I want to bring some prehistoric panache to the masses via museum and aquarium gift shops, and our own on-line store.
In the same way that my Mother took me as a child to every aquarium, zoo, natural history museum, and tropical fish store within driving distance of Sacramento, CA, I now share such personally enriching experiences with my 13 month old daughter, Pearl, here in San Francisco. In keeping with age old tradition, we end our visits with a stroll through the gift shop. Pushing past the key-chains and postcards, I sniff out the t-shirts like an elasmobranch chases chum. But, instead of finding simple cotton tees featuring awesome images of my favorite dinosaurs or giant sea life, just as I often did as a child, I find hastily made Photoshop designs, using the same stock shark and dinosaur images you see on ill fitting shirts at other museum gift shops, with only the institution's name swapped out and written in tacky fonts. This trend sucks, and is a constant let down for me. So, I got thinking.
I'm an illustrator, and had drawn similar things (see crayfish shirt in video above) to what I'd like to see on shirts from such gift shops. I could make my own t-shirts with simple designs using my illustrations, without the need for distracting wordage and fonts, and print them on premium American Apparel shirts that have a flattering fit for everyone, from the hip, science nerd, to the soccer Mom. After one very time consuming drawing of a Trilobite later, Cotton Crustacean was born.
What is Cotton Crustacean? What the hell is an Anomalocaris?!
Cotton Crustacean, a partnership between my fiancée, Jackie Perez Gratz, and myself, Aaron John Gregory, is a mom-and-pop t-shirt company, featuring original, boutique scientific illustrations drawn by me. So far the drawings have been only prehistoric aquatic animals, but will soon also include prehistoric terrestrial life, as well as modern aquatic organisms and anything really that qualifies as an arthropod (think insects, arachnids, and crustaceans - from sea spiders to mosquito larvae). Our dream goal is to reach out to gift shops at natural history museums, aquariums, and zoos, hopefully leading to our wares being found on their shelves. I aim to make custom designs for these institutions, providing unique illustrations of their own iconic animals on exhibit, and then print the images on premium quality, American made t-shirts, giving the gift shop an item unique only to their museum that would appeal to a very wide demographic of patrons.
To realize this dream, I need to build up Cotton Crustacean as a company, growing it greatly from the personal hobby it is today, to selling hundreds of shirts on-line to natural history fans like myself around the world. Creating a virtual museum gift shop on-line for all to enjoy will be the foundation of that growth, but we'll spread the word by also setting up booths at pop culture conventions like San Diego Comic Con. In time, we hope to be able to afford our own printing press, enabling us to print the shirts ourselves, keeping all levels of manufacturing in house (or in our garage). I personally even dream of a tiny store front someday on one of the busy shopping strips of San Francisco, like Valencia or Haight St. But alas, we get ahead of ourselves.
What is Kickstarter for?
This is where Kickstarter, and your generous backing support comes in. Up to now, I've only been able to afford to make around thirty shirts at a time of my first Trilobita design. I have four more prehistoric animal illustrations finished and ready to go to press, including the Dunkleosteus, Toxoceras, Helicoprion, and Anomalocaris. My funding goal amount enables me to order the minimum number of shirts per design to get the best possible bulk price break. With this large inventory, I will be able to build and stock a quality on-line store for Cotton Crustacean, and be properly prepared to approach museums with our shirts. And, with the extra revenue, we can produce even more designs. From dinosaurs to dragonfly larvae, there are endless exotic, overlooked, and/or extinct animals that I would love to draw and turn into some seriously rad scientific t-shirts.
Help us by pledging!
The incentives for helping us are awesome! From grabbing the t-shirts themselves, to prints of the original art, to combinations of both, just in time for the holidays. Contribute enough, and you can own the original scientific illustration of your choice from these first four designs. Contribute even a little more than that, and you get to play art patron, and pick which organism I draw next. I'll make a shirt from that illustration and add it to the product line, while you get the original piece of art along with the shirt featuring your chosen animal. As long as it's extinct, aquatic, or an arthropod, I'll draw it, and you get to help define the company's product image.
Mock-ups of the planned designs and ink/shirt color combinations
These will be the only ink color and t-shirt color combinations we will be printing for this project. Also, the American Apparel shirts we will be printing are unisex but follow men's sizing guidelines. For women, I would recommend ordering one size down from what you normally wear in women's sizing. Here is the American Apparel Sizing Chart http://www.americanapparel.net/sizing/default.asp?chart=mu.shirts
All prints are exact color replicas of the original drawings on 11" x 17" matte card stock
NEW REWARD JUST ADDED FOR KIDS/BABIES!
We are now offering an $18 reward for the original Cotton Crustacean design, Trilobita, printed only on sizes for babies and kids! The Anomalocaris will also be available on only the kid sizes, 2/4/6. These trilobite-sized shirts will get the same premium treatment, being printed on super soft American Apparel garments. We have the right shirt size for every little larvae, six years old, or younger.
Adult size Trilobita shirts available for sale now at Cottoncrustacean.com
Check out how your generous pledges have skyrocketed this project into a reality! Thank you so much. Please keep it coming!
Risks and challenges
The main challenge of this project will be having to wait until the end of the campaign to know exactly how many t-shirts and of which sizes I need to have printed, as I am banking on the fastest printing turn around time possible so all the incentives can be shipped out and arrive in time for holiday gifts. Another risk is that there might be more unique illustration reward requests than I am able to draw before February 2013, but that is a pretty wonderful risk to have.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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