One premium
limited edition
numbered t-shirt

almost weekly.

You are now browsing the archives for September, 2009

"This Is A Pipe"

This is a pipe - limited edition t-shirt

Alright gang, we’ve got more words for you this month. This is a shirt by yours truly. It’s simple, but every detail was slaved over. This is a shirt I’ve always wanted, so I’m finally printing it. It didn’t take me very long once I got down to it, but it’s been at least 4 years in the making. Let me explain…

I had a self-made 11×17″ poster of this hanging my cubicle for the last 8 months I was a Marketing Assistant at a construction company. I’d had it printed on the expensive paper at Kinkos when I was broke because my wife was in Dental School. For those of you not “getting” it, this is a wink and a nudge to all the typography geeks, programmers and art history majors out there…

You see, in the 1920′s René Magritte painted a picture of a pipe with the words Ceci n’est pas une pipe. scrawled underneath it. Ceci n’est pas une pipe literally means, “This is not a pipe.” It’s contradictory at first, but then you realize it’s not actually a pipe. It’s just a representation of a pipe. This was all very self-referential and clever, and made people think about art and talk about art at a time when art was mostly about how it made you feel.  I’m being snarky here, but René Magritte was a genius and stuff like this was exactly why. (Side note: if you like Magritte watch the movie Toys. It’s perfectly surreal and most of the imagery in that movie is based on Magritte. If you can stomach the Robin Williams all over it, it’s fantastic.)

Moving on… that poster I made for myself was to remind me of the reason I went into marketing and design. (I landed in SEO and usability, but that’s another story.) It’s a reminder that communication is an art, utility can be beautiful and that written characters, are just as real as a pipe you can smoke.

This ” | ” is a semi-obscure glyph called a pipe or vertical bar. In math it can indicate absolute value, it is also used in computing, programming and in general typography as a separator. Much like Magritte’s pipe, it’s a representation of an idea, but since glyphs themselves are representations of ideas, it actually is a pipe.

I digress. Call it recursive pop art if you like. (Call it bullshit for all I care, my last foray into being clever with words and type was ill-received, so I’m steeling myself for backlash.)

This is a shirt I’ve held off on for the better part of two years. It was one of the original concepts I had before we’d even started coding the site. I didn’t print it, though, because I wasn’t sure if anyone else would think all this obscure typography and philosophy of communication & the written word was as cool as I think it is. This is also a composition that has been very personally dear to me for a long time and I didn’t want to hear anything negative said about it, but damn the torpedoes! I want one of these desperately, as do a couple of my programmer and designer friends, so here it is.

This is a pipe design detail

This is a pipe design detail

This is a pipe goes on sale October 1st at midnight (US CST). Enjoy…

If you like this design, let us know in the comments. If you hate it, tell us why. The more feedback we get, the better.

UPDATE 10/08/09: I’ve had my French corrected (not surprising) in the comments here and in real life, so I’ve updated the design to reflect a more accurate translation of “This is a pipe.”