Where art is craft


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Urban Craft magazine had quite an interesting chat with designer and Smoke’ n’ Beaver founder, Robert Miller a while back and he took us on an exciting journey back in time to when his label was conceptualized.

The setting for our tale is Milmine, Illinois and the Smok’ n’ Beaver back story goes a little something like this
“In the late 80s early 90s, when I was in high school before smart phones, we used C.Bs to communicate and have fun.

You’d carefully chose your C.B. handles knowing not to take the same name as someone else, we had Bald Eagle the Loan Ranger and such. I, for some reason, had the fascination with Beaver and dual meanings (growing up in the 80s Porkys movies era) and wanted a cool but different name so I decided upon Smok’n’Beaver.
“At first the guys would laugh and be like why Smoknbeaver? That sounds like its a hot chick or something. I would just smile and say theres nothing Id rather be doing than Smok’n’Beaver.
“My Senior year in high school (Bement 92-93) the class president asked me to design a shirt for the class so I drew a beaver bouncing on his tail flashing a piece sign, a party blower in his mouth, and party hat on. The class loved it so we had them printed for us to wear. Throughout the year you would see seniors walking through the hall sporting their shirts until one day. The principle caught wind that the beaver was a meaning for the lower part of a womans body. Those who were wearing them that day were made to turn their shirts inside out and it was the first shirt banned from the school”, said Miller.

The designer carried on with his narration – giving us a much clearer picture about the origins of that logo that has become synonymous with his designs. 
“A couple weeks before graduation there was a few of us that agreed to wear our Party Beaver shirts under our gown during graduation and instead of tossing our caps we would disrobe revealing our ‘BEAVERS’ you know ‘SHOW YOUR BEAVER’. Somehow the superintendent had heard about our plan and told the class that they were going to be checking under our gowns beforehand and anyone wearing the shirt would not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. Needless to say no one wore them that night until the big senior party.
“Later on that summer while drinking around one of my many’Milmine FIRES’ I had a great idea. (My buddy since I could remember was really great at drawing comic book characters and other things in the matter of minutes.) I wanted a tattoo and I had some ink from a leftover art project so I asked him if hed give me a tattoo. Of course others were like me too me too. He agreed so we went into my living room to get them started. We found a sewing needle and wrapped the tip with some thread and he dipped into the ink. ‘what do you want?’, he asked and I was like, ‘I want a beaver smoking a cigarette!’,  and so began the logo that you see today”, he said.

For Robert, this has been a dream, 18 years in the making and he is slowly but surely making headway with the support of his beautiful wife and his son.

He has been using social media to spread the brand further and push his shirt sales.
“My plan was to get Smok’n’ Beaver making enough money to finally get my own equipment and do it full time. This will also allow me to make better profit while lowering the prices.
“A little after I got Smok’ n’ Beaver going for the second time I came up with Outlawfishin and Outlawfishin.com. I’m bringing out new designs for it all the time. I think this brand might be a little more relatable and there will be less perverted sayings for those who are embarrassed by that. I also have a new logo and brand on the horizon. I dont want to give anything away right now until I get the rights to the URL but it will be a newSmok’ n’ line! But Smok’ n’Beaver will always be my baby!”, he said.

Apart from his own designs, ‘Bob’ has also recently started taking orders from other people who are looking to have their own personalized designs.
“Something Ive recently branched off on is designing shirts for other people (Rockers, radio host, writers, etc.) and I have found out that I love designing and hearing people sayI love what you came up with!so besides working my swing shift 7a-7p switch 7p-7a, four on four off Ive been busy designing and enjoying as much family time I can! This year is the, class of 93’s 25th reunion and they asked me to come up with a reunion shirt”, he said.

Smok’ n’ Beaver Social Media pages:
Facebook: Facebook.com/buysmoknbeaver
Instagram: Instagram.com/smoknbeaverdotcom
Twitter: Twitter.com/smoknbeaver

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