Typographia's tees are available with all sorts of designs and in a variety of colors — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Been there, seen it, got the T-shirt! It’s the ubiquitous souvenir, a tourist’s calling card of destinations reached and places visited.
Often stenciled with a naff, throwaway message and conveyer-belt produced to please the masses, the holiday T-shirt is a much-maligned memento. And for the more discerning traveller, it's probably even a no-no.
Typographia's merchandise includes this print – the nearest thing you'll get to a traditional souvenir Lisbon T-shirt — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Indeed, thus humble clothes store is currently the short-sleeved star of Lisbon’s vibrant shopping scene.
The fact that it’s an independent business helps. No global brands here, thank you. Familiar, high-street fashion it is definitely not.
Instead, Typographia appeals to the free spirited, those with originality running through their veins.
You see, each T-shirt is emblazoned with artwork straight out of left field, produced by a designer whose reputation depends on how unconventional they are, how non-conformist.
Homage to Warhol: Compello's Portuguese soups — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
No "I Love Lisbon" castoffs in their portfolio.
Rather, how about wearing a profile of enigmatic poet Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s absinthe-soaked wordsmith, whose outline is illustrated by a circa-1930 black and white photograph of the elegantly proportioned arcades surrounding the city’s landmark Praça do Comércio?
Don’t read poetry? Okay. So perhaps you look better wrapped in a Compello’s soup tin T-shirt, which promotes caldo verde, sopa da pedra and other favourite Portuguese broths.
No matter that the idea nods towards Warhol’s famous 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans pop art, this clever copy offers visitors a taste of Portuguese culture in a wonderfully original manner.
"The Beetles" cross Abbey Road, one of the surreal designs printed on Typographia T-shirts — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
And for those who do actually want a T-shirt that shouts Lisbon, there's one for sale stenciled with cut-out images of much-loved city landmarks: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Arco da Rua Augusta and the impressive Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge, to mention a few.
But even here, the artist has thrown in a couple of anomalies, a VW camper van and a ticket stub for somewhere or something. The travel connotation, though, is obvious.
Some prints (like the aforementioned Compello’s soup motif) owe their influence to already celebrated images by famous artists and photographers.
For example, check out the Abbey Road "Beetles" image, where the Fab Four’s faces have been replaced with those of bugs, with apologies to Iain MacMillan, the photographer who took the iconic album cover picture in 1969.
A smiling Clockwork Orange – the antithesis of the violent and disturbing film — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
The majority of designs verge on the abstract, even surreal. There’s one that depicts the schematics of a twin cassette tape recorder. Another has emptied the contents of a photographer’s bag and arranged the equipment as if to illustrate a survival kit.
"Framed & Famous” is a montage of celebrities wearing glasses or spectacles, with Michael Caine, Janis Joplin and even Gandhi among those portrayed. Iconic logos have been given a makeover.
Look for the sinister Clockwork Orange motif, now a bright tangerine smiley face replete with wind-up key!
In this shop, the imagination has been allowed to run riot.
Off the rack and ready to wear, some of the T-shirts are almost monochrome — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
The concept behind Typographia is ridiculously simple. Ideas for T-shirt designs are encouraged from young creative types around the world.
Each is charged with developing a theme around a particular destination, although veering off at a tangent is obviously tolerated, as some of the more whacky, non-specific patterns testify. This collective pool of local and international talent is developing a unique approach to the art of designing and printing tees.
The T-shirts for sale in Lisbon can only be purchased in the Portuguese capital, so they're inherently unique. Similarly, clothing stocked in Typographia’s stores in Madrid and Barcelona are exclusive to those cities.
A plan to open a boutique in Oporto, in northern Portugal, is currently being sketched out.
Typographia’s blank canvas is 100% fine Jersey cotton. The only “label” the company likes to boast of is its environmentally-friendly tag: the ink used is water based!
So, are you a budding designer or illustrator reading this? Typographia is always on the lookout for new submissions. So if you think your imagination would look good on a T-shirt, then get in touch via the Typographia website.
Typographia's minimalist interior — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt