What started as simply as an emergency costume idea for a Michael Jackson-themed party has grown into a lucrative business for Jason Thomas Leone. And once you get a look at the products, you’ll see why the SKULLebrities brand has taken off.
So what exactly are SKULLebrities? It’s a clothing line designed by Leone that features images inspired by deceased celebrities. Leone creates a cartoon skull festooned with details that are reminiscent to some of our favorite artists, performers and thinkers past and present. They are a great tribute and a way for people to show their love and appreciation for these larger than life personalities after they’ve passed away. And after you’ve picked out your favorite, use promo code DREADCENTRAL for 25 percent off your order! That offer is good until October 14.
“SKULLebrities started when my cousin Bianca and I were having a tribute party after Michael Jackson had died,” said Jason Thomas Leone, explaining the origin of the company. “We required that all guests pay homage to him and I ordered the armor-styled shirt he wore in the Beat It video to wear to the event. In short, the day before the party I still hadn’t received the shirt so I contacted the seller and was informed it was returned to her as undeliverable. So I went to the drawing board and created the Applehead art and got it to my screen printer to do a one-off for me. It was hit at the party and when I wore it out on various other occasions, I would get an unbelievable amount of compliments and requests to buy one. I knew I had something people liked, so I created a few more and trademarked the name.”
Seeing the success he had with the Applehead design, Leone knew he had to move forward with the idea. “At the time I was working with KISS and their licensing agent saw my artwork and asked if I would be interested in a licensing deal,” Leone said. “SKULLebrities is now a licensed brand in the USA, South America and Europe. We are currently working on a bunch of new and exciting products from plush toys to Halloween masks.” That’s quite a leap from something that starting from a shipping error.
But before the business began to expand into these newer products, SKULLebrites made its mark selling t-shirts, which is still the key product for the company. “The biggest sellers are Applehead, Aloha, Caput and Mole,” Leone said. “Since they are the four originals and have been around the longest, they’ve sold the most.” However, they’ve got some competition from other popular SKULLebrities designs. “Bud, Ernie and Jester are hot on their tail.” Go the Graveyard for the who’s who of the SKULLebrities universe.
We’ve got some great shots of Leone’s work below, including Applehead, Hottie, Jester and some new designs that SKULLebrities are just rolling out. You might recognize a gruesome threesome of slashers included below
But even having now expanded to dozens of designs, Leone still harkens back to his original work. “Applehead is my personal favorite,” he said. Ah, you never forget your first.
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