Guest Blog: Retro Review & the All Over Christmas Sweaters

Guest Blog: Retro Review & the All Over Christmas Sweaters

Sublimation Printed All Over Christmas Gaming Sweaters – By Retro Review

It’s a cold November night here in the UK and I’m writing this wonderfully festive Christmas article for my friends at Design By Humans.

Like always I have a cinnamon scented candle lit and the radio playing away with a collection of blues blaring out. I should probably change it to Christmas music for inspiration but for me, oldschool blues make words flow much better from my keyboard.

About Retro Review & The 12 Games of Christmas Kickstarter

Sorry I completely forgot to introduce myself! My name is Matt, many of you know me by my artist name Retro Review. I’m a graphic designer and web designer from South Yorkshire in the UK. For those of you from across the pond if you close your eyes and imagine the North from Game of Thrones you’ll have a good idea of where I’m from.

In fact, Sean Bean’s nephew owns a chippy down the road… seriously, no joke! I might even stop off for some fish and chips once I’ve told you all about this year’s project, but first I need to tell you about how I got here in this newsletter.

Last year I had a most triumphant Kickstarter called the 12 Games of Christmas. When I was in my mid 20s and Christmas had started to lose the spark that it once had, a friend of mine bought me a retro game that I used to have as a kid. As I tore open his terribly wrapped present, I had a moment of pure nostalgia when I saw it. I felt like a kid again!

I wanted to bring that nostalgia and Christmas feeling to gamers all over the world. Whether that’s in the form of a shirt that instantly makes people in public scream “wow I remember that game” to a Christmas card for your friends and family that reminds them of their favourite Christmas present as a kid.

With the help of friends and family, I hit the goal on the Christmas cards and before I knew it I was individually packing thousands of cards into little plastic wallets to send out to the backers. It was super fun… honest. I even made it through the entire Harry Potter anthology whilst packaging them with my girlfriend. I still have a few left in my Etsy, but stock is super limited now.

The Design By Human’s All Over Christmas Sweater Collection

Now you’ve caught up and got to know me a little better, I need to tell you about an awesome collection I’m running with Design By Humans this year. I made good friends with their team last year and they were super-duper supportive of my Kickstarter. I knew I wanted to work with them this year and had a plan for something never done before by indie artists like me.

I had originally planned on just expanding my range of 12 designs to 20 but as always I got carried away! I was mocking up my Frogger design onto a shirt and accidentally expanded it across the entire shirt. I instantly fell in love with the idea of sublimation printing my designs. Straight away I dropped Cassie over at Design By Humans a message along with the Frogger shirt design asking if they would be interested in printing them this holiday season.

Before I knew it, I was deep into the rabbit hole being introduced to even more of the team over at Design By Humans. Many of you at home may not realise, but there are a lot of guys over there that work so well together. My work was passed from person to person like a well-oiled machine and with my background in design, marketing and web design I teamed up with each of them to create something that I’m really proud to be talking to you about today.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, I think I need to go back a bit. So after the email with Cassie, I was introduced to Josh in their design department. He sent me this sublimation sweater template that took me a good few days to get my head around. Imagine unstitching your favourite sweater and looking at it sprawled out all across the bedroom floor… Don’t try this at home, it isn’t as cool as you think and you’ll only end up ruining your favourite sweater.

I don’t think myself or Josh had worked with this template before and with the concept being so crazy and new, we weren’t fully sure how it would turn out until the samples came back in from the printer in America; but boy were we happy when it came in! The first one hot off the press was my Frogger design, the one that started off this entire mission in the first place. I actually have it on right now whilst I write this.

So once the sample came through and I made some minor tweaks involving cropping issues, I was good to go on the others. One by One I went through the designs. For each design there were seven sizes and in total there were 24 designs (if you count the colour variations) by my calculation that’s 168 mock-ups I had to create! It was no easy task, but by the end of it I could do them with my eyes closed…. perhaps not with my eyes closed. I tried doing so around mock-up number 80 and Stevie Wonder’s dog wouldn’t even wear it.

But once again I digress, the mock-ups were completed and printed in good ol’ US of A and right now I’m super stoked to be telling you about the collection.

What Inspired The All Over Christmas Sweater Games Chosen

Now I’ve had a few people ask me about why I chose the designs included in the collection, so I’ll briefly talk about some of them here.


5 Gold Rings

The 5 gold rings design was inspired by my Christmas of 1992. My parents bought me a Mega Drive 2 and a copy of my favourite game of all time Sonic 2. Every time I see the game on my shelf it brings me back to that wonderful Christmas morning. I was 6 years old and as always I couldn’t sleep because “Santa had been”.

I scuttled across the living room to the Christmas tree where there was a large wrapped box with my name on. I tore it open, throwing paper everywhere in a similar way to how Garfield eats lasagne. According to my parents, it was worse than the internet’s infamous Nintendo 64 kid.

I know I’m not the only one who had memories like this on Christmas day and this is why I really got into designing geeky nostalgia driven Christmas Sweaters. Fun fact, my sister that year got a spinning paint art set and we got a blue Turkey… but that’s a story for another time.

OH NO! It’s Christmas

This was one of the hardest to design, but was made with a lot of love. Lemmings to me was a game I would play religiously as a kid. Before I had any of the gaming consoles I have today, I used to spend a lot of time playing on the Amiga 1200. For you younger kids out there it’s like the equivalent of a PC today but beige. Everything back then was beige. No cool Alienware, lights all over the place, in uber bright colours! We only had one choice, it didn’t matter what it looked like though, it mattered what it could do. The Amiga 1200 was amazingly powerful for its time and I have a number of Christmas designs (some not in this collection but in my profile) inspired by games I played on this magnificent beast of a machine.

So this design took a while; when you look at it, you may be thinking “Why did it take you so long Mr. Retro Review?” Well my friends, this design started out as a classic typical Nordic Sweater. The kind your grandmother would knit you, the kind you wouldn’t have been caught wearing in school.

I took the Nordic design then added a start and end like you would expect to find in Lemmings. For the next 4 hours or so I created all of the variations of Lemmings and started ‘playing through’ my Nordic sweater level. The end result is me beating the level and hopefully winning the internet in the process.


Games of Christmas Past

This Ugly Sweater design was inspired by Christmas of 1982. I would be lying to you if I said I was even born back then, but it was a very iconic year for Retro gamers like me. The Worst Game EVER was released.

Many of you know the story, but for those of you who don’t… a few months after the Christmas of ‘82 the gaming industry crashed and hundreds of copies of ET were sent to landfill. This is what inspired this design but please whatever you do, don’t play ET on the Atari! Seriously don’t do it! It may look EPIC on a sweater along with the other iconic Atari games included, but it really is a bad game!

The Christmas Cake Is A Lie

One of the only modern games to make the cut to the collection. Portal 2 really inspired the hell out of me by getting my brain cells working. If you’re a designer, you might be able to relate with me on this one. I sometimes get what I call “artist’s block” when it comes to designing shirts. Days will pass and I won’t be able to design anything; when this happens I usually turn to games and movies for inspiration.

Portal is one of those few games that instantly gets my mind working. The puzzles and science behind them are a joy to play and last year, whilst working on the Christmas cards, I played the hell out of this game to keep me inspired. As such, I thought it was only fair to give it an honourable mention and even bring it in for the all-over sweater treatment!


Other All Over Christmas Sweater Designs

If you’ve made it this far I totally need to high five you for your patience. I started writing and totally zoned out waffling on about all these amazing games. I won’t bore you any more, just check out the designs and please, please buy and wear the shit out of them. They make great stocking fillers and better yet, you can get away with wearing them to work on National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (Decemeber 16th don’t forget). You’ll be the envy of the office with your new Retro Review Gaming Sweater!


Anyway guys it’s been emotional. Until next year, enjoy Christmas and Keep It Retro!

Your friendly neighborhood designer, Matt

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Featured Artist: NeonBeast

Featured Artist: NeonBeast

A Bit of Inspiration

A Bit of Inspiration