“Every Monday should have a nickname. Sure, there’s Cyber Monday, but what about the Monday after that?”
Hunter Burgan innocuously pondered this question aloud after I referenced the Cyber Monday launch-day of Post War Science, a screen printing company run by Burgan and Ted Veralrud. The term “company” is, however, an oversimplification. Indeed, Post War Science is more like a glimpse into the world of two best friends. Friends who, relevantly, share a passion for art and other fine things that life has to offer (like coffee and donuts, for starters).
After spending nearly two decades manufacturing various two-of-a-kind screen printed shirts, Burgan and Veralrud have officially unveiled some of their original designs to the public. Additionally, they’ve made said designs available for purchase. But there’s a catch. Each unique design will have a limited quantity available for purchase, and once they are sold, they will never be sold again. The exclusivity, while strict, invites individuals who appreciate similar qualities in apparel design to dive into the PWS world of purely applicative self-expression.
Once “Oatmeal Monday” had been declared a potential nickname for the Monday after Cyber Monday, Burgan and Veralrud spent some time with Kids Like You And Me to discuss their humble beginnings, company goals, and the fact that they’d eventually like to screen print on anything, even Jerry Garcia ties.
Kids Like You and Me: From the moment Post War Science thinks of a design, to the actual manufacturing of shirts, what are the basic steps that go into the process of obtaining a PWS shirt?
Ted Veralrud: First, we come up with a design for a shirt that we would want to wear. The design will then be available (in limited quantities) to the public. If someone wants a shirt with the design, they can go to our site, purchase one, and Hunter and I will get together and print the image onto the shirt.
So, we’ll be doing things the way we’ve always done them, but now, other people can wear our designs as well.
Hunter Burgan: The manufacturing duties are split. The whole company is based on our friendship, and is an extension of our friendship. We work together behind every step of the process.
KLYAM: What made you guys decide to share your personal designs with the public now?
TV: I think we decided to share them with the public 13 years ago…
In the past, we didn’t really have an outlet for it. We’ve worked with the idea and have taken it pretty far, but things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. Now, anyone can put up a web page and sell anything they want. So we can do that too. Now is the time.
HB: Yeah, the Internet finally came around to us.
TV: Right. I’m sure we could have done it this way quite a few years ago…
KLYAM: Do you guys have any background knowledge in visual design other than Ivan’s class in high school?
HB: We took another screen printing class together in college, but we dropped out of it.
TV: Did we drop out? I think we accrued a whole year of credit. We just never went.
HB: Yeah, I think we got a passing grade just by registering for the class.
TV: We were in the cafeteria a lot. They had burritos… and pinball, I think.
That class was a step backwards from what we had already learned in Ivan’s class. After learning the basics, we eventually bought screens and got started in somebody’s garage.
HB: We made shirts for all of the bands we were in, plus patches and t-shirts for friends. As far as designs go, we also made zines in high school that had our own designs. I went on to design shirts for AFI and other bands I’ve been in.
We’ve had a lot of experience with these types of things, even if we didn’t learn it all in school.
KLYAM: How would you describe PWS designs from a stylistic point of view?
TV: When you think of a design, there are few popular topics you’ll want to cover, like coffee, burritos, donuts…Then we’ll approach the design, but not with a specific style in mind. We just do whatever we want.
HB: The only true requirement we have is that our designs are something that we would want to wear. Something we would like to look at. We’re doing something we think is cool, designs that we know each other would appreciate.
TV: We’ve made shirts before that were basically inside jokes. I don’t know if we’ll ever put those up, because then we’d have to explain what they meant. So we’re doing whatever we want, but, if a shirt doesn’t make sense we can’t put it on our site.
HB: Well, we’ll just do two of those. Or three.
TV: Okay, because there are a few that I want to do. Hunter would appreciate them, but nobody else would! They’ll probably show up though. We’ll narrow it down to three.
KLYAM: Why is the PWS policy, which basically states “Once sold out, the design is never coming back, EVER AGAIN,” so strict?
TV: That’s just the way it has always been. Once we print the shirts, that’s it! Well…one shirt came back.
HB: One shirt did come back, but it was a little bit different. But that’s the deal. That specific design, in the specific way that you see it, will never be done again.
Maybe, maybe years from now, something about the design will be changed. The colors may be different, the head may be cut off, you know.
KLYAM: So even if your Grandma came up to you and really wanted a duplicate of an old design, you would say no?
HB: If my Grandma came back from the dead and asked for a shirt, I might dig into my own personal collection and just give her one of mine.
KLYAM: So you’re saying there ARE exceptions to this strict rule, but only for dead Grandma?
HB: Yes. Well, zombie. Zombie Grandma.
KLYAM: Are designs that were created in the past still accessible? Will customers ever see variations of those designs?
HB: We’re gonna leave some of those designs in the past. Some of them would probably land us with a lawsuit if we attempted to sell them. But a lot of the designs that we plan on using have some sort of inspiration from past designs.
TV: There are some older ones that we were originally going to use, but never printed. Those might show up.
Before you screen print, you have to get a transparency of your image to expose the screen with. I think I have every single one we’ve ever used. So if we did want to go back to an older shirt, I have everything. I’ve never thrown a transparency away.
HB: That’s pretty good!
TV: They’re all stored together in a massive rat’s nest…
KLYAM: That still counts!
KLYAM: Will Post War Science ever take requests for designs, or are the designs completely at your own uninfluenced discretion? For example, if I asked you to design an octopus shirt, would Ted then put his own flair to it, draw the octopus eating a donut, and sell it to the public?
TV: If I’m going to design an octopus eating donuts, he’s going to be eating 8 donuts.
HB: And drinking a cup of coffee.
TV: Oh yeah, right.
HB: You know, that’s a great question because in asking the question, you just answered the question. I don’t think we would consider just any old suggestion. But certainly, somebody could say something that would inspire us. Legally, we can’t consider people’s suggestions.
TV: Yeah, if we start doing that, people will start saying “You stole my idea!” Not unlike the octopus eating 7 donuts and drinking a cup of coffee. That was all our idea.
KLYAM: No you’re right. That octopus idea was all you guys.
TV: Oh yeah, totally.
HB: Exactly. If people want to make suggestions to help remind us of ideas that we’ve already thought of years before, that’s fine. But legally speaking we can’t take suggestions.
KLYAM: Will you ever create designs for bands other than your own band(s)?
HB: I don’t think that’s legal either…
TV: We might come up with some cool fake band names and make those. Which is something I totally thought about doing yesterday, but I didn’t have time.
KLYAM: So that’s legally prohibited even if an artist or musician approaches you to design for them?
HB: You mean like if the Beatles approached us to make a design for their band?
HB: Then we would consider it, maybe. But we’d have to work out a deal. A profits sharing deal.
But really, we’re not mass producing anything. It wouldn’t benefit any band if we made shirts for them. A band’s goal is to sell as many shirts as they can, and that’s not our goal.
TV: But if Pearl Jam wanted 20 shirts, we’d probably do it.
KLYAM: Will you guys ever expand the product line to things like hoodies, or…things like Jerry Garcia ties?
TV: We’re gonna start with t-shirts and small posters for now. We have a lot of ideas for future products that we want to introduce. As far as hoodies, I’d say definitely, but we’ll probably refer to them as hooded sweatshirts.
HB: Yeah, definitely hooded sweatshirts. I don’t know about Jerry Garcia ties. I don’t think we’ll ever do those, but we might just do a different TYPE of tie.
KLYAM: You know what Hunter? I specifically said like Jerry Garcia ties…
TV: If I found a Jerry Garcia tie, I’d probably print on it. And a Rush Limbaugh tie, I’d print on one of those too.
KLYAM: Will PWS be selling designs in-store, or just online?
HB: Right now we’re mostly focused on online sales. We’d have to work it out with a given retailer to do in-store sales. Having said that, if any retailers are reading this and want to approach us with a plan, right on.
TV: In-store sales might be kind of tricky, because we would have to manufacture those shirts in various random sizes. Unless of course someone comes up with an all-sizes-fits-all shirt. That said, if there is anyone reading this who is working on such a shirt, let us know.
KLYAM: Will any other designers/artists contribute to PWS products?
TV: It’s pretty much going to be just us, but we have had contributions from other people before. It just depends. I mean, if we run into Dave Hillis…
He was a dude in Ivan’s class. He was not the greatest artist, but we loved his drawings.
HB: It’s going to be us no matter what, but we might make a special exception. It would have to be a very special exception.
KLYAM: What avenues has PWS considered to spread the word about the company?
HB: Text to…keyboard? What’s the online version of “word of mouth”?
TV: Um… key to screen?
HB: Right, key to screen. For now we’re using digital means. I mean, we’re using word of mouth too. I’m going to go hit the streets later today and start whispering in people’s ears…but most of the promotion will be online.
TV: We’re not necessarily going to run advertisement. We’re starting small. Still, we take the whole process seriously.
HB: Starting small is important. Everything successful that I’ve done in my life has started off small, and as a labor of love. It grew over time and built up to be something that was better and better every year. PWS is no exception to that. We’re starting at this exact point for now. Hopefully, we will build a catalogue of good designs, and a loyal customer base of people who are on the same wavelength as Ted and I. We’ll continue to grow, and take it from there.