How to design a Covid-19 Vaccination T-Shirt
I was recently invited to get vaccinated at my doctors practice in the Hungarian village of Mogyorod (meaning ‘your hazelnut’). You may have heard of Mogyorod as this is where the annual Hungarian formula one race takes place. The vaccination process took literally 2 minutes and the doctor gave me an empty vaccine vial as a souvenir!
I thanked my doctor for the gift and jokingly said ‘egészségedre!’, meaning ‘Cheers!’ in Hungarian. Gesturing with the glass vial, I had an image in my mind of two overflowing vaccine vials clinking together. Literally egészségedre means ‘to your health’ and so using this expression in relation to the vaccine shots creates a dual meaning. I joked with the doctor I would wash the vaccine vial and use it to drink shots of palinka. a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy! Much more likely though that I will frame it as an artefact from these strange times!
Sketching and Design Development
In the following days I started to sketch this visual image of clinking two overflowing vaccine vials. Most Covid-19 vaccines require two injections, so the idea is that each vial represents one injection.
Using 3D modelling software I drew the vaccine bottles and arranged them in such a way as to suggest they are being clicked together to say cheers!
This sketch over the 3D drawing explores the expression of moving the bottles and the liquid splashing on impact. The colours represent different elements of the graphic design.
I used Affinity Designer to trace over the sketch to produce a more polished drawing in vector graphic format. Vector drawings are mathematically defined using a combination of lines, fills and gradients. This format allows them to be scaled indefinitely without any loss of sharpness or resolution quality.
Finally some finishing touches were made to the design. The vaccine bottles were emphasised with black lines and the flowing liquid lines recessed using a midtone grey. This creates hierarchy to the design and guides the eye in reading the graphic. You notice first the impact of the two bottles, then the liquid splashing.
Not only is palinka brandy taken in a ‘shot’, we also get the vaccine in a ‘shot’ too. Typically you might drink a shot in a pair with someone else. Similarly vaccination requires a pair of shots, so that you can share time again in the company of others. Hungary is currently re-opening bars and restaurants to those who have vaccinated. The design expresses this return to normal life and the connection between vaccination and being allowed to socialise.
Generally I have noticed in the news that there is some resistance to the idea of vaccination and vaccine passports. My personal opinion follows the doctors shared goal to vaccinate approximately 70% of the population. Scientists believe this will diminish the virus and allow us to return to normal life without curfews and facemasks. My opinion on vaccine passports is that they already exist in Africa for yellow fever, where they are a simple and effective means to protect and regulate this public health interest.
Recently my studio has been working with The Spoiled Queen magazine, a blog interested in such fashion trends. We recently discussed that in the UK some people are starting to wear t-shirts supporting the brand of the vaccine they have taken. By comparison European vaccine confidence is relatively low, especially amongst younger people. Hungary has the lowest public vaccine confidence in Europe. The emerging vaccine t-shirt trend is interesting because it has the potential to encourage younger people to vaccinate. Therefore we decided that we would like to freely contribute some designs towards this trend and cause. Our designs will be made freely available for anyone to print themselves, and pre-printed t-shirts will also be made available.
We decided to coin the phrase ‘Double Shot? Why Not!’ both as a reference to the vaccine and taking two shots.
Double Happiness & the Chinese Variant
The idea of two bottles clinking also reminded me of the chinese proverb which says ‘good things come in pairs’. This idea is related to the Chinese concept of ‘Double Happiness’. In part, this is the idea that happiness arises in the sharing of experiences with others. The following is an excerpt from a journal entry that I wrote on the 25th April 2021, which explains further:
“I was thinking yesterday about how the covid vaccine is coming as a pair of two shots. This idea of pairing and doubling reminded me of the ‘Double Happiness’ idea on this match box! Growing up in Hong Kong I remember how we used these matches to light candles for lanterns to celebrate the mid autumn moon festival (harvest festival). An old Chinese proverb says that good things come in pairs: the sun & moon, yin & yang, mother & father and so on. The same idea is here on this Hong Kong match box. You can see the Chinese symbol for happiness 喜, repeated twice, hence ‘Double Happiness’. I think ‘Double Happiness’ means to choose to be with your happiness and to also try to be grateful for it. As this Chinese proverb says ‘good things come in pairs’, (the) sharing of experiences also is another kind of ‘double happiness.“
Hungary has started a vaccination campaign which incorporates Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZenaca vaccines ordered jointly via the EU. In addition to this Hungary has also included Sputnik-V ordered directly from Russia and Sinopharm vaccine directly from China. Statistics show that so far that Hungarian has been the most efficient country in the EU to vaccinate the population. To date around 1 million Sinopharm vaccines have been administered in Hungary. For this reason I decided to morph the t-shirt designs to create a new chinese variant (excuse the pun). Then again aren’t all Covid-C19 viruses variants of the original chinese virus from wuhan anyway? I suppose this chinese t-shirt variant idea is returning back to the source, there is another kind of duality in this idea.
Each bottle contains the chinese character for happiness 喜 and the two bottles together form double happiness 喜喜 .
The t-shirt designs will be made available on this website in pdf format, free to download and print.
They will be released on a Creative Commons license.
Pre-made t-shirts featuring these designs will also become available on the Spoiled Queen Magazine website.