Best Do-It-Yourself Promotion

Arts & Entertainment

I speculate that it is damn near impossible to grow up in Seattle and not fantasize about becoming a Rock Star. After all, we claim Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Modest Mouse, and let's not forget Heart, as our own. Needless to say, aspiring local bands have a lot to live up to, and in the age of endorsement, endorsement, endorsement, talent alone won't propel the most promising acts. That's why, in December 2003, THE VERA PROJECT, Seattle's all-ages music venue and musical outreach program, developed a silk-screening studio, where young rockers can create their own merchandising and promotional material. Aspiring musicians learn methods of printing their own designs onto T-shirts, posters, walls, and even skateboards. By getting their names out around the city, new bands have the opportunity to develop a fan base and to become part of the community that inspired them in the first place. All the equipment in the silk-screen lab was either donated or built by music supporters, and the printing classes are taught on a volunteer basis. The classes are offered once a month but fill up fast. "Our program has really blown up," says VERA operations manager Vanessa Gibbons. "VERA provides this opportunity that doesn't exist anywhere else in Seattle. A lot of local musicians are utilizing it." Although you may have to sign up months in advance for the class, once you've taken it, you're welcome to drop in for open sessions at the studio, though many students buy their own equipment and work at home. The process is relatively easy to master—a little ink, a little stencil, a bit of light exposure, and voilà! Fame, fortune, and groupies wearing your band shirt and too much eyeliner. The youth of Seattle can now take a proactive approach to self-promotion and get a hand up in getting the word out. 1916 Fourth Ave., 206-956-8372,

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