Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Explainer: How to Make bin Laden Merchandise
Monday, May 02, 2011
It took less than 24 hours for "Osama's dead" merchandise to flood the internet. How can you cash in on the meme? Easy. Just follow these simple steps, and you'll be making money off the likeness of a dead person in no time.
Step 1: Choose your merchandising site
Time magazine reports that sites like cafepress, zazzle and redbubble have all blown up with anti-Osama t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags and even skateboard decks. Peruse their selection of Osama-bashing gear and get an idea of what kind of design you want to go for.
Perhaps you'll want to create something along the lines of the "I Shot Osama" coffee mug, which features the al Qaeda leader's face in some cross hairs. Maybe the "Hide & Seek World Champion" shirt emblazoned with his visage strikes your fancy. Feel like George W. Bush isn't getting enough credit? There's a mug for that too!
The possibilities are endless and the taste is bottomless, so don't think too hard about making a joke or being clever. This clearly took five minutes, and this clearly took even less. Just pick the first dumb pun you can think of that's easy to do a cut and paste job with Microsoft Paint, then move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Open your online store
So let's say you've chosen cafepress because their site layout speaks to you. Click on "Open your online store" in the top right hand corner. This step is as simple as giving out your e-mail address and picking a name. You might choose "Obama1Osama0," but that's already been taken. Again, just pick the first dumb pun you can think of, and you're golden.
Step 3: Make your first design
Cafepress won't let you finalize your store until you've got at least one design under your belt, so fire up Google image search and your copy of MS Paint, and let's get cracking.
If you're like me, your graphic design skills are about as developed as your sense of purpose: not at all. Make it easy on yourself, and just paste Osama bin Laden's head onto someone else's body. For example:
Yeah. Really bad.
If you're a Photoshop whiz you'll be able to make something that looks a lot more passable, but in MS Paint all you have to do is choose the free-hand selector, drag it around Osama's head, right-click "cut" and then paste it over Steve Martin. Use the eyedropper to pick out the yellow color from the background of the movie poster, then use it to paint over Steve Martin's name. Add a text box where it used to be, then type "Osama bin Laden." You're done!
Step 4: Upload your design
An absolute breeze. Click "Add Design" on your store page, upload the image, make it whatever size you want it to be on a shirt, and that's it. You've just made a product.
Cafepress supplies the t-shirts and baby clothing that will carry your Osama image, so you don't have to spend a dime. Click on any of the products to see it in action. Once you're done with this step, your online store will look something like this.
Step 5: Get paid
Finally, you'll need to tell cafepress or whatever site you're using that you want money. Just click on "Earn Money," then select the option to receive a 10 percent commission on every product sold with your design. Give them your PayPal info or ask for a check, and once you've made $25 in commissions, it'll go right in your pocket.
Congratulations! You're an entrepreneur, and a savvy one at that.