4 Apr 2020

Custom gi artwork

The current COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown measures mean that I have a lot more time available to work on projects that I've previously thought about but have never had time to start. A painted BJJ gi was one of those ideas and I've managed to complete my homage fanart from the manga comic Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo.

Here is a breakdown of how I painted onto the gi:

1. An old plain white gi (Scramble semi-custom)

2. Pebeo Setacolor opaque fabric paint

3. Used a soft pencil to sketch in the basic outline. The original manga art can be seen here.
4. I used some cheap old paintbrushes, the fabric paint dries quickly and is 'fixed' by ironing onto the back of the gi. The bumpy surface of the pearlweave fabric was a bit of a challenge at first, but rather than get upset over the lack of clean straight lines, I just accepted it was never going to be as clinical compared to painting onto paper or stretched canvas. I ended up quite liking the very rough and grungy textures.
5. To get clean lines on the text, I first traced the words onto tracing paper then cut it out. I then used Pritt Stick to glue the paper onto the gi fabric. It was easy to remove afterwards.
6. Used soft pencil to write the Japanese characters which roughly translate to the infamous Akira English language catchphrase: Good for Health, Bad for Education. I found the appropriate spelling thanks to this blog.
7. The only additional colour was the red katakana characters which spell AKIRA. The final stage is to heat FIX the paint by ironing onto the reverse side for a few minutes.
8. I haven't washed it yet, but I've used this fabric paint before and it's very durable so I'm confident it will stay.

I posted these photos on social media and Reddit and received a lot of great responses. It also seemed to have caught on with other BJJ artists as they too decided to paint their gis - see the photo below:

1.Vagabond artwork by @norih.art for her husband @rameezrk 2.Godzilla artwork by @supreme_leader_choke 3. Samurai artwork by @dominicwalsh76

Since the lockdown is going to last at least another month and more likely longer I have already begun preparing to paint on several other gis plus I have always wanted to create more painted canvas shoes. For me, staying busy with creative projects is a mentally healthy way to alleviate the tedium and frustration of not being able to train or go out much.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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