Temple alumn Matt Eyer said he’s been into graphic tees since he could dress himself. His collection houses more than 500 graphic T-shirts. Once he moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple in 2006, however, he became disappointed with the city’s selection.
“It was all sports stuff or just basic graphics thrown onto a shirt without any thought. I wanted to do something different, and that’s how Wear Liberty started,” Eyer said.
After coming across several limited edition T-shirt designs online in 2008, Eyer started following and connecting with the national and international artists that were involved in the industry. Eyer also began brainstorming a list of design ideas and, after awhile, finally decided to talk to the artists he had been following for so long.
Wear Liberty is a solo operation for Eyer, minus the help from the artists that design the tees, but the process of creating new shirts requires a little help from the city itself.
“My major influence comes from Philadelphia, specifically the art, history, culture, food, architecture and people,” Eyer said.
The initial design starts with Eyer brainstorming an idea or image. This could vary from a building to Benjamin Franklin. From there, Eyer makes a rough sketch or description of how he wants the design to appear on the shirt. The final step is up to one of the artists that Wear Liberty works with.
“[The artists] include their own ideas and styles into the designs, and that’s what makes them so unique,” Eyer said.
Wear Liberty’s individual style sets it apart from most Philly-themed shirts, said Eyer.
“You won’t find any sports teams or logos on Wear Liberty shirts. That’s all been done before,” Eyer said.
Because of Philly’s thriving arts and crafts scene, Eyer sells Wear Liberty at various events through the year.
“I have lots of events coming up in the next few months. [On Sept. 6] I’ll be helping Drink Philly celebrate their three-year anniversary First Friday festival. I’ll be releasing a brand new design that night,” Eyer said.
The First Friday festival takes place at the Arden Theatre in Old City and includes free food and drinks.
Through Eyer’s time at Temple, he gained more than an education.
While earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media, Eyer made connections that would later help him get an internship at Ropeadope Records. With the help of his professor Andy Hurwitz, who founded the label, Eyer was able to enter the business.
“Aside from music, Ropeadope puts out lots of different graphic tees, which obviously caught my attention,” Eyer said. “After my time as a music-marketing intern, I presented some of my ideas to the owner of the label. We scheduled a meeting, grabbed some lunch and the next thing I know, he created a position for me as art director for their brand new T-shirt line. That was right around the time I started Wear Liberty.”
Other than being a part-time project, Wear Liberty has become many things to Eyer since its creation.
“Every single time someone tells me that they like my shirts or designs, it makes me super happy. If you buy one, I get even more happy. But the best is when someone who already owns a shirt hits me up to tell me how much they like it and how many compliments they get on it,” Eyer said.
As far as what the future holds for Wear Liberty, Eyer is hopeful.
“I started Wear Liberty in 2010 with one hoodie design. I now have over 10 designs, have sold at over 15 events, have [Wear Liberty] in two stores, and there’s lots more on the way. Wear Liberty is just the beginning,” Eyer said.
Wear Liberty can be found online at wearliberty.net, Jinxed at the Piazza at Schmidt’s and the National Liberty Museum in Old City.
Bria Topper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.