T-Shirtism
October 2005

Homages, tributes, parodies

In 2001, we designed 'John & Paul & Ringo & George', a t-shirt for Japanese label 2K/Gingham. To see images of that shirt, click here.

A couple of years after we designed the shirt, we noticed something interesting: people started sending us images of self-produced shirts that were referring to our shirt, either as homage, tribute or as parody. These images were floating around in our mailboxes and attachment-folders, until, in 2005, Karen Willey, then student at the Werkplaats Typografie, asked us to use these images for a chapter in 'Dutch Resource' (Valiz Publishers, 2005), a book published on the occasion of the Chaumont Poster Festival. Around that time, we also posted some of these images on our website.
Since then, we received literally hundreds and hundreds of these images. Honestly, not a week goes by without a couple of these images being sent to us. We know of foreign students that have built complete graduation projects around the shirt, and publications and exhibitions showing all kinds of variations.

We have been often wondering why our shirt became such a popular subject. Our way of designing is actually quite closed and hermetic: we never think in terms of target audiences, we never try to guess what will be popular or not. We just concentrate on the aesthetical/conceptual integrity of the design itself, and we always try to fully focus on the inner-logic of the designed object. The phrase "but does it communicate?" is used in our studio only as a joke. So it's really interesting to see that such a dry, minimal design can suddenly become a big hit. It's amazing to see that the 'John & Paul & Ringo & George' shirt has become a format, a standard, for other people to work with. (To us, it proves an important point: that a popular design doesn't have to be made with populist intentions).

Shown below, a small selection of these images. Just for all clarity, we didn't design these items; these are items designed by others, based on an original design by us.
In many cases, we received these images without any additional information (such as credits, copyrights, etc.). So, in an attempt to treat all images equally, we decided to show ALL these images without any captions. The person interested in the source behind a particular shirt will (without any doubt) be able to trace the shirt via internet.
If you are the creator of one of the items shown below, and you feel that your image is used in an unjust way, let us know, and we will remove the image immediately.

Again, what you see below is just a small selection. We have much more images, and we receive new ones every week.



Filed under:
t-shirts

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