RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Crazy Shirts creative director Eric Robison shows how the finished "Pray for Surf" design differs from an earlier version on the review wall at right. Below is a selection of designs created for Father's Day. CLICK FOR LARGE
Putting the T in creativity
At Crazy Shirts offices in Halawa, the birth of a shirt design is a collaborative process
» Robison's stint started with a jolt
While Mother's Day is characterized by much hand-wringing and weeks of shopping, Father's Day is more casually dispatched with a T-shirt, in addition to a backyard barbecue.
But dads, don't feel too sorry for yourselves. If the shirt is from Crazy Shirts, the company has put enough thought into its creation to compensate for 10 of your own flesh and blood, at least.
Over at Crazy Shirts offices in Halawa, the birth of a shirt design is a collaborative process involving nine full-time artists, company president Mark Hollander, creative director Eric Robison, store personnel and anyone else in the company who wishes to add their opinion. That doesn't even begin to take into account an army of up to 200 members of a freelance design team specially chosen to create designs for their regions, from the East Coast to Guam.
COURTESY CRAZY SHIRTS
Artists imagined a fictitious Fish Bowl while brainstorming for Pro Bowl. CLICK FOR LARGE
As much as we consider Crazy Shirts to be local, it is a growing national company of 36 stores. Its 14th mainland store will open in Santa Barbara, Calif., at the end of the month, and it would be difficult for the company to retain its topical, regional flavor without the freelancers' input.
"In this market, we know when the big surf contests are coming and when the big seasonal events are, when the whales are coming and when the Iron Man is," said Hollander. "But if you've never been to Myrtle Beach, it's pretty hard to draw for it."
Designs are put up on a wall for review every five to seven weeks, during which suggestions are collected and revisions are made. National work is put on a Web site for similar scrutiny. And the results, after all is said and done, always contain "an element of surprise," Hollander said.
"There have been some designs that we were positive were going to do fabulous, which just didn't work out, and some we didn't think would do well but went on to become hits. That's the fun of it. There's no great formula for predicting what will happen."
The company has entered a new phase of creativity with the addition of Robison, who spent 19 years at Disney before making the leap to Crazy Shirts.
Pushing the envelope at Disney got him into trouble a few times, but, as it turns out, he can't work any other way. Watch out!