By Adrienne Perron
Photographed by Jamie Mercurio
From our February 2023 issue
With a mélange of archival photos and cool vintage T-shirts, the Maine Historical Society’s ongoing exhibit Fashion for the People: Maine’s Graphic Tees explores how a piece of plain white underwear became a conduit for political, promotional, and playful messaging. Of course, today’s Maine designers are still using tees as a canvas for art and ideas — often, to flaunt some home-state pride. We raided the closets of a few of our favorite designers.
Casey Everett and husband Michael were slinging veggies at farmers’ markets in 2014 when they noticed Casey’s screen-printed tea towels were outselling produce. Soon, Casey was running her own shop, using water-based ink to print botanical illustrations and animal portraits on T-shirts and more. Her oyster design, she says, celebrates Maine’s leadership in sustainable aquaculture. $32.
“Just a Kid from Maine, State Plates”
Maine pride inspired Biddeford designer Kyle Poissonier’s flagship line, back in 2016. He’s since developed a dozen variations on the “JAKFM” slogan, including this tribute to Maine’s vintage plates — and sold more than 30,000 to proud Mainers around the world. A percentage of proceeds benefits nonprofit Maine Children’s Cancer Program. $28.
“Pines of Maine”
Salt & Pine’s Amanda Dunigan worked with graphic designer Kaitlyn Hebden on this tee, contrasting Maine’s eastern-white, red, and pitch pines. Dunigan screen-prints in her Westbrook studio, aiming to capture what people love about Maine, from surfable waves to mountain views. $30.
“Land & Sea”
West Quoddy Head Light inspired the lighthouse “competing” with the waves in this design. “It captures Maine’s adventurous feel,” Biddeford designer Kanya Zillmer says. Her abstract and playful motifs are based on husband and co-owner James Frydrych’s photos of landscapes, mountains, and lighthouses. $28.
Esoteric tees connect people, Rockport’s Seth Macy thinks. “If you see someone wearing a cool T-shirt, you give them a nod,” he says. Macy, who founded the defunct and much-missed satirical news site New Maine News, spoofed the album art from 1979’s Unknown Pleasures, by the English post-punk band Joy Division. $22.
“Bear Riding Moose”
Cape Elizabeth artist Kyle Norris
was obsessed with funny graphic tees as a teenager, so they seemed like a natural venue for his clever, Maine-centric designs — like this one, inspired by an iconic (manipulated) photo of Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose. “Mainers love weird,” he says. $24.
“Legend of the Dash”
Scarborough’s Ryan Hughes, who owns Maine Green with George Corey, collaborates with artists to make shirts inspired by Maine history and legends — like that of the Dash, a ship lost at sea in 1815. Mattie Rose Templeton’s drawing depicts the ship and its ghost, which supposedly returns when a crew-member’s descendent dies. “We turn stories into wearable art,” Hughes says. $30.