The Block

Interviews — 4 months ago

Behind Adam Tickle’s ‘Utopia’ T-shirt design

In 2018 Adam Tickle was one of 50 artists chosen to design a t-shirt against censorship for EVERPRESS and Amnesty International’s 50/50 campaign. Of the 50 designers that took part, he led the pack with his now iconic Utopia tee, a design that has since become synonymous with the project.

 

Adam Tickle has an impressive CV; having established himself in Manchester’s thriving music scene as the go-to for record sleeves, tour merchandise, flyers and press photos, he’s gone on to brand some of the world’s fastest rising and respected brands; from global music staples NTS and Boiler Room, to London fashion stalwarts Goodhood.

 

Today, Adam works in Stockholm, Sweden where he is the head of content for Sneaker e-comm Sneakersnstuff.

 

As we launch 50/50 Reworked – a mini-capsule featuring re-worked designs of the top 5 requested T-shirts from the original 50/50 project – we caught up with Adam to chat about exactly why he thinks his T-shirt resonated so widely.

 

Shop Adam’s limited edition, reworked ‘Utopia’ tee here. Available for 5 days – never to be printed again.

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Adam Tickle's 50/50 Reworked T-shirt
Adam Tickle's Reworked 'Utopia' T-shirt design

Can you tell our community a little about yourself to get started?

I was born in Manchester UK in 1985 so I was a teenager at the end of the 90s and early 2000. During that period of time, US skate punk and the Nu Metal music scene were at their peak in the UK. Think Blink 182, Limp Bizkit, Green Day, The Offspring, Deconstruction Tour and Punk O Rama compilations. All my mates started forming bands and the indie punk scene in Manchester was popping off. I had no interest in making music but was obsessed with the scene. My way in was to create record sleeves, tour merchandise, flyers, press photos etc.

Apron Records Logo Design / T-shirt
Apron Records Logo Design / T-shirt

By the time I had left Manchester for university (in Bath) in 2004 I had worked with some of the best bands to come out of the UK punk scene of the early 2000s.

I found myself in London in 2007 and continued working with musicians and club nights. Alongside the music industry work, I have had a career in advertising and art direction but I have always had an interested in clothing, brands and marketing. I am now based in Stockholm Sweden as the head of content for global sneaker retailer Sneakersnstuff.

Had you designed much for clothing before?

The only pieces of clothing I have ever really designed are t-shirts, they are the ultimate canvas for expression.

Plus they are often the cheapest clothing items for bands, club nights and startups brands. There have been so many over the years, half are in a box back at my parents home, the rest are in the wardrobes of my mates.

make it pop on social media, ask a mate if they would wear it

Home Listening Logo Design
Home Listening Logo Design

How do you approach this kind of design compared to digital design?

T-shirt graphics should pop. They shouldn’t take themselves too seriously either. I try not to think too deeply when designing a t-shirt.

Everpress x Amnesty International
Everpress x Amnesty International

Was your process different again considering this is a charity campaign with Amnesty International?

Charities can often come across as being dated and corporate. A charity like Amnesty teaming up with a brand like Everpress is refreshing. The Utopia t-shirt had to stand out. The campaign was digitally driven so it was important for me to create a design that could be spotted instantly on an Instagram feed. It also had to be simple, one word (graphic) to communicated positivity and inclusiveness. That’s kinda the message with the word Utopia, it is the complete opposite of what censorship stands for.

Adam Tickle's 'Utopia' t-shirt
Adam Tickle’s ‘Utopia’ t-shirt

3 tips for anyone designing a T-shirt for the first time?

Don’t think too much about it, make it pop on social media, ask a mate if they would wear it.

Order the reworked, limited edition ‘Utopia’ t-shirt by Adam Tickle. 50% profit to artists, 50% to Amnesty International. Grab yours here.