Last July, Northwest Embroidery asked people to send photographs or detailed descriptions of lost or worn-out t-shirts which held personal nostalgia to them. Two randomly selected winners would have their designs brought back to life on new shirts.
Sales manager Brian Egan was overwhemed at the amount of submissions the company received. "Growing up, everyone had a shirt or two that meant something to them" he said. "We all know the more you wear a shirt, the better it feels."
The winning designs were Will Lorenson's high school "Ballard Beavers" and Nadia Warness's kitchy "Hang In There" logo featuring an image of a kitten hanging clinging to a tree branch.
To recreate the Ballard Beavers logo, Northwest Embroidery's art director Randy Fountain worked from a cell phone photograph taken of the original shirt, which had since become unwearable due to a large paint stain on the front. Because paint covered the majority of the vintage beaver mascot, he needed to redraw the cartoon by connecting the areas that were still visible and filling them in using educated guesswork. By request, the graphic on the new shirt was given a slight distressed overlay, simulating minor cracks in the ink. "He obviously wanted a brand new shirt," said Fountain "but still wanted to retain a lot of the character in the original."
For the "Hang in There" shirt, Fountain only had a description to work from. "I had the basic idea so I pulled a stock phograph of a kitten I had then laid out the text in in a funky 1980's looking font" he said. "We put it on a white ringer shirt with pink trim to match the description of the original."
The winning designs were reprinted in Northwest Embroidery's new digital t-shirt printing division, which is capable of producing small runs of shirts without the same expensive set up fees of traditional screenprinting. The new technology uses a CMYK color process, meaning it can print thousands of colors in a single design without the need for separate ink for each color. The new division is another big step in company's continued expansion from custom embroidered apparel to a full line of promotional products.
After the shirts were presented to the winners, the art files were then ceremoniously erased from the company's database, signifying their exclusivity. "I'm hoping to get at least as many years out of this new version as I did my last" said contest winner Lorenson. "Part of me wants to keep it safe, but I know I'll just end up wearing it all the time anyways."