When we first met with Mitch Chang to discuss the 2018 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival t-shirt, he suggested we build on the Jumping Flea concept. What a challenge! Fleas aren't exactly the most endearing of insects. But when you consider how the ukulele got its name, it made perfect sense.
The story dates back to the summer of 1879 when Joao Fernandes was so happy to finally arrive in Honolulu after traveling15,000 miles over 4 months with 400 immigrants that he began playing folk songs from his native Portugal - right at the wharf - using his friend's braguinha. The crowd of Hawaiians who witnessed Fernandes’ impromptu playing were amazed at how his fingers jumped like fleas all over the fingerboard. So they called the instrument “ukulele,” which translates to “jumping flea.”
This year’s design features highly animated jumping fleas on a bus ride to Torrance to join other ukulele fans at the festival. It’s unmistakably a Southern California scene complete with palm trees, the iconic Hollywood sign, a meandering freeway, and a blimp hovering over downtown Los Angeles. It’s colorful and shows a community spirit—much like what you’d expect at this fun-filled festival!