The San Francisco 49ers, how you gave me such enjoyment in my youth, and how you give me such anguish now. I can’t complain, I was born into rooting for the dynasty of the 80’s. It could have been much worse, I could have been born in to a Browns family; running around the recess yard pretending to be Bernie Kosar. The problem is that after so many years of being the best, the losing is so much more painful (although honestly I bet Browns fans would beg to disagree). So when I ran across this picture of perhaps the most awesome grandma in the world, it spoke to me on so many levels. It is the perfect 49ers shirt, just change your emphasis and you can wear it the Super Bowl, or through the entire Singletary era. I knew from the moment I saw that shirt it had to be mine. I dug into online research… and found absolutely nothing. I was going to have to take this into my own hands.
If I was going to recreate the shirt I was going to be able to improve it, but first things first, I would have to figure out how to print it. I looked a little into learning how to screen print myself. Looks like an awesome project, I’ll definitely get back to it, but not something I was going to attempt right then. Next up the was screen printers. Online I found some close by in Brooklyn, but their prices seemed steep. To clarify, they didn’t seem steep to me, but my girlfriend, who used to run a T-shirt company, said they were. She gave me the contact to an old standby her company used, and I reached out. They seemed like good people and process didn’t seem too difficult, so now I could move on to the design.
First, and most importantly was the shirt. I liked the red, but I knew I was going to have to go with a cotton/poly blend, if anybody has an old athletic shirt you’ll know how comfy these things are. Plus they bring back memories of gym class and sports, so it is only fitting for a football shirt. I pulled a screen grab from American Apparel to mock up. Next, the font had to go. I found the closest font to the Niners script I could, Quentin Caps, fired up Gimp, a great open source photo shop editor, and went to it. I didn’t know what I was doing with photo editing, so I left the helmet off.
Mock Up #1 wasn’t bad, but I felt something was missing. I think I wanted that helmet after all. I did a quick Google search for “49ers helmet”, set the settings for only large photos, and found a desktop wallpaper that had the resolution that I needed.
I took that image into Gimp, and after hours of messing with it, I was able to create a solid outline that could be turned into 49ers red. Again I struggled, this time to find the official hex value of 49er red, I guess the Niners fear counterfeiting. After another hellish search I ended up just checking the CSS code of the 49ers’ website. If its close enough for the web, it’ll be close enough for my T-shirt. After all that work, I had an outline and eventually Mock Up #2.
It was still missing something. I decided to dig back into Gimp and get some gold in the shirt. After a few more revisions, and hours in Gimp, I got to where I was happy. Nervously I sent my designs and my cash to the screen printer. I couple days later I received an email with a proof for approval; I was so close.
I was happy with how it looked in the photo and gave them the go ahead. Two Sundays later I was sitting at the bar, wearing my shirt, watching my Niners beat the Raiders.