Tagged: Cafepress

Mar 03

Trump Is Paying Off This Woman’s Student Debt By Being A Complete Tool

Dr. Althea Rizzo creates snarky political and science-y t-shirts and Trump is helping her sell them by really pissing people off. Her designs capture the zeitgeist of the #Resist and #NotMyPresident movements. She is grateful because her doctoral degree left her with nearly $100,000 in student debt. Every time someone buys one of her shirts, she has a little bit less student debt.


Nevertheless, she persisted women's t-shirt

Nevertheless, she persisted women’s t-shirt

“I started selling t-shirts to help pay off my student loans faster. Over the last couple of years, I’ve paid off two student loans. Since the election of Trump as President, my political and feminist designs are selling like gang busters, or in Trump-speak, bad hombres.”


Trump Putin Kiss Bromance Men's Sweatshirt

Trump Putin Kiss Bromance Men’s Sweatshirt

Using the online print on demand service, Cafepress, Dr. Rizzo puts her graphic design skills to good use in creating t-shirts and hoodies with an artful if sarcastic sense of humor. No science pun is too groan worthy to be put on one of her designs. Until the middle of November, the best selling designs were the Student Tears and the Engineering shirt. Now it is almost exclusively feminist or political resistance designs that are selling.



If you need a fix of snarky geeky swag…

The Snark Doctor will see you now




Feb 24

Design 365 Challenge – Design a t-shirt a day to pay the student loans away!

I have been selling “print on demand” (POD) t-shirts at Cafepress.com and Zazzle.com for several years now with the goal to use the extra money to pay down my student loans faster. Up until this last year, it hasn’t been a very focused endeavor. I’d create few designs each month and post them with no clear strategy. Just doing it for fun really. To convince myself to do better this year, I developed the Design 365 Challenge and created printables that you can download. The goal is to make a new design every single day. Or at least have 365 new designs by the end of the year. Join the fun and play along at home and increase your own sales!

Design 365 Challenge

I started with Cafepress.com in 2005 to sell t-shirt and coffee mugs. I’d sell a few designs now and again, but not a lot. Then last year, I decided to really up my game and spent a great deal of time developing new designs and learning how to market them. All that time and hard work paid off! In fact, I made enough money last year from selling at these two places that I will actually have to pay taxes on the royalties. Um, Yay?

No, really it’s good, it’s progress. I have enough business-related deductions that it should offset things so the hit shouldn’t be too bad. (I like good roads and schools, so taxes are ok, too) Maybe future posts will be about taxes (I’m not an accountant but a procrastinating entrepreneur) and more about the business end of well, business. But today I wanted to talk more about something exciting that I am doing this year… the Design 365 Challenge.

Design 365 Challenge

In December I took a few weeks off to burn down comp time I had accumulated at work. I had a lot of free time to think about how to grow my t-shirt shops. One of the things I was working on was developing a set of planner pages to help organize the business side of things. And I came up with the Design 365 Challenge to keep myself honest and to help track where and when I post. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my designs, keywords, and descriptions. But I hadn’t come up with a good way to track product development and social media posts.

Each Planner page has a free notes space at the top, a monthly calendar with places to show where I create products to sell and where I post to social media. It is has been very helpful to keep the design mojo flowing and it certainly has helped me to get higher on the search index of both Cafepress and Zazzle.

I use HootSuite to schedule social media posts and that has been a life saver. I can plan a whole week’s worth of posts before my husband even wakes up on Saturday morning. Woot!

Check out my other article on how I am using my t-shirt design business to pay down my student loan!

Get the Design 365 Challenge Printables! (Free.pdf files)



Jun 01

Summer Selfie Giveaway

Hello! Summer is coming! And with the sunny days, I want to thank the wonderful people who have bought my designs at Cafepress. I’m a graphic designer who sells funny and snarky stuff at Cafepress. My customers rock and deserve something nice! I am holding a summer selfie contest for my awesome customers to thank them for their purchases.

All you have to do is take a selfie of you wearing or holding one of my designs and post it to the Malarkey Pie Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MalarkeyPie or tweet it to me @AltheaRizzo by June 21, 2014. On June 22, 2014, I will randomly pick one selfie poster to receive a t-shirt or coffee mug with their choice of design. Bought more than one thing? Then you can enter with each item!

Haven’t bought anything from me yet, but want to get in on the hot action? There is still time to order something and send in the selfie. Who knows, YOU might win something awesome!

If you want to see my new designs, check out http://www.cafepress.com/malarkeypie. The proceeds from Cafepress go to help me pay down my student loans faster. So with each t-shirt, coffee mug, or messenger bag I sell, I get out of student debt slavery all the faster! So thank you very much!!!

Read more about my struggle with student debt here:

Which part of the American dream won’t I have?


May 16

7 Great Teacher Appreciation Gifts!

Seven Great Teacher T-Shirts!

Seven Great Teacher T-Shirts!

Everyone has a story to tell and great teachers help us to learn  how to tell that story. With the school year coming to an end, take some time to show your appreciation for everything that your teacher has done this last year. The late nights at events at school grading papers… the way they buy school supplies out of their own money… how they pour their hearts and souls into our precious offspring. You can find great gift ideas at my Cafepress t-shirt shop. And if you want to learn more about why I am selling these t-shirts, follow the link at the end of this post. But for now, I hope you like these clever designs!


1. My students have an awesome teacher!


My students have an awesome teacher!

My students have an awesome teacher!

This design looks great on a pink t-shirt for your favorite teacher. It also comes on coffee mugs and tote bags.

Pretty in Pink!

Pretty in Pink!


2. Cool Teacher!


Cool Teacher!

Cool Teacher!

Not everyone is lucky enough to be “Cool” but your teacher gots it! Don’t you think that they would look marvelous sporting this t-shirt?

Cool Teacher!

Cool Teacher!



3. Alphabet Elemenopee


Learning your alphabet is the start of the wonderful journey of becoming a reader which leads to creative and fruitful lives. But doesn’t make a sing-song out of saying the alphabet. This adorable design brings back that giggling fun of childhood.


Fun Alphabet!

Fun Alphabet!


Put this alphabet design on a tote bag so your favorite teacher can carry their supplies in style!





4. Education is the key to unlock the golden door of Freedom.


George Washington Carver was a great thinker. A quote of his gives rise to this Victorian inspired design perfect for the history geek in your life.


Education is the Key to unlock the golden doors of Freedom. - George Washington Carver

Education is the Key to unlock the golden doors of Freedom. – George Washington Carver


The teachers in our schools help to form the person our children will become. Let them know how important that job is by giving them this t-shirt.




5. World’s Best Teacher


While we could argue for hours who is the Best Teacher in the World, but you can show your preference by giving this design on a t-shirt or mug!


World's Best Teacher

World’s Best Teacher


Bright red apples may have been the gift of choice in the past, but today we give t-shirts so we don’t have naked teachers running amok during summer break.



6. Teaching is a work of Heart


No one can doubt that teachers pour their heart on soul into educating the minds of the young. Honor that dedication and hard work by making sure they can stay reasonably caffeinated and hydrated. Because a dehydrated and de-caffeinated teacher is what we call in academic circles, a zombie. And we all know how THAT always ends.


Teaching is a work of heart

Teaching is a work of heart




7. I’m a science teacher. What’s your superpower?


Teachers are superheroes, plain and simple. The Avengers have nothing of the bravery and tenacity of those who join the ranks of educators. They may not always wear capes but they can wear an awesome t-shirt.


I teach. What's your superpower?

I teach. What’s your superpower?


Teaching is not for the weak. It is for those who believe in the power of thought, of ideas, of honor, and hard work. Show your appreciation for your local educator super hero by giving them an end of the year gift!



So, here are some excellent ideas for you when you are shopping for something to give those excellent teachers in your life. I sell these designs on t-shirts and other gift items in order to pay down my student debt. I finished graduate school with significant debt, as many do. But this hurts the economic well-being of an entire generation of students who need higher education to achieve success. So help a girl out and make a teacher happy at the same time!

If you want to learn more about my journey to get clear of my student debt, check out these posts.


Feb 15

Pi Day is coming! Pi Day is coming!


Come to the dork side, we have pie

Who doesn’t love pie? Seriously. Who? I will tell ya who…. geeks, nerds, scientists and mathematicians of all stripes. Ok, well, just about everybody loves pie.

I’m not here today to talk about PIE, but about PI. The mathematical constant that relates a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter and is often shortened to 3.14159, or even 3.14. Actually the number is infinite. It goes on and on and on and on and on and … It is an irrational number, meaning it can’t be defined using common fractions. So it’s a bit of a conundrum as you can never really find the square of a circle using a compass and a straight edge.

It has also spawned an International Pi Day, observed on March 14 (Get it? 3/14?) that started, of course, in San Francisco as all good counter culture movements have in the past 5/10ths of a century. A fine gent by the name of Larry Shaw started the first Pie Day at the Exploratorium in San Francisco by eating pie on March 14, 1988. Since then it has become a beloved, yet little-known holiday … except to the geeks who observe it.

Larry Shaw, the founder of Pi Day, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (Ronhip (Ron Hipschman), uploaded to the Commons by Furfur on 22-Jul-08)

Since I love geeks, but think they really shouldn’t be running about naked (think of the children! And the cold cold winter!), I have a bunch of t-shirts and hoodies over at Cafepress perfect for wearing on Pi Day. And since my student loans won’t pay themselves off, the proceeds will help me end my debt slavery. So be a darling and get a t-shirt or two. I will be adding new posts and t-shirt designs here regularly throughout the month leading up to Pi Day. There might also be recipes for pie. I also welcome suggestions for new concepts, and new pie recipes.

So help a fellow geek out and fly your Pi High …..

How have you celebrated Pi Day in the past? What are your amazing plans for this year?


Jun 13

Press Release: Artist is crushing student loan debt with t-shirts and coffee mugs

Salem, OR,  June 12, 2013.

With student loan debt passing $1 trillion dollars, one doctoral graduate is taking an unusual approach to paying off her debt. Dr. Althea Rizzo, a 2010 Ph.D. graduate from Oregon State University, is selling her graphic designs on apparel and gift items at Cafepress.com to pay down her student debt. Starting tomorrow, she is in a race with Congress, who doesn’t seem inclined to move forward on legislation to curb the impending rise in interest rates. She has over $100,000 in federal and private loans and currently pays about $1400 per month.

Like many other students graduating with crushing student debt, it was difficult to save up money for emergencies. Then Dr. Rizzo’s car died, the clothes dryer motor seized up, and her daughter broke her thumb last week. After that, Dr. Rizzo decided to take matters into her own hands to find a creative solution to the financial dilemma.

“On the other hand, I like to think of myself as resourceful,” said Dr. Rizzo.  “For the last few years, I have been selling t-shirts and other apparel and gift items on Cafepress.com/malarkeypie. This has been a slowly growing endeavor, providing a bit of pin money each month, but never really breaking into the realm of real money. My background in graphic design and my intensely snarky sense of humor combine to create fun and irreverent designs to paste across your chest.”

These unfortunate circumstances spurred her to pay down her student loan debt faster.  Something had to be done and she ramped up her graphic design business. Her goal is to sell 50,000 items before Congress raises the interest rate on federal subsidized student loans in July, 2013.

“Will it be hard? Sure, but if 50,000 people buy just one thing each, that’s only 0.014285714285714287% of the U.S. population. That’s totally doable.”

Dr. Rizzo is an employee of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, where she heads the Geologic Hazards Program. She created a Café Press shop to cater to those who are interested in progressive politics, science, and general geekery at www.cafepress.com/malarkeypie. She blogs at www.alfalfapress.com.




Jun 12

Recent grad races Congress to retire student debt before rates rise

Going back to graduate school when I was 41 years old and a single mom was not an easy decision to make. But I was in a dead-end (but well paying) job and needed to look to the future. So I looked at the nearby state school, Oregon State University, and hopped right in. I knew there would have to be student loans as being a single mom meant I couldn’t do the “stuff-a-handful-of-grad-students-in-a-loft” cheap route. Having kids also impacted my studying routine as I rarely got to hit my own books until after 9PM once the kids were put to bed and the house cleaned (well, somewhat cleaned).

Just like many other graduate students leaving graduate school with a useful degree and a pile of debt, I think it was very worth it. I love my current job and I would never have landed here without my doctoral degree. I mean really do love my job, deeply and passionately. That huge pile of debt? Not so much. I work in public service for the state of Oregon, so the theory goes that after 2019, the balance of my federal loans will be retired, but I’m not holding my breath that Congress actually authorizes that particular budget item.

Having over $100,000 in debt means that my economic life is stunted at the barely pubescent stage of economic life. My monthly student loan payments, both federal and private, are nearly $1,400. Luckily, I don’t have much personal debt, just a small amount left over from grad school that I have been paying down. The upshot of having this huge amount of student debt means that I don’t have a lot in savings. Actually I don’t have any savings at all, if you don’t count that jar of coins in the back of the closet.

Not having a savings account built up nice and fat means that when something happens like say, your old car throws a rod, your clothes dryer motor seizes up, and your daughter breaks her thumb all within a few days, you don’t have the resiliency to recover quickly,  if at all. And being an emergency management professional who travels around the state trying to convince families and communities to be more resilient, it was both embarrassing and ironic.

If you add my monthly totals to the fact that Congress is going to double my interest rates in a scant few weeks (unless it gets off its frakking collectively gridlocked ass), then you come to the conclusion that something needs to be done to crush my student debt before it finally crushes me. So, I spent an angst-filled weekend kind of freaking out at how my student debt was impacting my ability to quickly recover from a few days of bad luck.

On the other hand, I like to think of myself as resourceful. For the last few years, I have been selling t-shirts and other apparel and gift items on Cafepress.com. This has been a slowly growing endeavor, providing a bit of pin money each month, but never really breaking into the realm of real money. My background in graphic design and my intensely snarky sense of humor combine to create fun and irreverent designs to paste across your chest.

I also like to think of myself as optimistic. So, I thought that I could bump up my t-shirt sales and pay down my student debt even faster. Then I thought, hey, go big or go home! If I sold a LOT of t-shirts, I could really make a dent on my student debt and create some financial breathing room in the family finances. I will have two kids in college in two years, so I really need to get this cleaned up so that I can be the whole parent and help my kids in their own endeavors.

After spending some time on the webs, brushing up on some of the latest thoughts on marketing and using social media, I put together a game plan and launched this current effort to Crush the Debt in a Race with Congress. Will I be able to retire more student debt before rates rise in July? I need to sell about 50,000 t-shirts or coffee mugs or messenger bags to pay off a huge bulge of my debt and to pay the taxes on that income (or you can hit the donate button on the side over there and I won’t have to pay taxes on that. See? I can be bipartisan!).

So, how about it? Want to buy a t-shirt? Don’t think of it as giving me a handout, think of it as getting an awesome t-shirt! Please help spread the word! Share this on your Facebook page, Twitter (#tees4debt, #crushthedebt), Digg, Tumblr, or whatever social media you crazy kids are using these days. My brief research into social media marketing tells me that getting “bloggers of authority” and “thought leaders” to talk about something on their websites is a great way to make things go viral. So feel free to contact me to arrange for an interview. Yes, I know this kinda like begging, but I’m racing Congress. Who doesn’t want me to beat Congress at their own game, rigged as it is? I think getting rid of my student debt can be done. (See above about being an optimist!)

So here is the Plan ™. I want to sell 50,000 t-shirts, coffee mugs, messenger bags or other whatzits on my Cafepress.com/malarkeypie website. I need 50,000 amazing people to step forward and help a girl out. That is 0.014285714285714287% of the U.S. population. But even Canadians and Australians can play along.

So just buy a damn t-shirt!



Sep 21

Vendel Period artwork at Suvia’s Emporium

The period after the “Fall of Rome” until the rise of the proto-nation states is a time of migration and cultural upheaval. It was also a time of intense creative artistic expression in every day objects. Many of these goods made their way into Vendel era (550-793) graves found in Sweden. Helmets, probably based on late Roman models, are found in high status male graves. These helmets were decorated silver foil plates that depicted helmed warriors in richly decorated bands.

These new designs illustrate some of these centuries-old figures, some taken from the grave finds in Torslunda. You can find them on t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other gift items.

Vendel Period design from Torslunda




Viking rider from Vendel Period helmet