An Interview with Pelican Print Shop.
Last year sometime I was looking up some Pacific Coast League stuff online and discovered Pelican Print Shop, a San Francisco based print shop with a heavy emphasis in all things related to Baseball. I was delighted to find their collaboration with Ebbets Fields Flannels which consists of a wonderful t-shirt line of old PCL teams such as the San Francisco Seals, Mission Reds, and Oakland Oaks. Needless to say, this sparked my attention for obvious reasons. Fast forward some time and after a few online interactions, we quickly realized that we share mutual friends and contacts related to the baseball community here in San Francisco. The city itself is quite small and everyone here seems to know everyone else in some way shape or form. This is applicable to the Baseball community as well.
All this got me thinking that people need to know about the shop, their goals, products, and how Baseball ties in with all of it. Ultimately, I decided to do an interview with Dave Phillips from Pelican to help get the story and to help spread the word of the shop. Without further adieu, here is that interview. I hope this sparks interest in some of the readers of 90 Feet of Perfection to look up the shop and support Pelican!
1) First of all, give us a little background on Pelican. How did you start, what were your initial goals, etc?
I started Pelican in the Summer of 2012. I co-owned a screen printing and supply company (Anthem Screen Printing) for 2 1/2 years before Pelican and learned the ropes of running a company but also realized I wanted something else. When I started Pelican, my goal was pretty simple. I wanted a studio where I could focus on print and design. I wanted to continue to do commercial work but also wanted to make time to be able to work on my own stuff, surf when the waves are good, play ball, and have a bit of a mellower work environment.
2) When did Baseball come into play in regards to the shop’s products? Was this a goal from the start or did it just kind of happen?
The baseball thing totally just happened. If you told me I was going to be making bat wax two years ago I would not have believed you. I’ve always loved and been pretty obsessed with baseball. Not just scores but stats, players backgrounds, the whole deal. When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, I co-designed a shirt with one of my clients that did pretty well. I sold them through my website and Etsy and that got me going on to do other things. It wasn’t until the past couple months that I finally decided to make the jump and really start pushing to create a brand that is focused on baseball and living in California.
3) How did the collaboration with Ebbets Fields Flannels come about? Who approached who? I assume they currently control the rights to the old PCL teams in terms of merchandise and you had to get the green light from them to go ahead with the shirts?
So after the World Series shirt, I thought to myself “Ok I got lucky. I sold an un-licensed Giants shirt and didn’t get rung up by MLB or anyone else with MLB rights.” I got a great deal of satisfaction from making and selling that shirt and wanted to keep going but didn’t want to dance with the risk of getting sued. I love baseball history and there are so many teams that aren’t on the radar anymore but paved the road for the teams today that I wanted to pay homage to. I was aware of Ebbets and their shirts but I didn’t want to take an old logo and slap it on a shirt. I spent some time playing with some ideas and re-worked the Mission Reds shirt first. After I got to the Seals and the Oaks done, I received an email from the President at Ebbets saying that I can’t sell these shirts because I didn’t have a license. They offered to license them for me through MiLB and manufacture the shirts through their printer up in Seattle. I did an initial run and the shirts didn’t come out so hot so we worked it out so I was allowed to do the printing as long as they were co-branded with Ebbets. I paid them a royalty up front, sent the shirts to Seattle to get tagged and that was that. They’re nice people and I look forward to moving on to hats and more shirts with them in the future.
4) While the Seals, Missions and Oaks shirts all make sense as you are a Bay Area based company, what made you decide to do a Albuquerque Dukes shirt?
I lived in Albuquerque from 2002-2007. The Albuquerque Isotopes are the triple A affiliate for the Dodgers but before the ‘topes, there were the Dukes. There’s something about the Dukes that the people of ‘Burque don’t want to let go of. First off, their name just sounds so tough. Their logo was very simple and it’s easy to connect with New Mexico. Everyone in SF wears a SF hat while people in Albuquerque continue to wear Dukes gear even though the team is long gone. It’s just golden old school New Mexico. Some pretty well known MLB players blossomed with the Dukes included Paul Konerko and Darryl Strawberry. When I thought of doing a logo for them, the idea was just there. It wasn’t something I had to think about for awhile so I just went for it.
5) Your “Playing Ball ‘Til The Day I Fall” shirt is one of, if not the coolest Baseball shirt I have seen in ages. It instantly hit a soft spot for me as I have a high respect for those who continue to play Baseball well after most people give up on playing the game. Do you want to give me the back story on making this shirt and the response you have received?
This shirt was my first go at doing something separate from something that was baseball related but not team oriented. I play in the Latin League in San Francisco and I’m super psyched on the dudes who come out and play and still carry their youth with them through baseball. Some guys are in their 60’s and have just as much energy as anybody. They just love the game and it’s obvious they’re going to keep playing until their body won’t let them anymore. I’ve gotten some great feedback on it form ball players as well as people who just dig the design.
6) The Pelican Bat & Board wax. Explain what made you decide to make such a product. Has there been a good amount of interest in this so far? I know this definitely caught my eye as I have a good amount of friends who both surf and play Baseball.
I was just thinking about how both baseball and surfing have this act where you apply something to your bat or your board for traction. They both have this is in common and its part of the sport. I was holding a bar of Tiger Stick and was like, ‘shit I can make this stuff and it will be fun to include on orders.’ I started getting a lot of positive feedback on the bat wax and decided to jump it up a notch and actually develop a product for sale. I was originally going to have a universal bat & board wax but I decided to formulate the wax for baseball. Surf wax is up next. I just released the bat wax today.
7) What would you say are the Pelican product(s) you are most proud of so far?
I’d honestly have to say the Bat Wax. It was a super fun process. I got to meet and connect with a lot of players because of it and I had a great time developing it based off feedback I got from them. It was two different projects in one. I had to design and print the packaging and then develop the formula for the wax itself. I made well over 30 batches to get it where it is now and I’m super juiced on it. If I only sell 2 bars, I’m still glad I invested the time and molar into putting it out.
8) As someone who grew up going to punk and hardcore shows, I must say that I was delighted to see the Swingin’ Utters print you did last year. Have you done prints for other bands that you were genuinely excited about?
I did a Hot Water Music poster but I didn’t do anything with it. I just finished building my press and was so excited to print on it so I designed the Swingin’ Utters poster and cranked it out. I would love to get back into the gig poster game but its going to require some time off from printing commercially.
9) What does the future hold for Pelican Print shop? Anything Baseball related?
Jeeez I think about this question probably more than anything. Yes more baseball related clothing as well as other items. I’m thinking of making rosin bags next and some other accessory type items and I’m going to continue to keep working on my new site for all this stuff, pelicansportshop.com. I love baseball and really want to make a brand that’s for the amateur player as well as the professional and kinda revolves around the sport rather then just team names and colors. I think this next year will be exciting!
10) Any last words?
Keep checking back at pelicansportshop.com for baseball related items and pelicanprintshop.com for screen printing services! Ummmm… I just listened to the Romance of Helen Trent by The Killing Tree and I just remembered that its probably one of the best records of all time and… yeah I think thats it. Thanks so much for the questions! I really enjoyed going through all of them and am psyched you’re into what I’m doing over here at Pelican. You da man!