The Critical Diptych

GenCon has finally returned to Indianapolis after a long, crazy year! I’m sure everyone has been preparing for it one way or another, some finishing up their glorious battle attire, others gearing up to take their waifu out in public, and still others just mentally prepping themselves to be surrounded by real, live human beings for considerable stretches of time (I know I fit into that latter category). No matter who you are, Vardagen’s thinking about you and has been doing some prepping of their own.

I felt the apparel offerings for lovers of all things geek are kind of limited to two categories (in general): 1. officially licensed designs that typically look cut-and-pasted onto a shirt (which is fine, but…a little unimaginative, right?), or 2. corny and self-deprecating images featuring some dumb phrase or pun. Not trying to insult anyone’s apparel, but that’s just my impression of what I’ve seen. I know there are a few small companies trying to cater to the artistic side of this rich fantasy culture, but even then they seem so specific to me.

Everyone at Vardagen plays games frequently, so when I started thinking about what to design in honor of gaming, I thought about all the highs and lows you can go through in a game. That’s where the spirit lies, I think…in the risk and the trials you go through in an effort to become the victor. Those moments where you feel a deep camaraderie with your friends, and the moments you want to kill all of them for crushing your brilliant next move. I thought about how much power we give to chance when we roll those dice across the table and hope for the best, the outcome potentially leaving our characters bleeding out while the rest of the party struggles on without us. There is so much creativity and passion in gaming, why would you settle for wearing something subpar to show how much you love beautiful things?

VDGN treats the t-shirts as an art form. We make stuff you can be proud to wear, even if no one necessarily knows what it’s about. The less reading or insight required to understand what you’re wearing, the better. Thus, the critical diptych was born. Inspired by classic medieval woodcuts, I illustrated scenes of ecstatic victory and devastating failure that would appeal to lovers of roleplaying games who have experienced both scenarios firsthand, and also to those who appreciate the subject matter and style of the imagery.

After sketching both of the designs out, I realized there was a notable lack of females depicted. I felt that would be a shame, as there are, of course, tons of women who love and excel at games and deserve to be represented. I think changing the old, beardy wizard into a lovely sorceress really added some intrigue to the narrative.

All right, well I’ve babbled on enough about this matter. What can I say though… this is what I geek about. I will be wearing one of the two designs to GenCon this weekend, and I would be thrilled to see a few more wandering around. Have an awesome time, stay safe, and enjoy the sights.

Daniel, Vardagen Designer


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