We caught up with SF-based artist, Pop’s Bar manager and all-around good guy, LiL Tuffy, for the launch of his new Artist Series Bags.
Check out his New Limited Edition screen-printed messenger bags, inspired by three of our favorite bike towns – Portland, Austin & Minneapolis. Only 200 made of each. Available now. And, like our Artist Series Tees, once they're gone – they're gone.
You call San Francisco home. How did a kid from Michigan end up here and why did you stay?
My dad's job moved us around a lot when I was growing up -- Los Angeles, Chicago and Cincinnati. I went to college in Pittsburgh and landed a job with a dotcom. I was managing a lot of west coast clients and started traveling to SF. One of my trips coincided with Noise Pop Festival and I quickly realized that the music and art scene here was what I had been looking for. Everything about San Francisco appealed to me… except the cost. But you can't have everything, right?
You’re known worldwide for your poster art, having worked with bands like Pavement & the Black Lips, & being involved in SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, & Noise Pop. How did you start making art for music?
It took me awhile to figure out where I fit in the music world. I was a crap guitarist and an okay singer but never managed to make a band thing work. I started an indie label in the nineties and released a couple of singles and CDs but was horrible at the business side of things. I just wanted to design record covers. Probably not the best reason to start a label. For years, my day job supported my music habit and when I quit my day job I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I hated doing web design and the one time job I got in the music industry was working on ringtone downloads pages for Eric Clapton and Josh Groban. It was like a cruel joke!
I left the tech industry and didn't really know what to do with myself. I started booking some shows and eventually ended up at an up and coming venue called Thee Parkside. I had been collecting posters from artists like Art Chantry, Firehouse and Coop for years and thought it would be cool to make a poster for my birthday party show -- some little known band from Akron, Ohio was playing - The Black Keys!
That poster got me a few jobs with another local venue (Bottom of the Hill) and some other bands. I started working at the Firehouse and, slowly, this hobby became a career and I guess I kinda just fell into what I always wanted to do by accident.
You design and make all your work here in SF. We respect that! What do you like about making stuff in SF?
My friends are what make San Francisco the best. They are constantly volunteering to help me print or run my table at festivals. It's awesome to have someone to drink a beer with when I'm in the middle of huge print run and then bike down to the ball park or bar crawl home. San Francisco presents so many opportunities and distractions and I'm lucky to have friends that help with both!
Each bag was inspired by a different bike-oriented city. Where did the ideas come from for each of the bags?
Minneapolis Bag - This design was inspired by the American folklore figure Paul Bunyon and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox. Legend has it that Minnesota's 10,000 lakes were formed by the pair's footprints as they wandered blindly in a snow storm.
Austin - I travel to Austin at least twice a year for SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest. Even at my boarding gate in San Francisco, there's always a guitar case or two -- they're ever-present in Austin and have become like the Samurai sword of Central Texas.
Portland - Portland has become my home away from home over the past decade. I chanced upon the Chapman Swifts by accident and it was a pretty cool site to behold and I think the community's efforts to maintain the chimney for the Swifts embodies the Portland spirit.
Out of the three bags in the new series, do you have a favorite?
I think the Portland bag is my favorite. The moment that inspired it was important and personal.
What can we expect to see from you in the future? Any big projects to keep an eye out for?
I'm currently working on another project for Chrome -- that should be out in another month or so. I'm about to head to the UK and Europe for some shows and then hit the summer festivals here -- Bonnaroo, Pitchfork and Outside Lands.
Check out Lil Tuffy's brand-new Artist Series Bags. Only 200 made of each!