31 thoughts on “Across the Univers T-Shirt

  1. Nice design, but why must everyone now show a Westernised Asian girl with glasses wearing their merch? It was kind of cute several years ago. Now it’s almost as tired as the photo of a designer holding their poster.

  2. ohhh, i hope they do papyrus next!

    (not really)

    i thought the helvetica neue one was kind of cool. but i think the designs are too similar. i’m not sure if that site exists just to sell t-shirts… but it’d be nice if they branched out a bit.

  3. I’m kind of shocked that these comments are coming from designers. It’s one thing to not like the design but to say that type design doesn’t belong on a shirt is pretty off. It’s like saying that Ferraris don’t belong on a race track. A t-shirt is just another canvas. Type design can live where ever a designers imagination takes it.

    Personally, I love them.

  4. @Antonio: Yes, it does seem to be the case. ^___^ Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Asians (my wife is Japanese) – but the trend is getting a bit tired. But hey, at least they don’t do the “outline silhouette” of the person with the photograph of the shirt thing, as was popular until a year or two ago.

    Also, I can see your point about not disliking font shirts. I have been proudly wearing my Helvetica t-shirt for several years! http://vantan.org/images/070707_helvetee.jpg But I think the issue that many people may have with it is that it seems perhaps a bit too self-referential. I just like the fact that when I wear my Helvetica shirt and walk around Tokyo (been in Japan since ’02) and someone looks at my shirt and acknowledges the power and majesty that is Helvetica.

    Now if only I could get an Akzidenz Grotesk shirt, all would be well with the world. Maybe I’ll just make one up at MySoti. ^___^

  5. Holy mother! Where can I get that Helvetica shirt? It’s absolutely perfect and I need one right now!

    Maybe I might make some Akzidenz Grotesk shirts. What ya think? I wonder what he legal ramifications are with something like that. Hmmm…

  6. You should definitely design a tee, Antonio. Maybe use that phrase you like, “Roses Are Red Violets Are Easy.”

  7. i am totally fine with using type on t-shirts. absolutely. but making tshirts that say “helvetica” or “univers” is just stupid. even making posters that say that are kind of stupid unless it’s for an anniversary or something. it just seems like you are promoting someone elses work. what’s the point? i mean if there is a typeface you designed and you want to put it on a tshirt and spell out the name of that typeface than that’s fine but just writing HELVETICA or UNIVERS on a t-shirt seems unreasonable.

  8. Unreasonable? Umm it’s just a shirt. Saying it’s stupid is like saying it’s stupid to put the name of your favorite sports team or player onto a shirt. I’m personally obsessed with typography and graphic design and I’m a big fan on Helvetica. It’s the Michael Jordan of typography in my opinion so it’s makes a lot of sense for me to wear a shirt with Helvetica on it or any typeface for that matter. Saying it’s stupid makes no sense.

    But in the end if you think it’s stupid then cool, you don’t have to wear the shirts. More for me to buy. 🙂

  9. Antonio, I agree with Joey. You should use “Roses Are Red Violets Are Easy” in a t-shirt design. I like that phrase. 🙂


  10. ‘rome was not built in a suit’ is a much better phrase, for a t-shirt… after all, a t-shirt is sort of the antithesis of a suit. plus, it makes me really wanna get the avant garde alternates.

    and for the record, i love typography and am a full fledged type nerd… i just think this design is a bit stale and don’t care for the ‘across the univers’ line.

    what’s next, ‘picking fruitiger’ or ‘strolling down the avenir’? ha.

  11. Yes, my Helvetica shirt is indeed a Graniph shirt. One of the few ones they make which I actually like.

    “making tshirts that say “helvetica” or “univers” is just stupid”
    Comments like that are stupid. Just because you didn’t make something or it isn’t an anniversary doesn’t mean that implementing something for a design is stupid.

    The sports comparison makes sense. How many people who don’t play on Manchester (or even live in Manchester) wear Manchester United shirts? How many people wearing a shirt for a band are in the band versus those who are not? How many people wearing BATMAN shirts actually drew the comic? Are they stupid, too?

    People wear t-shirts to express some aspect of their identity. Advertising which music you like or which teams you like helps you easily let others know what things are important to you. People seemingly have a need to let their clothes be a uniform or badge vehicle to announce to the world with which group they want to be identified.

    Wearing a shirt with a self-referential bit of type is just another method of doing this. It says “I like type” and my Helvetica shirt has initiated more than one conversation with a stranger (correctly) assuming I worked in the design industry. I like what I do, and I dare say that wearing a shirt which shows off one of the tools of my craft is much closer to promoting work I do (since I use the font) than wearing a shirt that shows an adidas logo / band photo / comic book character.

    The difference between me and you, though, is that I don’t resort to calling people stupid for liking something different from me.

  12. haha.

    that’s amazing! good work. now i’m gonna be thinking of more.

    i misspelled frutiger last time. oops. forgive me adrian.

  13. Wow. I hadn’t taken a look at this post since it went up. That’s quite a lively discussion going on there. I’m glad most of you like what we’re doing.

    To address the questions:
    The Asian girl wasn’t chosen for any trendy marketing reasons, she just happened to have met my photographer, Tony Ward, the night before the shoot and wanted some shots for her portfolio. She could have been any color, size or shape. That being said I’ve received more e-mail inquiring about her than you can imagine. When I wrote her to tell her that her image was plastered all over the design blogosphere she replied that several friends had already seen it and alerted her.

    Yes, the Helvetica and Univers shirts are similar. I even refer to it on the site as “A stylistic companion to our first offering.” We are indeed going to be coming out with more shirts soon and they won’t all be in this vein. We’re about to release our first message shirt, a quote by legendary adman George Lois: “Great ideas can’t be tested. Only mediocre ideas can be tested.” George has given us his blessing and we’re going to be shooting him in New York soon. Web pioneer Jeffrey Zeldman is also joining the team. His first offering will be a shirt bearing his iconic pixelated blue beanie mug.

    We’re talking to a major typography hub about selling their shirts on TypographyShop and we’re also going to be running design contests on the site to bring even more variety to the selections.

    We got a lot of traffic both times around from Aisle One. Thanks to everyone, especially Antonio.


  14. I realise that this may have been incidental. But the fact remains that Westernised Asian girls sporting merch is still a trend. Your remark: “That being said I’ve received more e-mail inquiring about her than you can imagine.” kind of helps to further my point that this is, indeed, is quite a popular thing. Lots of guys like Asian girls. As I mentioned earlier, my wife is Japanese and I would belying if I said that her Asian-inity wasn’t a factor in me being attracted to her in the past. So I don’t have anything against Asians. I was just noting a trend I have noticed.

    But at least it isn’t as bad as the effing “I am holding my poster by the corner” shot which almost everyone uses to show off their print goods. We get it, you made a poster and you have prehensile strength. Congratulations.

  15. How can you tell that an Asian girl has been Westernized? It seems like they’re doing a pretty good job of Westernizing themselves in many an Asian land. And yes, lots of guys like Asian girls. I’ve known friends to date nothing but. One Frenchman was such a connoisseur that he could look around a room and tell me every nationality of every Asian woman in the room.

    I hadn’t noticed that trend in any event, but I try to close my eyes to as much advertising as I can. Professional overload. I’m also wondering if what you see as a trend doesn’t have a PC component to it. Shoot after shoot, client after client we are constantly ordered to project “diversity” in our portrayal of humans. I’ve come to detest the word, for I know that behind it all the client could care less about true diversity and the public isn’t fooled by the constant images of whites, blacks asians and latinos dining together, picnicking together, at the doctor’s office together.

    We did a 2 week shoot on the West Coast for an arthritis drug. The producer spent months tracking down not just a veritable International House of People, but had the added challenge of them all needing to be on this particular drug.

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