Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Print shops, I love print shops! Today's feature is another print shop that I've stumbled upon through the Philadelphia art/craft market scene. The 50/50 Company is a bad ass husband and wife team that creates brilliant traditional style prints. Their work is usually limited to just a few colors but the contrast in them combined with elaborate line work makes for some dynamic, fun illustrations. Not just limited to the page, the 50/50 Company has a whole slew of hand printed merchandise that you should definitely check out! (Maybe even get some of that holiday shopping done, hint hint) We got to have a chat with Matt from the 50/50 Company about their beginnings as a shop, all of their imagery, what they make, and even the feline friendly prints that you'll see throughout their catalog. It's a great interview and we hope you enjoy! Happy Black Friday!
1. Where did The 50/50 Company originate? Who was it started by and how has the company grown and evolved since its inception? Also, where did the name itself come from?
My wife and I technically stared about 23 years ago in 11th grade art class. But officially, we formed our LLC about 9 years ago. The 50/50 name comes from the unity of our creative forces and if you have the word 'company' in your name, people tend to take you more seriously.
2. What goes into the design process in your shop? You've got a pretty consistent imagery and style, so how does the design of each piece begin and develop?
I do most of the illustration and design and my wife plays a major role in constructive critiquing and product curation. We try to make everything by hand ourselves: everything starts with ink on paper the traditional way.
3. The work your shop produces seems heavily rooted in traditional (non-digital) print processes, is this something that you strive for? What print processes are you typically using? Do you dive into the digital side of things at all?
The feeling of having a very traditional look is very important to us. Our product line consists of a lot of different styles of printing but our main focus is on screen printing. There is some digital quality to my work but the company has always been an outlet to show my looser creative side.
4. Does your design process differ when working on a t-shirt or patch as opposed to a flat image? Or is the image fabricated and its uses are figured out as the piece develops?
I always find that simpler images look better on a t-shirt or patch. More detailed imagery works well on posters and large format prints. Although, a lot of our products tend to be happy accidents-nothing seems to work out if over planned.
5. You've got a very limited but deliberate and bold use of color in your works, is this a conceptual element or a factor of the print processes you're using? How do you decide what pieces or elements deserve color?
The first 6 years of the company was ALL black and white. I just recently started experimenting with color treatment and I love using elements that you can't typically get with 4 color process-things that glow in the dark, shine and shimmer.
6. You're very active not only in the craft market scene but the animal adoption and enthusiast scene, how have these two avenues helped your company develop? And how important are they to the progression of you work and the imagery in it? (Also, I have to ask where the kitty vest idea came from because those are so awesome.)
The craft market scene allows us to get so many more eyes on our work and gives us the opportunity to talk shop with other vendors, many of which have become regular compadres. The same can be said for the animal-centric events we participate in. Being active, in any scene, sparks creativity and connections that lead to new opportunities. Our adopted cats have always been a huge source of inspiration for us, so when we found this amazing community of cat lovers it kind of gave us the green light we needed to go all out with our feline designs. Apparently 'cat' is universal because even at dark markets and beer festivals people want cat artwork, and yes, kitty vests! We've screen printed patches in the past to sew onto hats and totes and just realized, hey, if people are bringing their cats out to these events, then they should have something to match their parents style.
7. Finally, PLUGS! Where can people find you? Any shows or events coming up? Anywhere that people can find you, let them know!
If you're itching to check out a cat event, we've got a few coming up!
We can almost always be found in Philly and occasionally Baltimore or Asbury. Here are some of our local upcoming events: