Thursday, September 29, 2011


The next few designs I wanted to create were based on the simple idea of showing a neurotransmitter and having a small tagline below the molecular structure.  The first one that came to mind was serotonin and the phrase "I'm sleepy".  While serotonin has tons of neurological functions, including regulating sleep, mood and various other behavioural traits, I think the one most people think of is for sleep (unless you're familiar with depression and SSRI's).  The challenge here was coming up with simple, yet attractive design for the molecular structure.  There were a few options:

The first option was to do a line drawing of the serotonin molecule.  Something like this.  Unfortunately, it's a little too simplistic for what I'm going for, and it's a little too technical.  Furthermore, it's not that visually appealing.

The second option was to do a space filling model in which each of the atoms filled the space in which they typically occupy in real-life.  That would look something like this second picture.  While this was technically accurate in terms of it's size, it doesn't look like what most people would think of as a molecule.  Also, it's also not the most attractive thing to look at.  It looks like some kind of weird centipede or scantipede or slugipede or something...  You know?

The last, and I think the best, option was the good-old ball-and-stick model.  It's what you see in high-school chemistry, there are actual ball-and-stick model kits out there to actually play with, and I think it's what most people envision when they think about a molecule.  Furthermore, it's 3D, rather than a simple 2D drawing.  I drew inspiration from the picture you see here, however the extra colors denoting the oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen atoms was a little distracting.  To simplify it and make it more appealing, I went for increasing the size of the "balls" and making everything a single color.  The oxygen and nitrogen atoms were increased in size slightly, while the hydrogen atoms were shrunk.  Then, by rotating the atom a little bit, you get some nice 3D depth.  Finally, to make the ball and sticks visible, I just had to add a little bit of a stroke to the balls so that you get a nice little separation between the balls and sticks.

So, in the end, you get a final product that looks like this:

Pretty cool huh?  After serotonin, I made some a few others based on dopamine, acetylcholine, gaba, and epinephrine.  I think they came out quite well.  Something any molecular/cellular neuroscientist might be proud to wear.

The neuroscience shirt collection

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


So here's the story so far:

I'm a huge fan of geeky/witty/clever/cool t-shirts. One day I thought it would be great to find a cool neuroscience t-shirt since that's what I spend most of my day thinking about. So I looked online but really couldn't find much. Generic t-shirts that said "neuroscience" or pictures of neurons really weren't my style. Since I've had some success designing t-shirts for my lab and for other small events, I decided to take a stab and creating a neuroscience t-shirt I'd be proud to wear. Drawing inspiration from this shirt and this old picture, I came up with The Many Moods of a Neuron.

So, I started looking for places to print my new shirt and noticed that if I bought in bulk, the cost was much much lower. That led me to the idea of buying a ton of shirts and selling the m myself. "How fun would that be?" I thought. But then I realized it actually wouldn't be very fun. I'd have to keep a big stock of shirts at my apartment, mail them out whenever someone ordered one, take care of processing web transactions, and maintain the website for selling them. I know I'm a grad student and I don't have restrictions on too much of my time, but if I tried to run a t-shirt business from scratch, my adviser would probably kick me out of his group.

I gave up on the idea for a while until I stumbled upon Cafepress. This site takes care of all the fulfillment themselves, so that all I have to do is design the shirts, design the website, and market it. The downside is that they take the majority of the profits, so I only make a few bucks per shirt sold. "Oh well" I thought, and I spent a good week creating the storefront and more designs. And thus was born Necessary and Sufficient Apparel. If they sell well, I'll take a stab at stocking my own shirts, fulfilling my own orders, and selling at a lower prices while keeping more profits myself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chronicles of Combining Science and T-shirts

So I'll be starting to document my journey in starting up a science t-shirt design shop and all its trials and tribulations. While I don't expect it to be the most interesting thing in the world, it'll be a good place for me to put into words the various though processes that are going on in my mind. At the very least, I'll have something to read many years into the future and I'll be able to reflect on how stupid I was as a youngster.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Necessary and Sufficient Apparel

I've just launched a small shop of nerdy/geeky science/math/engineering related t-shirts at Necessary and Sufficient Apparel. Hurrah! For all the geeks out there, check out some of the designs. So far, there's a few neuroscience designs and some other cool things. Check us out!