the oilpocalypse

no, it’s not a “spill” or a “leak” when we’re at 4 million gallons of oil spewed into the gulf and counting…

ever since the deepwater horizon oil rig blew up on april 20th, and then sank on the 22nd, i’ve been trying not to spend too much time thinking about all the ways in which louisiana, the gulf coast, and the life of every person and creature contained therein is now screwed. jazz fest was a good distraction, but now that it’s over and the crisis only gets worse and worse, it’s hard to put it to the back of my mind anymore. also, it smells bad in new orleans whenever we get southerly winds. when that happens, every time you walk out of your house (and sometimes even inside your house), you are reminded again about this clusterfuck of a disaster.

i won’t go into all the latest updates or any more of a rant, cuz there are many others who are far more eloquent and have much more of a grasp of the details and scope of this disaster. if you want news, you can check’s coverage which is pretty decent. there’s no shortage of coverage in the news online, on tv/radio or in print. details are ever-changing about the status of the effort to contain the oil and where the slick in the gulf has spread. i am not a news reporter, so i will not attempt to cover that kind of territory.

i am, however, an artist and intermittent t-shirt designer. so what i would like to pass along is some of the early response from my more successful peers, all of whom are donating proceeds of their oilpocalypse-inspired designs to organizations helping with the disaster response.

the first shirt i saw was from shultzilla, called “built to spill” and featuring a play on the “drill baby drill” stupidity of certain boneheads on the far-right end of the political spectrum. i think it’s clever but it doesn’t resonate graphically with me personally, though i appreciate the visual and word play involved. he says he’s donating proceeds to some local organization involved in the response, but he hasn’t figured out which one yet. (he’s taking suggestions.)

the second one i saw was fleurty girl’s “rescue me” sea turtle shirt (above). the graphic is cute while still making its point very effectively; she printed them using soy inks, so as not to utilize any petroleum products; and she’s donating 100% of the profits to the Audubon Institute’s Louisiana Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP). i follow her on twitter, where i read that she got 500 pre-orders for the shirt almost immediately after putting up the web link, and she’s already sold 1000 of them, adding up to a $10,000 donation (so far) to LMMSTRP, which is frigging amazing. all in just a few days this week. i have to be honest – i haven’t always been the biggest fan of fleurty girl’s designs, graphically, but as a business she won me over during the whole “who dat” controversy and i was genuinely glad for her that it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to her business. and now this. this is pretty amazing, to have raised so much money so fast for such a great cause. it’s a wonderful example of how one person – or one very small business – can make a huge difference. and, well, validates the power of design via the t-shirt. i tip my squeegee to you and your entire team, lauren thom. keep up the good work!

but then thursday, i saw blake haney of dirty coast tweeting their new design. that day, it looked like this:

i LOVED the appropriation of the familiar tobasco hot sauce label logo to read “fiasco” (which several bloggers and tweeps have been using as their icons in the past few days). and i loved that it was a take-off of dirty coast‘s own make wetlands not war design that was popular post-katrina. (i always wanted to get one of the prints of this design to frame for my walls.) but then friday, as i was starting to write this blog entry, when i went to pull up all the reference pages including theirs, this is what i found:

so i guess something made them change it between thursday and friday. i still like it, though, despite the loss of the “fiasco” cleverness. and since i never got one of the “make wetlands not war” shirts, i’m happy to pick up one of these. this oil disaster isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and i’ve long been a critic of the oil industry and our continued drilling off the coast of louisiana (and elsewhere), so it won’t go out of fashion. dirty coast is donating proceeds of this design to the united commercial fisherman’s association, too, which makes me feel even better about indulging in a t-shirt purchase. (update: as of sunday afternoon, none of the now three variations i’ve seen of this design are available on the dirty coast website. i have an email into blake to find out what’s going on over there, but haven’t heard back. will update again when i know what the status is.)

i started writing this post on friday. yesterday, i decided to head down to the rally in lafayette square put on by the sierra club in response to the oil disaster. i heard about it via facebook but worried that the word hadn’t really gotten out about it. also, it was scheduled for a saturday, which in this town is never good for a protest/demonstration/rally. we woke up late yesterday after a big night of movie-watching (iron man 2) on friday night, so i didn’t actually arrive until about an hour into the event, which was scheduled for 12pm – 2pm.

these gals were standing out on st. charles across from gallier hall, getting motorists to honk in support. a handful of various environmental non-profits were set up, getting folks to sign petitions and handing out literature to educate people about what their organizations were doing in response to the disaster. there was a stage set up on the st. charles side, but i missed most of the music and all of the speakers. eventually, mardi gras indian big chief monk boudreaux did come on stage for a set.

i’m not really sure how much of a crowd was there earlier in the proceedings, but by the time i got there, it was dwindling. i’d say a hundred at the most. aside from the non-profit tables, there was this huge banner laid out on the ground and folks were asked to sign it with their thoughts on the disaster. the banner read “this is your crude awakening.” i didn’t really catch what they were going to do with the banner, or which group was sponsoring it. but i liked the idea, nonetheless.

i stuck around for about 45 minutes, long enough to hear the opening number by the big chief and to get my free “clean it up” t-shirt from the sierra club, after signing their petition.

simple. to the point. and i like the color. now if i can just get my noggin to thinking so i can come up with my own t-shirt design about all this. i feel like i’d rather go in a more positive direction, like the “save the coast,” “defend the coast,” or “save the wetlands,” but all i keep thinking is something along the lines of “when are we ever going to learn?” i’m mad and sad – heartbroken, really – at the same time, so i’m not really sure how to capture that in a t-shirt. but i’ll keep thinking.

3 thoughts on “the oilpocalypse

  1. Great post! Interesting to see the chronological play-by-play. It is quite amazing that so many local artists/businesses are jumping on this bandwagon. The difference we can make! I was blown away by how quickly our “Rescue Me” shirts have sold. Audubon was very particular and we went through several ideas and revisions, right down to the amount of oil splatter. (They made me reduce the amount of splatter in one revision). In the end, the shirt did exactly what was intended, it made people want to help and do good. It made people feel a part of the rescue effort just by buying a t-shirt. I’ll let you know our final tally. We’ve sold 1300 shirts up to this point, which is $3k over our initial goal. Truly blown away. Thanks for including us in your post. I hope it inspires others to get involved too. You never know just what you can do until you just do it.

  2. thanks lauren! definitely let us know your final tally. as more local t-shirt makers come up with designs, i hope to continue to spotlight them.

  3. Hi there! Thanks for the mention in your blog. We’re glad to see that the community is taking a strong interest in supporting the artists and/or businesses in the effort to raise awareness about how badly the oil spill is affecting our coast. Our ‘Built to Spill’ tshirt is a step away from our typically humorous one-liners as we definitely feel it was necessary to take a more serious approach in this situation. After receiving tons of suggestions of orgs to donate the money to- the Humane Society of Louisiana has graciously accepted our offer to support their organization.

    Drill baby drill; spill baby spill.

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