Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marketing Semana Santa "Maria" T-shirts takes UK illustrator and ArtTraveler into virgin territory

"Semana Santa 2011" by John Barrett, as worn by Stefan van Drake

John Barrett, UK illustrator-painter and senior lecturer at Birmingham City University´s Institute of Art and Design, and I finally did it.

The it is:

John creates an appropriate tee-shirt (camiseta) image for Semana Santa (Holy Week), the most celebrated religious fiesta in Spain.

We´ve mulled for months about how to promote his new website, with T-shirt sales.

At the same time, our local animal charity,  Canillas Animal Trust (C.A.T.), which traps, neuters and returns feral cats, is very low on funds and needs a boost.

See ArtTraveler video interview with C.A.T. co-founder and animal artist, Kate Morris,“ArtTraveler takes you into the eyes of a cat.”

I want to share my journey into this new domain of guerilla art marketing after receiving a tiny cardboard tube containing John´s Maria illustration.

We needed a top-flight design Spaniards would appreciate that was thematic and in good taste.

John could have found no better image than grieving Maria he created. John donated limited rights of the image to C.A.T.

I consulted the next day with a painter and sculptor but more an expert in printmaking (She earned her MFA in printingmaking at University in the UK.).

She told me to forget it, there wasn´t enough “density” in the drawing for the ink to make a meaningful impression.

Juan´s initial rendering of John Barrett´s design

I let John know and said I would keep probing, since John, sitting in his Brommie ivory tower, made it sound like falling off a log to get this job done.

A graphic arts shop in Torre del Mar directed me to a light cottage-industrial, car repair, bistro-café district, get-your-T-shirts-printed-here district just off Main Street in nearby Velez-Malaga.

(Directions like take a right at the big, ugly kiosk work wonders.)

Enter Juan, the resident, all-around tee-shirt designer-guy at BZR (Bezier Sevicios).

Juan tells me, no problem. He can do it all.

I am surrounded by tee-shirts, blank ones in bright colors, some already imprinted with Juan´s mastery or commissioned designs of past clients.

I leave John´s original design, give Juan an idea of what we want and ask him to e-mail me a cost estimate and some design choices to discuss with the artist. 

I make it clear the lives of a number of needy cats depend on his most anticipated and excellent work.

Plot thickens on John Barrett image

A week later, he complies; looks like 100 T-shirts plus VAT equals €496, completo. Muy buen, says I. 

But there´s the first color issue.

I told him beige, and in fact I recall holding up one of his creations, large black, block letters on the color beige I wanted: "I F____ on the first date."

I see no beige in the "plot thickens" image left.

Since one of Don Juan´s most obvious talents is making sexually explicit or iconic, sexually suggestive T-shirts, I offered him time to reflect.

Juan, please, I urged, trying to get him focused again.

Doing up Maria for Samana Santa would change his outlook quite a bit, I argued. 

He smiled.

Adelante, forge ahead.

Juan and I developed a much closer relationship as I struggled successfully with my written Spanish. 

By the time we´re finished, I call him an endearing, “tio,”  or dude, literally, "uncle" in Spanish.

And a dude a bit on the macho side is he but an all-round simpatico nice guy, who plunges into our Lorca animal charity mission possible.

We talked color allot, back and forth. Where and how large to declare this a copyrighted work of The Lorca Project

Decisions and more decisions.
Finally, after getting what I might call a message from a higher power, I recommended to John we needed Papa´s (he Pope´s) burgundy color of his robe, perfect on a beige T-shirt, one inking, keep costs down.

John signals a green light from the frigid Midlands.

A few days pass. I e-mail Juan, apparently feeling his vibes from Velez-Malaga. 

I ask if the job´s done.

Not really "final" J. Barrett camiseta
Juan says I need to come down to the shop. He´s got a color issue, another one.


I show up Friday (25 March), and sure enough, what was to be Papal burgundy becomes Papal purple, equally relevant for our purposes.

Juan and I did not blend our colors except but rather accepted his two-dimensional look at what the final camiseta might look like with the Pope appearing to bless our artistic-charitable mission in matching Papal burgundy.

Dah! The Homer Simpsons or Laurel and Hardy (Juan and ArtTraveler) of printmaking 101 strike again.

John Barrett, ArtTraveler settle on this but get.........

Call it serendipity. I like the final outcome better than the one contemplated.

The Lorca Project found an 18-point vertical home alongside Maria, protecting John Barrett´s art while promoting his

Finally, a work of first impression: Stefan van Drake with John Barrett´s inaugural Semana Santa T-shirt. Photograph by S. van Drake

(These T-shirts are available for €10 plus postage. All profits go to C.A.T. Just e-mail me. Kate has PayPal. Our charity needs help.)

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Take a walking holiday or experience a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop in Andalusia´s mountains. See: and

"Mule grazing at Bentomiz," Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2008)

You may reach me at or by calling (34) 951 067 703, from the UK at BT landline rates at 0844 774 8349. Please alert me to any arts news tips or happenings you think may interest most of us. Professionalism and discretion assured. Speak on or off-the-record.


  1. I love that! Beautiful depiction of the Sorrowful Virgin. I like the "fadeaway" aspect of it. Is that what they call it? I have a Michael Jordon T using that technique.

    Convert to American dollars, por favor.

    FYI, is a broken link.

  2. Mr S - Wonderful journey you have been on and we need to send a T shirt to the Vatican as clearly the burgundy is all the rage now! Love all C.A.Ts! JB