Throughout human history people have always found ways to express their ideas to others. Handbills and flyers have covered city walls since the advent of the printing press. Graffiti has been around since Roman times.
In the 20th century, a new form of self expression emerged: the t-shirt. Originally introduced by the Navy in 1913, it took widespread use by soldiers in World War II to introduce the crew neck t-shirt to the public. The 1950’s were also important in the history of the t-shirt, being worn as outerwear by such stars as Marlin Brando and James Dean. In the 1960’s the t-shirt began to be used as a palette for expression. The first corporate advertising on a t-shirt was a can of Budwiser beer. There’s even a phrase for the ubiquitous nature of t-shirts as expression: “Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt”
T-shirts can be used to express political views or show musical tastes, or lack thereof. Someone wearing a John Deere t-shirt is sending a very different message from the person in the t-shirt with a character from Japanese animation. And what business doesn’t have their logo available on a shirt? People use shirts to tell others about which sports teams they like, a favorite movie or book, who their favorite NASCAR driver is, or to stop looking at their breasts. T-shirts are seen that commemorate any possible event; birthdays, weddings, (and divorces), vacations, summer camps, family reunions, the possibilities are endless.
The technology for custom t-shirt expression has never been more abundant. Kiosks in malls with full-color photo transfers, airbrush artists, online designers for custom screen printed work, they are all easily accessible and affordably priced. Whatever you want to say, there are multitudes of ways to say it on a t-shirt for everyone to see.