2K by Gingham 2006
November 2006
T-shirt prints
2K/Gingham (Japan/US)

2K by Gingham is a Japanese/American t-shirt label we've been collaborating with for quite a long time now. Its director, Yoshi Kawasaki, contacted us in 1999, and we have been designing t-shirt prints for him ever since. In short, every year we design a small collection of shirts, which is then released through 2K, and sold through various stores and websites.

In the beginning of 2000, we were very interested in the whole concept of 'self-referentiality': graphic design referring to itself, or to its own context. This interest shows in the early t-shirt prints we designed for 2K/Gingham: the John & Paul & Ringo & George shirt (2001) was referring to the idea of the band shirt, while the Anti shirt (2000) was referring to the idea of the slogan shirt.
However, in our more recent shirt designs, we try to take a lighter, more playful approach. We decided to focus more on the subject of language: short poems, found text, slogans, wordplay, quick thoughts, silly jokes.
We really like the definition that Augusto de Campos once gave of Concrete Poetry: "The tension of thing-words in space/time". What we try to explore with our shirt designs is very similar to that: the shirt as a 'word-thing' existing in 'time/space'.

Designed in 2006, and released in 2007, the line (shown below) actually contained a few of our favourite shirts:

First of all, there's the shirt that says "L'enfer, c'est les autres" (the official name of this shirt is actually 'I'm with Sartre'). It combines Sartre's famous remark "Hell is other people" with the well-known 'I'm With Stupid' t-shirt. A sort of collision of philosophy and pop-culture. The shirt came out in two different colour combinations: white on a black shirt (shown below) and black on a white shirt.


'Artist/Album/Date/Genre/Label' was the subject of a spam mail we received one day. We considered it a five-word found poem, and thought it would look good on a shirt. Red, orange, yellow, green and blue on a black shirt:


The 'Grow Your Hair' shirt is a sort of secret continuation of the haircut-inspired subgenre we started in 2003 with the 'Business in the front / Party in the back' shirt (see 2K by Gingham 2003). The shirt was released in two combinations: black and blue on a red shirt (shown below), and black on a white shirt.
Maybe this is the right moment to admit that we actually thought that Dylan Jones' 'Haircults' (Thames & Hudson, 1990), a book tracing the development of UK subcultures by way of their specific haircuts, was actually a pretty good read.

The 'Three Black Bands' shirt features three of our favourite bands, bands that all happen to have the word 'black' in their names. On the shirt, the word 'black' is covered by a black bar ('blacked-out', so to speak). It almost functions as a one-second pop-quiz: 'guess the missing word'. It was released in two combinations: black on a white shirt (shown below) and white on a black shirt.


Shown below the bag that belongs with the shirt above. 'Big Black Bag', referring to both the band 'Big Black' and Bloomingdales' 'Big Brown Bag'. We have made bags before for 2K/Gingham, but those were mainly adaptations of our t-shirt designs ('John & Paul & Ringo & George', 'Anti', etc.). 'Big Black Bag' is the first print we designed for 2K/Gingham to be specifically used on a bag, and we're quite happy with it:

In the great book 'Embodied Visions; Bridget Riley, Op Art and the Sixties' by Frances Follin (Thames & Hudson, 2004), there is a paragraph in which a '60s critic dismisses Riley's art as "Op, Pop, Mod, Neo, Geo".
(At least, we could have sworn that this paragraph was in the book. When we re-read the book, searching for the exact phrase, we couldn't find it. So maybe we dreamed it all up). Anyway, although the critic meant it as an insult, we really liked that sentence: "Op, Pop, Mod, Neo, Geo". So we decided to put the first three words on a shirt, like a found poem, as a tribute to Riley:
All these items used to be available through 2K/Gingham. However, when in 2008 Yoshi Kawasaki decided to leave the company (following a change in management), we decided to leave with him, and withdrew our shirts from 2K. In other words, these shirts are currently unavailable. However, if everything goes according to plan, a selection of these shirts will be reprinted and released through Yoshi Kawasaki's new label, Publik / Five Leaves Inc., in 2009. We'll keep you updated.


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