How we made the greatest shirt in newsletter history
Our limited-edition tee is OUT -- here's the story of why it's so profoundly beautiful
Blackbird Spyplane: We aren’t just the no. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon” — we R also visionary soothsayers of taste and design.
So it’s only natural that since we launched, “beautiful & blessed” Blackbird SpyFriends have been politely and flatteringly HOUNDING US for “unbeatable merch.”
The appeal of making a sick Blackbird SpyShirt was obvious… But the challenge was steep... We look at TONS of tees as part of our ‘sletter recon, and we knew we had to drop one that feels like NOTHING ELSE ANYONE IS DOING — a tee both “of the moment” yet “timeless” … Could we just churn out some s**t willy-nilly … ?? NO! We needed time to gestate on designs … to craft a perfect synthesis of Mach 3+ imagery — and RUTHLESSLY DISCARD anything that fell short of our industry-leading standards.
Mamma mia — we SUCCEEDED. Yesterday Cla$$ified Subscribers received early access — and today U, the “beautiful & blessed” members of our public, list can cop one of our extremely limited-run tees.
Here is the EXCLUSIVE story of HOW WE MADE THE GREATEST TEE SHIRT IN THE HISTORY OF ALL MEDIA…
LET’S DIAL THIS BACK TO THE FUNDAMENTALS !! We named this inbox-based e-magazine “Blackbird Spyplane” because the actual SR-71 Blackbird Spyplane — “a long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed and manufactured by [NAME OF CURSED DEFENSE-CONTRACTOR REDACTED]” — is a stunningly beautiful piece of design that literally flies “under the radar” gathering Top Secret intel.
It was “my favorite plane” when I was like 11 and I saw one perched on the deck of the Intrepid in NYC — but Professional Design Sage Erin agrees 100% about the profound dopeness of this plane’s BREATHTAKING LINES and MURDERED-OUT TITANIUM SHELL…
There are tons of ‘80s and ‘90s era posters and tees celebrating the SR-71, and while many of these are charming, they can also feel a bit … on-the-nose.
When we came across the bizarre drawing below, we knew we’d found something special…
A maze artist (?) named Yonatan Frimer drew what is apparently a functional maze out of an SR-71 portrait — maze aside, what we love here is the blotchy black and white line-drawing, the classic kindvibed Lennon/Ono quote on the fuselage, and the peace-sign music notes (!) flying off into the sunrise…
We decided it would be cool to take some of the energy of this image, but AVOID a literal Spyplane motif, to keep things spicy …
MEANWHILE we have come to be rightly known as PRE-EMINENT GORP AFICIONADOS, so of course we had to incorporate unique “nature vibes” into any design we concocted…
Erin fondly remembers her older brother growing up wearing a version of the CRUNCHY-TRIPPY 1979 Coming Attractions shirt above left, where a tree’s root structure becomes some dude’s flowing beard … We also appreciate the 1995 Coming Attractions joint above right, where the BEARD = A MOUNTAIN! (Other extremely vibey Coming Attractions pieces are out there .)
And in both cases homie is rocking a bucket hat?? Incredible.
What if we put a root system on our shirt, we wondered — but instead of forming a dude w/ a big beard, the roots formed a BIG handshake ??
BBSP values fellowship and solidarity above all other values, so handshakes R good money with us, period. But when U render roots as shaking hands U also pay tribute to one of our favorite natural phenomena — “the Wood Wide Web,” which is the name given by Canadian forest-ecologist Suzanne Simard to subterranean Mycorrhizal networks — a.k.a. MUSHROOMS that don’t just live symbiotically with tree roots but actually connect entire forests, allowing FAR-FLUNG TREES to “TALK” and SHARE CO2 and other RESOURCES…
There is TONS of great imagery inspired by the “Wood Wide Web” floating around … Sticking with the line-drawing aesthetic, we paid special attention to simple versions like the animation above and the MYCORRHIZAL BRAIN rendition below …
Everything was COMING TOGETHER… but still, we knew we had to not only “freak the design” but connect it thematically to WHAT IS SPECIAL about Blackbird Spyplane: A premier “electronic-mail newsletter” that beautifies the lives of its subscribers via internet technology…
Graphically speaking, Y2K-era art is appealingly “noisy” — which, despite our beloved signature high-decibel Photoshop collages, was not the vibe we were chasing for our first-ever “unbeatable shirt.”
However, Y2K-defining computers like the iMac G3 and Power Mac G4 Cube have iconically clean lines —
So what if we riffed on all of the above, with a RICHLY ALLUSIVE yet GRAPHICALLY CLEAN design, so that an iMac G3 showing the Blackbird Spyplane Illuminati Pyramid stood to one side … and a BIG BEAUTIFUL BRAIN stood facing it?
What if both COMPUTER and BRAIN were TREES — and their roots were entwined in a handshake ?? What if one of those hands was rocking a YIN YANG watch?? What if PSYCHEDELIC / DELICIOUS mushrooms were present, ‘cause YOU KNOW WE BLAST OFF ON THIS SIDE BABY !!
And what if BEAUTIFUL MUSICAL NOTES were drifting out from the newsletter and WASHING PLEASANTLY over our readership’s BIG BEAUTIFUL BRAINS??
If all that happened on one tee shirt IT WOULD BE LEGENDARY.
Well the LEGENDS R TRUE — yesterday the Blackbird Spyplane “Beautiful Music” tee went live for our “Cla$$ified Recon” subscribers behind the unbeatable paywall, who came thru & COPPED WITH ALACRITY — there’s a tiny handful of white longsleeves remaining. Wow.
Thank u for banging with this rare & precious subscriber-supported newsletter and CONGRATULATIONS on witnessing history in real time.
-Designed at Spyplane HQ in California.
-Made using 100% recycled-cotton “trash” tees made in L.A.
-Inked the f**k up at a COOL independent Oakland screenprinter.
-Shipped via USPS on some #APWAK s**t in recycled / reusable mailers.
-Released in 2 EDITIONED colorways of 100 shirts each, with a hand-numbered, hand-stamped tag on every tee.
🎼💾🎼🍄🎼🌳🎼☮🎼✌ — Jonah & Erin