Many have acquired skills in the Design industry through extensive training; Jamal “BAM” Tate came into this world possessing a talent in innovative design and a gift of conceptual execution. The passion behind his work is not just seen; It is felt, in every facet of his work. He is a Pioneer, a Master at his craft. The hats he has worn in the extent of his career are more than impressive.
Jamal “Bam” Tate is a top-ranked Master Designer and Graphic Artist, whom started his professional career at the age of 15 in New York’s prestigious High School of Art & Design. As a sophomore, Jamal’s drawing skills far surpassed his peers in all grade levels. Instructors at Art and Design marveled at his attention for detail in the illustrations he produced.
During his junior year, he was drafted by DC Comics, the largest comic book publishing company in the world. In Spring of 1987, he began his internship and interns were held at high standards and much was expected of him. Jamal desired to pursue a career as a comic book artist and within a short period of time, management saw remarkable potential in his drawing ability and work ethic. Jamal was presented an offer to stay permanently as a computer graphic artist in DC’s new division while learning computer graphics in its infancy stage. He soaked up the technology like a sponge and within a week, he was working up to production speed.
For next three years, Jamal worked as Computer Artist gaining praise for his computer renderings until DC disbanded this division. He worked as a Production Artist for the next two years before finally moving to the darkroom and performing a variety of positions over the next five years.
After 10 years with DC Comics, Jamal decided becoming a comic book artist was no longer fitting of the career path he wished to pursue. During this journey, he experienced the ups and downs of the business and decided it was not his calling. It broke his heart to walk away from the field he admired, but this decision opened the door to new beginnings in the Fashion World.
In 1993, a co-worker approached Jamal with an opportunity to do a comic strip for a start-up magazine. The visual focus was for horror on the cutting edge. Jamal’s plan was to create a superior graphic novel specifically crafted for the urban streets. This vision for a cool & hip concept birthed "Red Reign" the ultimate Harlem NYC Hunter/Killer. Jamal completed four fully inked rendered pages prior to being informed that the magazine would not be going into production.
It was at that moment he decided to continue drawing the book in hopes of self-publishing. Jamal printed graphic T-shirts using artwork from the Red Reign comic book to generate revenue and create publicity for the book. The Red Reign T-shirts sold out in less than two weeks. With the well-received success of his T-shirts, Jamal expanded the line and introduced leather jackets and baseball caps.
Jamal’s design talent and accomplishments created a buzz in both the Fashion and Music business and was subsequently enlisted to design the album cover and comic book insert for Hip-Hop Group OutKast’s "Jazzybelle" album, as well as promotional posters & T-shirts. To date, Jamal’s freelance portfolio includes projects for Def Jam Recordings, Atlantic Records, East-West records, Sony Music, LA-Face Records, Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit Records & Lethal Records.
By the mid 90's, the Urban Fashion market started to thrive and and expand rapidly which presented more opportunities for designers. After departing DC Comics in 1997, Jamal was hired as the Art Director for Lethal Records, a company he had previously freelanced for. In 1998, six months after working at Lethal Records, Jamal accepted a position with Urban fashion designer Maurice Malone, as a Fashion Designer. He worked closely with Maurice Malone to hone his craft while learning the process to becoming a true designer.
His history of swiftly mastering the skills necessary to create ground breaking work formed freelance opportunities to design for Sports apparel companies and organizations including the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL, Mixed Martial Arts (designed the first graphic T-shirt line for Everlast MMA apparel brand), Phat Farm and Baby Phat outerwear and home linens, Cakemix and ongoing freelance work for DC Comics.
Jamal acquired a financial backer to fund the Red Reign T-Shirt Movement in 1998. Red Reign designs have always been avant-garde. The design esthetic of the artwork and style bring a unique look and feel to the line. Red Reign media advertisements can be found in a number of popular magazines, and growth of the line continued to climb. Unfortunately, all that glittered was not gold and after a year and a half, the financial partnership came to an end. This created a 5-year hiatus to get the company back to optimal position.
Despite the setback, Jamal’s resolve remained strong and the desire burned twice as hot to continue Red Reign on his own terms. In 2002, Jamal re-launched Red Reign Designs by funding the business out of his own pocket. Red Reign returned strong with new and fresher designs. The featured logo and character based designs reached a broader demographic. Unlike the first series, which was very dark in nature, the second series was much lighter in content and easier for the mass market to digest. Eventually, the consumer focus shifted from T-shirts to button down shirts. The T-shirt business was at an all time low. This new low caused another break for Red Reign. To the public, it is out of sight and out of mind, however, Red Reign continued building. New designs are created year after year and the catalogue of designs continues to expand.
Jamal is also the Co-Founder/Vice President for NEXGEN Skins, a new line of individualized tech savvy skins for desktop, laptop, tablets and cell phones. The never seen before texture and structure of the skins continues to complement the trend of innovation Jamal implemented three decades ago.
In addition to everything on his plate, teaching and mentoring artists and designers has been a long time passion. Multitudes of novice and seasoned designers have sought out Jamal over the years for education, training and enlightenment. In the process, one of the greatest lessons learned has been to encourage his students to unlearn incorrect skill application while incorporating more efficient presentation. Jamal has a distinct gift in simplifying the design process to allow for optimum creativity. There is reason to be on the look out for classes and training centers structured in true Jamal “Bam” Tate style!
In 2014, the Vault Series will be re-launched and will include original artwork along with new designs from the Red Reign Vault. Red Reign continues to create the hottest graphic T-shirts in the Fashion industry. This is one of the many reasons Jamal “Bam” Tate continues to remain a highly coveted Fashion Designer in the Graphic Design and Apparel industry.
Jamal “Bam” Tate is undoubtedly a man to keep your eyes on. You can follow his movement on Facebook (facebook.com/redreigntshirts) , Instagram (RED REIGN), For updates and business inquiries.