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Should it be on a T-shirt?

I’d like to offer T-shirts, greeting cards, mugs, cross-stitch patterns, and other swag for sale through the site. My graphic designer friend going to get to work soon, so we need to know:

What is worthy of being worn on your chest or hung on your wall?

We have some ideas, but would love to know what most excites you. Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or email them to me if you like. Put “SWAG IDEA” in the subject of the email to make it easily sortable for me, ok?


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223 comments on “Should it be on a T-shirt?

  1. [...] My graphic designer friend is starting to work on Captain Awkward Swag – t-shirts, reusable bags, mugs, cross-stitch patterns, and most importantly, greeting cards. Need to tell someone that you don’t want to be friends anymore or that they make you 30-35% more human? We’re on it. If you think something should definitely be on a card or a t-shirt, tell us here. [...]

  2. Swag idea: (not content but surface):

    Small cloth bags for putting yarny projects in. Knitters/crocheters like me will be all over it. Not tote bags but drawstring ones. If you’re not sure what I mean let me know.

  3. Use your words

    Awkwardeers, assemble!

    Don’t make me have to African Violet you…..

    I am Jedi hugging you right now

    (last one, only if there aren’t copyright issues.)

  4. Tshirt ideas:
    “I survived a House of Velociraptors” because dinos on shirts look cool and I think a lot of us can claim that survival status.

    “I Tamed the Rageasaurus.”

    Bonus: Could be prizes for future contests and/or things we buy ourselves to reward coming through a difficult time.

    Obviously a superhero-logo style Captain Awkward shirt! Ditto any other Cafe Press-flavored offerings.

    An African violet on a shirt that you can give someone instead of an actual potted plant

    Ditto greeting cards!

    Also greeting cards with the most salient things like “I am giving you a Jedi Hug right now” and “Your Rageasaurus knows” and “Sandwich = Love” of course “IF YOU DON’T SPEAK UP THEN YOU WILL ONLY GET MORE VELOCIRAPTORS.”

    I would shop the shit out of these shirts.
    Obvs the URL on the upper back by the neck.

  5. Aww, a greeting card with African violets on the front!! When you have to African violet, do it with a card :)

  6. Bees! I’d cross stitch a bless-this-bee-free-house sampler for sure.

    • I would wear the SHIT out of a shirt that said EVIL BEES (preferably with a picture of an evil bee)

      • Seconded. For graphics I think a scary/haunted-looking house with mean bees shooting out of it would be cool, and then with a circle around it and a slash through it, maybe with some text that says something like “No evil bees.”

        Also, a pony and the moon since I’m asking for everything :P

      • TheOatmeal has a great evil bee … Japanese giant sparrow bees … and Godzilla deciding not to invade Japan because of giant sparrow bees http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running5 and then do the scroll down …

    • OMG, “Bless this bee-free house!” Yes, all kinds of yes! (I’m already considering the possibilities of converting the cross-stitch pattern to a knitting pattern…)

  7. I would wear a WWCAD? t-shirt.

  8. I should note that I feel strongly about potential dinosaur imagery being as scientifically accurate as possible. (Feathers! Feathers on EVERYTHING! And my money, it is yours.)

    I would be interested in a greeting card or t-shirt in the fabulous “Let’s Make It Awkward” range. Potentially very useful for communication; potentially very couture on me.

  9. Delighted that I’m not the only one who read “and most importantly, greeting cards”, and instantly thought, will African Violet delivery be offered?

  10. “Thank you for being on Team Me” greeting cards would be wonderful!

    • yes. this.

      I would also wear “Use Your Words” as a shirt and use “Thank You For Being on Team Me” as a card.

    • I second Ignore Your Jerkbrain as a shirt, and Thankyou For Being On Team Me as a card.

      Regarding shirts, if they do happen, please can there be options for necklines (and plus sizes but I figure that would be covered already). I simply cannot wear t shirts with high necks, I find them so uncomfortable. Scoop necks or generous V necks are the way to go for me.

      • I want to find a company that sells custom iron-ons, to be honest, because researching shirts (I am a plus size lady who loves V-necks) there is NOT much out there that would make us happy.

        • Iron ons are a great idea. You could take that further and instead of selling cards, sell stamps that say ‘thank you for being on team me’.

          Maybe there is an etsy seller you could team with to make merchandise if you don’t have the resources for it yourself. The stuff would be more expensive, but more ethical, and lower overhead for you in terms of your own time (altho maybe for less revenue). You presumably need or want to make money out of the good stuff that comes out of your brain but you don’t have to be the one actually doing the enterprise, just collecting the royalties!

  11. I’d like a badge (maybe button for Americans) which says “”No” is a complete sentence.” Maybe a set of badges of your most empowering your-happiness-is-just-as-important phrases.
    I want to remind myself of it every day and, more importantly, when I am outside and in a situation when I need to say no and I feel too frightened to do it, or I’m being shouted down.
    No is a complete sentence. I get to choose my own happiness. My needs are important. I’m allowed to change my mind.

    • (I suggest a pin-on badge because I wouldn’t necessarily want to flaunt it, but would like a portable reminder I can pin upon my person to remind me that I am worth standing up for when I feel threatened.)

    • Hugely seconding “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

    • Nth-ing ” “No” is a complete sentence”. I would hang that on my wall as a poster or as greeting cards and wear it as a t shirt (possibly while dating or visiting known houses full of evil bees to remind the people I’m with that “No” is something they can say to me).

      “No” is a fairly late addition to my practical vocabulary, being disabled as a child meant I was very explicitly taught to be obedient and do whatever not-disabled adults wanted me to do. Now I often preface requests with “It’s okay to say no if you can’t, could you….?” or follow requests with “I understnad if the answer is no” just to make sure people know that they have options and I am genuinely making requests not demands-with-question-marks.

      • Tangent:

        At work when asking my more-technical colleagues (my role is semi-technical) whether something is feasible or practical, I often say “…and this is a question, not a demand: can we … ?”, or I append “( ­— question-not-a-demand)”.

        In Britain it’s impolite to phrase instructions as instructions; instead they SHOULD (see RFC 2119) be phrased as questions. Even only-jerks-would-refuse–type requests like “pass the salt” have a “…, would you?” or a question-inflected “…please?” appended. Hence genuine questions can sometimes sound like demands.


        “Team Me” badges! — which could be given as gifts or kept for personal use.

        I also feel like we need a riposte to Questionable Content’s “Defeat Awkwardness with Maximum Ridiculosity” T-shirt ( http://ur1.ca/eg8pb ). I once passed someone wearing one of these (without saying hi), and I think an impromptu air-swordfight would have been in the right spirit.

        Also, high fives with all of the other things everyone else has suggested! PANTSFEELINGS pants would be the best kind of pants.

    • I like the idea of “a portable reminder of… self-worth” very much! Buttons are not so much my thing, though, so may I request stickers be considered, too? To put on a sketchbook/journal/relevant thing?

    • A button or badge with this would make me super happy. Hell, I’d put a sticker on my car, too. Then everybody behind me in traffic will learn things.

  12. OH GOD YES ALL THE GREETING CARDS. I’d also love something like the Consent Cards that were (so says the internet) used with great success at Def Con. http://singlevoice.net/2012/07/12/sexism-redyellow-cards-at-defcon/

  13. Please PLEASE have a T-Shirt or a mug or ANYTHING with a “Beware the house of evil bees” slogan! Its my ABSOLUTE favorite slogan!!

  14. “With great kink comes great responsibility.”
    Seconding Anastasia’s nomination of “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”
    “The sandwich means ‘I love you.’ ” Perfect for Valentine’s Day! It can be either romantic or platonic.

  15. “don’t be the missing stair”

  16. I’d like “Camp Survive Alive” memorabilia.

    • I was thinking about this in the shower earlier.

      Like, Olde Fashioned summer-camp t-shirts with “Camp Survive Alive” around the edge and a circle in the middle which is a picture of a log cabin surrounded by woods, only with bees pouring out of the windows.

  17. This may be too long. But it is my very favorite:

    When you’re dealing with an “overbearing” personality prone to browbeating, manipulation, silent treatment, and/or temper tantrums, absolutely the best thing you can do is convey that you’re perfectly okay if they’re unhappy. Their unhappiness doesn’t scare you. Their negative emotions are their own problem to deal with. You’ll be over here, doing your thing. If you can get through that conversation with her without giving in or negotiating? You will have handled your shit like an EMOTIONAL BADASS.

    And here is an example of knitting bags: http://www.ravelry.com/stores/ravelry-merch-store/products/104448

  18. There was a request back on this post for a T-shirt saying, “It takes 1+n to tango, where n is an integer larger than 0.”

  19. How about some underpants with “PANTSFEELINGS” on them? Heh. Just throwing ideas out there.

  20. I’ve tried to find it and I can’t. There was a thing about having free speech, but that not meaning that you can pee on the carpet at your friend’s party.

    I’m sorry, but it’s a great quote, I just can’t find it….

  21. The golden retriever of love! I would very much like that on a t-shirt.

  22. I love all these ideas and would definitely buy these things. I was excited when the Captain mentioned pursuing this…my not-so-secret hope is that if we all buy enough swag she can take the awful ads down. Who’s with me?

  23. T-shirt: terrifyingly amazing

  24. “Smeagol has lots of reasons he’d be awesome at your party.”

  25. Oh, lord. I’m just gonna flat-out BEG for a ’50′s movie poster inspired House of Evil Bees shirt or poster or tote bag. Anything.

    SEE the House of Evil Bees turn on its residents!

    WITNESS it thwart their escape at every turn!

    FEAR its attempts to draw them back in!


    There should be a person in the foreground with their hands to their face, looking horrified as a stream of evil bees comes from the bleeding windows of an Amityville-style house. The bees are carrying flowers, but have massive stingers. And possibly have heads that are basically steel-jawed animal traps.

    Or something like that, but more clever.

    I am STILL in love with Marie for that comment, and we will probably never meet.

    So many great ideas above! I also second the African violet card. “Emotional Badass” is great! “Pantsfeelings!” pants! “Thank you for being on Team Me” cards would be lovely! And “With great kink comes great responsibility.” Totally.

    • Absolutely the “Thank you for being o Team Me” cards. I can think of several people that I would send those to.

      “The House of Evil Bees” needs to be both wall art as the ’50s style movie poster, and a tee shirt with different art. You can’t get the detail, really, on a tee-shirt.

      I’m surpised that this wasn’t up already, but a gas lamppost with a big circle and bar through it, like the no smoking signs? No gaslighting. Someone please take that and make it cooler.
      I love the “sandwich = love” pin idea.

      Several of these, actually, should be wall art. Including the gaslighting thing. “GASLIGHTING FREE ZONE” or something.

      Jedi-hugs to all of you!

      • One more thing. A laminated card for us Awkwardeers to carry in our wallets to remind us of the following things.

        “I am a member of the Awkward Army. I use my words. No is always an option, and always means no. If that is a problem for you, that is your problem, not mine. I have the power of the African Violet. I fear no gaslights, nor evil bees, for lo, the Army is with me, with sandwiches and Jedi-hugs and Party Smeagol.”

        Something to that effect, anyway.

        • That. Is. FANTASTIC!

          • Thank you. This community means a lot to me. I may not post a bunch, but knowing I’m not alone is priceless. & the little card thing or a fridge magnet or something with that sort of manifesto might help somebody else remember it when life takes a turn towards Suckville.

        • That’s awesome.

        • Yes to the awkward army card! well done Badger, I so feel better here many times when needed

        • I love the beginning of this.

          At “I have the power of the African Violet” it starts sounding too much like ?? a psalm I think? (Not Xian.) That turns me off. But the part before that? Genius!

          • Not Xian either. Once again, we are shown that tongue in cheek does not translate well on the internets. I apologize. Change it up any way you like, the formatting doesn’t matter, the message does. Cheers!

        • Ooh, what about badges shaped like epaulettes and medals and stuff? Like a merit badge shaped like a medal that says, “Terrifyingly Awesome” and then you could sew it to your jacket/shirt/bag/garment of choice.

        • I realize this is more than a month later, but not only is this cool, but a similar card with the Captain Awkward Rules for Dating would be good. Yes?

      • I sign on to alllll this.

    • YES! I was also thinking that a House of Evil Bees movie poster would be fantastic. Or maybe a 50s-style horror comic cover on the front of a T-shirt, with a page on the back so you could do the original bit panel by panel (“WAIT I WAS HAVING A BAD DAY” etc.)

    • Slight side note, but wouldn’t it be terrifyingly amazing if we also made that film? The poster idea is super inspiring and the original text is just brilliant. I can totally see it as an animated short.

      I don’t have any additional ideas at the moment, but I just love seeing all of this CA candy in condensed form here in these comments.

  26. I’m not doing this AT you.

  27. if you are strong enough to stay, you are strong enough to leave.

  28. Can we get an “I drive it like I stole it” T-shirt? That was one of my favourite statements anybody has ever made about their self-image, ever.

  29. [<3] on a mug.

    (coined by fizz as an abbreviation for sandwich-that-means-love)

  30. This was just commented in the “Pollyanna Defense” thread, but I think it’s up there with the best of ‘em:

    “Never wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will like it.”

    Also, Captain: I know you already have a graphic designer friend on board… but if you guys would like help with the project, I am also a graphic designer-type person and I would be thrilled to lend a hand. Or mouse, as the case may be.

    If you want. :)

  31. I adore the Rageasaurus. I would love some Rageasaurus posters, maybe a pair, one that is upset and trying to get your attention, and another curled up and happy. Unfortunately, I lack artistic talent, so I can’t volunteer to help.

  32. I really really really really love the quote from some long-ago post about how feeding your friends homemade soup is a way of saying “here, have some time and love.” How about a cross-stitch/needlepoint pattern of a steaming pot/bowl of soup, maybe surrounded by artful veggies/spices, with the phrase “Have some time and love” underneath?

  33. Ohhhh if we have jedi-hug themed swag I will be buying several of whatever it is, for my best friend, her brother, and her brother’s little son who brought me that phrase at a sad time.

    In addition to that, I will also definitely buy greeting cards. If it were possible to have a mixed pack with various expressions of love and friendship (terrifyingly awesome, the sandwich means I love you, etc.), I’d be beside myself.

  34. Pet your Ragesaurus.

  35. ‘The Hulk is my spirit animal’ – I loved that (although I think ‘spirit animal’ was replaced with something else, can’t remember what)

  36. My all-time fave CA terms are “firthing”, the “ill-fitting pants”, “FEELINGSMAIL” and “jedi hugs.” Greeting cards or mugs would be my preferred products. I bet others could figure out better lines than I can, but some ideas: “I don’t settle for ill-fitting pants” (or maybe “Congrats on not settling for ill-fitting pants”), “Your firthing is disrupting my tea-drinking”, “Stay strong, be awesome, and may your FEELINGSMAIL remain unsent”, “Please don’t touch me (jedi hugs are welcomed)”.

  37. One commentator at some point said something along the lines of “Awkward introverts unite, but only if we feel like it! It’s okay to need our space!” I would buy the hell out of anything that had that on it, especially a bag or t-shirt. It’s pretty much become my motto.

  38. Building on the various sandwich comments, I’m picturing a cartoon of a sandwich with a speech bubble. Obviously, saying ‘I love you.’ Or maybe just a heart?

  39. I love all of these ideas!
    It might be a bit long to fit on anything except maybe a poster, but I would love love love some sort of thing with the last lines of the answer to Question #122 on it.

    “In the future, there is a small, quiet room that is just yours, where you are safe and you are free. In that room your shoulders will finally start to come down from around your ears. Nobody can come into that room unless you let them. In that clean quiet place, you will work and you will study. You will love and you will heal. I know this is true because I am there with you. We are there together because you saved us. You saved us because you were brave and because you never stopped believing in that room.

    See you there,

    Your Future Self”

    It always makes me want to cry, but in a good way. I would put it somewhere I could see it, and I would feel safe and loved by you wonderful strangers on the interwebs, and by my Future Self. I would put it in my small, quiet room. Even just the first five lines of it would be enough (up to “You will love and you will heal.“).

    (Posting under my #440 pseudonym because, well. It’s kind of relevant, isn’t it?)

    • That one is gorgeous, I remember it well. There may be too much text for a mug or badge though. Maybe a mouse mat? I’d love that, and get a warm glow every single time I sat at my computer. ^_^

    • This on a little poster or something, yes.

      (Capt. A, I’m going to do ALL my shopping at you!)

    • I am a therapist and I really, really, want something with this quote on it to put in my office.

    • weird maybe but, even tho I’m out I haven’t found that place completely. So put this on the front of a t-shirt, upside down so the wearer can read it – on the back put “I survived the house of Evil Bees”.

  40. “Beware the Darth Vader Boyfriend”

    Seriously. I’ve been grappling (still!) for a year and a half. I will wear that t-shirt in front of the ExDVBs nose and look him right in the eyes as I say: ” ‘No’ is a complete sentence”.

  41. I would love to see illustrations of ill-fitting pants! And anything with Firthing (which is now part of my standard lexicon, thank you). I also really like the simple phrases “Wow.” and “Thanks?” with appropriate punctuation – maybe a set of business cards to hand out when I get too worked up to respond verbally.

    • Holy yes! Business-size cards that say various things. I’d buy a variety pack that would ideally say things like the aforementioned “Wow.” and “Thanks?”, plus PANTSFEELINGS, FEELINGSBOMB, Awkward Army, “Use your words”, etc… This is a genius idea, Jill! You could give them to friends, to make them laugh. You could give them to people who are freaking you out. Endless uses.

    • Yes yes yes! Cards for social occasions where someone says something super offensive but I’m not able/willing to verbalize it at that second. Some variations of “I respect you and your opinions, but what you just said was very hurtful. I am going to walk away now. Goodbye.”

    • It would be extra great if the business cards had a (short) URL, too, directing the recipient to the appropriate CA post(s). Then they would have the chance to be educational – even transformative!

    • YES! With the Firthing.
      Stop FIRTHING me – on a T-shirt with a picture of Firth/Darcy with a filthy look.

      Also something with the “A giant side-eye” thing.

  42. I know there are a lot of knitters in the Awkward Army. If you’re interested, I would like to volunteer my services to convert any of the simpler visual/typographic designs into a knitting pattern – perhaps for a hat or scarf – that could be sold as a PDF download. A Rageasaurus scarf? A pompom hat that just reads AWKWARD? Most folks will pay $4-$8 for a single pattern, or up to $12 or $15 for a collection of patterns.

  43. Things on stickers make me happy, because I am a goddamned adult.

  44. I love things that just have a salient image too, with no text. I would love anything (shirt, bag, mug, trivet) that just had an African Violet on it. And/or the sandwich with a heart.

  45. “Feelings aren’t Facts”

    It may be a profound revelation to many.

  46. “I’m not being happy AT you.” On a t-shirt. That would also be a profound revelation to many, those who take other peoples’ good news as a personal attack.

  47. What about t-shirts simply saying Team Me and Team You? I would wear a Team Me t-shirt when I wanted to remind myself to do some self-caring and I would wear a Team You t-shirt when I was doing something like making sandwiches and cleaning the house for a sick friend.

  48. A while back, someone said something to the effect of “Sometimes, Feelings!Coffee only leads to Feelings!Pee” and someone else threatened/promised to make a cross-stitch pattern of it. (I tried to find the original, but no combination of the search terms “coffee” “pee” and “cross-stitch” brought up the relevant post. Sadness.)

    Anyway, that. Obviously, there is a market of at least one person for the cross-stitch pattern, but it would, I think, also make a fabulous mug.

  49. There’s a website called Zazzle which lets you produce things like custom mugs and t-shirts by uploading a design and then applying it to various products (buttons, mugs, gift boxes, t-shirts etc) and selling them. In theory it would be great for this, because you could take a single design and put it on t-shirts, stickers, mugs, and all the other various things people have been asking for relatively quickly.

    That said, I haven’t ever actually bought anything from Zazzle, so I don’t know how good it is in practice. Does anyone else know?

    • I’ve got a shop on Zazzle. Kind of pricey, as all the print-on-demand places are — CA might be able to do lower prices by looking elsewhere. But great for flexibility and letting people get whatever weird kind of shirt they want with a given logo. And decent quality.

  50. I’m normally a bit of a lurker, but I LOVE the idea of Awkward swag and would buy SO many of these things–especially anything with “EVIL BEES,” “The sandwich means I love you,” “Darth Vader boyfriend,” or “PANTSFEELINGS!”

    One I image I really enjoyed but haven’t seen in this thread yet is The Couch of Plausible Deniability from the open thread on crushes.

    I would love to see this on a t-shirt with an image of a couch and a handful of people not-so-sneakily–well…getting handfuls of people.

  51. I hear that ‘“The opposite sex – just humans!” should be on a t-shirt somewhere’ …

  52. Could we get gift tags that say “This ________ means “I love you””?

  53. Frequent reader, fairly infrequent commenter.

    Is there a way to get a stuffed animal version of the Rageasaurus? Something to hug when the anger gets past the breaking point and turns inward because you’ve been too socialised to do anything else with it but attack yourself and cry?

    • YES! This is the best idea EVER.

    • I would be so down with this, but even amazing custom plush companies like Gann Memorials need cash upfront. From posts I’ve seen from artists/bloggers who used Gann, I believe it would cost ~ $5000 to do a run of 500 custom plushies. They could then be sold on for a decent profit, but the money would have to be raised first.

      Captain, there seems to be reasonable interest in the Rageasaurus, and I would be so happy for it to make money for you. Let me know if I need to sign a thing, or draw a thing, or something.

      • Wouldn’t this be great for a kickstarter project? If the money is raised – ALL THE AWESOME. If not – Sad feelings (but we will DEAL THE SHIT OUT OF THEM) but no financial repercussions.

  54. In light of the last few columns, I would love a shirt that says “Survivor of a Scapegoat Family” or just “Scapegoat.” But in general, I would adore a Cpt Awkward logo and “use your words” tag, in a nice cut-for-women t.

  55. “Only YOU are responsible for your feelings.”

  56. I want to vote for popesuburban’s “I’d rather be some horrible adult bitch than a really cool doormat.” on a t-shirt, even though it is gender-specific.

  57. I’d totally wear a shirt with a can of/ad for PANTSFEELS B GONE portrayed thereon.

  58. Can we get “Done is better than perfect” on a mug/sticker/mousepad/cross-stitch pattern? Because I need to plaster my whole work area with this message… (h/t Jiggs in the #510 thread)

    Also, maybe a “recovering perfectionist” t-shirt or sticker (maybe a tote bag?)? I would totally wear that.

  59. It didn’t originate here (though perhaps in sentiment) but in answer to the internet’s “Tits or GTFO” I’d love a t-shirt along the lines of “Respect my boundaries or GTFO”.

  60. Wow. I love all of this (long-time lurker and avid reader de-lurking for the first time).

    Speaking of clothes and other fabric-based merchandise, I think it would be good to use fair-trade clothing as a base, if possible. Just an afterthought.

    • I would very much like to do this if I can find something that is available in a variety of sizes, which the fair trade vendors I have researched do not do well. Like, at all. If you can suggest a resource I’d be very open to it.

  61. I just want PANTSFEELINGS underwear. I will buy a pair for every day of the week

    • Ahhhh, such a good idea!

      I’m having a hard time finding a company that has the right mix of size ranges + ethical manufacturing. Next step is working on finding an Iron-on company so people can put whatever we make on any item.

  62. Just reading through a few posts that I missed, and I think “the goal is coffee, not FEELINGSCOFFEE” (from #528) would make a good coffee mug and/or t-shirt.

  63. I can’t believe “take your faults and walk into Camazotz” is not already a t-shirt. I need that t-shirt yesterday.

  64. OMG can we pleeeeeease have one with the CA logo & in big block letters, “LET IT BE AWKWARD”? I would wear the ever loving fuck out of that. :)

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