This is the longer ranty version of the story, for the short and sweet one just go to R3515T.COM and see for yourself. Basically I just launched a T-Shirt company/brand/thing but it’s not your normal t-shirt/brand/thing as I’ll be focusing a lot of attention on limited editions and using some web stuff to release new shirts all the time, and kill old shirts all the time. So yeah, that’s the short bits. If you are still interested keep reading.
OK, some people who only know me from from internet shenanigans might not know that the very first business I ever launched was making T-shirts. It’s true. Back in Florida, in the early days of high school I printed up a bunch of “DRUG FREE YOUTH” “B-TOWN WOLFPACK” and “DRUGS SUCK” shirts and sold them to friends and set up booths at punk shows in Tampa. In fact it was the cash I made off those shirts that helped me launch my second company, Toybox Records. But that is another story all together. The important bit is that from that time through my tenure as creative director at Victory Records in the 90’s and now and then again since then I’ve likely designed hundreds of t-shirts, many with logos I’d also designed. So I’m pretty comfortable with the t-shirt designin’ and sellin’ business.
I stopped doing it when I stopped having regular access to a screen printing set up, and the cost of initial prints at shops not run by my friends was always a deterrent to just trying things out for the hell of it, but it’s always been on my mind and I’m been waiting for the opportunity to do something along those lines. Skip ahead to sometime now-ish and I’m constantly preaching the fail gospel; that is that you should keep trying things even if you fail because then you learn and have an opportunity to do it right the next time. Combine that with the increasing options of print on demand shirts and this could get interesting. I thought about Jonathan Mann’s “song a day” idea that if he wrote a song every single day the law of averages would dictate that some of them would be really good. And then I saw Warren Ellis embark on his t shirt of the week thing, and I realized that was what I needed to do.
A few years ago I bought the domain name r3515t.com – that reads ‘resist’ if you know what you are looking at. I thought at the time it would be a great brand for something, just didn’t know what. I actually have an embarrassing amount of domain names that I bought for one reason or another but never did anything with. The more I thought about the t-shirts I thought that would be perfect for this project for a bunch of reasons. I realized it was my doubt that the project would work that was keeping me from trying it, and I had to resist that self doubt to make it happen. I thought about how I’ve been doing my own thing in one way or another my whole life, and that I’ve resisted just falling in line and doing what is expected. I thought that inspiring that in others is a good thing. And so I ran with it.
My plan has a few facets, the first of which I launched today and is based on the site. I’m using Spreadshird for print on demand and I’m going to release one new shirt every week. The following week when I launch another new one I’ll take down the previous one so in effect each shirt will only be available for one week. This appeals to my collector tendencies and makes them prety limited editions. Amusingly enough if a design isn’t that hot, and only one or two get ordered those end up being the super limited and rare ones. But anyway, I felt like this would allow me to try some stuff I normally never would, and while some of it might be nuts, some of it will probably be pretty good. Again, I was the one telling myself that my ideas weren’t good enough to make happen, though I was ignoring the fact that for many years I was paid a salary to do just that. I had many bands specifically seek me out to help them with this, so again I was by far my biggest critic. So fuck it, I’m doing it.
That is the first and easiest part. The next slightly more involved part will be working with some shops I really like. I want to keep the exclusivity thing going so for stores that I work with I’ll work directly with them and design a shirt that is exclusive to them in some way. It will only be available though that store which should make them pretty hot themselves. These will actually be screenprinted which should make them cool for a whole other reason.
As for what is on the shirts, I plan to include as many of my influences and resources as I can. There will be typography, graphic design and photography. Sometimes I will design the shirts all by myself, sometimes I’ll collaborate with friends, and sometimes I’ll feature guest designs by other folks. All in all I’m looking at it as an extremely flexible medium where I can try out all kinds of ideas and see what happens. The shop that I’m running the online bits through costs about $10 a month, so selling 3 shirts covers that, so that is a pretty easy goal to break even each month. And I think there’s a real chance I might sell a bunch more than that regularly so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
All that aside, it’s kind of exciting for me because it’s an idea I’ve had in one form or another for so long and I’m just ecited to see it materialize and looking forward to see where it leads.