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October 26, 2014

Weezer EWBAITE Pinball T-Shirt

Last week I had the good fortune to design a t-shirt for my all-time favorite band, Weezer.  Some photos of have started to surface of the shirt (already on sale!) so I thought I'd do a quick post about this design, which was one of the craziest illustration jobs I have ever done.

At this point I've drawn a few things for Weezer, plus I recently completed my Weezer Fan Trilogy of comic books, so a few weeks back Karl asked me to submit an idea for a Weezer T-Shirt.  The design needed to focus on their (AMAZING) new album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End because the EWBAITE tour was fast approaching!

For a few years now I have been putting out a pinball fanzine called Drop Target with my buddy Jon Chad.  In the middle of each issue we have a "Dream Machine" section where we draw the playfield for an imaginary pinball machine that we wish existed.  There is so much great imagery in EWBAITE, I thought it would be cool to represent all of the songs in a single pinball playfield.

On October 13th, I sent Karl a little PDF that laid out my sketch and explained the concept, so that he could show it to the band and their management or whoever makes these decisions.  If you can't tell, I  based the layout on the 1984 Williams game Space Shuttle (a secret nod to The Astronauts for any Weezer Fan Club members out there).  Here's the page where I laid out all the features (click all the images in this post to see them bigger):

I really wasn't sure if Weezer would go for this design.  For me, it's the intersection of so many cool things that I love, it almost makes my brain explode to look at it, but I knew I wasn't seeing it objectively.  I love Weezer and pinball way too much, so I just left it up to them to make the call.

On October 20th at 10:30am Karl emailed me to say that the sketch was approved but also that the design was being "fast tracked" and that he needed it "tonight" if that was humanly possible.  I told him I might be able to get it in before the printers got to work the next day, so we set a deadline of 8:00am the following morning.  I canceled everything I had planned for the rest of the day, and started drawing at 11am.

It ended up taking me 20 consecutive hours of drawing to finish the t-shirt and do all the production work.  It was pretty brutal, (and honestly I don't think I would have been able to do it if I didn't draw a 24-Hour Comic every year!) but I kept telling myself "This is the coolest thing I have ever drawn!!! For WEEZER!!!" so I gave it my all, and worked through the night.

The hardest part was the lower playfield, which showcases the last three tracks on the album, The Futurescope Trilogy, which are mostly instrumental.  Luckily, this Weezer Fan Club member named TJ McDonald did a 5,000 word analysis of those tracks, which really helped me figure out some visuals to use (thanks TJ!).  By 5pm I had the lower playfield penciled in.  By 10pm I had the whole playfield penciled and then by 3am I had it all inked.  If you look carefully at the process pictures above, you can see me sneaking more and more stuff into the playfield - deep references from lyrics, or the packaging of the album, or the teaser videos that led up to its release.  I tried to put as much cool stuff in there as possible, for my fellow Fan Club members.

From 3am-6am I worked on digitally coloring the playfield and then separating out all of the files for the t-shirt printer.  My idea was to use a brown shirt and then print white, orange and black ink on it (colors from the album cover).  I sent off the final, print-ready files at 7am on October 21st, an hour before the deadline, and then finally went to sleep!

Last night Weezer played their first concert of the EWBAITE tour in Philadelphia, on October 26th and they already had my shirts for sale - "fast track" indeed!  Here is a photo of the merch table, by another Fan Club member, Nick Lombardo - you can see my shirt in the upper right corner (also, the epic Luke Pearson Rebel Weezer Alliance poster front and center!):

This was obviously a dream job for me, and I'm pretty pumped to see this t-shirt in person at the Weezer show in San Francisco a week from today!

UPDATE: You can now buy my pinball T-shirt in the Weezer online store!


Unknown said...

Dude, that rocks. I really want to play this machine.

genex said...

this is so awesome - gotta get this!!!

Marie said...

Alec: This makes me so happy for you!

Pinball Machines Australia said...

For someone who loves pinball machines so much, this pinball t-shirt is a must-have! I love the design and I won't mind wearing it regularly!

Unknown said...

The website is down. Anywhere else I can get the t-shirt?

Alec Longstreth said...

It's long out of print. Your best bet is to look for a previously owned shirt on eBay (or in the weezer fan club)