We’ve just released a new curled octopus T-shirt. The curled octopus organic cotton t-shirts have become our best sellers by far and we love all the positive feedback we get about them. We’re beyond excited to know that our octopus t-shirts are being worn around the world. In Australia, America, Spain, UK, Germany, Denmark and other countries too.
To mark the release of the our third version of the Curled octopus T-shirt, we thought we’d tell you a little more about our brand name, our logo and why we came to put art on t-shirts in the first place!
Why Lifeforms Art?
The name Lifeforms came about in 1998 when I left full time employment to become a freelance natural history model maker for museums, zoos and nature centres. This work applied to all life, giving us the first part of the name, and the core of a model, or museum sculpture or specimen is called a ‘form’ from the process of ‘forming’. These fit nicely together as lifeforms with a little hint of star trek flittering about it. The name worked just as well for the conservation work we have been involved in for more than 20 years.
Lifeforms Art began in 2017 as a project to help fund our ongoing conservation work for threatened invertebrates.
There are horrible ups and downs with intermittent funding. It effects our efforts to conserve and understand species perilously close to extinction in our own country. This made us realise that raising awareness for threatened species and nature – the wild – is just as important, if not more so than our direct conservation management, which is, to quote Sean Lock, “like bringing a dustpan and brush to an earthquake.”
What we need is new naturalists, lots of them. The wild needs our help more than ever before as it disappears into the white noise of an electronic age. An age that is ruled by people who move about mostly on wheels, without touching the earth and see the world not as leaves and muscles but as data viewed through bright computer screens.
The messages we receive seem to sit at two contradictory extremes:
- It’s hopeless, the world is ruined
- It’s OK experts have got it all in hand, just keep watching and giving us your money
This leaves us and many others frustrated. We want to actually help, make a difference, be part of the wild not just have it shown to us in decay or protection. Lifeforms Art is about hope, change and action.
The Lifeforms Art Logo – Curly
Our first step was one we’d tried before, casts. We make replicas in plaster of Paris of things we find; footprints, leaves, beach-finds etc; and we built up a collection over many years of a range of interesting artefacts. We thought these might be a way of enlightening children to the wonders of nature by selling them for pocket money as collectables with an information card that might turn the collector into a new naturalist hungry for more information and more experience of ‘The Wild’.
Our most popular cast was Curly the octopus – she’s a curled or lesser octopus more common in British seas than the better known common octopus which is larger. We found her dead in the debris of the tideline after a storm and made a plaster replica. You can read more about that in an earlier blog. She was popular not just with children but with adults, people we expected might just walk past.
We discussed awareness further; how can we get people talking about nature and conservation and fund our projects. Books disappear onto shelves, Televisions are electronic and get switched off, most art is in galleries or private places only viewed by those who seek to view it.
Art on a T-shirt
People comment on each other’s lives; ‘what did you do at the weekend’, ‘I like your top, is it new?’; that kind of thing. If we could place nature there, we might get people talking about it and valuing it more. So I drew Curly as a picture and we had her printed onto a T-shirt, a 100% organic cotton t-shirt of course. Along with Curly, we reconstructed the life of the extinct Great Auk, and sought to epitomise the new naturalist’s curiosity with a stickleback, a tiddler in a jar. Swimming with dolphins features high on many bucket lists and we thought swimming in dolphins might be a good way to keep cetacean on the human agenda so we put the 3 most commonly seen British cetacean on a T-shirt too. For each T-shirt we produced an accompanying notebook with information.
The job of the T-shirt is to spark conversation about nature, the notebook does a similar job but provides more information and a place to record thoughts, intentions and discoveries. We produced them to the highest ethical standards we could find and afford; and so Lifeforms Art was born…
Let’s talk about the wild. If you like it, wear it!