I My Sharpie is Quick | Air/Fuel Ratio

My Sharpie is Quick

My hilarious trick for convention season this year is the hand-drawn, custom pixel art shirt! I had Dr. T-Shirt print up a couple dozen testers and this is my first attempt at making a t-shirt entirely in Sharpie by hand. It’s not edited except that I sped it way up and added music. I make a charming little screw-up in the middle, but I think it worked pretty well!

Youtube & Livejournal links

This little bugger will debut at MOCCA in a week or so, then should be well-stocked for San Diego and TCAF. I’ll have options to pre-order these before cons so you can get more complex art, more details soon.

If you can recommend methods for fixing this art, I’d love to hear it! I obviously can’t bring a spray can of fixative to shows, but can at least tell people what’s their best options for preserving the art.


24 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. Is the medium you’re drawing on more cotton or more a laminate or that kind of rubbery plasticy screen print?

    I’d suggest something a bit softer in output than sharpies, maybe Prisma color markers. They’re alcohol based too and tend to dry extremely fast from what I can tell on my stuff. Plus I think they have more colors than sharpies offers.

    I don’t know, just an idea. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about fixative or much smudging.

  2. I am indeed drawing on the screen print ink, not the shirt itself. I tried the Prisma markers and found the colors to be equal to the Sharpie, but more spendy and not quite as permanent. Good call.

  3. I’m not sure if this will work for Sharpies, but I know this works with textile ink, which is if you throw the shirt in the dryer on high, it will heat-set the ink, so then it can be washed and worn like any other garment.

  4. I’m not sure if that works either, but I’ve got to wash some laundry this week and it’s TESTIN’ TIME.

  5. Qwil,

    What are the odds of selling white grid t-shirts? This would be a lot of fun to do for myself!

  6. Qwil, the odds are very good once I’ve done some ink tests and can make a little manual for people.

  7. Once again I stand agog at your wizardry. Will you never cease to amaze?

    I know there’s some kind of “permanent fabric markers” out there that you might try.

    Remember back in the 80s, when people made their own clothing art using that squeeze-bottle sparkle goo stuff, which was permanent? Perhaps that may also be applicable?

  8. Plaz,

    Very cool. And another lefty, to bat! WE WILL DESTROY ALL LIFE.

    oops…did I say that out loud?

  9. yeah, I’d buy one… I’m waiting for a comiccon to come somewhere near me, like Portland, OR, that rstevens and et, al will be at… ooh, and I got my “I Liked DS before it sold out” card today, woohoo!

    oh, and on the Sharpie™ topic, they do make an Industrial Strength Sharpie that I’m fairly certain would withstand atmospheric re-entry if you were to draw a Kilroy Was Here onto the space shuttle…

  10. Nightroad,

    This is just a random thought for preservation – do they make transparent t-shirt transfer paper? (transfer film, I suppose it would be). Would that work as a “clear coat”?

  11. MsBarrows,

    You might want to look into using actual fabric dye pens instead of Sharpies. Sharpie will bleed and fade a lot over time Been a while since I last used any, but I remember Dylon makes some, probably other brands do as well. Once the dye has dried you cover the area with a clean cloth and iron on high for a minute or two and hey-presto, the colour is set. The “putting in the dryer on high” mentioned earlier should also work.

  12. You might try using water-based ink for the printing, instead of the petroleum-based stuff. It’s a much softer touch, and the ink might bond with it a bit better. Otherwise, I’d see if you can find some dye-based pens, rather than sharpies. Or printing the grid in black on a grey shirt, leaving the fills for the pixels exposed, so you’re drawing on the shirt itself.

    As an alternative, what about hand-colored pixel art postcards?

  13. Nimrod,

    Ah lefties will indeed conquer all!

    Definitely a fun idea. The mistake really wasn’t very noticable except for the whole ‘oops’ part. Good work!

  14. Hey, cats!

    I’ve done tests with dye based fabric pens, but sadly they fade more than laundry and industrial-grade Sharpies do after a quick soak in water and a wash. It’s due to the fact that I’m coloring on the plastic screen print ink and not the cotton itself.

    I’m testing out some thicker, paint-on stuff which appears to be pretty indestructible. Not sure how much I’ll be able to do that at a show, but it’ll mean I can confidently sell ‘em on the internets.

    Indigo- postcards are a good idea, but if I’m going that route I might just do little framed paintings.

    MsBarrows- I haven’t tried Dylon, will do my best to find ‘em!

    Nightroad- I had the same idea yesterday and took a trip to Staples… while there might be such a product out there, unfortunately it isn’t ink jet shirt transfers. At least I don’t think so because the dude at the store said they were transparent.

    Anyone who wants to chime in, please do!

  15. Rich, if you hang on to the backing sheets from normal T-shirt transfer papers, you can use those with a hot clothes iron to set the ink; you’d need to experiment a bit to avoid damaging the screen-printing.

    The instructions that came with the transfer paper I have also recommend using waxed paper and pressing that onto the shirt, over the transfer, to seal and set the ink as well.


  16. That is a pretty sweet idea. You are going to be keeping yourself hella busy at the cons…

  17. “Chthulhu” !

    Are you serious? You can set regular ink with wax paper? I’m SO getting an iron.

  18. felix,

    seems like the concept exists already, with a configuration website included!


  19. Sven,

    This may sound dumb but … why can’t you bring a can of fixativ to a con? I’ve never tried it on fabric (or silk-screen ink for that matter) but I can’t quite see why it wouldn’t be worth a shot. Admittedly, all my own shits ever see is lukewarm water, and in that case even good old hairspray makes for a perfectly fine sealant. OTOH I’ve used run-off-the-mill spray-paint (y’now: auto parts store stuff) on t-shits and that stuff is truly indestructable even on the highest setting on my washing machine. So I’d figure a coat of plain, clear spay-paint might be all you need…

  20. Sven- I wanted to bring fixative to the show, but it’s too smelly and toxic for a public space. Dang it.

  21. Oh for the love of god please tell me the composer/name of the music in the background! I’ve been hunting it for years, but the Wikipedia entry on R&S soundtracks is huge to determine which it is. PLEASE!

  22. TZ,

    This is totally off topic but can you believe the comments on that youtube? I don’t normally visit that site so reading the things people had to say was a real shocker! Is that a youtube thing or fo you just have an anti-club somewhere?

  23. Wow, I hadn’t even LOOKED at that. People don’t spel so gud therr.

  24. mark,

    again nice artwork you have, sweet ideas