T-Shirts are great. They give us a chance to feel like we are expressing ourselves despite wearing the exact same garment every day.
The sudden rise of t-shirts that reference popular or “nerdy” pop culture minutia has given sub-communities a greater sense of belonging and identity. Before the early 2000s, finding a Batman t-shirt usually meant going to Six Flags or digging through catalogs. Now Wal-Mart sells them, along with original NES controller shirts, because the market for such things has become so big and reliable.
Artists making these type of shirts also get a chance to get their work seen. They can create a design as an homage to something that they love and give fans a new reason to be proud.
All of these aspects of the nerdy t-shirt market are great, but seriously, some of this shit has to stop.
The problem lies not in any one shirt design, but a host of copies or formulaic “insert combined reference here” cash-ins that start to feel lazy once juxtaposed with other nearly-identical work. The market has become saturated, and despite a slew of creative artists putting fresh spins on existing ideas, vendors seem to be picking the most lukewarm and uninspired designs to pad out their sales.
Here are some of the worst examples… Continue Reading »