Justin Kamerer likes rock ’n’ roll. Give him the hard stuff: Metallica, Slayer, Korn. Give him the hard stuff, and he’ll make a T-shirt out of it.
The 28-year-old Louisville native and Manual grad makes his living designing merch for rock stars; during a phone interview, Kamerer notes that he’s working on new designs for Metallica, operating on about three hours’ sleep and faced an all-nighter to meet his deadline.
Visitors who browse his website, www.angryblue.com, will find T-shirts, posters, album art and other designs for these bands as well as the Melvins, GWAR, The Killers, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, My Chemical Romance, Genesis, Paul McCartney — even Ashlee Simpson.
Kamerer admits when he got his first job designing for Metallica, it was something of a dream fulfilled. “It was incredibly intimidating, and I didn’t know exactly what was expected of me,” he says.
But he had arrived there of his own volition, having been in bands himself as a teenager and with plenty of promo and design as a result. He took a few semesters at the University of Louisville before snagging a design job at a sign company to support himself, then learning web design.
“I figured out a few years later that I don’t want to be making websites for lawyers, I wanted to make art,” he says.
So he hooked up with a company called Bravado Merchandising, which gave him the opportunity to expand his portfolio.
“I did a ton of stuff for bands I didn’t enjoy,” he says, as a means to begin designing for bands he loved, and created his own works of art on the side. He teamed up with friend Jeral Tidwell, an artist in his genre, and another partner to share space and printing equipment, a venture they call Monument Studio.
Kamerer credits his ultimate decision to pursue his dream to Tidwell “nagging the hell out of me until I quit my job. He has been an incredible inspiration and support.”
And while most of his contacts are in bigger cities on the West Coast, working from Louisville and being part of the local art scene is his plan.
“I can’t imagine leaving Louisville,” Kamerer says. “I travel to L.A. a couple times a year, but here I can afford to do what I do without having to have 18 part-time jobs. That’s a cool advantage to Louisville.” —Kevin Gibson
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