The t-shirt, which traces its lowly roots to the 19th century, has come a long way from being simply acknowledged as an undergarment. Soldiers returning from World War II could often be seen sporting the casual tee with their uniform trousers in public; today, t-shirts are a staple in nearly any wardrobe and are used as a means of expression to convey everything from political affiliation to one’s favorite sports team.

Oklahoma artists are ramping up the airy summer staple with designs that suggest, rather than scream, state pride. With designs that include the state shield, the state bird and homage to our state’s strong ties to American Indians, these shirts are visible at any concert, festival or even PTA meeting.

Dustin Oswald, an Oklahoma City-based artist and creator of the Bombs Away t-shirt line, says creating shirt designs inspires a sense of community.

“I feel like more a part of this state through my art work and designs,” he says of his two-color t-shirts with designs he describes as “maybe a little raw.” “A sense of community is what it’s all about.”

Valentin Esparza, designer of T~Town Teez, says that the rise of Okie-centric t-shirts couldn’t have come at a better time. “I think that people enjoy local designs because it helps establish a sense of identity and gives their home a fun, new spirit that’s been lacking for years.”

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