This is the first in a series of interviews with POD shopkeepers who talk about their motivations, their passions and of course, their t-shirt shops. This interview is with Barry S. Goldberg, owner and creator of Barry’s World. His quick wit and keen eye for the surreal has enabled him to produce a seemingly never-ending supply of fun and wacky t-shirts. When you finish reading this article be sure to head over to Barry’s World. You won’t be disappointed.
Since: March 2006
“a peek deep inside my brain”
I originally opened my store to provide an outlet for my creativity. I’ve spent years creating bizarre images in Photoshop for various on-line contests and my brain is constantly filled to bursting with new ideas, wacky sayings, surreal designs, etc. My store is basically a peek deep inside my brain, which is why it’s called “Barry’s World.” There’s really no unifying theme, except that everything in the store is a product of my creativity and speaks to me in some way. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, so much of my humor is influenced by those decades, but I never know when inspiration will strike next or from where.
“Dude! I *love* your shirt!”
My favorite story is something that happened last summer while my wife, son and I were at the beach. We were walking along the road leading to the beach when I noticed two vaguely scruffy-looking guys in the early to mid 20s walking toward us and staring at us. The closer they got, the more they stared, and I was starting to get a bit uncomfortable until they finally stopped in front of us and one said, “Dude! I *love* your shirt! Where did you get it?”
Well, the shirt was one of my own designs, naturally (this one, to be exact), and after I got over the shock I whipped out one of my handy business cards (yes, I even carry them when I’m at the beach).
“you like me! You really like me!”
My best memory is simply when I sold my first shirt to a complete stranger, thereby validating my belief that people would actually like my stuff enough to pay for it. Or, to quote Sally Field, the moment I realized that you like me! You really like me!
“nebulous plans for world domination”
I do what I do because I enjoy it. The fact that I can do what I enjoy and make money at the same time, well, that’s pretty amazing to me. Aside from some nebulous plans for world domination, my ambition is really to just keep doing what I’m doing as long as I can. I doubt I will ever run out of new ideas to put on shirts, so hopefully people will keep buying them from me.
The first shirt (“Suicidal Snake”) is really the design that got the whole store started in the first place. I created the image for an on-line Photoshop contest and it did so well that I decided to try putting it on a shirt and see if anybody would be willing to buy it. Over the years I think I’ve sold a grand total of maybe two shirts with this design, but it still holds a special place in my heart…
The second shirt (“Killer Strawberry”) is just a classic example of my warped brain in action. If you think Killer Tomatoes are bad, you ain’t seen nothing!
The third shirt (“Meerkat Trio”) is just something that makes me smile whenever I see it. I love working with animals, and it was just so much fun to get those cute little critters to stand like that and play their instruments while I took their picture…
The fourth shirt (“Pierced Tongue Burster”) is a representative sample from my line of “Chest Burster” designs. I don’t know why, but I just love the idea of various unexpected objects bursting out of somebody’s chest, whether it be a pierced tongue, a baby duckling, a pointing finger, a loaded gun, or what have you.
The fifth shirt (“Softball Chick”) is part of my “Sports Chick” line, since everybody loves a cute chick who’s totally into sports, right?
The sixth shirt (“American Rose”) is part of my “Rose By Any Other Name” series that I thought up one day while fiddling with Photoshop. The image is actually quite complex, with over 50 individual layers, but the effect worked so well I just had to put it on a shirt.