2013 / 2015


Art of the Bootleg

Merchandise Design / Illustration


The concept of the bootleg has reformed 21st century art & culture, challenging perceptions of intellectual property, pastiche and parody. By loose definition, bootleg describes something as unofficial, but between mountain moonshine and mixtape culture, deadheads were trading their soundboard recordings for steal-your-face shirts and psychedelics on shakedown street, the open-air market that formed outside every tour stop.
Upon a return of interest in the era’s ideologies through alternative music, the spirit of shakedown returned as rabidly as the festival circuit, a bootleg in and of itself. One souvenir reigned the supreme icon of status, enamel pins. They were traded like currency and highly collectible, creators were idolized alongside their musical counterparts, in turn also falling victim to imitation in what must be the first meta-bootleg rabbithole.

The pins of the dead era referenced the band’s vast visual library of icons and imagery, an essential visual strategy to a successful bootleg. Below I show a few bootlegs of my own that I produced, allowing me to experience a bizarre slice of counter culture.


(1 - 3) Original art by Dan McPharlin
(4) Original artist Mike Tallman

(5) Original art by Josh Davis