Limited Edition: Brackets “Self Help” Tee

Article by: Adam Lehman

Limited Edition: Brackets “Self Help” Tee

I wanted to do something special to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Brackets open source project, so I spent part of my sabbatical producing a t-shirt. I’m a bit of a t-shirt snob, so slapping a logo on a Hanes beefy tee just wouldn’t do. I wanted a Brackets tee that I would actually wear day-to-day (not just for conferences and nerd meetups).


I spend a lot of time browsing sites like DeviantArt, Behance and Dribble looking for inspiration for projects or presentations I’m working on. More recently, I’ve been browsing for art to decorate my office and home. Late last year I can across this awesome painting of Mario on a throne of consoles by Aaron Jasinski.

Throne of Games - Aaron Jasinski
Throne of Games by Aaron Jasinski

A month or so later I ran into his work again (hanging in a local pizza shop) and decided to do some research. I was pretty blown away by his collection which is mostly focused on surreal 80s childhood memories. However, one piece in particular really spoke to me.

Self Help by Aaron Jasinski
Self Help by Aaron Jasinski

“Self Help” depicts a robot repairing itself, which to me, is what open source is all about. We use Brackets every day to build Brackets and this image described that idea better than I ever could with words. Once I saw the painting, I knew I wanted to incorporate it into *something* Brackets-related. When the t-shirt project came up, I knew just what to do.

Using the internets I tracked Aaron Jasinski down and asked if he’d be interested in licensing the piece. Not only was he happy to license the image, he also wanted to help with the production. Turns out he’s just as good with Adobe Illustrator as he is with a paint brush. He digitally converted the painting into a format / design we could use on a shirt.


As mentioned above, I obsess over t-shirts. One place that’s taken more of my money than I care to admit is United Pixelworkers. If you aren’t familiar with this Pittsburgh-based shop, they produce *the* best t-shirts for the web design and development community. Not only do they produce great designs, but the production quality of the shirts is some of the best I’ve seen. So when it came time to print the shirts, I asked them if they would hook me up with their printer, and they did!

As far as I know, Clockwise Tees produces all of the UnitedPixelworkers shirts (at least all the ones I own). One a couple of my shirts, I noticed that they had used a different technique to imprint the design that I really liked. Using a water-based ink, they basically dye the shirt instead of printing a layer of color on top. This lets the design take on the texture of the shirt and avoids that plastic-y feel you get with most screen sprints. Overall, it produces a softer more “vintage” feel.

This is probably the 7th or 8th shirt I’ve made for a software project, but probably my favorite. It was a lot of fun to work with Aaron Jasinski and the team at Clockwise (especially Ron). I’ve caught a lot of crap for working through my sabbatical, but sitting around doing nothing wasn’t my idea of relaxation. For me, having creative control to work on a project like this with no deadlines and no pressure was exactly what I needed.

I hope everyone likes the shirt, but as I mentioned above, I kinda made it just for me. 😛

Brackets Self Help Tee
Brackets “Self Help” Tee

PS. I dare not forget my awesome wife, Rachel Lehman, who laid the shirt out and got the artwork ready for production.

Where To Get One

We gave a few out at Adobe MAX and Google IO and everyone at JSConf *should* get one in their bag upon registration. Outside of those events, everyone who has contributed to Brackets in the first year should get one in the mail. A surprise I probably gave away when I emailed everyone a one-question survey about their shirt size. I hope to get those mailed out by mid-June.

We probably won’t do another run of this exact design, but I am working with the folks at United Pixelworkers to sell a similar design on (where proceeds go to the artist, Aaron Jasinski), so stay tuned.

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