Artist merchandise has traditionally been highly branded, and specifically tailored toward a particular season or project in an artist's career, rarely offering merch that can exist independently of the source material.
In 2011 I wanted to create merch to coincide with a single I was releasing, but that could also speak to a broader design-centric sensibility, appeal to fans of music in general, and set me apart as a practising designer as well as a musician.
Using local fabrication and production services, I was able to produce offer quantities to gauge demand before increasing production through crowdsourcing platforms.
The first run of Heartbeat merch was a limited edition of white-on-red t-shirts produced by a locally. After selling out the first run, I springboarded that interest into more easily distributable laser-cut wooden pins crafted at OCAD University's rapid prototyping lab.
The third, and most recent run of merch was the metallic gold-on-white t-shirts produced by crowdsourcing t-shirt printers Cotton Bureau, reducing risk and effort for me, while exposing the brand to an even wider audience still.
All three runs of Heartbeat merchandise, each further removed from its origins than the last, have sold out in relatively short spans of time. They've largely been marketed by word-of-mouth campaigns, and social media shares.
Designing a line of cross-applicable merchandise has introduced several people to my music, allowed me to foster personal relationships with some of my favourite artists, and supplemented my income as an independent artist.
I can issue new runs at my own leisure since demand for Heartbeat merchandise never really dies; the design expresses a universal experience: a love of music.