BC: Who makes up United Pixelworkers and who runs the show?
United: United Pixelworkers is a production of Full Stop Interactive. We’re a small web design and development shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We wanted a way to represent not only our industry as a whole, but more specifically the city we call home. It occurred to us that many other web workers probably felt the same way.
In homage to Pittsburgh’s industrial legacy, we formed the concept into a fictitious union of sorts, complete with regional “locals,” and coined the term “pixelworker” to describe anyone who works in the industry. Whether you buy a shirt, follow us on Twitter, or just join the union in spirit, we thought this could be a fun way to show solidarity.
BC: Who designs your products and how do you decide which designs to print?
United: Jay Fanelli, Full Stop’s co-founder, designs the whole thing: the concept, the t-shirts, the pixelated city icons, etc. Our shirts are printed in Pittsburgh by our friends at The Cotton Factory.
We’ve received tremendous positive feedback from people spread across not only the country but the world. We’ve also gotten some love on Twitter from people in high places. Everyone seems to want a United Pixelworkers shirt representing their city, which makes it difficult—in a good way—to decide which city to roll out next. We agonize over it. In the end, at least for this series, it comes down to perceived local web community support, timing, and how authentically we can represent a city’s graphical identity. It’s easy to pick out what’s iconic about New York, Philadelphia, or San Francisco. Smaller cities require a bit more homework.
BC: Your store’s design is refreshingly clean and unique. Who’s behind the design?
United: Jay is also the store’s designer. He is responsible for the website design, the United Pixelworkers identity, the gorgeously blocky wallpapers, and the overall clean aesthetic. Nate Peretic, Full Stop’s other founder, handles the code and the Big Cartel integration.
Since we were trying to attract a paying audience of web designers, we knew we’d really need to bring it in terms of design and technological details. To be successful, this couldn’t be a color-inside-the-lines template design. That said, any bells-and-whistles we incorporated—HTML5 syntax, scrolling navigation, Typekit fonts—needed to enhance the experience of the site. We hope we’ve done that. So far, we’ve gotten as many props for our site design as we have for the concept itself.
BC: What can we expect from United Pixelworkers in the future?
United: Well, in the near feature, several more cities. We rolled out some, uh, patriotic locations for Independence Day. After that, we have at least a few more major cities to knock out. Depending on the reaction, we may continue to introduce new cities or expand to cover states, regions, and countries.
What happens after t-shirts? Who knows. Ultimately, our motto is “stuff for designers and developers who care.” That’s a vague and/or cheeky way of saying “a curated shop of products for a specific and discriminating audience.” We have a ton of respect for online retailers like Coudal Partners, Veer, and Design Commission. They’ve built successful secondary businesses by being very smart about the products they decide to sell. If in five years, United Pixelworkers (and by extension, Full Stop) is mentioned even in the same time zone as them, we’d be thrilled.
BC: You’re relatively new to Big Cartel; how has your experience been so far?
United: We’ve been impressed with the Big Cartel control panel, the system’s reliability, the easy setup, reasonable monthly price, and overall flexibility. We did run into a few implementation obstacles, but in the end we were able to do exactly what we wanted — visitors to the site will never know the difference. If you’re a designer or developer considering using Big Cartel, we recommend reading our full review. Bottom line, Big Cartel claims to be easy to use, customizable, and awesome. After spending a few weeks tweaking the system, we have to agree.