When started making Shakespeare geek merchandise as part of Amazon’s merchandise program back in April of this year I had no idea how it would go. I’m no graphic designer. At best I had the strength and popularity of one particular quote I thought might do well. So I started throwing anything I could think of up onto a shirt and seeing what happens. I’m actually quite happy with the results, and I hope that the hundreds of people out there who purchased are happy with what they received in return. I still harbor hope of bumping into strangers wearing a shirt I created.
Since it’s a slow week to close out the year I thought I’d take a look at my sales numbers and see what the most popular Shakespeare geek merchandise turned out to be. In all examples below, click the image to visit Amazon if you’d like one for yourself!
Right now Amazon’s got something weird happening with their inventory where they’ve drastically cut back on how merch vendors (like me) are indexed. What that means is that while I have nearly 100 designs with them, only about two dozen are visible at the moment. And even with that, some of them are out of stock. I hope they get it together soon because they also have a “delist shirts that haven’t sold in XX days” policy that hasn’t changed, which makes no sense to me — if people can’t see my designs then, of course, they can’t buy them!
Got Dagger? This idea actually came out of a Twitter conversation, from one of my followers. I asked permission to use it on a shirt, and people seemed to like it. Amazon looks like they’re having trouble sourcing the long sleeve shirts right now (most of them say currently unavailable) but hopefully that will be remedied after the holidays.
Mercutio Drew First! The Sequel This is the one that brought me to the dance, so to speak, but it’s not the original. People had told me that they didn’t like the Star Wars font of the original, which I wouldn’t have expected because isn’t it a Star Wars joke? But I aim to please, so I made a few versions with different fonts and they seem to have been popular enough to make the list.
Bard Core Who knew? I was walking through a department store one day and saw some kind of skater / surfer shirt that said “Hard Core” on it and thought, “Can I do something Shakespearey with that?” So I threw “Bard Core” onto a shirt. Sure enough, people liked it!
Elsinore Was An Inside Job I have to say, I think this is my favorite shirt even though nobody seems to get it. I wanted to do a play on the 9-11 conspiracy meme (jet fuel can’t melt unbated and envenomed steel?), and this is what I came up with. That’s actually the silhouette of the real Kronborg castle, but I don’t know how many people are going to recognize that. The smoke plume and the gun sight seem a little mixed message, I know. But I wanted to break it up with some color.
Warning! Quotes Shakespeare When Drunk This one was another Twitter group effort (from the same evening that gave us “Got Dagger?”) People seem to like the long sleeve version more than the short sleeve, so I hope Amazon gets its act together and restocks soon!
Swords Don’t Kill People (Unbated and Envenom’d Swords Kill People) I’m so happy this one found an audience. I just like everything about it – the image, the font, the way the top part catches your attention and the bottom delivers the punchline. I hope somewhere there’s a fencing team wearing it to competition.
Quince & Snug & Flute & Snout & Bottom & Starveling I made a whole bunch of these after seeing this particular style (just a list of names with & at the end of each line) pop up everywhere. I don’t understand where it came from, I thought it was part of some viral tv show. Turns out it’s been around forever. There’s another design I made that has Hermia & Helena & Demetrius & Lysander, which I thought surely would have been more popular, but this is the winner (for this particular style, at least).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream I guess Dream is just a popular choice for Shakespeare t-shirts. This one, as you can see, is really more about the cool center graphic. It’s hard to tell from the thumbnail, but the decoration around the edge is the names of the characters, all properly in balance with Bottom on top and Puck on bottom. Lots of discussion over whether Bottom should be on the bottom, but I personally like it better this way. Shows the importance of Bottom to the play, while leaving in the silly nature of Puck who I think would enjoy hanging out upside down. Do it in the reverse and you make Puck the central figure, and no matter how much you like Puck, I don’t think that was Shakespeare’s point.
Shakespeare Makes Life Better I love that this one is popular. It’s a very simple idea – doesn’t even have a picture of Shakespeare, just a quill pen. But it’s also the heart of this site, so if any of these designs is going to deliver the message I’m trying to get across, let it be this one.
And the winner, to no great surprise, is…
Mercutio Drew First (The Original) Maybe it’s because I promote this one the most, or because it’s been around the longest with the most links. Or maybe it really is the most popular all on its own. I think I started using this one back as early as 2008, but didn’t have shirts until 2010. It’s been ripped off plenty of times since then, so if you do like it, remember to look for the original!
So that’s it! The most popular Shakespeare geek merchandise of 2017. If you see anything above that you’d like, or that someone you know might like, please click the images to visit Amazon! Once there you can browse around the “recommended” and “people also bought” links to see many of the other designs not listed here, in case something else strikes your fancy.
Thanks as always for your support (of both the site and the mission) and I’ll see everybody in 2018!