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MSU student designs exclusive t-shirts for Urban Outfitters

April 20, 2017

A graphic design senior and illustrator was given the opportunity to recently design exclusive T-shirts for the multinational clothing company Urban Outfitters. 

As part of their Artist Editions, an ongoing series of limited edition graphic T-shirts created by different artists from around the world, Lorenza Centi was able to use her passion for designing and illustrating to show off her work.

Centi interned for Urban Outfitters last summer as a graphic design intern, where the opportunity started from. 

“I ended up sitting next to the special projects manager, he also made t-shirts of his own, he did his own Grateful Dead collection,” Centi said. “So we got to talking about T-shirts through that and then I was working on a shirt, so I brought him over and we talked about the Artist Editions campaign and they asked me to do it for them.” 

Centi said she has done work with T-shirts before Urban Outfitters, but a lot of them were just prints and not for apparel. 

“I did sell and sort of advertise T-shirts a little bit,” she said. “I had just started getting into my illustration career at that point, so I wasn’t full-blown apparel wise, but I did sell a lot of prints.” 

Her design focus is mostly in the fashion and music industry and is based on feminist issues in modern society and media.  

Centi’s two designs for artists editions included Dream Girl and Reveal. Dream Girl was the first piece created from the series “On Being Pink” and its intent is to play on the physical necessary objects of women with a main focus of women in our modern day society. Reveal came later in the series and plays on the glass half full vs. glass half empty mentality. 

 “I just kind of wanted to visit uncharted territories of those sort of like taboo topics and that sort of androgyny and mystery within female design because a lot of it is very derivative and very similar to each other,” she said.  

Mark Bird, assistant instructor in Art, Art History and Design, has been an instructor of Centi's for three different classes and she is currently in his senior seminar class. Bird said Centi has a unique style with how she approaches design.

“Her approach tends to be kind of minimal with complexity,” he said. “She’s a very intelligent designer, she’s very thoughtful about how she approaches a design project and at the same time she’s got a thing that you can’t really teach, it’s a level of intuition.” 

Zach Kaiser, an assistant professor in Art, Art History and Design, has known Centi since his very first semester of teaching at MSU three years ago. He taught graphic design one and said she was one of his first students.  

“I think she’s very versatile, so she's able to do a bunch of different things,” Kaiser said. “I think her work is becoming very experimental, which is really interesting. … She’s got the T-shirt pieces that she did for Urban Outfitters, but also she has prints of her drawings with sort of provocative statements about the commodification of feminism over them and they’re really quite beautiful and powerful.” 

After graduation, Centi said she plans on being in Michigan this summer to take a break from school, but the main goal is to go back to Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia. 

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