Monday, October 19, 2009

The way it is....Not the way it was - Frankie Say Relax Don't Do It

Just when you think you've paid you're dues you find out you've been dumped. That's the modern web. You can't count on anything. Par example, I have been printing this Frankie say Relax shirt, which has haunted me from the Eighties. The style is Garrish, Large block letters, the design is ubiquitous, in fact the word Ubiquitous came from this shirt. We wrote about it, sold it cheap ( to keep it real ). Then some television advertisement comes out with the shirt featured in it and it starts selling rather well online. All of a sudden I can't even find my links on the web in Google (I haven't bothered to check Bing yet). WTF. How does Google go about dropping people and juggling content and more importantly this reinforces the idea that real-world information is completely edited by strange coincidences.

It really doesn't make sense when I know I have the best printed t-shirt for this in the most colors, the cheapest price and all and all the most authentic version of this item around (I even hated it in the eighties, which is why I like it now). Overall I'm not super upset for this pariticular instance, but it is a good example since it is Halloween and I think a bunch a people want this item. I'm more upset at the unpredicatable nature of the beast within. Here is the write up we gave this item years and years ago:

"Set the dial in the wayback machine to the summer of 1984 and listen closely. That sound you hear is Frankie Goes to Hollywood's one and only hit "Relax". And associated somehow with the song are these shirts. Frankie say relax-- what the hell does that mean? Listening closely to the lyrics, we get the impression that it has something to do with what the Romans called "coitus interruptus", which translates in to english as something like "extremely frustrating". Why would you want to wear a shirt that encouraged such a thing? Beats the hell out of us, but they sure were popular, and if like us you weren't very well dressed that particular summer, this is your chance to make up for it. Buy several and take 1984 with you wherever you go."

A rather nice piece by our now deceased staff writer. Even the photo shot in our store is a real customer in a real store, not pretencious or overbearing at all. Nonetheless, this CafePress, Zazzle, Amazon, Ebay Bullshit dominates the web and keeps giving people crap. I know we aren't the best at everything, but I know we are the best at somethings and most importantly culturally relevant historically correct kitschy low-brow humor is our thing. This Frankie Say Relax shirt is essentially that and the fact that I can't find any reference to this item just goes to say that there is something wrong.

Is Y-Que banned for adult content? It really doesn't matter because there is no answer to this type of problem in a complex world of linking. I just have to go back and decide if it is worth it to rebuild from scratch something that should just be there in the mix, but that has disappeared, like Robert Dinero as Tuttle in the Movie Brazil. Not much difference. Just don't try to fix anything and your life should be fine.

If I have to keep rebuilding web pages just to stay in the mix for a public service type message like Frankie Say Relax then it makes the web seem like too much work to keep things "live". Balloon Boy is a big deal, but how many people are looking to dress up like him on Halloween (maybe I will), but he's so non-descript. Darn. The bigger issue is Frankie was a good Halloween costume, but now I've got to push on to Xmas since my main design has been mysteriously vanquished. Maybe it was a Mystery Shopper (whatever that is) and the Mystery of Shopping for a t-shirt that was soooo obvious confused them and it was edited from existence.

By the way, I spent an hour the other night trying to find an original version or image of the "Touch of Class" transfer that was famous in the 70's as a transfer. Can't be found. No where. If you have an image of this please send it over for historical purposes. On the plus side, I was researching the origin of the Mudflap girl and actually discover that Whiz Enterprises in Long Beach created this icon of our Modern World. I consider it the only true American female Madonna representing Sex versus Virginity. To think that being placed on Mudflaps, the dirtiest place on a truck, made that image famous is even more amazing. But the internet did lead me to an answer of an otherwise missing link in the world of Graphic Art. God Bless the Mudflap Girl.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's just a game called Bizniz - that's Business or (Busyness) for the rest of us

Every business is the same. Cost of products, overhead, expenses and the creation of a product that people want to buy or use. Ideally there will be a profit to justify the effort, otherwise it is what it is and that can also be called "Busyness". Once we boil down our personal efforts and realize that staying in business is just a way to stay busy, then the shit hits the fan and the ends may not seem to justify the end. Who wouldn't want to do something else than to trade goods and take risk with very little potential for financial benefit? I only bring this up because the word on the street is that the hoopla about a recovery seems false at it's core. I was at my dentist today, Dr. Randolph Yip, a family dentist who also offers Cosmetic Dental Care in San Francisco, and it was very clear that even his customers are delaying dental care because of losing their dental insurance and employment, thereby affecting the bottom line of his business. Yet, simultaneously the stock market is up 35% this year???

The unemployment rate is still rising and in the end the net effect of more people being out of work will remove cash from the retail world and thereby continue to slow the potential for profit for real-world stores. Facts are facts and the fact here is that the stock market is a projection of better days ahead for some of us. If I had the time I would detail a rationalization on why the stock market is an accurate barometer and if we all believe then it's predictions will come true, but I have loss my innocent optimism for such folly. The only way I can accept the numbers is by assuming there is a major detachment between the reality of peoples lives and the numerical statistics that we tend to gauge our lives by. Speculation is a beast that we have incorporated into our capitalistic system, which is ballsy to say the least. The only way we can say that a 35% increase in the stock market is rationale is to recognize that the market was oversold before this rise began. Otherwise we have to reach the conclusion that it is now overbought. Regardless, in the real world of business the types of people who have lost jobs are not finding an equal number of jobs available for every 100 points that the market is rising. There is no industry replacing what has been lost. There is no super product that we are making that will provide us with a backbone to rebuild the economy and provide mass employment. We are wishful, but these are not the times for mass delusions.

The magic answer to the economic problems is not to give up because the facts don't make sense with the reality. Everyone needs to crunch their own numbers and find a way to survive. I've turned a lot of corners and have somehow made ends meet over the years and realize that change is required and our old paradigms simply provided for survival, but that is no longer a guarantee as we move into a new era. I have always believed that creativity and inspiration are the essence of individual success and that translates into societal success. Trying to interpret that for our current times is like a fly swatting itself. I like to work on several different levels and mix the results. I feel like my art influences my skills and my skills give me something to do, which in the end is my business and marketing my business keeps me busy and so on.

My current problem is that I don't believe that the market reality doesn't match the real-world factual reality. At the same time I have been running ads on my websites and find that I get more business when I run ads that often times show my competitors. This is a real problem, because when I cut my ads I am cutting my revenue which helps supplement the cost of my web presence. My basic assumption is that by redirecting traffic to my competitors I may be losing business, but the opposite seems to happen each time I stop running ads. I don't want to believe the facts, but more ads seems to equal more business. I don't have a full-proof way to test this because my main revenue stream comes from my main website at Is there any rationale basis for this?

My conclusion is, if it is true that more ads equal more business, that by running ads I am providing a form of comparison shopping. In fact I think I will rename my ads and encourage my competitors to publish on my best web pages as a way to provide comparison shopping. I assume that the people advertising must have the most agressive pricing and products or they wouldn't be advertising to begin with, so if I can beat them then I am more likely to close the deal. This is my Mad Men moment when I push a new concept onto the market. Most likely other companies will benefit from this more than me since I work in a niche that is like a guy selling watches on the street corner, but WTF, it doesn't bother me to be the Guinea Pig for other businesses, I'm used to it. Packaging is the key so I am going to rename my advertising sections as Comparison Shopping Links and push forward in getting more competitors to sell through my spaces. I still don't totally understand if this makes sense from the customers standpoint, so if you have any ideas on this please send me an email or post a comment. thnx

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Prize Winning Chia Obama

It is never too late to come out with another Chia and it's never too late to make fun of a controversy with a t-shirt. The Obama Chia is way crazier than any other Chia and it won't be around for long since the major seller of the item CVS Pharmacy has pulled the item. Now we are going to be left with ad after ad of the Obama Chia kinda like Head On or whatever that stuff was you are supposed to rub on your head. I do want one of those Snuggie blankets though before it gets too cold around here and they run out. Obama may definitely be the first Nobel Peace Prize winning Chia. Fact Check.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pantone Color matching for T-shirt printing - A great place to start, but...

Yes and No. Yes t-shirt printers and match pantone colors and many have complex systems and ink mixing machines that help with the process. However this is only reasonable for large jobs. I've found that even when you do match a pantone color for a print job the inks can look different wet than dry and surprise it's still not exact. Also the color of the shirt next to the ink can affect your eye which changes the perception of the color. Mixing a pantone color for screenprinting also must take into account that the person using the pantone book should use Uncoated reference chips and not coated. Screen vibrancy is nothing compared to flat cloth, so don't think that a backlight design shown on a computer is going to look the same. In fact, I think it often looks better in ink on cloth, but that is a matter of opinion. Pantone numbers are great references for screenprinting but they only put you in the ballpark. Always think of pantone colors as a range of colors or as a reference for the rest of us. The final result will be hue on one side of the color or the other. Paper printing is different and Pantones were created for that industry, which explains the difference. Screen printing is like starting a fire with two rocks compared to the detail and accuracy available in offset printing. Here is a link to links for Pantone Color systems.