Tim’s Garage brings creativity and business savvy to design
Artist, designer and businessman, Brad Jensen has made a name for himself with his T-shirt artwork, and with his expanding business endeavors, he has now woven himself a spot in the fabric of Baton Rouge.
Like many artists before him, Jensen’s path to becoming an artist began at LSU where things started to click for him. During his time as a student, Jensen’s job at a screen print shop would become where he would take his ideas and give them form. In 1999, he would launch his first T-shirt brand, Icon, within the walls of his dorm.
“It came at a time when my education in graphic design was taking place, and my interest and knowledge of street art became a thing,” Jensen said. “Then I had a means to an end. I had a way of taking an idea and making something physical.”
After graduation, Jensen fell into the freelance world of design, and in 2009 opened his first brick-and-mortar store, Bricks and Bombs, on Government Street, which served as an urban art gallery and retail store focusing on artistic aspects such as graffiti, tattoo and skateboard art.
In addition to the Icon and Bricks and Bombs brands, Jensen broadened his work by creating brands such as Highland and State, featuring licensed collegiate wear and Southern Made, inspired by Louisiana pride. All the brands are now sold in his store, Tim’s Garage.
For some of his designs, Jensen believes it would be easier to answer what doesn’t inspire him. Whether it’s working on something for his clothing lines or a passion project, his inspiration is found within his environment and personal experiences.
“Inspiration is an abstract and very organic concept,” Jensen said. “You never know when something will strike you. It’s sort of unpredictable.”
Jensen, however, does draw a lot of influences from postmodern graphic design, citing old poster artwork from the ‘20s, ‘30s up to the ‘40s and ‘50s as being very influential for him.
“I’m a bit of a graphic design history nerd,” Jensen said. “It’s one of the things that I like to invest my time and energy into. Researching art movements and designs, and sort of the history and role of design, whether it something political or something from a commercial standpoint.”
Growing up in a Northern Louisiana town, Jensen was gradually exposed to the concept of countercultures through his interest in BMX bike riding, which would become his gateway into T-shirt designs.
“I would hang out at the tents to look at T-shirt designs when I wasn’t racing,” Jensen said. “That sort of underground culture had a highly influential impact on me.”
With subcultures like BMX, skateboarding, and punk rock music, Jensen found there was an aesthetic overlap in these interests.
“They may have a different hobby, but at their core, you can find a lot of common ground between people and their interest in those fringe activities,” Jensen said.
Inspired by retro posters, packaging and printed materials, he creates works that start conversations. According to Jensen, most people come to know his artwork as typically bold, eye-catching and intriguing enough to get someone to stop and take a further look.
“I find interest in themes around my life as an adult that I’d Iike to have a bit more of an opinion about,” Jensen said. “It ranges. It can start from just a mere thought of a news story, but sometimes it can be something based on a purely aesthetic concept that can grow into something that has more communication to it.”
One of the things that Jensen credits to his success as an artist is his ability to be diverse in his work.
“I’m able to create multiple brands with the same two hands,” Jensen said. “Some people may see a common thread that runs through [my brands], but a lot of times people don’t realize that I also designed things they were totally unaware of, or they may associate my name with a different kind of artwork.”
Still captivated by the aesthetics that initially drew him to pursuing art, Jensen believes that his knowledge of art and its history has grown. According to Jensen, his biggest design goal is to figure out what he can do with his hands next while practicing his craft.
“I want to know where this project can lead to the next,” Jensen said.
Photos by Sean Gasser
Designs by Brad Jensen