Big Brain Awards

Big Brain 2012 Finalist: Greg Kerr

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Kerr started screening the shirts about five years ago after toying with the idea while working at Acme Prints in Tempe. At first he printed his own jazz album cover designs and classic movie posters, but Kerr soon moved on to books. "I read a lot anyway, and there's an endless amount of inspiration," he says.

With super-soft tri-blend crewnecks from American Apparel as his base, Kerr screens each shirt by hand at Acme, using discharge ink (a dye that essentially bleaches the fabric) to color the designs into the shirts' material, as opposed to building ink onto the textile.

Kerr takes pride in keeping his business small and being in control of every aspect of it. "It's a very personal kind of brand," he says of his one-man business.

He's turned down offers to have his pieces stocked at Top Shop, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters. Instead, he prefers selling directly to his customers, and working with small boutiques.

He compares his role in overseeing the line to that of an art director. Kerr seeks out artists from all over the world, chooses color schemes, and works through their designs to form two focused collections a year.

Kerr released his latest spring line in mid-March, and it includes shirts depicting Ted Hughes' The Iron Man and Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves among its 12 new designs.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski