What to do when you realise your idea isn’t new

What to do when you realise your idea isn’t new

For a while I’ve had an in the back of my mind an idea for a T shirt design. Many ideas roll around for months, sometimes years before they get dealt with. This is normal. Most of them never manifest into anything. This particular idea was pushed to the front of my mind by various events connected to my last project, the Stereotype T shirt. So, it felt like the right time to do it.

As it was now at the front of my mind, more ideas where coming thick and fast. It was a “now or never” type situation. I now had some solid thoughts on how it could be executed. If it’s not done now, it will slip back to the recesses that will only be used as reference for a future design at a later time. You don’t want to sleep on these moments of creativity and loose the urgency. It’s like waking from a profound dream and not writing shit down. You know it will all be forgotten by midday and only vague recollections will remain.

Like a pen and pad next to the bed, over the next few days I produced something I was happy with. I asked a couple of people for opinions, initial thoughts. Based on some feedback and with the original conception still front of mind, it was revised and improved. Two days later I was confidently sending the finished artwork off to be printed the following week. With more than a week before it would actually be produced, I had time.

I produced a mock up of the design on a T shirt and it was now online for sale.  I wrote a blog – The idea behind the T shirt design; the research, background information, the process and the problems I encountered whilst working on it. I had time even to send the blog to a copywriter friend of mine for critical analysis.

Don’t believe your hype

A few days later,  I was still waiting for feedback on my blog which, I believed to be about a fairly original T shirt design. There’s little point in writing for the web without doing doing some research, better late than never, so I decided to check what Google was saying. I searched the title of my blog. To my disappointment, I found a bunch of T shirts with ‘my original idea’.  After my initial disappointment, the next reaction was, “I’m going to have to contact my printers and tell them to stop”, followed by more disappointment. Then, “I’ve just spent hours of work for nothing” – more disappointment and now, frustration. “And, I spent hours writing a blog about this!”. “People will think I just copied someone else’s idea!” .

And then I had a realisation. My ego and naivety believed it had an original idea. On reflection, I should have known better – especially with such an obvious subject matter. This isn’t the first time I’ve done something that I thought was unique, only to find it already out in the world, in a similar guise. I rarely take the time to look around to see if an idea has already been done. If I do, most of the time, if the subject matter is important enough, I will try and do it better. If it isn’t, I just won’t do it at all.

Believe your hype

Should I research more before I commit to a design that I feel is unique? Or, should I discover it for my self with no distractions? The most important thing is, I know why I did it. My ego and naivety created this because I wanted to express something through uchi. I didn’t need other designs to influence if and how I should do it.

Google “Elements of the Human Body T shirt” and you’ll find plenty of nice and and some just decent variations.
I’m glad I didn’t stick with the first idea I had. I’m pleased I didn’t notice what others had done. I simply wanted to create an ‘uchi’ T shirt featuring the elements of the human body, and so, that’s what I did.

Bad Ass Hip Hop brands to be inspired by

Bad Ass Hip Hop brands to be inspired by

I usually don’t pay much attention to other Hip Hop brands, or at least I try not to. Not following what others are doing has merits and drawbacks.

If you are not distracted or influenced by what others are doing, you can carry on, safe in the knowledge that whatever you make is all “you”. You can be blissfully ignorant of the fact that someone else may have the same idea. Worse still, someone may have the same idea and execute it more skilfully than you.

As any artist will tell you, what they see around them will probably creep into their work in some form or another, eventually, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Banksy - ConstableSometimes, it’s more deliberate. You may be inspired to take a sample from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give it Up’ and create a completely original ‘Blurred Lines’ single.

Or, like Banksy, use the Mona Lisa or a Constable to create great urban art with its own context. How many renditions of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can or his Marilyn Monroe screen prints are there?


uchi’s Golden Section

uchi’s Golden Section

The golden section is also referred to as the golden ratio, golden spiral, golden mean and divine proportion. It is a ratio approximately equal to 1.618. Represented by the Greek letter phi (Φ), not to be confused with Pi, it is sometimes thought to be the most pleasing shape to the eye.

Mens T shirt - Golden section - White

Golden ratio Mens T shirt –  – White

Think of any two numbers. Make a third by adding the first and second, a fourth by adding the second and third, and so on. When you have written down about 20 numbers, calculate the ratio of the last to the second from last. The answer should be close to 1.61803399. The Fibonacci sequence follows this ratio.


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