Capstone Project: Battle Jacket Workshops

Emily's graduate capstone project for Academy of Art University took place in October 2019 in Washington, DC and Centreville, Virginia. Battle Jacket Workshops have since partnered with MAGFest's Makerspace at AnimeUSA (November 2019) and SuperMAGFest (January 2020) in the Washington, DC area. Workshops have also been offered in partnership with the LGBT Center of Central PA in Harrisburg, PA (February 2020). Spring and summer workshops through the Herndon Public Library (VA), Project Create (DC), Frozen Sisters (AK) and Connecticon (CT) are TBD due to COVID-19.

(WHAT ARE BATTLE JACKETS? They are the patched, studded, customized jackets or vests commonly seen in punk and metal communities, and are creative garments unique to each owner. In recent years, they have spread beyond just music subcultures and have become common in queer communities, pop culture fandoms, political activism, and more. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BATTLE JACKETS, PLEASE VISIT THE BATTLE JACKET MUSEUM.)

Mission Statement and Philosophy

The Battle Jacket Museum is committed to providing a safe space for all bodies, regardless of background or skill level, to explore and celebrate their identities confidently through the art of battle jackets. Battle Jacket Workshops aim to provide accessible skills, resources, and community to foster the growth of every artist.

Battle Jacket Workshop teaching artists act less as instructors and more as fellow collaborators. They embody the DIY spirit of punk and alternative cultures, encouraging attendees to find creative solutions and express themselves authentically. All attendees will have an inspiring, welcoming learning experience where they gain the skills to show the world who they are through their battle jackets.

Goals, Objectives and Outcome of Program

The main goal of Battle Jacket Workshops is to offer artists instruction in skills essential to customizing their own battle jackets and expressing themselves more confidently and authentically. Attendees will:

  1. Learn the history, folklore, and cultural significance of battle jackets in their communities and around the world

  2. Learn to customize their battle jackets through distressing, painting, studding, pinning, and patching

  3. Learn to customize their own patches through needlework, painting, stenciling, and linocut printing

With Battle Jacket Museum workshops, skill-building and providing a community safe space are top priorities. However, we have also observed a positive impact on the lives of our participants as a result of these priorities. Attendees experienced:

  • A greater sense of belonging in their community and the development of new social connections

  • A greater confidence in expression of their own identities, interests, and creativity without fear of negative reaction

Core Values

  1. Accessibility: Battle Jacket Workshops are financially, geographically, and artistically accessible through donation-based admission and a central location at DC Public Library's Library Express location in downtown Washington, DC as well as in Centreville, Virginia

  2. Identity: Battle Jacket Workshops support each artist’s expression of identity, in our space and beyond

  3. Acceptance: Battle Jacket Workshops welcome each artist into the community no matter their artistic skill level or background, prioritizing members of marginalized communities


The 2019 Battle Jacket Workshops took place in an initial five-class series of two-hour workshops, with consistent attendance of around attendees each, including numerous returning participants. During each meeting, attendees had a chance to meet the teaching artists, select their materials, and then observe constantly rotating demonstrations in the space as well as begin or work on their own battle jackets at their own comfortable pace and level of guidance. Attendees also participated in their own skill-sharing with peers. The workshop curriculum currently includes the opportunities to learn:

  • Sewing, mending, tailoring, and studding

  • Painting textiles such as canvas patches and denim or leather jackets

  • Embroidery and needlework

  • Printmaking and stencilwork 

Team Description

The team that has brought this program to life are creatives that feel just as passionately about battle jackets, DIY, social justice, and their city. This team includes:​

  • Emily Fasick: an experienced art and museum educator as well as battle jacket artist

  • Kevin Fasick: a practicing artist, printmaker, and painter

  • Kerry Kaleba: a folklorist, historian of material culture, and fiber artist

  • Bowie Sullivan: a printmaker, illustrator, and costume designer

  • Chip Phillips: a museum professional and venue host for the Centreville, Virginia workshops

  • Brit Biesecker: a librarian, activist, and workshop program assistant

Marketing and Promotion

Along with a dedicated team, Battle Jacket Workshops are supported by a grassroots marketing campaign consisting of Facebook events and promotions and community face-to-face networking. At the end of the initial series in October 2019, workshop participants created their own Facebook group called "Vest Friends" for organizing future meetups, socializing, and swapping artistic techniques and ideas.

Fundraising Plan

To promote financial accessibility for artmaking in the community, Battle Jacket Workshops are 100% free to attend, with donations for admission also accepted. In order to maintain this accessibility, the primary workshop series operated on a shoestring budget of under $100. This would not have been possible without donations of funds, materials, garments, and teaching time from the community, which also allow workshops to continue in the future.





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