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This is how you get to Sesame Street: T-World

In the real world, nobody really wants to tell you how to get to Sesame Street, and if you do manage to find out the directions, they’re not exactly going to let you in. The notoriously closed set in New York City is rumoured to be more difficult to enter than the Pentagon, but for Melbourne’s T-World, they made an exception. The founder of the t-shirt-dedicated magazine, Eddie Zammit, has been working with the iconic children’s program for the past 18 months and has joined forces with them to celebrate their 40th birthday in true tee style. And the best part? It’s Sydney that gets the parties – a Friday evening exhibition in Darling Park and at Saturday’s Semi Permanent conference.

For those who don’t know this T-World business, Eddie started it as a personal project with his co-designer/creator Luke Fraser after hours from his design agency, Grin Creative. Formed out of an obsession with both t-shirts and magazines, they decided to combine the two and go nuts. Eddie now travels three to four weeks throughout the year, meeting with different designers and keeping on top of what’s going on in the culture throughout the world. For someone who has more than 1700 collector’s tees and has put together more than 500 magazines, you could say it was a natural progression.

“We try to keep things as original and fresh as possible, and constantly push boundaries. Nearly everything is exclusive so we get artwork no one else can get, and we go to lengths to speak to designers to do projects no one else has been doing,” he says.

Speaking of something no one else is doing, let’s go back to Sesame Street. Eddie essentially pitched the idea of a collaboration to them, and it was so good that they actually responded and he met with them in The Great City, New York. A few concepts got thrown around and they eventually settled on getting eight designers to each pair up with a muppet and come up with a t-shirt unique to both of them. “The designers got a chance to interview the muppets and create a design unique to that muppet, and delve into something about their character that not many people know about,” explains Eddie. Artists from around the world were chosen – including co-founder of Threadless, Jake Nickell, who ended up getting 20 of his artists to collaborate on one t-shirt. Other muppet teammates include Luca Ionescu, Vince Frost and Tiny Mammoth.

For Eddie, the obsession with the street that every child spends their imagination on started on a diet of Star Wars, Lego and Big Bird. “It was overwhelming to see the set after I had spent so much time seeing it on TV – nearly all the characters were so funny. One of them, Caroll Spinney, has spent 40 years playing Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird,” he says.

Finally getting the chance to meet with his childhood icons, Eddie wanted to make sure he had a different story to tell, so he ensured each character divulged unknown facts – be it their obsessions, their collector’s items or their psyche. “We found out Big Bird’s three favourite things, how his teddy bear is named Radar and how Bert is deliberately positioned to be a boring character – I mean, his favourite colour is grey and he collects paperclips – just to teach kids that it’s okay to be boring. You don’t have to be the life of the party all the time,” says Eddie. “They think about every possible thing on set. It’s amazing how much detail they go into.”

Ambush Gallery is putting on the pop-up exhibition Brought to You by the Letter T at Darling Park tonight from 7pm. Then the next day, Eddie will be flaunting his T-World goodness at Semi P. He likes “spoiling his readers”, too, so I’m pretty sure we’re in for a treat.

words: Seema Duggal


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