The illustration that inspired Rare Breed’s Octo shirt was originally published more than 130 years ago (in 1891) in a kids’ adventure book called “ZigZag Journeys in Australia”.   As far as literature goes, it was pretty bad, but at least the publishers found some great art to spruce it up. 

The cover of ZigZag Journeys in Australia, the book inspired Rare Breed's Octopus Organic T-shirt.
Cover of the Original Book: Zig Zag Journeys in Australia

In Zig Zag Journeys, the illustration was titled “A Devil-fish of the Indian Ocean”, an outdated term that can refer to a number of different marine animals.  Nowadays with Netflix specials like "My Octopus Teacher" that celebrate the complex lives and incredible intelligence of octopuses, the term devil-fish seems almost derogatory.

The historical illustration that inspired Rare Breed's organic graphic tee

The Octopus image as originally published.

The original artist and engraver weren’t credited in Zig Zag Journeys nor in future reproductions of the image, so the talent behind this amazing illustration has unfortunately faded into history.

As for my role in things, I’ve got to admit that this image was a bit tricky to prepare for screen printing.

As you can imagine, the source image had degraded in the century since its original publication.  I ended up doing a lot of fine grain digital editing to clean it up, but my screen printer was still skeptical about whether it would translate. 

Creative projects (even creating based on other peoples’ art) can be really sensitive and having a pro throw some doubt in the mix definitely made me hesitate about this one.  In the end, I persisted, choosing a couple of light teal colours that really pop, and did a test print.  Bingo!   I’m so happy with how this shirt turned out and glad that I saw it through.  It practically GLOWWWWS!

Hope you get as much enjoyment from this image as I do.

The Rare Breed Octopus T-shirt in 100% Organic Cotton features a teal and black octopus line drawing on a black unisex organic t-shirt..

 Rare Breed's finished OCTO T-shirt!
Butterworth, H. (1891). Zigzag Journeys in Australia. Estes & Lauriat.
In the Grip of an Octopus. Chatterbox1901(XVIII), 141.


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