I started designing graphic tees because I absolutely hate them.
That might not sound like a great reason to get into anything, but hear me out, because I really want to like them. It’s not my fault the Internet is stuffed to capacity with fetid, rotting trash, to the point that it’s nearly impossible by now to find anything worth wearing.
Since I can’t go around deleting every insultingly stupid, depressingly ugly shirt I find online, the only real option is to upload my own minimalist t-shirt designs in an effort to increase the overall quality available. Like tossing a teaspoon of Kool-Aid into the ocean because I want some juice — this is going to take a while.
Three of the Worst Places to Buy T-Shirts
Why am I reviewing stores that sell things I hate? The only possible result here is that I give these people a tiny boost to their search rankings and a few new visitors. True enough, but that seems fine. I don’t actually want to hurt the sales of people trying to make money hustling on the Internet, no matter how much I might despise their products, so if I inadvertently help out here I’m totally happy with that. The potential upside is that they find this post, feel mildly embarrassed, and decide to step their game up.
For our first volume of awful t-shirt shops (because I’m sure there will be more) I’ve decided to stick with Etsy, and all of these stores were found by searching for my own choice keyword — minimalist graphic tees — so lets see what were up against.
With 487 sales in three years on Etsy, Immortal Tees is doing better than most. Which is great from the perspective that it’s nice to see somebody’s side business working out for them, and horrible from the perspective of anyone who actually likes t-shirts.
In what will be an ongoing theme on our journey into the deep, dark realm of crappy graphic tee design, the winning formula here seems to be taking whatever you see trending on Twitter at any given moment and just, you know, slapping it on a shirt.
The artist has a particularly honed sense of aesthetics when it comes to typography. The thought process seems to be something like this:
- What the fuck is typography?
- This font came with my computer.
Need I remind you that 487 people have actually bought these shirts. Here are a few of my favorites:
Maybe I’m the one doing something wrong, and maybe people really don’t care what they look like so long as there’s a word or a phrase on their chest that they recognize. I can just about see the person who would think gosh, I’ve heard of kale before and pay to show off that integral aspect of their character. And at least the text on that one is in about the right place.
With even more sales than Immortal Tees, I’m almost convinced this is performance art. This is Andy Kaufman’s t-shirt company. Somebody’s got to know something I don’t, because from what I can tell these shirts are meant to be read in that I Like Turtles kid’s voice.
At the very least, Trendyz Merch is being pretty honest with the brand name. They have a bunch of other designs up, which aren’t good by any stretch but aren’t anywhere near as phoned-in as the ones I’m featuring here. It’s my blog, mate, I’ll focus on the negative.
When I really stop to consider how you sell over 500 of these things, the only answer that makes any sense to me is that there’s one guy who really loves them. He’s got a new one every day, and while everyone at his office was sick of it by the end of the first week, he’s committed now. By the math he’s spent over $16,000 on this shit.
The real tragedy of this story is that I’ll probably be checking the storefront now and then over the next few weeks to see how far this particular line can be pushed. If the designer does happen to read this, some suggestions:
- “I like cyanide”
- “I like early retirement”
- “I hate t-shirts”
Rebel Soul Clothing
I’ve saved this garbage for last because it’s the one that baffles me the most. With the other two, I kind of get it. I understand the idea that a person might read a blog post or see a YouTube video about making money online hocking t-shirts to losers who don’t know any better. It’s a little side business, a way of making some extra cash to put into your vacation fund or to spend on superior articles of clothing. But Rebel Soul is different.
Rebel Soul looks like a company that lives or dies on image and authenticity. Everything about it screams we’re trying to be cool, and maybe that’s the problem, because trying to be cool is ugly enough on its own. But that’s not the whole story. It can’t be. I wouldn’t want to punch a t-shirt company in the face just for failing to market itself as edgy.
Maybe it’s the formulaic nature of it all. If you browse through their listings you’ll notice pretty quickly that a lot of their designs seem to be based on the models and the settings in the pictures themselves. It’s obvious they bought a vast library of Photoshop templates and just go through it looking for t-shirt ideas. Hey, this chick’s eating pizza — let’s make a pizza shirt for her! Hey, this chick’s holding a coffee!
Those things are annoying, it feels like the designer doesn’t care, and your intelligence is being insulted. But that’s not enough for a virtual punch in the face, man, because life is approximately half annoying and I don’t have time for all that violence.
This must be it:
You just can’t go after both of those demographics. I’m not offended on a personal level and I don’t really care about your politics, but trying to woo macho douchebags and feminists simultaneously is such brazen and misaligned pandering that I need to punch your smarmy fuck face off with my tiny fists of digital rage.
Most T-Shirts Are Terrible
I started making my own shirts with minimalist designs because I hated every other t-shirt company on the Internet. It might be a bit of fun to look at the bad shit out there, but when you get bored with that and want something that looks quite fetching you might want to check out some of my designs instead.