to the psychedelic experience. The com-modification of the culture with a certain knowing wink. The look of trippiness or something that would look cool if you looked at it while tripping. The visualization of the psychedelic experience has always existed, but the specifics of the visual hallucinations never influenced modern popular culture to the degree until L.S.D was widely used. You had huge swaths of the population tuning in and dropping out. This in turn influenced the way all rt was made. New ways of perceiving reality emerged and influenced all forms of artistic expression. The most signature aspect in visual terms was an attempt to capture the hallucinatory look. The rainbow trails of color, the foreshortening and scale reversals, as well as the inverted day glow colors all became radically common place with this new movement. Stoner art is born, stuff to look at while stoned has a new revolutionary value. Peter Max and his early work and popularity changed the way consumers viewed the aesthetic value of everyday items. Through the seventies psychedelic became the mainstream. In popular culture the colors and design of almost everything was altered to represent the new collective head space.

You had the drug culture influencing popular culture and the natural personal statement of what clothing you wore showed what side you may be on. The psychedelic t-shirt became an outward manifestation of where your head was at. Are you head or fed? The degree of the shirts psychedelicness could also measure the degree of commitment to the psychedelic cause, of the shirts wearer. Clothing as protest for personal freedom versus probable cause for a search of your personal belongings. You wore your hair long with your heart on your sleeve with a shirt that implied you like to get stoned. Then, as now, you get pulled over and your car searched easy prey for the boys in blue. The more you waved your freak flag the more you were{are}, thought of as easy pickings for law enforcement. The symbol on your shirt tells the world how you feel. The freedom of self expression had never been as championed as it needs to be, but the era of the sixties began a slow process of change. Freedom is what visually the colors represent, the hope and dreams of a better future. To face the hidden truths with a smile instead of reactionary fear. To go to the beyond to find out more about yourself , to see the world from different angles and learn from the experience. To not be afraid to think for yourself instead of a steady diet of dogma.

The psychedelic t-shirt as soul armor. The shamen’s favorite t-shirt showcases the beauty of the journey. How do you show what can’t be seen? How do you share the intensity of the psychedelic experience and the value of it to others? You wear the outward trappings and those that know the code will nod in silent solidarity. The t-shirt becomes tribal markings, identifying your belief system. It is sharing the cool visuals through the individual artist’s interpretation of the mystical experience. The artist is sharing they’re personal take on capturing the uncapturable. The pallet the artist uses is universal and readily identifiable. The style knows no borders or age and will only continue to develop and evolve. One only has to view the visuals at a Phish show or DJ Tipper to see the style lives on mutating magnificently. From jam bands to electronic music the psychedelic t-shirt lives on. There will always be a merch table with clothing to help you immortalize your experience with your mind integrating with the music in a psychedelic style. The t-shirt designers job is to visually equate the scenario in a universally acceptable manner for those that have eyes to see.

As previously discussed the term psychedelic t-shirt infers a hippie counter cultural origin. The realm of D.I.Y parties, the first Acid Tests, produced for heads by heads. The culture had a look of it’s own with the fliers and the visuals, the whole kitchen sink. The focus on Eastern religious gods and symbols to Marvel comics characters like Dr. Strange as well as an emphasis on nature showed the early visual diversity. All was welcome without judgment under the psychedelic umbrella. The fashion changed with the culture from the Pranksters to the Diggers to the Panthers with a soundtrack by the Warlocks or Miles Davis. The Jimi Hendrix style, the flashy day glow colors to catch the eye. The proud standard bearer of unsquareness influences everything. The music of bands like Pink Floyd took you somewhere with your eyes closed. What did that look like visually? How did that music, with the influence of mind altering substances have a visual equivalent? How did that visual promote the music, the band, and the specific mind state?z

mani-10In the sixties the t-shirt becomes a widespread vehicle for self-expression. Clothing or lack thereof is a political statement. Fashion and politics and art and drugs take on new cultural dimensions. Rock bands brand their fans to advertise for them, with the right art on the shirt. Whole subcultures could survive selling home-made bootleg tour shirts, if the design was tight. The Greatful Dead tours alone minted millions for early psychedelic t-shirt pioneers. The Art Nouveau style mixed with electric colors and the symbols always the codes became a new currency on the lot. One could pay for tour with the right t-shirt with a psychedelic enough design on Shakedown street. The do it yourself and be supported by family of like-minded strangers vibe allowed for a lot of visual experimentation. The genesis of an audience appreciative of the turned on experience and the ability to make these garments by hand, changed the game. The independent artist found a way to distribute his art to those who could cherish it as well as afford it.

By the seventies “stoner art” really took off as bands with corporate money sought out new artists to do album covers and tour shirts. With the growth of surf and skate culture mixing with punk and hip-hop by the end of the decade. The seventies were pivotal to the expansion of imagery seen on psychedelic t-shirts. T-shirts were a growing consumer good that was starting to be niche marketed. With the pervasiveness of the psychedelic style permeating through popular culture everything got the “trippy” treatment. The influence on the next generations would indeed be interesting. The size of a record album, made the album art important. More artistic boundaries were pushed and the art of the psychedelic movement flourished until the urban decay and avarice of the eighties kicked in. The coke vibe versus the cannabis vibe became the difference between love and like.

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