June 14, 2013
ADC and American Icon Screen Printing have teamed up to bring you the finest crafted shirts designed by some of the best artists in the industry, hand-selected from ADC’s community of talented members. Together, the ADC and American Icon dive into the craftsmanship from the start – from garment selection to colorways to inks – ultimately, creating a beautiful end result. Hopefully one that you’ll wear for years to come.
We talk to our newest partner to find out what kind of screen prints we can eagerly await seeing on much more then tee shirts.
ADC: Tell us what you do at American Icon?
Rob Kucharek: I am one of the owners along with Andy Camay. Beyond the general operations that go along with owning a business, I also handle the art and creative direction as well as client requested design work. From a production standpoint, most people aren’t aware of all that goes into preparing their art for print. Along with the overseeing the art department at Icon, I direct our technical color separations and quality control of printing with our head pressmen. Overall, most anything on the visual directive side is my focus as well as administrative responsibilities.
Jesse Vadala: I am an Account Manager with a few sub categories as well. Primary focus is to generate new business in a variety of clients from small brands to large companies and everything in between. Along with accounts, I also handle our social media and some alternative advertising and marketing ventures (hence our partnership with ADC in 2013). I attempt to maintain a balance of my efforts between client relations and keeping us active socially to create an awareness of the unique subculture within the screen-printing trade.
ADC: How did American Icon start?
Rob: We started in the beginning of 2005. Andy and I have been best friends since we were about 12 or 13 years old, and we’re both creeping to the very late side of our 30’s now. We grew up on skateboarding, BMX, snowboarding, punk rock music and that very do-it-yourself sort of mentality.
Our pasts play a heavy roll in how we have built our business: drawing from who we are in and out of the shop. Early on, both Andy and myself said that if the print quality of a shirt we printed was not to the quality we would wear ourselves, that it’s just simply not good enough for our customers. You can still hear this same statement made by any member of our staff today.
As to my background, I played in a touring band for about seven or eight years. I was fortunate enough to be able to tour as a profession, but in time, I burned out on it. Andy had worked in the snowboard industry as a sales and technical rep for a few years but also decided to pursue a new path around the same time. With both of us on the same page in that regard and living relatively close to one another again… we decided to give it a go and see what we could build.
Within a couple of years, we grew pretty sizably. Fast forward eight years, and we have brought on multiple automatic presses and a dozen employees that allow us the opportunity to pursue bigger ventures, like the partnership with the ADC.
ADC: What has made American Icon stick?
Rob: For me, it is doing something that I love on the creative side, paired with a bit of nostalgia. Thinking back to that feeling of being a teenager in the 90s and being proud to wear my new favorite band or skateboard company shirt. That feeling must have really resonated with me back then. To still be involved in that level of excitement and to incorporate the passion of others in what I do today generates a genuine feeling of pride for my work inside these walls and out.
Jesse: The creative outlet of recording and touring while playing music also shaped my life from my teens through my 20s. Finding a creative career path outside of music was a transition I was almost sure would never happen. Thankfully, Rob and the rest of the team at Icon have put quite a bit of faith in me and offered me a truly unique position. These days I am proud to work in a place where we’re constantly pushing the creative envelope and finding new ways to expand within the craft of screen printing.
ADC: What’s a project that sticks out in your mind?
Jesse: Rob, Rhino Records?
Rob: Yes, I would say that would definitely be one. An artist and close friend of ours, Wes Lang, connected us with a project with Rhino Records for the Grateful Dead. Over the past few years, we have worked closely with Rhino on the Grateful Dead online store that is regularly updated with individual catalog items and box sets of live recordings.
Coming from a musical background, I obviously respect the caliber of band that the Grateful Dead was and to be able to be part of that…
ADC: Well, we love your tee shirts, posters and everything else created by American Icon here. The ADC staff tries to get one in every color! Is there anything else you’d like the ADC community to know?
Jesse: It’s nice to have a home in the ADC community and to have been accepted so openly. It sheds some light on the fact that what we’re doing here is using the work of some skilled artists then applying it to a different medium than your standard traditional print on paper or digital format.
A huge “Thank you!” to everyone involved on the logistical side of ADC for welcoming us, especially Ignacio and Zack and everybody that’s made the partnership happen, and for allowing us the opportunity to become a partner. Also, an obvious “Thank you!” to Jon Contino because it never would’ve happened without chatting with Jon first. We are so thankful for it, that’s for sure.
We are proud to sport previous commissioned works:
- Costa Rica "Judge" t-shirt designed by Nick Mittelstead
- Miami Beach Festival T-shirt (two kinds) designed by Jon Contino
- Portfolio Night T-shirt (5 different designs done by Julian Alexander from Slang Inc.) sent to 24 cities around the world
If you like what you see, contact any of the American Icon team members through their website. Follow their process on Twitter or Instagram and friend them on facebook to see the freshest screenprinting now!
If you’re a designer, illustrator or artist and would like to see your creation come to life in an American Icon T-shirt distributed to the ADC community, email ADC’s Creative Producer Zack Kinslow: firstname.lastname@example.org.