If you’re a punk fan, you’ll want to check out the work of Bern the White House, an apparel shop that designs punk t-shirts, stickers, and buttons with a twist: It’s classic punk rock iconography with a Bernie Sanders makeover. Their goods pay homage to classic bands like the Ramones, Misfits, and Descendents, but it’s all been Bernie-fied for supporters to wear loud and proud.
We caught up with creators Mark Mendez, a professional illustrator and graphic designer based in Los Angeles, California, and Rob Campbell, a screen printer and entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon, to find out more about their inspiration.
How’d you come up with this idea?
We are huge Bernie Sanders supporters with not a lot of income to dole out to the campaign. We wanted to make a difference utilizing the skills we have to support him any way we could. We saw a Black Flag-inspired Bernie shirt getting some attention on Facebook. We thought it was cool and a great way to promote Bernie. With Mark being a professional illustrator and Rob being a professional screen printer, we figured we could come up with some clever concepts based on some our favorite bands. We’re just a couple of regular dudes trying to make a difference.
Where did the name come from?
We were trying to come up with a play on the whole “Feel the Bern” phrase but wanted to use something that represented more of a punk rock, antiestablishment, anti-1% mentality. Bern the White House made sense as it represents burning down the status quo of corporate greed and political corruption to let Bernie make the changes we feel are necessary to bring us, the middle- and working-class people of this country, back into prosperity.
Why do you think Bernie is so punk rock?
It’s hard to think of Bernie as “punk rock” by his appearance alone. He’s a 74-year-old, white, veteran politician from Vermont. But his ideals are what make him the most punk rock candidate who ever ran for office. He’s been speaking about economic inequality, civil rights, and antiestablishment politics for over four decades. It is people like us who do what we can to support his campaign and raise awareness about who he is, what he stands for, and how we the people can make a difference.
Will you be adding more designs?
We currently have 7 different designs. We’ve been playing with a few concepts, including NOFX, Bad Religion, and Rancid. We’re using these artist’s iconography in parody and truly respect and love their artistry. If any of the artists we are parodying take issue with the use, we would fully respect their thoughts and remove it from our site. But we hope that they would share in Bernie’s beliefs.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Because the FEC regulates the amount that can be donated by a single donor, we technically cannot donate our proceeds to the campaign. What we can do is take the profits we make, pay the taxes owed on the income, and donate up to $2,700 per individual. That would be $5,400 we could donate to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Whatever else we make from sales will go to Bernie-friendly charities and grassroots organizations. There are a lot of cash grabs out there using Bernie’s popularity, so we want to be as transparent as possible. Our intentions are to raise awareness for his presidential campaign and donate as much as we can.
Feeling the Bern? Check out the Bern the Whitehouse site, Etsy shop, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And come to the Bernie Party at Column Five Headquarters January 23, 2015, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to watch the Bernie’s address to supporters.
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