686 x Grateful Dead – Behind the Art w/ Jeff Kubasak




As Jeff Kubasak pilots his vintage Singer 114w103 sewing machine in his small studio it sounds like machine gun fire. Yet with that needle pulsating violently he creates the most beautiful images. Flowers, peace signs, life-size happy faces… to the untrained eye it looks like the machine is controlling his hands like a Ouija board. A true artist at work.
Jeff - aka commongenus - is a designer living in East Hollywood responsible for giving the iconic imagery of Grateful Dead the voice of 686 in the latest collection. Currently he is best known for specializing in chainstitch and chenille embroidery, but he is a creator in every sense. Woodworking, film, graphic design, illustration, photography, painting, you name it. He’s an all-around designer. Skateboarding taught him to always try something new and to never quit.
Looking deeper into Jeff’s story makes it obvious why he was a perfect choice to bring the Grateful Dead collaboration to life. Music, hiking, and talking story are all passions when he’s not designing, which is rare since his love affair with chain stitching began years back.
A chance encounter with Nudie Cohn’s flamboyant western style embroidered clothing eventually set in motion a 6-month search to find a near century old Singer machine. At the time he didn’t understand the elaborate detailing but knew with his instrument he could produce some wild stuff. There were no how-to guides when Jeff got his start. It was trial and error. Full DIY. The similarities to skateboarding weren’t lost on him and it’s been a constant inspiration. The culture behind skating; the graphics, music, and rebellion, are all sparks for his creative outlets. A teacher by trade with a pure degree in mathematics Jeff quit his long-time teaching career to pursue his passion of art. Jumping into the deep end was the only way. Art to him is an exploration, which inspired the Grateful Dead bears that he drew for the latest collection.