All A-Twitter Over T-shirts

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - September 16, 2009
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(from left) Lindsey Chun-Hori and Aja, Matt Spencer, Valentino Valdez and Nathan Kam and Ryan Ozawa in their personalized Twitter T-shirts

Valentino Valdez hesitantly agreed to sign up for Twitter, only to discover that online social networking really does bring in clients to his design business.

“Every designer has friends who need design work,” says Valdez about his company, VALDEZign. “Friends, and friends of friends, throw work my way.”

Valdez says it was his friend, public relations professional Nathan Kam, who urged him to get on Twitter, a Web site where people write short sentences (140 characters or fewer) called “tweets” about anything they choose and share them with friends. Kam advised Valdez that if you’re interacting with people and showing your personality as if you’re hanging out, you can promote yourself without a pushy sell.

So Valdez signed up with Twitter last year, and when Kam was going to a conference, he asked Valdez to design a T-shirt for him with his unique Twitter name on it. The design has the letters IRL in a box, an acronym for In Real Life, by which he means meeting face to face. Orders poured in when the prolific online social networker Ryan Ozawa wore his own personalized Twitter T-shirt to a live webcast streaming event with the celebrity tech blogger Chris Parillo, who was vacationing in Hawaii at the time. Valdez then was tapped to create the Honolulu Twestival logo for the event.


Through his connections on Twitter, his shirts have been ordered in England, the Netherlands and Germany. He’s also creating the Twitter shirts for companies.

“It’s marketing and social at the same time,” he says.

The Twitter shirts are just one of Valdez’s projects. His creativity branches out into designing logos, business cards, digital photography and blog design. Several military folks abroad are on teams, and they ordered T-shirts with their unit name on it, and the team members’ names are written in the shape they specified. He recently designed postcard invitations for his alma mater, Maryknoll School, where he played on the basketball team. This former Spartan’s work was showcased on ESPN as one of the top three out of 400 entries when he entered a contest to show what Detroit Pistons basketball player Charlie Villanueva would look like with hair. Valdez’ creation was a parody of the Johnny Depp character in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Inspired by comic books while growing up, he enjoyed drawing and illustrations, which led him to his graphic design career. He started VALDEZign in 1999. His work history includes Honolulu Star-Bulletin and MidWeek as well as his current day job as a graphic designer with University of Hawaii West Oahu.

Valdez is appreciative of all the friends and family that supported him. He especially gushes with praise for his wife, Katrina, and their 3-year-old daughter, Oren.

Utilizing his artistic abilities, he hopes to somehow help the Friends of the Library, as his family outings often include a weekend trip to the library.

For more information on VALDEZign, call 277-9143 or log on to or

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