By Steve Minich
LIBERTY, Maine (WMTW) — In the small town of Liberty, there is a shop that has been using T-shirts to display the work of Maine artists for decades.
“We have people come from all over the country just to come and check out our shirts,” Matt Enos told Maine’s Total Coverage.
People have been stopping by Liberty Graphics along the town’s Main Street to look at t-shirts for the better part of five decades.
The business has been owned by its employees since the beginning.
“A lot of our artists are homegrown; they actually worked here,” Enos said.
Several of those artists still work at the shop.
Dozens of their designs from over the years were created expressly to fit the front and back of a tee.
“Rather than just create a good piece of art, they can really create a good piece of art for a t-shirt design specifically,” Enos said.
“If you’re not a gallery artist — this is the most artsy place you’ll ever work,” one of Liberty Graphics’ longtime artists, Jay Sproul, said.
Sproul has been working at the shop since 1991.
Instead of inside of a building, Sproul says his gallery is out in the street, where it is a thrill to see someone walking past and wearing one of his creations.
“I was in San Francisco, Yosemite National Park — places like that, and you see one of our t-shirts coming the other way. You can’t go anywhere without seeing a Liberty t-shirt if you know the work,” Sproul said.
That work isn’t just about the art but what it takes to produce a high-quality t-shirt: From the printing technique to the water-based inks that help ensure the designs don’t crack or fade.
“We’ve had people who have had our shirts for 20 to 30 years, and the shirt’s not in very good shape, but you can still see the design distinctly,” Enos said.
Though the town is off the beaten path, t-shirt enthusiasts still manage to find their way to the shop.
“That’s kind of the cool thing to watch people come to this tiny little village just to kind of see where everything is made and just get a glimpse of that small town business that has such a big reach,” Enos said.
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