Sunday, 3 July 2016

Can Art be Accessible?

The first thing you notice when you walk into a gallery is usually the sound of your own footsteps, the silence is enough to make anyones heart rate increase, hushed conversations about the high brow nature of work on display makes your hands begin to sweat, the mention of small nuances in the art makes you want to scream "it's just a rather dull painting!". Of course the entire mechanism of galleries are designed to be intimidating and high brow because in reality our normal pricing structure of materials + labour don't apply in this world. This world is dictated by setting and tone far more than effort and physical stature. 

I've met artists who command healthy fees for their work, well beyond the realms of any normal pricing structure and i've met artists who under value their time as to make working in mcdonalds seem an attractive career choice, however emotionally i've been delighted more by scribbles on service station toilet walls than to their art. There in lies the problem with art and culture. Is high end art just another form of currency, to be traded by rich ogilarchs as a way of dodging annoying fluctuations in interest rates and currency values? 

My first encounter with street art was when I was a child and someone had written free scotland on the side of an abandoned shed near the border with England, it amused me that someone had done it and more so that it wasn't even very well written. Free Scotland from what? Anyways the thing that intrigued me the most about this street art is the fact it was not done for profit (unless of course it was a subliminal message from Irn Bru to make you feel more Scottish and thus inclined to purchase their product) it was just done to provoke emotion. Art does that, often the emotion isn't pleasant, like those drawings of the oddly shapen nudes you see in museums, I mean it's often difficult to tell if they are meant to be some old age porn or just really self satisfying displays of power. I tend to avoid any art literature, because I hate to be told too much about the art i'm looking at, I don't care what the artist meant I like to put my own meaning on it. I like the emotion to come from me and not from the words of someone else.

So the beauty for me of street art is that it smacks you in the face, it says hey I'm here to either delight or annoy you, I might even surprise you and give you some social message. But the mere mention of Street art has made you conjure up thoughts of probably banksy or the local kid that likes to tag all those motorway underpasses you drive on your overly long commute to work. But street art is in essence any art that is freely accessivle in a public space, statues, stone stacking, chalking, murals, even photography. 

Events like the Dunbar Street Art Trail are not only seeking to invite those around to visit and enjoy art, they are seeking to garner an emotional connection with people and art, that connection can prove invaluable when it comes to things like social cohesion and community pride.  People feel part of something that gives them emotion, think of how attached people get to old buildings in their neighbourhood, not because they are functionally great but because they like them aesthetically and want to continue to enjoy that feeling of seeing them everyday and thinking oh thats got lovely curves. You see the equaliser in all things street art is the fact you can have studied all your life all aspects of art and your verdict on a mural in it's 16 paragraphs and in depth study of what the artist is trying to convey is just as valuable as the wee guy who stands next to you and goes "That yellow makes it look like someones had a pish right down the middle"

Thursday, 20 March 2014

How to Keep cool in a T-Shirt

As the sun begins to thaw out the UK and dries up the rivers of flood water, we need to prepare for the imminent heatwave that is no doubt going to be our summer. The summer is the birthplace of the modern t-shirt, our pasty arms get an adventure into the world, dazzlingly white soon to be turned pink under the baking heat of the sun.

The beauty of the modern t-shirt is that you aren't hampered by style, or colours and you can even get your own image, design or slogan customised onto a garment of your choosing. From a fashion t-shirt to a statement t-shirt you can literally be your own designer. To source customised t-shirts you need to have an idea of what exactly you want it to look like. A design is the easy part, you then need to consider position of the artwork and any additional slogans. From sleeve tags to hem names think outside the chest area.

For some inspiration this summer we have selected some different but unique ways to wear a t-shirt to the best effect, ensuring you stay cool and look cool.

The cropped t-shirt

This doesn't have to be perfectly seemed hem line, you can literally get a regular t-shirt and crop it using some scissors. The beauty of a cropped top is that it keeps you cool allowing air to pass under the garment easier. But be careful not to do any handstands!

 Sleeveless Tops

This 80's inspired look has come back into fashion with a bang. Coupled with a boob tube or bikini for the girls this unisex look is a great cooling practical beach t-shirt. Allowing you to show off ribcage tattoos and all over tan this t-shirt is perfect for warm weather.

 Scoop Neck T-Shirt

Scoop neck t-shirts are standard in all t-shirt printing shops, great for girls weekends away or time spent at the beach. Remember logo placement or artwork on these garments can be tricky to place so you may want to think about the hem, or rear of the t-shirt to showcase your design.

 Tied up T-Shirt

If you find yourself caught in the heat and have a regular t-shirt on don't worry, those knots you learned at scouts will stand you in good stead. Tie the front section around creating a cropped top look, you can also roll up the sleeves to help cool your arms.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Celebrity T-Shirts - Cool designs worn by celebs

Celebrities are constantly appearing in print media and online in different t-shirts, from bold statements, proclamations of music fandom to self promotion there is an abundance of different ideas that celebrities use to adorn their comfortable dress down wear. These novelty t-shirts can create a storm of popularity and provide a huge swell of sales to t-shirt makers the world over. With most movie stars and pop music artists you will find they have a well versed team of stylists following them around the world laying out their days wear before they have had their morning dump. But is it really necessary to have so much thought in what t-shirt you wear, I guess if your photographed morning, noon and night then the answer to that is of course yes. Your t-shirt can cause controversy and even harm your public image so better to have it cross checked by a professional. Here are five of the best examples of celebrities wearing t-shirts for different means:

Self Promoting - Movie

Vin Diesel is a action god of an actor, bringing to life one of the cult favourite comic characters in the chronicle of Riddick, first seen during the film Pitch Black. He is obviously a big fan of this franchise doing appearances at comic con throughout last year. He is often sporting a retro style Furyan t-shirt which is a nod to his character. Of course this t-shirt instantly inspired thousands of fans to go out and get their hands on the same item, albeit with a less ample chest to fill it out. The beauty of this t-shirt is that it is not an overtly obvious statement, for those not fans of this franchise they could be confused by what the word means, meaning google searches no doubt shoot through the roof, not bad to promote your upcoming sequel.

Proclaiming good taste in music

Celebrities can often get dragged into awkward interview questions about their taste in music, all vying to be seen as cool they can rely on a few of the faithful names in the history of music to display their cool credentials. From the Rolling Stones to the Doors these super bands are t-shirt ever presents and why not let the celebrity jump on that bandwagon. Of course we would all love to see them interviewed about the band they are showcasing, what is their favourite track, which is their favourite album. We then might see if they are true fans or simply wearing it as a fashion symbol, the kind of action that makes fans angry!

Standing up for a cause

If I was a celebrity being photographed daily I'd ensure each message seen was one which would make people think. From the famous NO MORE PAGE 3 cause to the NO FUR campaign I'd get a point across using the power of print media. If you do find yourself in this position of power it may be worth considering if the message will come back to haunt you. Don't go promoting the rights of animals if you have leather shoes and a fur coat, don't promote vegetarianism whilst pictured in McDonald's and don't promote abstinence from drugs if your high!

Retro Retro Retro

It's a sign of age to see something from your childhood become retro but of course it happens to all of us at some point. The rise in retro cool has been growing for years and movies from the 70's and 80's are now fair game, have you seen the Goonies t-shirts? This is a sign of good taste, but amusing when you see an actor wear a movie t-shirt for a film they would have had little chance being cast in.

Just Plain Rude

Rude t-shirts can be edgy, but are they really something you should wear in a public place? Who knows but its a growing trend amongst celebs. From the "Save a horse ride a cowboy" to the "F*CK You" there are plenty of slogans that can be used to turn heads. Rihanna is no stranger to this and is clearly making an ironic statement here with her top, queue the number of times you will see this around your local shopping mall normalising what could be viewed as an offensive word.

For all your t-shirt needs why not check out Dunbar T-Shirt Shop

Monday, 20 January 2014

Fashion Crimes - Banned T-shirts

There is no accounting for taste in a diverse society and many items of clothing can cause offence. Whether it be see through leggings or a bold and brash political slogan on your chest, people enjoy being offended, but should it be a criminal offence. There have been some amazingly stupid cases of arrests over t-shirt slogans throughout history and across the world, from the anti apartheid t-shirts of the 70's banned in South Africa to the pro NRA school expulsion in the states.

T-Shirts became popular as an outer wear garment around 1920, having previously been used solely as an undergarment or vest. From the origins of work wear they have morphed into a multi purpose fashion item that is found in everybodies wardrobe. From V-neck to crop tops the list of adaptations are endless and their brush with the law is as old as their invention.

Wet T-shirt contests where invented in Spain, as part of the festivities this past time was perhaps chauvanistic in it's message. The list of controversial brushes with the law is long, public decency laws make this type of game the preserve of student nightclubs and kinky festivals, synonymous with spring break there has been a number of cases of underage displays which got the organisers into a lot of hot water. One of the funniest examples was an Ohio newsreader (Catherine Bosley) who was caught on camera stripping off and getting a shower of water revealing her ample assets, hardly the past time suitable for someone in the public eye. Having resigned her news anchor position she went on to successfully sue Hustler magazine which took it upon themselves to publish the pictures (previously bought and copyrighted by Bosley - clever lady) no doubt the out of court settlement was perhaps enough to endure the loss of her news career.

Another example of the troubled history of the t-shirt is the case of an NRA supporting 14 year old who was arrested after refusing to remove the offending item of clothing at his school. With the US history of gun crime in high school you can understand the teasing and outcry from fellow students but in my school you got detention not a criminal record. On appeal the court ruled in the boys favour and he was allowed to return to school with the offending t-shirts, a victory for freedom of speech or perhaps a case of wasted tax payers money.

Being arrested for causing offence is perhaps a grey area, the result is only likely to happen if people complain, because otherwise nobody has been caused any offence. A mother in Orlando recently fell foul of this when in a newly opened water park with her children got soaked making her top half visible to other park goers. Now having been to florida I know how hot it can get and often people would go on water rides to cool down, I'm not sure I ever considered the fact t-shirts would go transparent, you ain't likely to put a coat on afterwards unless you were partial to a bit of sun stroke. So this mother is suing the police for the utter nonsense of someone being offended by a pair of slightly visible boobs. Society has a strange relationship with the naked form, campaigners want to promote breastfeeding in public but at all other times its criminal to go topless? 

Political messages are easily conveyed on a t-shirts, saves on your arms getting tired holding up a board. Of course depending on the political message and where you may be going it's worth thinking is it going to get you into trouble. A country fair might not be the most political of places but one smart business person decided B*llocks to Blair was a great slogan given Tony Blair's utter contempt for many of the rural livelihoods, this resulted in an arrest of one person, strangely they were not the only one wearing the t-shirt. She did eventually get released on the condition she put on a jacket, without explanation as to whether it was the word they were censoring or perhaps the political message, perhaps Blair's a Baddie would have been better.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Let your t-shirt do the talking

The top trend for 2013 in the t-shirt world was the bold one word message. The irony adorning chests up and down the country became nauseatingly predictable. From self proclaimed Geek to the more edgy NERD we have grown accustomed to see a big bold one word message cover the chest of people on every high street from London to John o Groats. 

The cult band t-shirt saw a revival this year that perhaps would have had original fans wondering why all these kids wearing a Ramones t-shirt were dancing to One Direction. When a bands so famous that their clothes are outselling their music you have to start hating fashion. A music t-shirt must be earned, either through the ear bleeding dedication of a repeat loop of a favourite album on your Walkman (sorry couldn't bring myself to promote that piece of fruit company) or from your own attendance at an earth shatteringly greatest night of your life at a sticky floored venue surrounded by more sweat that a Sumo referee.

Finally we must give a nod to the genius who thought this year would be a great time to make superhero logos cool. I mean for generations it has been the shunned past time of the comic book collector to wear the logo under their school shirt, you know just in case. Now we can see Batman, Superman, more Batman and maybe a Captian America logo feature on t-shirts and crop tops in the fashion boutiques of Soho to the bargain aisles of Asda.

Whats hot for 2014

Getting political in the UK will be unavoidable given the current financial meltdown and potential end of a 300 year old Union of Scotland and England. Political t-shirts are great for getting your message across without having to enter the potentially difficult conversations you may have. But beware because if you end up pictured next to Barack Obama in a George Bush t-shirt the snipers may take you out!

Being unique in a world where clothing is made in the thousands by overworked impoverished labour in terrible condition is hard. The rise of personalization will tap into the backlash about globalization and the rejection of uniformity in our society. People aspire to be cool, to be cool you need to lead the pack and get away from the mass produced t-shirts of our low cost providers.

Each year boundaries get blurred between decent and not, from the early days of girls dancing  in leggings to the naked riding of a wrecking ball pop culture has consistentyl tried to push the boundaries. A natural progression from the GEEK chic of 2013 will see the more offensive side of self proclamation of geekary. 

Whatever next year holds, just remember that the 8inch squared window of your chest should be a reflection of your personality, not the personality that society dictates should be cool. Make a New Year's resolution to be more you!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Destination T-Shirts - Tourist tat or Love that?

Certain times in your life you find money burning a hole in your pocket, those last few days on holiday where you buy all the tat you can find just to get rid of the money. Rather than stick it in a tip to the overworked maid we rush around buying all wonders of rubbish to bring back to our loved ones. From 'hand' crafted wooden statues to hats with destinations we find any excuse to part ourselves from that hard earned cash.

Over my thirty years on this planet I have received a number of bad t-shirts, from the ridiculous to the just plain pointless. On any given sunny day you just walk around a housing estate and see hundreds of amateur gardeners wearing a random collection of destination t-shirts, from New York to Mexico they are used as the rubbish "get it dirty" t-shirt. The main reason these t-shirts are crap is because someone else gave you it, they actually bought you a momento of the place you didn't go. The adventure and amazing people are second hand you need to forge your own memories, buying the t-shirt from that crazy little shop you found is all part of that experience. So what are the best ways to cement that holiday:

Place Names

The most common type of destination t-shirt is of course a place name t-shirt. Simple and self explanatory these t-shirts showcase where you have been and the more unusual the better. Hard Rock Cafe began a huge trend with their restaurants all around the world featuring the place name and familiar logo. Like all trends it meant the more familiar a place name the less kudos you got for having traveled there. So the key to a good Place Name t-shirt is actually in finding the place that nobody else has been, or perhaps even heard of.

Local Sayings

Being in a foreign country can be exciting and any form of language barrier even if it is just the local slang can provide a good source of conversation. During my time printing t-shirts I often find much hilarity in the arrival of Australians to my sleepy little town of Dunbar. Locally known as 'Sunny Dunny' this conjures up thoughts of a well light toilet for many travelers from down under. The Sunny Dunny t-shirt is a must have for those who discover the rich history of the birth place of the great John Muir and the sunniest place in Scotland.


Being ironic is an art form in the UK, t-shirts with ironic sayings are  very common, but finding them especially in the US is a difficult task. They just don't get irony. So what makes a great ironic t-shirt, the double bluff? or perhaps a simply statement of non fact? Well the beauty of it is most t-shirts are relatively straight forward, so people will be confused if irony is in play or not.

Just Plain Weird
We all love the random nature of life and purchasing a destination t-shirt which is so strange you just got to have it is a great way to tell a story from your travels, one that might keep the audience engaged for all of fifteen seconds. Local politics and strange habits will be the most common strange t-shirts that nobody outwith the local area will get. Perhaps a misplaced t-shirt, like finding a Golden Eagle emblazoned t-shirt in a back alley of Iraq. You find the more remote the destination the more likely you are to find an unusual item. On a trip to John O Groats (the tip of mainland UK for those not hot on geography) a friend of mine discovered a 'golliwog' which used to feature as a character on jam jars but were rightly taken out of public sale due to their racist connotations. The shop keeper was astonished to find they actually sold them but happily sold the doll to my friend. That kind of unusual item carries a lot of value, not because of the value of the actual item but because of the story it comes with.

All the examples are from our back catalogue of printed tops made for numerous tourists from all over the globe. Scottish T-shirts are hugely popular with tourists, featuring tartan writing or simply celebrating the place they are visiting you can find something for everyone.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

5 of the Best Delivery Methods

All this talk about unmanned drones delivering your box set of the vampire diaries may have captured the imagination of those that like to think of a Futurama style society with all the tech you can imagine, but in fact cool delivery systems have been around for a long time. Ever since man discovered they didn't have to go and get something themselves they have invented more and more ways to get things brought direct to them with little effort and in funny ways. I can think of plenty of things I'd rather do deliveries than a rather flimsy helicopter so let's take a bit of a trip through history.

Medieval Messengers

So the first form of message delivery was to get someone of lower standing than yourself to go and deliver your letter, parcel or present. This was always a rubbish job, you spent most of your life living in fear that you may be delivering a rather nasty message which would lead to you being shanked like a freshly spitroasted chicken. The job was reserved for fit young men who could ride a horse and handle the treacherous and often brutal conditions on the journey. Lets face it, if it wasn't for civilisation and the human rights act we'd all love to have our own messengers, sending someone out into the pissing rain by horse to deliver your message may reduce the number of times you get a ONE WORD TEXT!


 This cut out the middle man, using electricity to save your legs by then it did end up being painfully annoying to have to go to a centrally connected place to send a message. Not much use to the outliers of the electric revolution. It was the basis for much of communication for decades and spawned a whole new world, in essence it was the first remote form of communication that could actually spell out words. Of course making a correction was a ball ache and you couldn't use sarcasm for fear of being misunderstood.

Pizza Delivery Bikes

During the 80's I believed that Pizza delivery was the sole job of any teenager who had a crap moped. In reality I have never had a pizza delivered by moped but that may have something to do with my living in the UK, the films I watched were always from Hollywood and the Yanks have some insane laws about letting kiddies drive cars on the actual fracking road! Still it appears this form of delivery lives on in the world of pornography, each teenager accepting the crap rates of pay in the hope of a flash from a gorgeous girl. In reality your more likely to be bitten by a rabid dog but good luck!


Owls have been very popular since Hogwarts shot their usefulness as delivery beasts into the public domain. Now the official ring bearers of many a wedding the life of an owl has become a commodity. More so we see that a rather forward thinking organisation like Waterstones has taken this opportunity to begin training owls to deliver books, after all an owl is much more exciting that an ex-US army drone that has been decommissioned but may still have that base programming to destroy all human life. If you want to read the announcement from Waterstones I suggest you visit the Q&A but remember they only just though of it this morning.

3D Printing

The idea behind this is actually that why should you have things delivered. Firstly the most ordered products from Amazon are CDs, DVDs and books, whats wrong with people, you can download or stream any of those things virtually and completely neutralise your carbon footprint! The eventual idea behind 3D printing is that you will be able to have a replicator in your own home to produce anything you can find the blueprints for on Google. So man reaches a new age of not ever having to even interact with someone ringing your doorbell, GREAT, YAY FOR HUMANITY!