Remembering Sycamore Creative

Modern Designed Bible Prints from Jason Cobb and Justin Bessinger

Sycamore Creative Bible Prints was a company that produced Bible verse poster prints that gave us a better view of Christ (like the Sycamore tree of Luke 19) and foster a “Deuteronomy 6” lifestyle — where Scripture is fully integrated into the believer’s, schedule, conversation, and home. Jason Cobb handled management and finance while Justin Bessinger (of Little Tuba!) developed the branding/logo, built the website, implemented print rating feedback system and email subscription, and designed the poster prints.

Sycamore Creative Bible Prints were quality pieces of art, pairing the timeless words of Scripture with a modern design. They fit in with today’s home decor yet reminded you and encouraged you with full and potent verses from the Bible. They launched their products on Kickstarter in 2014 and raised over $2000 to help fund their initial round of prints for their e-commerce store.

Founded by Jason Cobb and Justin Bessinger, together they wanted to encourage their children with Scripture in their home. However, when they looked for Bible prints for their home, what they often found was often sappy, featured only a phrase or summarized idea from Scripture, or just too old-fashioned for our taste. So, they set out to scratch our own itch and created Sycamore Creative to produce 11″ x 17″ Bible Prints that were affordable, housed in high quality real solid wood frames, and professionally printed on thick, high gloss material.

Jason and Justin believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God that teaches us wisdom, history, poetry, and most importantly, God’s plan for our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.  That’s why 10% of their proceeds went to Wycliffe Bible Translators which sends translators around the world to translate the Bible into languages and regions that had no access to Scripture.

In September of 2014, I helped Jason and Justin launch Sycamore Creative. Jason and I traveled down to Justin’s house in Kentucky with an aspiring film producer, Chris Rihm. I was his production assistant. After the video shoot, we all drove to Madison, Indiana to eat at Harry’s Stone Grill. The Colts were playing their first game so we asked if we could sit in a room with a TV. They cleaned a room with TVs just for us.

On Making Gnomes: How The Sims Made Me an Entrepreneur

Sims Woodworking Gnomes

Shortly after my wife and I first moved into our first home together, we created a game room. We had consoles and PCs and a single bed we used as a couch. One of the games we liked to play was The Sims.

In The Sims: Livin’ Large, there is a “KraftMatic Woodworking Table” where Sims can carve gnomes out of blocks of wood. At first, gnomes might only sell for $1, but as the Sim’s Mechanical skill improves, they will increase in price.

One day after my wife and I were sitting there watching a simulated person build something and sell it while we sat watching, a simultaneous ‘light bulb’ went off in our heads when we both realized we could ‘build gnomes’ in real life.

We never played The Sims again.

My wife started a custom knitting company, became a lactation consultant, and is now selling essential oils and making soap. I started out doing handyman work, started a web design company, and started a career in IT.

 

The T-Shirt Designer Inside Me

Recently I was invited to sit in on a business startup meeting at a local Starbucks. While brainstorming with the founder, the seasoned t-shirt industry guru turned to me and said, “You must have a little t-shirt designer inside you.”

In high school and college I used to make t-shirts by writing on white t-shirts with red markers. I’d write inside jokes  like “Forks, Knives, and Spoons” or movie references like “She’s All That” with a giant arrow pointing to my left.

In 2007 I briefly considered starting a t-shirt business before going into web design with Telablue. “The problem I never addressed with you was the fierce pushback I got from my wife as soon as I discussed our plans for her business. That is why I didn’t follow up with the T-shirt idea and switched to Telablue,” I emailed my friend, Jason on 10/19/2007.

Bold-Bros-T-Shirts

Jason was one of my friends in high school and throughout our adult lives we’ve maintained our friendship thus far. I’ll get to the ‘t-shirt designer inside him’ later on in this post, but for now let’s keep going with the ‘t-shirt designer inside me’.

While sitting at my job at work or driving my daily commute I’d come up with t-shirt ideas and email them to my friends. On 9/28/2010 I had an idea for a “Picture of flux capacitor with ‘Capacity for Change’ written underneath.” Not good.

I started designing t-shirts almost as soon as I started learning about computers. This t-shirt blank is from 12/15/1996. I used it to design t-shirts for my local high school church youth group, which we called “SOTE” (Salt of the Earth).

Shirt2

Not long after, Jason and I formed the band, Shog, and so ideas for making Shog t-shirts soon followed after. This “Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord” Shog t-shirt idea is from 4/7/1997. It was designed by Jason, but never got printed.

SHOG 1

Jason and I weren’t the only one of our friends to get into the t-shirt design business. My friend Derek, came out with the “Jerk Club” in 12/27/2008. It only had 2 members, who are featured here in this self-deprecating picture below.

Jerk-Club

In 2010 I had the t-shirt design bug again and designed two shirts. This “Wheat Action” one is Settler’s of Catan inspired and is from 12/12/2010. I actually had this t-shirt printed, but gave it as a present to a friend who played Catan with us.

wheat-action-300dpi-6in
This “Wisconsin Venn” t-shirt idea is from 12/29/2010 and features the state of Wisconsin at the center of a Venn diagram featuring cheese, meat, and beer. I finally ended up traveling to Wisconsin a couple of years ago with Jason. Fun times.

wisconsin-venn
Before I get into Jason’s t-shirt design business, here’s one more t-shirt design from 7/21/2013 titled, “Sandwich Lover”, which was never printed. I do love sandwiches and have often played with the idea of starting a sandwich blog, but have not. 1/2/2016 UPDATE: This “Sandwich Lovers Sandwich” t-shirt is now available on Amazon.

sandwich-lover-sandwich

High Five!

This is a history of High5, a t-shirt project Jason started in December of 2012. Here’s a gallery of the initial t-shirt ideas:

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And here is the final shirt:

Yellow Logo - Front

We’d meet up at local Broad Ripple restaurants and walk along the Monon to discuss t-shirt and business ideas. High5 was more than just a t-shirt company, it was a belief about:

  • Activity – Set goals and meet them. Make things better. Smile. Explore. Take time to enjoy life.
  • Community – Organizing. Lending support. Knowing your neighbors. Believing in each other.
  • Truth – Serve people. Be true. Hope. Refreshment.
  • Be Positive – Peace. Expect the best. Be cheerful. Glass half full – of awesome stuff.
  • Beauty – Stars. Sky. Sunrise Sunset. Smile. Kids’ laughing. The trail.

In a lot of ways, High5 was a reflection of Jason’s values. He likes to set goals and smile. He knows his neighbors. He serves other people. He loves his family, takes them to watch the stars at night, and walks with them on the trail through life.

Although the website is no longer up, the Twitter account @wehigh5 still exists. It says, “We want to be there when you reach the top, cross the finish, & meet the goal. We believe in positive change, saying hi to strangers, and making things better.”

What Did Jason Learn from High5?

It was a learning experience for Jason who said, “I was naive in thinking there could be limited inventory. With different sizes, different color shirts, and men and women sizes (and maybe children) the sku’s expand dramatically.”

Despite getting accepted into Cotton Bureau, he couldn’t garner the necessary votes to get them to go to print, but he did end up printing them locally in Indianapolis and sold them on his own Shopify ecommerce store.

“The amount of effort to get true good quality from a printing partner is remarkable – as I’ve been able to re-confirm with Sycamore,” which is Jason’s latest business on bible print art for the modern home.

High5 was more than just a t-shirt business. It was about saying ‘hi’ to strangers, digging deep with each other, and encouraging each other. “There’s a real sense of pride that swells within me when one of my friends wears a high 5 shirt.”

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Update as of 9/2/2019: I now make custom t-shirts as a service for others in addition to the funny t-shirts I make for myself.