When Shawna Pincus and Michael Bracco were getting married in 2006, they thought it would be a great idea to create gifts for their wedding party.
Pincus made jewelry for her bridesmaids. Bracco decided to sketch up a design to put on T-shirts for his groomsmen.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen both loved their do-it-yourself presents. Three months later, Bracco decided to make his T-shirts into a business.
With the image of two multi toughed creatures French kissing each other in his mind, he came up with the name for his hand screened apparel line known as Spaghetti Kiss.
“I really wanted the company to be named something that sounded sweet and charming, perhaps a bit feminine,” Bracco said. “I wanted whatever image that went along with it to be something fun and gross so that the reaction to it would really stick with people.”
During the day, the Spaghetti Kiss designer teaches full time as a middle school art teacher. But, he always finds time to think of new ideas and concepts for his T-shirts.
“I need to be able to pick up and draw whenever there’s free time,” Bracco said. “I get a lot of my work done in somewhat strange places like while I wait to get my oil changed or while sitting in a bookstore on my lunch break at work. I have a library of sketchbooks that contain 90 percent of my work most of which was done on the go.”
The art teacher stores his collection of sketchbooks in his home studio that happens to be located in the basement.
“Our studio takes up our entire basement with printmaking equipment, a ceramics studio with a kiln and a more business oriented studio dominating our second floor,” Bracco said. “For the illustration side of things, I keep everything portable.”
Besides drawing designs for T-shirts, Bracco is an award winning comic book writer and illustrator of the Birth of Novo and Adam Wreck. One of his comics is inspired by his daily interactions as an art teacher.
“As for Adam Wreck, I was really inspired by my students,” Bracco said. “I’ve been doing it for 8 years now and absolutely love it; my kids are the best part of my job. I love seeing how creative they can be and I love sharing what I do with them. Adam Wreck was a way for me to make something that I could share with my kids every step of the way, hear their thoughts and reactions and get their insightful feedback.”
The Spaghetti Kiss designer uses his students reactions to create comics as well as T-shirt designs that are different and are truly out of this world.
“I really get a giant geek-on for anything I get the chance to do that feels fresh,” Bracco said. “With both T-shirt design and comics its ridiculously easy to get in the trap of rehashing, recycling and regurgitating ideas.”
With designs named like gazellicorn, skullopus, and roboctopus, the Spaghetti Kiss T-shirts are always intriguing to people who want to buy them. Bracco always love the reaction to his line from one particular type of costumer.
“My favorite moments are when older women come up to my booth cooing over how sweet the name is,” Bracco said. “Awww, Spaghetti Kiss, its kind of like Lady and the Tr…, Oh, God that’s foul. It’s even better when they still decide they like the work and buy something after such a negative reaction.”