Monday, October 1, 2007

T-Shirt Design

The Call of the Tee

Quantum Dave takes up the Split the Atom T-shirt design challenge (with mixed results)

Design your own t shirts. That was the task set me by the good people at Split the Atom. Right, I thought, no problem. I whipped out a pen, grabbed a blank sheet of paper and stared at it for approximately six hours before deciding it's probably more difficult to design your own tees than I'd first expected.

My first problem was choosing men's or women's t-shirts. It was very difficult to decide whether I'd be better at either. Dear reader, I am a man, so therefore one would imagine that my designer effort should be aimed squarely at the men's market, no? Well apparently not, because, when you think about it, I probably spend more of my time staring at women's tops than men's. So my knowledge might actually be greater about the female of the species.

In the end, having spent an hour debating, I decided that my design should be comic and for both sexes. I can be funny, I thought. I can be comic. In a competition to design your own t-shirts the one most likely to win is the one that sticks in the memory. So comic it is.
Will It Work on a Tee?

Back to the paper again, and this time sketches were forming. I came up with the, frankly inspired, idea of writing 'do not touch' in Braille. This left me with a smug feeling inside until I realised two problems.

Firstly the stencil wouldn't be raised on a t-shirt so you couldn't read it unless you could see it.

Secondly, only the blind and the trained can read Braille, so the joke would be lost on all but the tiniest minority of the population. (And the blind would hardly be groping chests on the off chance they had Braille printed on them.)

I tested this theory out on a friend by showing him the design. He scratched his chin, nodded sagely, before revealing that he had absolutely no idea what I was up to and was it some sort of constellation?

Back to the pen again. This time I tried 'This is not here'. Iconographic, certainly, but done before. The design your own tee shirts challenge was clearly going to take longer than a day. So I slept on it.

Waking early I was shot by a bolt of inspiration. What if the motif on my tee shirt was a picture of, well, a famous t-shirt. How about a small screen-print showing a tee shirt with 'Frankie Says Relax' On It?

Again I showed my friend. This time he was infinitely more decisive.
Printed Tees Require Inspiration & Originality

"That's the worst idea I've ever seen. It's like you can't find or afford a real Frankie tee."

He had a point.

I then came up with a number of graphic squiggles, and rejected the lot of them before deciding I would probably never design a good tee shirt.

"You could win this tshirts design thingy," my friend said later.

I was confused. He'd rejected all of my ideas out of hand. They were lame. I hadn't even thought about transferring them to digital format yet.

He said, 'Well, on reflection, I suppose this constellation motif is quite fetching.'

"It's not a…. really?"

"I'd buy it. It's nice and simple - cosmic, even."

Which just goes to show: there's an audience for anything and everything - even if the artist's intention has nowt to do with it.