Blog Takeover: RetroReview Ugly Christmas Sweaters


Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!

It’s the 5th of November, which means it’s bonfire night here in Britain! For those of you who haven’t seen V for Vendetta, bonfire night is a wonderful excuse for Brits like myself to have friends round, build a blazing fire and watch fireworks light up the sky.

But I’m not writing this today to discuss one of our many strange British customs. Today I want to talk about a different holiday, one I’m sure many of you are familiar with. A short while back, the chaps at TeePublic reached out and asked me to write a post about my 12 Games of Christmas art project. It’s expanded to over 24 designs now and so the time feels right to give you an update.


Put Out the Fire: Christmas is Coming

The next big holiday here in the UK is Christmas, my favourite time of the year. It’s a time for loving, sharing and spending quality time with your nearest and dearest. Oh! Let’s not forget the mountains of food and awesome gifts!  

My idea for the 12 Games of Christmas came about a few years ago. I was in my mid-20s and Christmas felt as if it was beginning to lose its magic. Now don’t get me wrong, I like socks, they keep my feet warm. When they become the bulk of your Christmas presents, though, it’s hard to really get excited. Yes, I know that’s not the point, but there’s no denying that Christmas was filled with more wonder when you were a child.

Anyway, that year a friend of mine bought me a present which wasn’t socks. I tore open the wrapping paper and had a moment of pure nostalgia. It was one of my favourite childhood video games. At that moment, I recalled the magic I had once felt, and it was bliss.  

Since then, I’ve wanted to bring that nostalgic feeling to gamers everywhere. Whether it’s in the form of a shirt or a card, I want to help you and others recall on cherished Christmas memories.

To get the wheels in motion, I began a Kickstarter.  I’d designed 12 initial Christmas cards to help spread nostalgia. Through dedication and perhaps a pinch of luck it was crowdfunded; I couldn’t be more grateful!  


Since the initial run, I’ve added a few new gaming designs. I’ve also somehow become known in the art industry as the guy who can create the Ugliest of Christmas Sweaters. I think it’s a compliment?

My Design Process for Ugly Christmas Sweaters

When it comes to designing Christmas sweaters there are tons of sources for inspiration. Personally, I like to look at traditional sweaters like those horrendous ones your nan might have made. I found a few old knitting books from the 60’s, these were my initial go-to place for ideas.

I would recreate some patterns in the form of a grid in Adobe Illustrator and mix and match them with other patterns I had created. These small elements, when combined in different ways, helped to create a mix of unique designs, still in keeping with my original inspiration.  

I would then go over to my shelf of retro video games and pick some of my favourites. Some were very much underground and unknown outside of the UK, but many of them were inspired by the powerhouse that was Nintendo.

For me, there’s a major connection between Christmas and Nintendo. I guess it’s horses for courses… Do you say that in America? It basically means different things suit different people. I realise everybody’s childhood memories of Christmas are unique and I’ve tried to reflect that in my work. Whether you remember jostling the joystick of an Atari 2800 or running the Green Hill Zone as fast as you can, I’ve got you covered! 😊

Once I’d picked a game, I’d recreate my favourite moments and strategically place them into a sweater layout. By splitting the process into two parts it really helps with the mashup. I did originally try to design the sweater alongside the gaming elements but the results weren’t great.

A perfect example of the creation process working well for me is the “Oh No! It’s Christmas!” Lemmings design. Basically, I started out by completely creating my own version of a Norwegian style sweater called a “Mariusgenser”.

I took the start and end of the level and integrated them into the sweater design. I then took all the Lemming elements I had drawn and began placing them around, almost as if I was playing the game itself. It was a fun design and if you’re a fan of Lemmings, you’ll likely be able to see my thought process in the final design.

This year I have no major plans to create more designs, but I’m always willing to listen to requests. If there’s a game that you would love to see on an Ugly Christmas Sweater, feel free to message me on Social Media.

Have a great Christmas and Keep it Retro!


About the Author: Retro Review

Driven by nostalgia for all things old-school, Retro Review designs shirts for retro gaming fans who like to take it to 88mph and relive the past. His designs are inspired by many classic games and films of yesteryear.

As well as parody artwork printed on TeePublic, Retro Review has created officially licensed artwork for the likes of Hasbro Toys, Transformers, the US Navy, US Airforce and US Marines.

Make sure you check out his full range of Christmas sweaters on TeePublic!

Close Click to close this dialog.