Creative T-shirts shine at art walk
At 10 p.m. on Penn Avenue, few things draw a crowd like free food and $5 T-shirts. The TeeRex Syndicate, a locally owned and operated custom T-shirt and hoodie emporium, opens its doors to the public only once a month for Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn Avenue. This one Friday per month is all the company needs, however, to maintain an establishment that doubles as a thriving business and a committed creative endeavor.
Samantha Ginsburg, a native of Pittsburgh, and her husband Steve Streibig own and run The TeeRex Syndicate. They both have “real jobs” — Ginsburg works in asbestos removal and interior demolition, while Streibig works in multimedia interactive design — but the TeeRex Syndicate affords them the unique opportunity to act on their creative urges and enjoy the community that surrounds the T-shirt once a month.
“We both decided that we wanted to do something that would be more fun [with] less regulations,” Ginsburg said. “We saw a T-shirt business go up for sale, and we bought it.”
The TeeRex Syndicate now owns upward of 3,000 custom designs, created mostly by members of its staff. “We pretty much like to give people the creative freedom to do whatever they want,” Ginsburg said, when asked about the design process. She credits the ever-expanding collection of unique shirts and hoodies to “all the different people who have worked” at the company since its opening in 2009.
In addition to the studio in which the shirts are made by direct silk screening, The TeeRex Syndicate operates a website at which more than 1,000 of their designs are available for purchase. They also encourage custom shirt requests, fitted for any and every occasion.
When asked to describe their T-shirts, Ginsburg said, “There’s a definite mix [of] humor. One of our best-selling shirts is a possum wearing Ray-Bans that says ‘Awesome Possum.’ ” Other witty shirt fronts include “Trust Me, I’m a Ninja” in bold, bubbled letters, and a kitten staring blankly upward with “Existence is Futile” written above it. The TeeRex Syndicate also produces several locally themed shirts, including tees with dioramic sketches of Oakland, East End, Downtown, and a shirt with a group of stick figures saying “There’s a You in Yinz.”
Several of these inspired T-shirts are available only at the studio during Unblurred art walks, not online. Combining this exclusivity, affordability, and free food and drinks on a Friday night, The TeeRex Syndicate has succeeded in establishing itself as one of Pittsburgh’s go-to providers of unique and custom tees and hoodies and as an essential stop on any Penn Avenue art walk.