Carlson Herbert, 19, didn’t mean to start a business selling Fresno-themed T-shirts.
The Fresno City College student had fallen in love with printmaking after taking a class in it. He began carving images into wood blocks and built a printing press in his garage so he could ink images of Fresno onto shirts. He now runs Urban Crow Apparel, selling shirts with images of downtown Fresno buildings, the Fresno Water Tower and Yosemite.
He’s not the only one making Fresno (or Clovis) gear. A handful of makers in our area sell everything from pillows featuring the downtown Fresno sign to tote bags with images of the Tower Theatre. Creators of the pieces say they sell well, purchased by people who are proud of their city or as gifts to native Fresnans who have moved away.
I’ve gotten passionate about that building. It’s so iconic in Fresno.
Carlson Herbert, about the Pacific Southwest building
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Herbert, a former home school student, spends nine or 10 hours carving the images that will appear on his shirts.
“Each one is different. Some are inked more. Some are inked a little bit less,” he says. “It’s an individual piece of art.”
Several shirts feature the Pacific Southwest building on Fulton Mall. Formerly the Security Bank building, recent renovations of the 1920s building have turned several floors into live-in lofts and work spaces.
This guy talks about the building so passionately that city leaders could take lessons from him.
“It’s so iconic in Fresno,” he says. “I feel like every bit of Fresno’s spirit and downtown and this whole revitalization can be summed up in this building.”
Seeing it from the highway “it reminds you that downtown is there … and there is a whole community there that is thriving and growing and changing.”
You won’t find Herbert’s products or others like them on the shelves at Target. But with a little guidance from me, you can find them at a few local stores and online.
▪ Who: Urban Crow Apparel.
What: T-shirts and sweatshirts feature scenes of Yosemite, the downtown water tower and the Pacific Southwest building on the Fulton Mall. T-shirts cost $25, long-sleeved baseball shirts are $35 and sweatshirts $35.
Where to buy: Tree of Life Bakery and Cafe, 2139 Kern St.; the gift shop at the Fresno Water Tower (yes, the water tower sells T-shirts featuring the water tower) at 2444 Fresno St.; The Urban Umbrella, 519 Fourth St., in Clovis; and online at www.etsy.com/shop/urbancrowapparel.
▪ Who: Pedro Urena of GiftPic.
What: Totes, $32, and zippered pouches, $20, that feature the Tower Theatre, Tokyo Garden and a building in downtown Fresno’s warehouse row. He also sells postcards and buttons with Fresno images.
Where to buy: Old Fresno Water Tower, 2444 Fresno St.; Tree of Life Cafe & Bakery, 2139 Kern St.; Kiku Floral, 855 M St.; Gazebo Gardens, 3204 N. Van Ness Blvd.; The Urban Umbrella, 519 Fourth St., in Clovis; the Fresno High Flea market (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Saturday of the month during the school year); and Art Hop at Agape Creative Studios, 1612 Fulton St. (5 to 8 p.m. the first Thursday of the month).
▪ Who: Melanie Davis Unguez of Twee.
What: T-shirts and baby onesies that say “Fresno” and “I’m kinda a big deal in Fresno.” Onesies cost $20 and shirts are $22.
Where to buy: Twee no longer has a physical store, but the shirts can be purchased at Gazebo Gardens gift shop. They can also be ordered by messaging Twee through its Facebook page or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Who: Junior Gonzales of Casual Glitz.
What: Pillows for $25 feature the sign on Van Ness Avenue on the southern edge of the city that says “Fresno: The best little city in the USA.” He also sells pillows that have the “Clovis: Gateway to the Sierras” sign. He customizes sketchbooks, $10 and magnets, $4, with Fresno landmarks like Warnors Theatre and Mom’s Burgers. He also does custom orders of any favorite Fresno scene.
Where to buy: The Art Shop, which sells art inside The Vintage Market at 601 W. Shaw Ave., and at the 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, fundraiser for the Arthouse at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co., 745 Fulton St. Also find him on www.etsy.com/shop/casualglitz.