gabeconnor

I'll take 1 T-shirt—and a unicorn vampire Viking with laser nipples

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Packaging can be the most frustrating and ugly things people have to deal with around the holiday season. It’s something people rip and tear apart almost immediately, stuffing its paper-and-plastic remains deep into a wastebin, forever forgotten.

That’s unless you’ve received a package from Goodie Two Sleeves founder Gabe Connor, who has spent the last year turning plain packages  into works of art fit for a photo frame.

Connor started his package-illustrating hobby earlier this year after a customer requested a dinosaur drawing with his order. Since then, he’s completed more than 180 requests, most of which flooded into his Southern California business after a post with a few of his favorites made the front page of Reddit two weeks ago.

“I was extremely humbled. I don’t really know what to say except that [I was] certainly surprised and a lot of people were being really genuine and kind,” Connor, 29, told the Daily Dot. “I was just really stunned.”

The colorful drawings include Darth Vader, a Viking with laser nipples, and almost everything in between. 

The illustrations are done with pen, marker, or crayon and are done completely free of charge. Because, as the company also states on its about page, life is about having a good time, Connor said. And sometimes that means taking a chance. 

Connor started Goodie Two Sleeves 10 years ago with a high school friend who had recently dropped out. 

“We were walking through a department store, looking at these shirts, and they were all pretty cheesy. They were also crap and relied heavily on innuendo,” Connor said. “We thought, we could do this and we should do this.”

So at 19, Connor started Goodie Two Sleeves after taking one college class and dropping out. The duo designed all their own shirts and traveled around California selling them at a friend's surf shop in Pismo Beach and out of the trunk of Honda Civic. 

After a year of guerilla marketing and tireless promotion, Connor’s small operation went from selling dozens of shirts at a time to more than 1,000 a month, thanks to wholesale contracts with Urban Outfitters, Hot Topic, and Nordstrom. 

Connor manages a staff of 18 people and spends most days discussing the latest movie or trend and just “joking around about stuff” until a great design idea comes up. To date, he and his team have designed more than 5,000 shirts. One of the most memorable and upsetting shirts to date features the slogan “There are cooler ways to die” and a no-smoking sign.

“It’s one of the most knocked-off shirts and one of the ones that has resonated with pop culture,” said Connor, who believes his shirt may have influenced some of the lyrics in Chamillionaire’s “I’m a hustla.” “Tons of people have seen that shirt but don’t know that we did it.”

Each drawing takes Connor between 10 minutes to an hour. And at the pace he’s receiving requests, chances are he will be spending a lot of time completing them. 

“It’s been totally, completely, unexpected,” Connor said. “The whole idea is people wanting something fun. And we want to facilitate that.”

Photos by Gabe Connor/Reddit