i’d like to put this under a read more, but i can’t for asks, so all i can say is if you’re not interested in reading a super pretentious analysis of the effects of photoshopped sweatshirts, don’t bother with this.
when i first started making sweatshirt designs, i just used popular images i saw on tumblr because i thought they would get the most notes. and we gained followers pretty quickly doing that, but the designs themselves didn’t get that much attention.
i think back when alec and i were still working together, we both kind of explored the impact of putting a picture you’d seen a thousand times onto clothing, onto an object. i don’t know if that’s something he actually consciously did or if i’m just reading into it, but it’s definitely what it came to be for me.
at first i was really interested in the impact putting horrifying pictures onto clothing could have. back in the first few months of sexy sweaters, there were a lot of designs that had a much more macabre feeling, from 9/11 photos to WWII photos (i actually had a WWII blog for awhile) to famous domestic violence cases. these were all pictures that i had seen on tumblr hundreds if not thousands of times, but when put into a slightly different context, people went absolutely crazy. i’ve never gotten as much hate mail as when we made a 9/11 sweatshirt.
it’s interesting to me because i see a lot of exploitation on tumblr, especially of sad events. there’s a glorification of the gut-wrenching, and you can really see that on any type of blog. but when you add in the concept of commercialization, people feel much more uncomfortable with it.
and to go off on a tangent, that’s something i’ve noticed about tumblr as a whole, and maybe the internet too, but i’m most interested in tumblr. there’s this crazy relationships between users and commercialization. on the one hand, tumblr brings out a shallow side to people. everything is based on appearance, and there’s a lot of glorification of status symbols, whether honest or ironic. but then there’s also this disgust with corporations and a desire for something more raw, organic, and… localized, i guess? that’s not really the word. but people are really into the idea of supporting non-corporate entities, especially if they’re a part of the tumblr community.
anyway, i guess that kind of became the theme of sexy sweaters more for me as time went on, looking at what people loved more than what they hated.
most the photos used in the designs are old photos you’ve probably seen reblogged a lot. and yet, people will reblog them again and feel a different attachment because it’s something solid, something they could purchase, something they can have. it makes people feel more connected to the photos, i think.
you probably don’t know it, but i really obsessively track the notes each design gets, not because of vanity, but because i’m really, really fascinated by what appeals to tumblr, because a lot of the time it seems to be random, and i love finding patterns. i’ve been really intrigued by what comes off as pandering and what comes off as trend-setting, and so on and so on.
i’m really bad at drawing conclusions, i’m definitely more of an observer and researcher, so this probably won’t have a very satisfying summation, but i’ll try.
i don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with businesses capitalizing on the emotions and connections of their customer base, but it’s something to be incredibly aware of. i think the internet has spoiled people in that they expect businesses to have the same connection to their product as the buyer does, which simply isn’t true, especially when you start looking at larger-scale companies. when you spend money, you definitely do have to think about it. you always have to weigh the pros and cons, because no company is perfect, and you have to decide what you can and can’t put up with. is convenience worth supporting bad company policies? what price can you put on your beliefs?
i think you also have to look at yourself as a consumer, too. we live in such an object-driven society, and it’s easy to get sucked into that. whether that’s good or bad is up to you personally.
the most important thing is to always be thinking and examining your relationship with money, materialism, and the world around you.
disclaimer: i wrote this very, very quickly while also skyping with my sister, so pardon any stray thoughts and typos, please!
money grosses me out i’m more into exploring the concept of how corporations can commodify emotions and memories and sell them back to the people they belong to