3/8/2017 – Big Water’s Next Chapter

Hello Friends!

Thank you all for being part of Big Water, this little T-shirt business that I started in my Marquette, Michigan studio apartment back in 2011. I remember sleeping on a mattress that I’d folded in half like a taco so that I could have enough room in the tiny space for my growing amount of screen printing equipment. I’m pumped to introduce our new shop at bigwaterapparel.com

We’re thrilled to start this next chapter of Big Water, our own online storefront outside of Etsy. We’re doing this so that we can grow our selection and offer so many new styles and color selections of our current designs, as well as create many new designs.

We’re launching the shop now, but we’ll still be busy the next few months getting all of our designs into the shop, as well as building out full collections of women’s and kids’ specific shirts. If there’s something that you want that you don’t see (like a tank top, hoodie, or V-neck with your favorite design), shoot us an email at bigwaterapparel@gmail.com, and we’ll see if we can make it happen. Our Etsy storefront won’t go away, but we’ll be reducing the number of styles available there so that we can focus on our own shop.

I’m also super-happy to take this chance to focus on my own pen and ink artwork, which is the reason I started Big Water in the first place. Starting this spring, you’ll start to see a lot more involved artwork available on the site—originals, hand-printed silkscreens, prints, and limited run T-shirts. I’m calling this lineup Big Water Big Earth, and it will focus on the natural world—fish, wildlife, landscapes.

Thanks again for being part of this journey.



Colin Clancy

founder, artist, screen-printer

Blog/Press – 2015

Livin’ the Dream—y

Colin Clancy

May 22, 2015

On the July, 1984 night before the doctor slapped my newborn hairless ass, the Detroit Tigers shut out the Boston Red Sox three to nothing at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. Though my butt now has some hair on it, I’ve been a diehard Tigers fan ever since. Needless to say, the recent publicity we’ve gotten for our Dreamy Brad Ausmus shirts, and the knowledge that Miggy’s been walking around the clubhouse wearing one, has been pretty exciting.

It’s astonishing—and a little bit scary knowing that all these orders have to be printed with love, sorted, and shipped—to see the tons of articles and links. I love that the media has focused on the mystery of who ordered the shirts. Pete and I  know the truth, but we’re not telling.

Fox Sports Detroit featured our shirts on the 5/20/2015 pre-game show.

From the 5/20/15 Fox Sports Detroit pre-game show.

It’s also been interesting to see how, like an elementary school game of telephone, the facts get jumbled as different media outlets piggyback off each other. No, Alex Avila didn’t design the shirt, nor did he hire an artist to draw it for him. We designed it last summer, shortly after Brad took over for Jim Leyland, when we heard whispers of his studliness and knew a design like this might be a hit.

My thought was that it would be primarily women buying and wearing the shirt, and I’m pleasantly surprised that both men and women seem to be proudly sporting it. We’re hoping to see a lot of pictures of people wearing them —fans, players, Brad, maybe even Rod Allen (I see you, Rod.)

We knew when we saw the order come through, with the shipping address as Comerica Park and a name we certainly recognized on the receipt, that this could be big. When I texted Pete yesterday to gauge his reaction to seeing our standard 100 daily page views jump to well over 5,000, he told me that he felt, “excited, scared, a little hungry. But nothing we can’t do!”  I’m with ya, buddy.

My friend and former teacher at Western Michigan University, Michigan author, Adam Schuitema, sent me a facebook message to tell me about a fresh link up on Bleacher Report, and he told me, “enjoy the ride,” a suggestion that Pete and I have both taken to heart. As we plug away at printing this huge influx of shirts in our tiny basement print studio in Marquette, we’re excited knowing where the shirts are going, and we’re excited to see where this ride takes us.

Detroit Free Press


Yahoo Sports

MSN/120 Sports

CBS Detroit

SB Nation

Hardball Talk/NBC Sports

It’s Always Sunny in Detroit

Bleacher Report

Out of Left Field

Beefcake – 2014

Good lookin people wearing good lookin clothes.


Detroit Tigers pitcher, Al Albuquerque, working out in our Dreamy Brad Ausmus shirt.

Cousin Curtiss on tour.

Cousin Curtiss on tour.

Dreamy Ausmus shirts and the wonderful Fox Sports Detroit crew

Dreamy Ausmus shirts and the wonderful Fox Sports Detroit crew


The Big Water Ski Team in shotski action.

Colin & Pete

Colin & Pete: American Dudes Makin’ American Shirts



clancy golf

Half of the Clancy cousins, sportin’ custom shirts for the H.K. Clancy Memorial Golf Outing


Mara, Brad, Leslie, and Geoff, sporting their Michigan Beer pride while skiing double blacks in Utah.


Mary: Massage Therapist Extraordinaire


Frank. This photograph has not been altered in any way.

Brad and Mara

Brad “Nuts Cup Poker Champ” and Mara “Future Nuts Cup Champ”


Big Water Apparel: Marquette Mountain Summer Volleyball League Wednesday Night Champs.



Wags: Writer, Model, Renaissance Man

Wags: Writer, Model, Renaissance Man

Seamus, rockin' the

Seamus, rockin’ the “My Beard Beats your Beard” shirt. Look at that grin.

About – 2013


By Adam “Allister Champagne” Wagner

Whether you’re having a Saturday afternoon beer with your curling team, or wrestling black bears in Iron County, Big Water Apparel makes the clothing designed to keep you comfy in any situation.  Each print is silkscreened by hand onto the highest quality tees made in the good old U.S. of A.  The shirts are so soft, they cry at the end of Twilight movies.

Big Water Studio 1

Do you spend your free-time combating child-labor laws in China?  Fantastic!   Every Big Water shirt is hand-printed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with environmentally friendly, water-based ink, that makes the kickass designs look and feel as awesome as possible.  The artwork on Big Water Apparel is originally hand-drawn in pen and ink, inspired by the great mistress Michigan, the lakes that surround her, and the fun stuff to do in and around them. Every penny spent on Big Water Apparel stays local, and probably goes directly to Stucko’s Pub in Marquette, not China.  So the question becomes: is your conscious ready to deal with not owning any Big Water Apparel?

Big Water Studio 2

Native Americans call Lake Superior Gichigami, which means “Big Water.”  They are right; it’s effing big.  It’s so big that Gordon Lightfoot writes songs about it, and it’s so fresh that it has an auntie and uncle in Bel-Aire.  During the Gales of November, Gichigami ravages her southern shores with 20 foot waves and t-shirt logo inspirations.

Big Water Studio 3

Since its establishment in 2011, Big Water Apparel has made people look as amazing as a Marquette Harbor fireworks display.  When people wear Big Water shirts in public, they’re subject to questions like:

  • Would you mind opening this pickle jar for me?
  • What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
  • Can I buy you a drink?
  • Can I take you to Paris?
  • Do you know Liam Neeson?
  • What’s the view like from atop Everest?
  • How hard can you throw an axe?



Sometime in the early 1980s, when the earth was closest to the sun and the moon glowed fire-red, an alpha-male grizzly bear came down from the mountains in search of a mate worthy of his heir. Somewhere in the great state of Michigan he happened upon a female komodo dragon that had set upon the land of the Great Lakes for the skiing and the bountiful fishing. The two fell madly in love, and five moons later the one named Colin Clancy broke free of his leathery, serpent shell.

The man we know as Colin charged into this world, as hairy as his grizzly bear father, with but one thing on his mind: hand-printed Michigan tees. After a few years of ski-bumming Colorado and acquiring degrees from both Western and Northern Michigan Universities, he launched Big Water Apparel, his poly-cotton homage to the great state of Michigan.



Escanaba born and raised, Pete is our designing, printing, shipping, rockin’ Operations Director. He’s got an Art & Design degree and lots of badass tattoos. He’s our native Yooper, plays in a ska band, and is pretty much the coolest person you know. He says, “I enjoy the process of taking something that is blank and creating something on it.”



Lewie is a native Yooper, born and raised in Escanaba and currently residing in Marquette. He’s an alumni of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, and he has warning track power and hot corner reflexes when it comes to coed slow pitch softball. Lewie is Big Water’s sales rep, getting us in touch with great shops and retailers throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region.



In addition to being Colin’s wonderful mom, Stacey is Big Water’s seamstress extraordinaire. She has sewed hundreds, nah, probably more like thousands, of Halloween costumes, Christmas stockings, class projects, tote bags, Big Water prototypes, etc. She enjoys the process of designing by trial and error, of putting her own touch on projects, and of knowing how much the recipients will love the end products. She’s a lifelong Michigan resident and an alumni of Gull Lake High School in Richland and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. We hope she wasn’t too offended by the komodo dragon reference in Colin’s bio.

Big Water Apparel Specializes in:

Are you a skier, snowboarder, or monoskier? Wait, maybe not monoskier. Check out our friends at SkiShirts.net

Ski Shirts – 2013

We grew up learning to ski and snowboard on the boilerplate ice of lower Michigan, and we’ve raced on slalom and giant slalom courses in northern Michigan and the U.P.  We’ve bumped chairs, waited tables, and taught kids “pizza” and “french fries,” ski bummed at Colorado resorts, road tripped to Utah in search of powder stashes, and hiked Rocky Mountain backcountry for fresh lines.  We love the snow, and that’s why we make the best ski shirts, snowboard shirts, and other skiing apparel you can find.

Upper Peninsula Shirts – 2013

We are proud to print our shirts in Marquette, in the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and on the shore of the Greatest of the Great Lakes.  Whether you’re a born and bred Yooper or the U.P. is your favorite vacation spot, you’ll love our Upper Peninsula shirts.  We make the best U.P. t-shirts, U.P. hoodies, U.P. tote bags, Lake Superior shirts, and other Upper Peninsula apparel and Lake Superior apparel.

Michigan Beer Shirts – 2013

Current contents of the fridge:  ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, Siracha, cheese, Founders Breakfast Stout and Porter, KBC Pickaxe Blonde, an old Bud Lite someone left behind, Bells Two Hearted, Hopslam, and Kalamazoo Stout, pony keg of homebrew, Frankenmuth Oktoberfest, Dunkel, and Red Sky, and Dark Horse Scotty Karate.  Yeah, I’d say we like Michigan beer.  We celebrate our Great Beer State and all of our great Michigan breweries by making the best Michigan beer t-shirts, Michigan beer hoodies, Michigan beer tote bags, and other Michigan beer apparel out there.

Page written; go ahead and subtract a Two Hearted from that list.

Great Lakes Shirts – 2013

We love our Great Lakes.  We swim, surf, and paddle in them and ski, ride, and sled in their lake effect snow.  We’ve ridden the coasters at Cedar Point and jumped into Lake Superior in Duluth.  We’ve watched baseball in Detroit, rocked out at Summerfest in Milwaukee, and gotten rowdy in Chicago and Green Bay.  We grew up with Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior ever-present, and that’s why we make the best Great Lakes t-shirts, Great Lakes hoodies, Great Lakes tote bags, and other Great Lakes apparel that you can find, anywhere.

Michigan Shirts – 2013

We love the Great Lakes State, from Detroit to Copper Harbor!  We’ve cheered for the Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons in the World Series, Stanley Cup Playoffs, and NBA finals, and we cheered just as hard for the Lions when they went 0-16.  We’ve celebrated Oberon Day in Kalamazoo and jumped in Lake Superior in March.  That’s why we make the best Michigan t-shirts, Michigan hoodies, Michigan tote bags, and other Michigan apparel that money can buy.

Custom 2012

Custom baseball tees for the HK Clancy golf outing.

Custom baseball tees for the HK Clancy golf outing.

Need awesome printed sportswear for your team, business, or event?  Contact us for a quote at: bigwaterapparel@gmail.com.


Custom tees for the Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon, put on by the Noquemanon Trail Network.


FISTICUFFS? Custom shirts for Derek’s Las Vegas Bachelor Party

Custom flannels for the Big Water Ski Team in the Marquette Mountain Adult Race League

Custom flannels for the Big Water Ski Team in the Marquette Mountain Adult Race League


Custom shirts for the Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon

Custom Organic Cotton Long Sleeve Tees for the Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon

Custom Organic Cotton Long Sleeve Tees for the Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon


Custom Tanks for Kristi’s Naughty Nautical Bachelorette Party.


FANNY PACKin Heat Bar Crawl

Cousin Curtiss

Cousin Curtiss

Superior Snowshoe Series

Superior Snowshoe Series


Moosemen Rugby

custom shirt with custom artwork for the Northern Michigan University Moosemen Rugby Football Club

custom shirt for the NMU Powersports Club