ReadySetDC Re-Does D.C.'s Tourist Tees

by MADELEINE STARKEY · August 13, 2010

ReadySetDC has accurately pointed out the dearth of creativity and unique design when it comes to D.C.'s tourist t-shirts.  So they decided to do something about it.

1) Who came up with the re(DC) idea?

It was really a ReadysetDC team effort. I work in Foggy Bottom and walk the route toward the Lincoln Memorial every morning along with gaggles of tourists in their "I Heart DC" shirts. I guess something snapped this Spring and I thought to myself, "why do we have to settle for this knockoff of the famous 'I Heart NY' design? DC can design its own tourist t-shirt thankyouverymuch!"

So I mentioned the idea to the ReadysetDC team and everyone ran with it.  In my head, it was just a crazy half-idea, but when we started passing it around the room, the idea took shape into something really solid. It was all about the brainstorming and the team's will to actually make it happen. Definitely 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

To go a step further, we even decided to make it the first in an ongoing series we're calling "(re)DC", which will identify things we think are lacking in our city and then crowd-source solutions from the creative class. (re)Fresh (re)Imagine (re)Design. Stay tuned for future projects...

2) How did you select artists to participate?

We started with friends, people we've worked with before, or people we had heard about (or were following on Twitter). We started small and realized that designers were up to the challenge. We also asked each designer to invite two friends to expand the circle a bit.

In the future, we'd like to open things up to an even broader group, but we're really happy with the results of this inaugural competition. Some really cool interpretations of the challenge by the designers. If people out there have ideas for their own tourist t-shirt, start designing for the next round!

3) How else are you getting the word out there?  Are you having any events to display the options and allow voters to meet the artists?

It's pretty amazing, actually. Once we sent out the first press release, it just took on a life of its own! It was picked up by most of the major DC media outlets, got love from the bloggers, was posted on Facebook, and retweeted (with #reDC), and led to over a thousand votes in the first day... and ReadysetDC's heaviest traffic in a single day!  I guess people were just excited about the idea... or as tired of the "I Heart DC" design as we were.

We're going to invite all the artists to the unveiling party, of course, and display all the options there. Maybe we can have them wear a special "artist" pin so you can pick them out of the crowd.

4) Are the designers local or are they all over the country?  What is each designer's connection to D.C. --

So, yeah... this was one of the challenges to opening it up for the entire world to compete. We wanted the design to be by DC, for DC... so we only invited designers that live and/or work in the District.  Like, imagine how embarrassing it would be if we had a New York designer win the "Design DC's T-Shirt" competition!

5)  Where can we purchase the official new tourist shirt once it's won?

The official new tourist t-shirt will be printed and available at the unveiling party. It's gonna be a very limited print... a numbered special edition of 51 shirts. Then we're going to gift the design to the public to run with it (under a creative commons license). That's gonna be part of the fun - seeing where the design goes when it takes on a life of its own... evolving like the "I Heart NY" design has over the years.

If we sell out the first run, we'll probably also sell them on ReadysetDC.com and at future events. So no need to stampede when the doors open.

6)  Are we able to buy the other ones, even if they don't win?

That's a great question. If you're buying, we're selling! Just kidding. I think we'll have to see how the competition ends. It seems like there's been a lot of support for a few of the designs, so maybe there's room in this city for more than one tourist t-shirt. Also, the designs that don't win will still be owned by the artists to do whatever they want with them. But only the top vote-getter will be crowned "the official tourist t-shirt".

7)  Have you solidified where the August 20th party will be, the unveiling?

We're working out the details as we speak. I can say this though... dust off your fanny packs, FBI hats, and sneakers, because there's gonna be a theme!

Stay tuned for final details announced next Monday on ReadysetDC.com - -

photos via Re(DC)