Before Carrie Foster met Bob Jewell three years ago, she created art for herself and just kept it to herself before eventually giving it away to friends.
One of Foster’s friends approached herabout creating shirts from her drawings, and after they sold, the couple decided to go into business for themselves as Shroom Brothers.
Shroom Brothers makes screen-printed shirts and framed artwork for local art festivals. They’ve displayed at popular Tacoma gatherings such as the Sixth Avenue Art Festival, Music and Art in Wright Park, the Urban Arts Festival, Pagan Pride Day at Freighthouse Square, Cloud Nine at the Mix, and the Proctor Arts Festival (which they noted was their most successful venture).
Until the next Pacific Avenue Street Fair on June 9, their business has gone into hibernation. They’re hoping to wake it up by finding vendors for their shirts at local businesses.
Their stuff has been sold in the past at places like Dorky’s, which I imagine would go well with the Mario merchandise.
With shirts in the $20 range, students may find Shroom Brothers’ shirts as well as their other items very affordable given the cool designs. “Being an art-lover myself, I want people to take it home with them,” said Foster. The duo is also looking to make small, cheap things with their art like stickers and notecards with prices in the $1 to $5 range.
Foster is self-taught. Drawing inspiration from nature, movement, form, and color she pencil-sketches her works then goes over it with ink pen. She’s inspired by Celtic art and knot work like the tree of life. Over the course of our conversation, I noticed Jewell sporting a tattoo of a Celtic symbol on his arm; the image was created by Foster and later tattooed on him by his brother at 38th Street Tattoo.
When the couple started out, they didn’t know anything about photo emulsion, a popular process for screen-printing images on to shirts. It’s a way to screen-print images without needing to cut. A web search for “photo emulsion” shows how easy it is. Jewell watched YouTube videos to gain knowledge about the process. Since then, the couple have created hundreds of shirts. They’ve only created single tone prints so far but are very interested in exploring duotone.
As you might guess, their wares draw an interesting crowd at art festivals. When asked about interesting customers, Foster says she mostly likes meeting people who make art, love art, and want to talk about life. “World travellers are the most entertaining. They’re oddly very down to earth,” Foster remarked. She also talked about meeting a woman who bought shirts who divides most of her life in between living in Texas and India, and that she intended on selling Shroom Brothers shirts in India.
Designs in the works include an octo-maiden and an image of the Tacoma landscape including the mountain, cityscape, bridge, and a cephalopod.
While Shroom Brothers begins to spread out, right now you can find their stuff on display at 38th Street Tattoo. According to the couple, the place is striving for a classier atmosphere with a lobby that features a revolving cast of local art like photography, paintings, and the stuff Shroom Brothers makes.
You can get their stuff via the internet at Meylah.com/shroombrothers but they encourage people to just contact them through Facebook.com/shroombrothers.