I had the chance to interview both brilliant minds that gave us shirtfight.com and here it’s what they had to say in their defense. Guess I should make things a bit more clear…I am talking about “El Presidente” Jud and about “Miss Etti” Marieta. They both answered the set of questions I threw at them and it’s lots of fun seeing how their answers reflect their personalities, aspirations and all that other stuff 🙂
I love them and so should you, because they are really supporting us designers by giving 500$ out of their pockets every week!
Let’s do this:
1. How did Shirt Fight start? I want to know who had the idea, who came up with the concept, how long it took to get the whole thing running.
El Pres: Well, the idea came out of my brain initially…but it took a lot of input from artists, research of our competitors, and lots of late night discussions with Miss Etti to get ShirtFight where it is today. That’s the cool thing about it, we knew this would be a site for artists…so we included them right in the design of the site.
Miss Etti: It seems so long ago to remember all the details, but I think ShirtFight as a name was always meant to be a competition site. At first I think we were both very intimidated by the size of the project, but when we started taking the initial baby steps everything started falling into place. Don’t get me wrong it was/has been a lot of sleepless nights and months and months of plugging away before a single line of code was written. We actually lucked out and found the most amazing developer and then it was again months and months before the website starting shaping up. To be honest we didn’t know it we’ll be able to make our launch date… We still have so much room for improvement, but that’s the beauty of it all when you find your passion.
El Pres: That was actually one of our primary goals going into this…we looked at our competitors and thought “man, there’s not much fun and excitement going on”. Most competition sites just follow the model of “submit design, wait a couple months, see if you get paid”. That’s no fun at all…and we knew we could improve and up the excitement level. That’s why we decided to go with weekly crazy themed contests…they’re fast, furious, and fun! It’s like a food eating competition…other sites are like “ok just start eating something and we’ll stop you eventually and tell you who wins”. With ShirtFight, we’re like “OK we’re eating fried twinkies you have 30 minutes to eat as many as you can GO GO GO!”
Miss Etti: My take on it is work hard and play hard… After all this is supposed to be tons of fun, we are not a corporation selling software or insurance. It’s super important to me for people to see us for who we are, we both like to have fun in life and we are just not your traditional couple. El Presidente has always been the heart of the company and I think we drive the best out of each other. To me we are the people to show the community how we plan to make ShirtFight fun, competitive, and supportive of each other.
3. What do you think are the strong points of Shirt Fight, as compared to other similar contest sites?
El Pres: I think our strongest differentiator is the level of intimacy we have with our community. There’s no “man behind the curtain” with us…we keep things wide open and let everyone see just how much we care about the artists and how passionate we are about ShirtFight. We listen to our artists’ music, like Sassatattoo’s band Trilobit (http://www.myspace.com/bandatrilobit). We buy t-shirts from smaller clothing lines to support the artists, like “We Are Slaughterhouse” (http://www.weareslaughterhouse.bigcartel.com/), we go to our competitors’ sites and vote on our favorite artists’ designs. It’s the fact that we love our artists and are more concerned about their success than our own…that’s what separates us from the rest. And I think we’ll be successful in turn just as a happy side effect.
Miss Etti: I personally never compared myself to any competition. Even with tennis, it’s always been what my goals were and it’s the same with anything in my life. I have tons of respect to all the competition sites and I think that they are all different in their own way. I’m not sure what direction we’ll take since our community is shaping their personal flare as ShirtFighters.
4. I noticed a really positive vibe in the community of designers/ voters on your site. What do you think is the secret to having such a good vibe (except random chance, of course)?
El Pres: Yeah for a site called “ShirtFight”, everyone seems to be really civil towards each other LOL! There’s probably a lot of luck involved, but I like to think that it’s because we’re so connected with our community. No one wants to misbehave when “Big Brother” El Presidente is watching hahah! It even shows behind the scenes…in the first couple of weeks we were open I noticed a LOT of vote cheating going on. People creating multiple accounts, down-rating everyone else’s submissions, etc. Of course we have measures in place to counteract this, but I decided to write a blog post telling everyone “don’t think you’re being clever and that you can pull a fast one on us…because you aren’t, and you can’t”. We see very little cheating now J
Miss Etti: I wish I knew the answer to that one, but I’d like to think it’s totally ME! J LOL
El Pres: It’s always hard to measure if stuff like that helps business, and so we don’t even try. What we do measure is if people are having fun participating in them. I know I sound like a broken record but we’re here to have fun…as long as everyone’s having a good time we’ll keep on truckin’ with the contests.
Miss Etti: You might be surprised since you don’t see me much on Emptees.com, but I love that place… All the contest that El Pres does I watch with pleasure, they are just so much fun!
6. Plans for the future? Try to keep it short, I know some of us want to know where you want to spend your holidays and stuff, but, as Shirt Fight goes, what can we expect?
El Pres: Well, there’s that old saying “you have to crawl before you can walk”. I see us at the stage where we’re able to keep our head from wobbling around…I’m talking completely newborn infant stages. The obvious plans are multiple designs getting printed every week, bigger prizes, etc…but that’ll come with time. Our short term plans are to grow our community, get more visitors to the site, and constantly ping our artists and fans about how we can improve things. Constant improvement is the key…dead things don’t move, and we’re very much alive!
Miss Etti: Since El Presidente covered mostly all of it, I’ll answer this one a bit different. I’m the impatient one of the two… From the very first competition I instantly wanted to print multiple winners. It’s really hard to see the amazing talent out there and be indifferent about it. I realize that I have to hurry slowly, so in the meantime I will always let the community know how much I love their work.
That’s all there is to this interview, but before I take my gracious leave, I should mention that I made it in the top ten “heavyweights” for the last two contests and I really appreciate the way these guys know how to show their appreciation for the artist participating in their contest.
Thanks for making time to answer all the questions, and thanks for being awesome!