Graphic designer launches new T-shirt company featuring bands you've definitely never heard of

Dave Barber has been going to rock shows in Columbus since the early '90s, and every time he ventures out, he makes sure to visit the merch table. Barber, a graphic designer by trade, loves the way music and visual art can go hand in hand on an album cover or a T-shirt.

“I have way too many rock T-shirts to count,” he said.

Sometimes, though, the quality of the merchandise doesn't match the quality of the music. So Barber, who started out as an illustrator, began dabbling in designs that mixed images and music. Several years ago, he designed the album cover for Tim Easton and the Freelan Barons’ Beat the Band, and more recently he drew inspiration from the photography of his friend Kris Misevski, playing with designs based on Misevski’s fashionable photos.

Eventually, it led to the creation of Lost Radicals, a vintage-style online T-shirt shop featuring bands that Barber guarantees you’ve never heard of — artists such as Avelaine Ruse and the Brown Water Boys. “I’m exploring what it means to be cool or to have a band T-shirt that no one's ever heard of,” said Barber, who winkingly described Lost Radicals in a press release as “a secret club that’s not so secret.” “What is authenticity? ... When everyone’s trying to be authentic, what does that even mean anymore? It’s just experimenting and exploring that whole notion.”

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After a soft launch in Nashville in September, Barber is throwing a Lost Radicals Launch Party on Wednesday, Nov. 27 (the day after his 50th birthday), at Little Rock Bar, featuring a set from a musician performing under the name Sidd Finch (hint: she now lives Somewhere Else and will perform alongside Todd May), plus a DJ set from the Clampdown’s Charles Erickson, food from Guzman Cuisine and, of course, lots of T-shirts.

“I like when people walk that line between music and style. I’m a huge Basquiat fan,” Barber said. “My main inspiration right now is John Varvatos. He's much more high-end fashion than what I'm doing. I'm just doing T-shirts, but he’s found that perfect way of mixing rock and fashion. He’s a big influence.”

Similarly, Lost Radicals embraces the intersection of art and retail — the idea of “soulful commerce.” And Barber is open to however the brand ends up evolving going forward.

“I can see this becoming a lot of different things. I could design shirts for other musicians at some point. My wife and I love bourbon, and we could come out with a bourbon line,” he said. “It could be a record label and just feature local Columbus musicians. … The sky’s the limit.”