Who would have thought such sweltering heat would have given birth to a fresh new t-shirt company! It's hot here, intolerably so. Worse, much worse, is the humidity. It weighs down upon one to such a degree that all the ceiling and standing fans in the apartment and office have shared sense of inadequacy. Yet this sticky Hades is home to great creativity, particularly in the area of design. Some years ago, when I first started out on my own, similarly unbearable summer conditions gave me the idea for my company name - Swelter. Somewhere along the line, I thought it would be great for a t-shirt brand. Mid last year, that brand saw the light of day and is now being worn by quite a few people (bless them!) from around the world. Today's the day I start to share with you some of the Swelter designs and the stories behind them (hey, and if there aren't any, I'll make them up. You might want to help me along there.) Right now, I have no energy, I'm in the mood for a chat, and I keep filling up my glass with water. Pray for rain!

Saturday, 23 June 2007


I was reminded of one of my earliest t-shirt designs when someone kindly bought a couple of my I Feel Better Now tees yesterday. Whilst I can promise no immediate cure, I like to think that wearing this shirt will make a positive shift in someone's life. The least it will do is raise a chuckle here and there, and that's always a good thing. At the back of the happy trippy lettering is an opened pack of pills. You can tell anyone who asks that they are whatever you want them to be. Most people will assume they are some kind of designer drug and some may even consider this design to be pro-drugs. I like leaving things up to personal interpretation. Truth is, the drugs used in the graphic were beta blockers, designed to help the heart but with a surprise positive side effect in that they also help migraine sufferers. I've been battling with migraine for over sixteen years and when I finally met up with my second neurologist, I was put onto these drugs. Whilst they slowed my metabolism and made me a bit drowsy, they also radically minimized my migraine attacks and that was a godsend! Sad to say, the effects didn't last but I still feel good when I put on my original I Feel Better Now shirt, even though it is very worn and has now been designated as a sleep shirt. The design and sentiment is lasting, and I've used it in books, portfolios and as a price label on my exhibited artworks. I wish you every happiness when you wear it. (Hey, and even when you don't!)

Thursday, 21 June 2007


I was driving to work the other day, weaving my way between pantechnicons, trucks with trailers, and overloaded African taxis, and Lucinda Williams was wailing and swearing in the car. Well, she wasn't actually in the car but her CD was playing. Loudly. I admit I wasn't in the best of moods and Lucinda was starting to depress me. Nobody was allowed to be more depressed than me at that point, and she was beating me by spades. Then, as I got to the bottom of Field's Hill (named after my great, great grandfather but that's a whole other story), the last track of Lucinda's CD began to play. She kept singing about how "Words fail" and I thought "What a great t-shirt that would make!" Slogan tees usually have something philosophic or provocative or funny on them. They exist to make a stand or get a reaction or both. How ironic, I thought, if there were an anti-slogan t-shirt, one that admitted to the failure, on occasion, of words. I confess to thinking, at the time, that this was positively brilliant! A slogan t-shirt that was subversively against its self. Nihilistic, you could say. Suddenly, I was no longer on the verge of depression, I was inspired! I thanked Lucinda and couldn't wait for the working day to end so that I could get back home and create my Words Fail t-shirt. A few days later, I listened to the song again. I had got it all wrong. Lucinda never said "Words fail", she sang "Words fell". But I reckon I owe her anyway. And should you ever be in the mood for a real bring-me-down song, give "Words fell" by Lucinda Williams a listen.It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.


Right across the river from where I stay people party through the night every Friday and Saturday. The music pounds across the water and the bhangra beat is relentless. Lithe bodies sway, sashay and gyrate to music as I toss and turn, trying to get some sleep. Well, that's the way it used to be. Now I've become so used to it that any lull in celebratory noise may well become disturbing. Maybe even more unsettling is that I now play bhangra music in my car. At full volume. I'm a great respecter of different cultures and the beauty of the new forms that arise from cultural blends. I tried to capture that in a range of t-shirts and badges, variations on a theme really, that mix traditional Indian dance iconography with something visually a little more energetic. A meeting of old India and Anglo-Asian rave. Something clubby that retains the dignity of past rituals and patterns. A new institution, dare I say. So grab one for yourself, go have fun on the dancefloor. Just bear in mind that, on my side of the river, the lights go out just before twelve.

BollyRave t-shirt

BollyRave t-shirt

This t-shirt's designed for dancing to bhangra or raving to any hip-swayingly repetitive beat. Look closely and you'll see a circle of Indian dancers in traditional pose. Truth is, you don't have to be Indian, like bhangra music or speak Punjabi to look and feel good in this designer 100% cotton tee. If you're after something different and enjoy people's admiring looks and the occasional pointed finger, then this one's for you. (via Kid Swelter)