Free Geek t-shirt doodles

Free Geek, a nifty community computer recycler and technology enabler that’s like a cross between Habitat for Humanity and that place in your high school basement where they piled up old computers and oscilloscopes, is designing a new T-shirt and asked for help from the community. Being far away from PDX and faced with the distinct possibility that I’d have to do real work on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I figured that the only way out was to make some sketches. If it’s useful, does it still count as procrastination? 🙂

I was relived to hear that “Designs don’t have to be polished, as long as the idea is clear.” I mean, I’ve designed a t-shirt before, but doing the inking of the design took near about as long as drawing the darn thing in the first place!

I first got off into this idea about a “back of the envelope” t-shirt — sort of a “the design is the shirt deal”. I though it appropriate to reference the WTFPL in this kind of design. And yes, the doodles are in fact on the back of an envelope:


At this point I found a real piece of blank paper (I still love envelopes — they have so much more character) and started a number of different ideas:


First off we have this Bash Prompt kind of thing “volunteer@free-geek:~>“. I like the ambiguity of whether it’s a statement (“I’m a volunteer at Free Geek”) or a suggestion (“Please, volunteer at Free Geek!”). Next I toyed around with the pun of the make build utility and making a t-shirt. I guess that you could actually create a Makefile with a target “t-shirt” that would produce the image. That might be a little too geeky…

Free Geek is all about building things — building computers, building a community, building peoples’ knowledge and comfort with technology, etc… — so I figured that maybe the T-shirt should have some kind of work-in-progress feel to it. Sort of a build-your-own thing. That’s where the idea of having a motherboard (or just some circuit board) that’s missing a chip or two. I tried to figure out which letter in “FREE GEEK” was least disruptive to have missing and I thought that “FREE  EEK” was rather amusing. Perhaps on the back there could be an actual mouse using a computer and saying “EEK!” ?

The last idea I came up with was a bit of a nod to the Free Software people and the Free Software that makes the work of Free Geek possible. We’ve got a sort of headless, multi-legged Free Geek character standing on the shoulders of a line of people holding hands. Each person on the bottom row has a letter on their shirt, spelling out the word “FREE SOFTWARE”, and the people on the ends are holding hands with the Free Geek blob on top. On the back of the shirt we’d have a nod to Newton with the famous “Standing on the shoulders of giants”. I like this last idea as it gives credit to the developers and projects that facilitate computer reuse and make open computer technology possible. I did this sketch somewhat hastily, but I could imagine that in a final design that we could give some of the people in the bottom row some pieces of flair indicating that they were a part of Ubuntu or the Linux kernel or the Gnu folks or whatnot.

All done.

Well, almost. Matthew Harris replied to the original post about T-shirt designs and mentioned a Magic the Gathering card called the “Patagia Golem” that “can cause release of Thaumatological Sulphur and Necromantic Ether into the water supply,” and I just had a hankering to draw a picture for that. I mean if Free Geek can prevent heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic from entering the drinking water by proper recycling procedures, maybe Free Geek can prevent the release of other toxic agents into the water — like Thaumatological Sulphur:


It just goes to show that even in magical lands you still have to worry about Combined Sewer Overflow.


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