What’s the best pop culture to parody?

by MJ

You watch a lot of TV shows. You’ve read a lot of books, and you’ve seen a lot of movies. Maybe you’ve even dabbled in comics or street art. But when your interests are so diverse, it can be hard to narrow down which pop culture influences will be the most popular to parody. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re brainstorming:

01-vennaStep one is to make sure that if you have intentions of selling your art, you’re making a thing that other people are interested in, too. That doesn’t mean you can’t be weird, creative, or even focus on smaller fandoms- it just means that you should make smart choices when you’re doing it. Drawing the cat version of a lesser-known Shakespearean play probably won’t get you the accolades you’re looking for, but your chances could improve pretty dramatically if you tried it with Romeo & Juliet.

02-vennbOf course, as any artist who has had a design for sale will tell you, it’ not always enough to make something people like. For your art piece to be a financial success, you’ll need to make sure you’re targeting an audience that is willing to spend money, has money to spend, and that likes your design specifically.


Not all audiences are created equally. While NCIS (regularly top 5 in US TV ratings) has more fans total than Firefly (cancelled during it’s first season due to low ratings), fans of the latter are more passionate and skew younger in demographics- that makes Browncoats more likely to be in the market for geeky t-shirts. There’s also a robust fandom on social media that can help spread the word about new Firefly designs, and because they’re printed fairly frequently many fans already follow TeeFury and similar sites.


Even with a popular fandom, though, success isn’t guaranteed. For instance, many Buffy fans are still happy to pick up a Sunnydale tee… but if your funny concept is about an episode the fans didn’t respond to (remember the two cowboy vampires? how about the time everyone turned into a caveman?), you’re going to have an uphill climb ahead of you. Especially with series that have been off the air for awhile, it’s usually best to focus on only the most memorable moments, loved characters, and show as a whole.

 What’s your strategy for choosing pop culture to parody?


MJ is a t-shirt nerd, designer and blogger. Visit TeeMagnet.com for daily tee roundups and Compete-tee-tion.com for shirt design reviews and contest news for artists.

  • @franticcz

    my main focus is what i think would be the most appealing…. i like designs that project positive energy