Birthday Tshirts as gifts

Over the years, I’ve ended up making gift custom tshirts for friends.  In each case, it started out as a “hey wouldn’t this be funny if…” type of scenario, and then actually going through with it.

The first one, which is actually the first gift shirt I’ve ever done, was for my good friend Alex for a surprise 30th birthday party.  We were visiting Montreal and our job was to keep Alex distracted while the restaurant was being set up.  When we walked in and could finally remove our coats, my girlfriend (now wife) could reveal the T-shirts we made for the occasion.


Upon showing Alex’s fiancée the design of Alex’s head over the Pittsburgh Penguin’s head, she mentions that she’d like one too and that they could use them for their engagement photos.  Both of them having shirts with his face on it seems uneven so I made a shirt for her based on her beloved Montreal Canadiens.


Glad that she had initials that worked.

The last birthday Tshirt gift, or shall I say, the latest, was for our friend Melissa.  She’s rather the baker and we wanted something cute that would reflect her creativity, friendly and welcoming disposition and, most importantly, something she would wear.


Soft dessert-inspired pallet using the the black on a white shirt to make the letters pop yet still seem soft.  Also, the caricature turned out fantastic, and I’m terrible at these typically.  The birthday shirt thing has become “a thing” amongst friends.  No, I don’t do it every year, just when it’s special.  In fact, Mel was hoping for a shirt.


Tax Planning Using Family Trusts & Building Value In Your Company

At work, from time to time, the opportunity comes along to create something with a unique identity all its own.  Many of the publications are annuals, and the design doesn’t afford much fluctuation year to year.  I have been fortunate to work on two publications that didn’t quite fit the mold.


Sometimes an idea comes that you hope the client likes, however, creatively, is very satisfying.  Taking a queue from the title of ‘building’, the idea of LEGO comes to mind, channeling childhood memories.  And, as fate would have it, the family moved out of the old house, and with it comes purging.  Out of the items salvaged would be a LEGO collection that is 20 years old.  Out come the bricks and a dollar sign was constructed.  And yes, that’s my hand.  The one that the author and I liked the most had a LEGO guy waving to me, however it was ultimately vetoed for the one without a LEGO guy.


Tax Planning Using Family Trusts afforded the opportunity to go in a different direction.  The client requested something bright happy colours and it must have been a very sunny day as this is what came about.  Using the universal icons of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ bathroom symbols (there’s probably a proper name for them), created a few kids, et voila, family!

Gettin’ hitched!

The latest work that I’ve been putting my creative energies in has to be the wedding website for my beautiful fiancée and myself.  has been live since late July and it has been a labour of love and an adventure in responsive design.

We wanted a website to reflect our personalities: cute, fun, engaging, entertaining, funny, creative, different and dynamic (well, she is).  The colour scheme is built around Mari’s favourite colour, purple, which is the colour that the bridesmaids are going to wear.  From there, a secondary palette was built.  The soccer theme is my nerdity in full swing.  When it is all done, the collateral will involve two soccer badges (logos) the website, invitations, RSVP cards, thank you cards, items for the banquet hall and customized soccer jerseys.

The learning curve in a responsive design is a tremendous one, and once I get around to making a blog for this site, I will be sure to explain my follies and hope to provide insight to anyone looking to try their hand at this.  Responsive design just means making a webpage/website that responds to the width of the viewport of your browser.  In lesser geek speak, it means it’s one web page that appears differently from your desktop to your iPad to your Android Galaxy S3.

I’ll post the jerseys once they come in.  They’re gonna be awesome. (I’m biased, to be fair)

markandmari-screenshot markandmari-rsvp markandmari-invitation

Hamilton Steelers replica 1986

So I made a jersey.

The short version of the story is, the Hamilton Steelers is the reason why I have a love of soccer.  When they died, and ultimately the national league died, I reached across the pond for my fix.  The Steelers’ home stadium was 10 blocks away, Brian Timmis Stadium, a.k.a. Ivor Wynne’s parking lot, and I went to many games.

I always wanted a Steeler’s jersey as a kid, but what kid has $50 kicking around in 1991?  Not this one.  Anyways, I will forever have to settle for the next best thing… making one.

The first dilemma was recreating the logo.  I’m sure it was designed with the best intentions, but clearly symmetry and continuity were not on the menu as this appears to be drawn by hand.

Taken from Wikipedia

It was a labour of love/insanity, and a quest as a logo geek, that got me to this spot. Since I understood the logo to be hand drawn, I had to create my own word mark for the name “Steelers”.  Attempting to maintain the subtle serifs in the original mark, but have a consistency amongst the updated version, below is the finished product.

created by Mark HinkleyDownload the .zip file of the CS4 logo here.

I once did a re-imagining of the logo (which I will post in the future) but that’s because I’m clearly insane.  So once I did up the logo, it was time to recreate the jersey.  The design was based on the photo below.Hamilton Steelers team photo, circa 1986The yellow I took a Pantone book to an old programme that I still have and this is how it turned out.  The jersey cost me $85 to make.  Totally worth it for nostalgia’s sake.  Now humouring the idea of getting into the kit-making business.

DSCN9991 DSCN9978 DSCN9980

Yorkies Set 2011

Ahhh yes, the silliness of being a footy supporter.  This work comes from the gag ‘hey, wouldn’t it be neat if we did our own soccer card set but instead of it being serious, it has all of our ridiculous gags?’

From there, it took a life of its own.  No, we did not sell them, and those who offered to “donate” were allowed to, but not more than the actual cost of the 54 card set was to produce, which was around $11 if memory serves.  They were full colour, double sided, glossy card stock.  As a collector of sports cards as a child and Magic: The Gathering (*cough*geek*cough*) as an adult, I had an appreciation for their design and how nice they would look in a binder sheet, holding a 3×3 grid of them.

Most of the jokes were only appreciated if you actually followed Toronto FC, slightly less if you followed Major League Soccer in general, and slightly more if you read the blog.  20 sets were produced and most were given away to friends and fans of the blog.

Doneil HenryBeefcake for the ladies...There's only one DeRo... though are set had 3 different cards

Gadgets to Go

At the office which I am currently employed, being a tech nerd has its perks.  People have asked me “which gaming console should I get?”, “iPhone or Android?”, and “what is the best make of printer?” (the answers are Xbox 360, Android and ‘how much do ya got?’).

This led me to being offered the chance to write a piece for the December 2011 issue for CAmagazine reviewing the latest and greatest tech and gadgetry that was available.  The biggest challenge was getting the variety of toys to play with… erm, test.  The article was well received and the editor was very happy with it.

Please click the image below to read the my submission.

Gadgets to go,, December 2011 issue


Do It For Suarez

One of my hobbies is writing match reports for a Toronto FC blog The Yorkies where I try to be ‘amusing’ as it takes the perspective of what goes on in the supporters end of the match.  When we’re bored, we make up stuff and amuse ourselves.  Nick Soolsma, who recently was released by the club, once gave an interview where the interviewer actually asked if he had any pets, which he admitted to owning a cat named Suarez. From there, cat references were fast and furious.  On a lark, I made the suggestion in twitter one day that we should make a shirt with the phrase “Do It For Suarez”, the completely fabricated legend that Soolsma only plays for the sake of his cat.  Once the shirt was made, some people actually purchased them and showed me the pics.  I think we made a whopping $1.20 commission on those…

Hamathon Ticket 2011

Hamathon 2011 ticketWe found a place that we can ordered a delicious smoked ham, or as we’ve dubbed it, epic ham. It was so good, we decided to have a holiday bash and we dubbed it “Hamathon”. We thought it would be amusing to create realistic-looking tickets (a la TicketMaster) and send them as invitations. The $375 was not the actual cost, but rather part of the joke. If we put a lower price, we certainly didn’t want people to think that we were asking them to pay. If you received tickets as invitations with the price of $20, you might be inclined to pay for them, and that was not the idea.  The tickets were well received and those that read the back were pleasantly amused.

The Scene Card trilogy

A few friends were convinced to be a part of some absurd scenarios that were each 15 seconds in length.  Who knew that storyboards for something this short could be so epic.  Special thanks to Mikey for agreeing to wear underpants outside of his jeans to add to the absurdity of the character and the scenarios.

Everything was instrumental first and foremost since it was a bilingual contest, so we can hit both sides with as little voice acting as possible.  Also, the microphone on my video camera wasn’t the strongest ever. So we made due.

Try to enjoy.

Welcome to the online portfolio of design, mischief and fleeting moments of brilliance belonging to Mark Hinkley