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Royal Purple Synthetic Oil's $6.46 Multi-Language T-Shirt

While researching escalators for a personal project, I happened upon the website of Royal Purple Synthetic Oil, a Texas-based company that sells a wide variety of purple-packaged lubricants, including this one for escalator chains:


The Royal Purple Synthetic Oil company was founded in 1986—a bull year for purple-colored things.


Because I’m not used to associating “oil” with “purple,” I found myself grinning — pleasantly disoriented — at this grapey, juicy, five-gallon container of Escalator Chain Lube. The visual identities of everyday oils (motor, cooking, etc) tend to favor certain colors, right? Yellows, greens, reds, blues, white, and black. Maybe an orange here or there. But purple oil packaging is startling. I like it. I like startling designs.


This handsome T-shirt (above) is what inspired me to blog. It’s available for just $6.46* through Royal Purple’s extensive web shop. I like a lot of things about this shirt. My favorite aspect is the embellished “U” — a tough little teardrop that has been crowned for regality and italicized for speed. This U is so full of personality, it could nearly pass for a cartoon mascot — The Royal Purple Crowned U.

The Crowned U’s forward tilt reminds me a little of Don Quixote. Is the Crowned U sad? Its crown appears to be crying a single huge tear that fills the U’s fuel tank–like basin. Do the U’s senses of urgency (symbolized by the tilt) and majestic responsibility (symbolized by the crown) generate a hefty sadness (the big tear) that is also a special kind of Crowned-U fuel? The tear appears to be the gasoline that powers the Crowned U’s hurtling race into the future. Why does the Crowned U race into the future? Presumably so that it can feel more responsibility-based sadness, so that more giant tears of gas can be cried, so that the U can race ahead forever — into infinity, or oblivion, or both.

Anyway, that’s one possible sketch for the Crowned U’s personal story, if Royal Purple ever wants to turn the “U” from that T-shirt into a full-fledged cartoon mascot.

Back to the shirt design: I like the shirt’s yellow-and-purple color combo. The multi-language aspect is delightful (ROXO REAL!), and I like the sound of the globe-adorned slogan on the back of the shirt: the performance oil that outperforms. It’s a round-sounding slogan: the performance oil that outperforms. Sounds solid. Sounds pro. I’ll take five gallons. I also like that the shirt is printed on both sides. (Why are so many T-shirts afraid to get printed on both sides?) Mainly, it’s just a nice shirt to look at.

*Caveat emptor: The cheapest shipping option for one shirt is roughly nine bucks. (Yikes.) I bought one anyway. Fifteen dollars postpaid for a well-liked T-shirt isn’t such a bad deal these days.

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