Old Navy Tells Kids Not to be Artists Reaction

Old Navy Tells Kids Not to be Artists Reaction

According to ArtNet News, Old Navy stirred up quite the controversy with their shirts that had a design which stated “Young Aspiring Artist”  with the Word “Artist” Crossed out, and replaced with words like Astronaut, or President, shown here:

Old Navy Artists T-Shirts

These shirts were being sold for  around $10 under the category of “Funny Tees for Toddlers”.

I usually don’t have much luck shopping at Old Navy, (they have amazing deals on flip flops though).  My Sister seems to always have luck when it comes to their promotions.  I never thought poorly of Old Navy and this came as quite the surprise to me.

Several films and real life events have shown that artists don’t always get the utmost support from society. That in itself is terrible.  I have several friends and family members who are incredibly artistic.  I look up to them for being so creative and for the passion they have for what they truly love.

Perhaps it’s the way that people define “Art” that is the issue.  A lot of people relate being an artist to “they painted/drew something… so what?”  Artists come in many shapes and forms- whether it is sculptures, music, fine arts, the list goes on with what being an artist means.  I love painting, sketching, playing my flute, doing crafts etc and while I am not good at any of it, I would be insanely proud to call myself an artist and I find it sad that these shirts were designed for toddlers to wear as something that is “funny”.

Several people may find that others are overreacting over something as small as a piece of clothing.  I’m sorry, but isn’t being a fashion designer also an incredible portrayal of what being an artist is?  I watch shows that concern the fashion industry and there is no WAY I’d be able to design the things I see.

Designers are incredible artists so to have this on a piece of clothing seems pretty hypocritical to me.  I obviously have nothing against professions such as being an astronaut or the president.  I just don’t think any profession deserves to be “crossed out”.

The resolution to this occurred when Old Navy discontinued the design. A spokesperson for Old Navy, Debbie Felix stated:

At Old Navy we take our responsibility to our customers seriously. We would never intentionally offend anyone, and we are sorry if that has been the case. Our toddler tees come in a variety of designs including tees that feature ballerinas, unicorns, trucks and dinosaurs and include phrases like, “Free Spirit.” They are meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations. With this particular tee, as a result of customer feedback, we have decided to discontinue the design and will work to remove the item from our stores.

I appreciate that they have been discontinued.  Although having examples of unicorns and dinosaurs may not be the best way to say that you can be anything you want to be.  They also released new t-shirts that have this instead thanks to the artist, Steve Ogden.

Ogden ‘fixed’ the offending tees, replacing the design with “young aspiring Old Navy exec,” with the final three words crossed out. The artist has written in “artist” and “human” as preferable goals.


I actually fully disagree with how he “fixed” the situation. I think any profession is something every individual should be proud of.  While being “Human” is just a given for most of us, I think we need to fix our human morals.

For the full article from ArtNet News, please visit this link.

Al I have to say, is Old Navy, how about “Young Aspiring Whatever I Want to Be” instead?

What are your thoughts?  Do you believe people are overreacting or did seeing these shirts upset you?  Let me know in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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  1. I think they should have made the t-shirts for kids and teens and instead of trying to fill in the blank and then crossing it out. They should have wrote Young Aspiring ________. And let the kids choose what they want to write in for it’s there choose to pick their career or lifestyle. No one should have to feel like what they want in life is not accepted or respected.

    1. YES! I completely agree! That would have been a perfect way of spreading a good message. I feel bad if the intention was to send that message out and it wasn’t thought out properly- but the way they “fixed” the situation also bothers me and makes me feel like that had never been their intention..
      I love how you described what the shirts should have been like.. maybe we should just make our own shirts 😉 Thank you for the feedback!

    1. Exactly. Someone wrote “I don’t think they are saying don’t become an artist… I think they are saying you can be anything you want to be…write your own story kind of message.” While I see their point, I don’t think the word “artist” should even be a part of it. If that WAS their intention, then they did not do a good job of portraying it.

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