What do you think, too soon?
This “I Survived” Japan's tsunami t-shirt was designed by Bill Wyatt (formerly Billy Tsangares), owner of Los Angeles t-shirt shop Y-Que Trading Post. Remember the Free Winona tee? Yup. He did that one, too.
Are the shirts poor taste? Or are they art?
Wyatt isn't clueless. “I do the shirts because it gives me something to do as a reaction to the news events like this one,” he says. “But I think it is insensitive to the people who have truly been hurt and killed as a result of the tsunami and earthquake. I just can't help making low brow stuff as a strange way to document what happened.”
If people ordered it he would make and ship it. But for now, the $12 “I Survived” tee is mostly for show.
It isn't exactly flying off the shelves. “I can't tell if people really feel like they rode out a tsunami over here,” Wyatt says.
How many has he sold so far? None.
One of the first popular shirts Wyatt made was one documenting the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. He survived that quake. He made the tee immediately after: “Although it also seemed insensitive, after a week or two people really wanted them and we started a small factory printed and selling these shirts around SF. What was interesting was that nobody could go to work because the city was shut down, so it provided an income for 10-15 people who otherwise would've been sitting around talking about the earthquake.”
Wyatt is also selling a tee without the “I Survived” text.
Once things in Japan calm down a bit, Wyatt plans to send a batch of the tsunami shirts to Y-Que's sister store in Tokyo, run by his friends Hisa and Maki. He doesn't want to send the shirts too soon, however. He's worried about jinxing Japan further.
“I am still apprehensive as the events keep getting worse as it relates to the radiation,” he says. “I was glad to hear that they are okay. Sending some of these over there is the real test. I don't care if they give them away or sell them, but I still don't want to offend them either.”