Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Phillie-area mission trip t-shirt

The ink had barely dried on my church youth group's recent lock-in t-shirts when the new Minister to Students, Trey Reid, was feeling out my interest in designing a shirt for a mission trip to the Philadelphia area. I love doing this stuff, so how could I resist?
When I think of Phillie, I think of war, revolution, liberty, freedom, etc. — you know, grade-school social studies material. From there it's but a teeny tiny cognitive step to themes revolving around the freedom that Christ offers to the believer. So that's where we went. Trey chose John 8:32 for the key verse:
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
In terms of design constraints, Trey merely asked that the shirt be bright and absolutely not red, white, or navy blue (since it would be worn by the group as they toured Washington, DC).
As is common, I dragged my wife, Amy, into the process. We talked about various things and then independently toyed with some ideas. She was really big on the idea of using a postmark to get "Philadelphia" into the design; I was mostly thinking of ways to work a major landmark — say, the Liberty Bell — into it while incorporating the verse. When I combined our ideas, I was extremely pleased with the result:
As always, the original artwork is vector-based, infinitely scalable without quality degradation. And as always, if there happens to be someone out there who wants to recycle this design for some reason (hey, I wouldn't have believed it either were it not for prior experience), that's perfectly okay with me.
Here are some close-ups of the graphics:
My favorite subtlety is the way the postmark's curvy line calls to mind images of the U.S. flag, sitting right there behind the word "free". I wanted to ensure that "truth" and "free" were emphasized words, and took advantage of the common use of the plus sign (that is, a cross) as a conjuction. In a last-minute decision, I also inverted the Philadelphia skyline silhouette on the shirt back ("turning Phillie upside-down for Jesus!").
Feedback on the shirt has been positive, and Trey was kind enough to let Amy and I each one.  Here's a photo of the youth mission team wearing theirs:
(For those wondering, yes, I'm keenly aware of how dangerously close this shirt design comes to muddling religious and patriotic themes. In this instance, I accept that risk as a useful conversation starter.)