There is no such thing as a cheap t-shirt.
This has been a difficult week. I arrived on Monday to find that none of the t-shirts I had made on Sunday had sold. I made one shirt. Then I left; there didn’t seem to be any sense in infiltrating the museum’s gift shop with useless product. Tuesday was my day off. I felt a little crazy. I arrived on Wednesday to find that all but one t-shirt had sold. So I made two more. Then I left; more and more I am feeling a disconnected from the people who purchase the t-shirts that I make.
I couldn’t imagine sitting in a sweatshop assembly line, 18 hours a day, sewing clothing that potentially could become homeless–that more than likely will get tucked away into a landfill. Clothing that will bear no signs of my labor and thus receive no respect. I’m not going to deny the fact: to create is to give birth, material object or otherwise. Even though I make the same t-shirt over and over again, each one is unique in its flaws; each is striving to be better than the previous. If I let loose my presence of mind (“What am I doing?” “I am sewing the neckband. I am sewing it well.”), than the work is likely to suffer. This exaggerated attention to process makes for work done better, with better precision, but also, it establishes a stronger connection to the work, and thus: this act of creation, in a way, is a process of birth. I don’t want what I have born into the world to be mistreated, disregarded, misrepresented, disrespected!
So what then, when you make goods that potentially will become homeless, do you do to maintain motivation? You cannot own and care for and utilize all that you create; producer and consumer must have a connection. I’m finding more and more that this is key in striving for “the better—the best” of all quality product. To know and feel secure in the fact that what I make will not go to waste.
So please, if you’d like a t-shirt, if you’ve bought a t-shirt, if you intend to do so, if you have an interest at all in what I make: please let it be known! I want to be sure that the things I produce have a home…
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