In an age of hipster irony and shirts to match, the Joy T-Shirt Project and its slogan, “Wear the World on Your Heart,” seem impossibly sincere. But the “we’re all connected” paradigm rings true: each shirt features the face of a real person—not Paris or Perez, but Sonya from Toronto or Sabry from Algeria, or one of over a hundred others in the online catalogue—hand-drawn and silk-screened over the wearer’s heart.
“It’s more than just a t-shirt,” says the project’s founder (or, as he says, “only employee”), 28-year-old Jeff Woodrow (pictured, wearing Sara from Australia). “When you wear a Joy T-Shirt, you become a participant in the project. You’re encouraged to think about the person whose face you’re wearing, even if you don’t know them. It’s about thinking about others.”
Once you choose a face and buy a shirt, you can then submit your own picture to be made into a design. Woodrow does each portrait by hand and screens it using custom-mixed ink, ensuring that, like snowflakes and first kisses, no two are exactly alike.
Oh, and in case all this feel-goodery isn’t enough to tug on your wallet strings, five per cent of each sale is donated to charity—a different organization each month, but always one that promotes peace and equality, helps the underprivileged and/or raises global awareness.
Joy T-Shirts are available online for $26 each, plus taxes and shipping, and come in five colours: white, cream, lemon yellow, baby pink and light blue. For bolder hues, browse the display of pre-made tees at Model Citizen, 913 Dundas Street West.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Woodrow.