Portland and Austin may claim to be the weirdest cities in the country, but Denver has its own brand of weird. Giving the "Keep Portland Weird" slogan a twist, Aaron Petitjohn captures the Denver attitude with his "Keep Denver Beard" T-shirts and other Colorado-centric designs. See also: Adam Sikorski's Coloradical shop opening on East Colfax Saturday
Originally from Oklahoma, Petitjohn moved to Colorado for a job as a graphic designer at Fox News. He works as a freelance designer, too, creating websites, logos, posters and animations. "If someone's working on a Kickstarter project and they need a video, that's a lot of the kind of stuff I'll do," he says.
Petitjohn also designs T-shirts, buttons, postcards and other merchandise, which he sells online, as well as at the I Heart Denver Store and at other local shops.
He came up with the "Keep Denver Beard" concept while at a meeting to discuss branding strategies. "We were talking about 'Keep Portland Weird,' and I was like, 'Denver's kind of weird, but Denver's kind of beard,'" he says. "So I started sketching around and just came up with the design and sent it to Samuel [Schimek, of I Heart Denver], and he thought it was good, so I went with it. People are buying it. Then I started putting out other stuff and I kind of got my foot in the door around town."
What started as a pun has turned into Petitjohn's best-selling design. It's not only popular among men with beards, but with women as well. "I think people attach something to it -- it's layered enough, accidentally," he says. "I thought of it more as an attitude. It is kind of i's own brand of weird here, but it's also kind of rugged and it's also kind of natural."
Aside from the popular T-shirts, Petitjohn is the creator of the "Native-ish" bumper stickers and "Coloradosaurus" postcards. He is now working on new designs, playing with recreational marijuana and the term "Menver." He is certain he won't run out of material related to Denver anytime soon. "It's such a unique, just cool city," he says. "I meet people every day that give me ideas, whether they mean to or not."
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For more information on Petitjohn and to shop for his merchandise, visit his website.