DIY ST:TNGeekery
September 13, 2011 5:39 PM   Subscribe

What's a simple Star Trek: The Next Generation graphic that I could put on a shirt I'm making for my boyfriend? Deep Space Nine references would be acceptable, as well.

I want to use the freezer paper stencil technique to make a sweet and simple Star Trek shirt. I'd like to find a visual reference (rather than words), and the two images that come immediately to mind seem a little too obvious (the Enterprise, a communicator badge.).

As far as his level of interest in the show goes, I feel like it'd be good to stick with an image that pops up multiple times in either series, not necessarily something that shows up once and then never again (unless it's a really really cool something.).

If I can't find anything cooler, I'll probably end up doing the symbol for the United Federation of Planets.
posted by sometimes_a_pony to Media & Arts (47 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how serious this has to be, but how about a Captain Picard facepalm cartoon?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Or maybe a Borg cube? That would be cool.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is he kind of a meme guy as well? Cause to me: DS9 fan + memetasticness = !

(but I'd use the words as well)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:52 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Also a big fan of either series might appreciate a single-episode reference more than a recurring image, at least if he's unabashedly geeky about it)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:55 PM on September 13, 2011

Just get him a plain red neckless polo shirt (and a matching blue one for yourself). He'll appreciate the humor (just explain that you don't actually want him dead). ;)
posted by pla at 5:56 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ideally, this would be a simple graphic that already lends itself to black/white stencil'd be sad to go through the process of converting a photograph to a stencil-ready image, only to and end up with a hardly-recognizable Romulan. That said, the Picard facepalm is pretty tempting.

I'd rather not put something really obscure on the shirt and then have to explain it to him; I'm so anticipating that glow of recognition when he sees it for the first time. I can't be sure of how geeky he is, although it's definitely flared up at times.
posted by sometimes_a_pony at 5:57 PM on September 13, 2011

Seems like some of the suggestions so far wouldn't work very well with the stencil technique you'll be doing. I think "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." is pretty great—I've seen that on shirts in various online stores but the font is always terrible. It would be awesome to go with plain Helvetica Bold like this.
posted by mumblingmynah at 6:01 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

It wouldn't lend itself to black/white stencils but... wooly hats
posted by holloway at 6:02 PM on September 13, 2011

Ooh, what about the masks from the episode Masks? I always thought it would be fun to make them and hang them on a wall...for those in the know.

Hmm, Memory Alpha only has a picture of Data's mask. Picard had one too, but it wasn't as cool.

There's always "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra".
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:03 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah, ok. Lots of iconic images from the series: the Enterprise itself, the aforementioned Borg cube, a phaser, a Klingon bat'leth, a Klingon Bird of Prey.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:08 PM on September 13, 2011

Print the comm badge on the chest where a comm badge would go! Classic, iconic, funny.
posted by hepta at 6:10 PM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

Riker's beard.
posted by Zophi at 6:11 PM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

An idea sort of along the minimalist movie poster theme... I would do a row of four evenly spaced circles in white or yellow, and underneath in a plain font (Helvetica would be awesome) "five."
posted by telegraph at 6:15 PM on September 13, 2011 [11 favorites]

There's some pretty good basic logos / images here (from google image search for starfleet). I really like this one, and it's nice and simple.
posted by smartypantz at 6:17 PM on September 13, 2011

THere's a load of different Star Trek logos and insignia on the Star Trek wiki.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:19 PM on September 13, 2011

Picard's Flute from "The Inner Light". It would be kinda secret geeky and a cute thing from a S. O. because the flute is about love and living life and possibilities.

If you want to be less obscure, I'd go with a Bat'leth. It's an iconic, simple shape, so you could do multiple small ones to make a cool pattern, maybe wrapping around the shirt like Worf's warrior sash? Or a big one in an interesting position on the back?
posted by Mizu at 6:31 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Riker's beard.

Worf's scowl.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 PM on September 13, 2011

How about Geordi La Forge's visor?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 PM on September 13, 2011

For as epic as the Dominion is, I can't believe they don't have a better logo. When you're not even as cool as the Ferengi, well, that's pretty uncool.
posted by sometimes_a_pony at 6:36 PM on September 13, 2011

The insignias and logos on the Star Trek wiki are a great resource. It'd be a pain, but I'm tempted to try the Niners patch design.
posted by sometimes_a_pony at 6:40 PM on September 13, 2011

Thirding the suggestion of a Klingon bat'leth. It's simple, easily recognizable for casual fans, and looks cool even to people who don't know what it is. (I have a bat'leth necklace and get tons of compliments on it from people who know nothing about Star Trek.)
posted by christie at 6:47 PM on September 13, 2011

I picture Counselor Troi squinting, holding her head, saying "Pain. Deep pain...and turmoil" or somesuch.
posted by klausman at 7:25 PM on September 13, 2011

Definitely the Klingon bat'leth! I think it would turn out really well. Side note: Instead of using fabric paint for the stencil, I've seen bleach used successfully. You can do this is a positive or negative image. Here's another example. Looks like this one might be the best tutorial. Probably would look best this direction, pointing down, but maybe someone out there can tell you which way it's supposed to be displayed, pointing up or down (does it matter?).
posted by belau at 7:26 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

As an embarrassingly gigantic Star Trek fan, I would love a stylized silhouette of Deep Space Nine (as in, the station.) The Niners idea is also super-charming.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:27 PM on September 13, 2011

I've never seen the episode "Masks," but if you think your boyfriend might've, you could try watching it (might be available on Netflix on-demand right now) and seeing if you could get a good screen-grab of each of the symbols they see in their system. You can see some of them in the rotating set of screen-grabs here. Then maybe redraw a set of them in a nice arrangement?

Another option that might be more readily recognizable: Maybe you could mine the various screen-grabs of control panels in TNG that are out there to create a control panel layout that would fit on the front of a T-shirt?
posted by limeonaire at 7:29 PM on September 13, 2011

This is kind of cool... from the Masks epidode there were a lot of pictograms. Haven't seen that episode in a while but those would be really easy to reproduce, especially memorable is the inverted arch one. Unfortunately they look a little too fake-Mayan... still think the bat'leth would be awesome.
posted by belau at 7:35 PM on September 13, 2011

Maybe the Seal of the United Federation of Planets? I like the idea of a bat'leth, as it shows up in both DS9 and TNG.

Other fun things that show up in both series are Gowron, the bug-eyed president of the Klingons, and the Ferengi, a race of aliens renowned for their greed, and who serve as a fantastically humorous vehicle for cynical commentary on human nature.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:39 PM on September 13, 2011

If you want to go seriously dorky, the coffee/tea mugs on the show look exactly like Bodum bistro mugs. Make one with a tea bag hanging out of it reading "Earl Grey" and some steam coming off the top.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:42 PM on September 13, 2011

erm. here:
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:43 PM on September 13, 2011

An idea sort of along the minimalist movie poster theme... I would do a row of four evenly spaced circles in white or yellow, and underneath in a plain font (Helvetica would be awesome) "five."
posted by telegraph at 6:15 PM on September 13 [5 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

Not a big Star Trek fan, but that is a brilliant piece of stealth nerdery.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:21 PM on September 13, 2011

+1 Hepta's idea. Like this.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:26 PM on September 13, 2011

I have ideas!

1) a silhouette of a 3-D chess set (has been featured throughout the series, I think). links with photos: one, two, three (a list of references!), four;

2) The IDIC symbol (kind of nice in its symbolism);

3) The Live Long and Prosper hand greeting form (forgive creepy candle link; Google is fun sometimes);

4) His name or a saying written in Vulcan or Klingon.

Maybe someday my honey will find this comment...
posted by amtho at 10:37 PM on September 13, 2011

The Ressikan probe from the inner light has a distinctive shape that would make a nice simple geometric pattern. It would probably be recognizable to fans without being obvious.
posted by yeolcoatl at 11:21 PM on September 13, 2011

As a fan, and someone who is rather often the recipient of obtuse geeky objects (why, yes, that *is* a picture of the musical instrument I play. And so, large, too! ), I'd definitely push for subtlety. The closets of the world are full of fan merch that no fan would willingly wear in public.

The Federation symbol is pretty good, in that respect. It's likely to be mistaken for either the UN or some other non-fiction symbol.

The IDIC symbol is also neat - though, I'm not sure a TNG person would be immediately excited. (It's also got a somewhat sketchy commercial history, having been designed from the start as marketing artifact. I don't know if a hand made IDIC symbol counts a hip and ironic meta-consumerism, or just plain old consumerism, but if your gift recipient is the type to over-analyze such things, it's worth considering.)

A small, discrete bat'leth is pretty good. The Klingon empire symbol is also pretty discrete, assuming your target is a Klingon fan. And that one shows up lots of times in TNG. (And, I'm sure it has a name that some better fan than I would be saddened to see me forget.)

Several of other prominent species have repeated, reasonably subtle icons associated with them. Might be worth trying to work out which your fan prefers and going with one of those.

Now, if only I could convince someone to make an truly believable LAZOR or LIMOZEEN band T-shirt. . .
posted by eotvos at 11:35 PM on September 13, 2011

This all depends on exactly what kind of TNG fan he is. If he is a normal geeky guy, yeah, then any of the suggestions mentioned here already would be just fine. You know, straight-up reproductions of some iconic, easily recognizable image from the show, like a bat'leth or some alien race logo, whatevs. Perfectly standard and regular, like buying a used honda civic from craigslist.

On the other hand. When he's watching, do you sometimes hear him yelling at the TV from the other room, things like: "DAMN IT LaForge, I order you to stop being so bad with women!" Did he win an ebay auction for a Lt. Barclay action figure? Does he have a loop of Troi and Dr. Crusher doing jazzercise on his computer?

If so, you might want to go with something like this. Or this. Or maybe this. Or a very special this.
posted by danny the boy at 12:33 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

An idea sort of along the minimalist movie poster theme... I would do a row of four evenly spaced circles in white or yellow, and underneath in a plain font (Helvetica would be awesome) "five."

But weren't there four lights visible, and the evil dude says there are five, and Picard insists there are four? Looking around on Google, a few funny riffs on it have been done, including T-shirts.

I still think something on these lines would be good, but really, anything meant to be clever, esp with a caption, has probably already done. Sticking to nothing but a singular iconic image may be the best route for a homemade shirt.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:37 AM on September 14, 2011

GEEZ how could I have forgotten about Captain Picard Day!
posted by danny the boy at 1:01 AM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

How about a silhouette of his favorite ship? Maybe with the number (ncc1701 ex.) as part of the design.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:48 AM on September 14, 2011

Maybe a shirt advertising Quark's bar?
posted by Hugh2d2 at 6:30 AM on September 14, 2011

While messing around in Google's line art search (under "Advanced" in Image Search) I came across this web site which has line art drawings of the Next Generation characters.
posted by XMLicious at 6:46 AM on September 14, 2011

"Make it so."
posted by LarryC at 7:00 AM on September 14, 2011

As much as I love Klingons, the bat'leth and the Klingon empire symbols out of context are more tribal tattooey than I'd like.

I'm way too lazy to do the control panel justice; that's the sort of thing that be swell for a professionally screenprinted shirt.

We watched a Barclay episode last night, and he was suitably well-informed. Afterwards, casually, I asked what his favorite Star Trek species was. He jokingly referred to the mud monster that killed Tasha Yar, but otherwise couldn't pin one down. More casual interrogation will occur! Memory Alpha databases will be combed! A shirt will be made!
posted by sometimes_a_pony at 4:15 PM on September 15, 2011

As a TNG fan, you're either embarrassed by how TOS-y Skin of Evil is and consider it to be the foremost example of poor writing in season 1, or you think that shit was one of the most hilarious episodes ever made.

My suggestion: set t-shirt to LULZ
posted by danny the boy at 5:05 PM on September 15, 2011

Oh man. If he's into the lols, you should do the poem Data wrote about Spot, typeset in an attractive manner. Video ref.
posted by Mizu at 8:39 PM on September 15, 2011

Out of curiosity, did you decide on a design? And either way, could you perhaps put up a link of the final results?

(Also, tell your boyfriend we all think he's a lucky guy. Hmph.)
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:47 AM on October 4, 2011

Okay, you guys were totally great. I wound up going with the Federation symbol because it just made sense and I could picture him wearing it really easily, but I definitely got what I wanted out of this question. I lacked the resources to explore all the possibilities, and after exploring the wide range presented here, I felt confident that I had done my to speak.
posted by sometimes_a_pony at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2011

...and I'm saving the Bodum earl gray idea from thinkingwoman for later hijinks...
posted by sometimes_a_pony at 4:47 PM on November 26, 2011

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