IC activist launches politically inspired t-shirt line at one-day pop-up shop

This tattered American flag design will be available for purchase. - photo courtesy of Simeon Talley
This tattered American flag design will be available for purchase. – photo courtesy of Simeon Talley

Iowa City resident and University of Iowa graduate Simeon Talley is gearing up to launch his line of politically inspired t-shirts.

Guns x Butter will make its public debut on Friday, Dec. 5 from 3 – 7 p.m. at a pop-up shop inside Nori (105 E. College St.). There will be opportunities to chat with Talley, and at 5 p.m., guests can enjoy complimentary cocktails. A percentage of the shirt sales will benefit the Johnson County Crisis Center.

To fund Guns x Butter, Talley launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising $3,362 to date which will go towards printing the shirts and developing his website. He’s been working on the brand for over a year and hopes to sell more than just t-shirts in the future.

The name stems from a Vietnam War-era saying that criticized the choice between spending money on guns and defense versus social programs in the United States. Talley feels the slogan still has relevance today.

“Its really about getting people to think more creatively about the world they live in. We wanted to create a t-shirt line and great art to do that and to make it cool and approachable,” he said. “It’s just one way to get people thinking about political ideas in a way that connects to youth culture.”

Talley came to Iowa City by way of Columbus, Ohio while working on the Obama campaign in 2008, and graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in political science in 2012. He now works with artists in Des Moines and Iowa City to bring his clothing ideas to life.

Many of the Guns x Butter designs feature recognizable American symbols that have been destroyed in some way. Talley believes young people need a better way to express their political views in a way that is artful and poignant.

“I thought the lines that existed currently were sort of like, the dude who watched too many Michael Moore movies and wore a shirt that says ‘Bush Sucks,’ or ‘Obama is a socialist.’ I thought that there were lots of examples of political t-shirts with words,” Talley said. “But I thought, people like to be expressive. People like to wear things that make a statement, and if you can make it cool and relevant to the culture, and still very wearable, then people will dig it.”

The shirts will range from $25 – $30 and will be available for purchase on his soon-to-open web store. He also plans to eventually sell the shirts in some downtown IC retail stores, in addition to the pop-up shop.

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