In 2001, Dutch designers Experimental Jetset designed the shirt John & Paul & Ringo & George. This design was an exploration in what the studio described as “‘self-referentiality’: the idea of graphic design that refers to itself, to its own context, or to the medium as a whole.” Essentially, neutralizing content in translating the figurative—focus presented through a method of abstraction.
Since the shirt’s initial release, the studio has seen hundreds of images in “homage, tribute or parody.” The studio wondered why such an intentionally distilled presentation got so much attention. They noted: “It’s amazing to see that the ‘John & Paul & Ringo & George’ shirt has become a format, a standard, for other people to work with. (To us, it proves an important point: that a popular design doesn’t have to be made with populist intentions).”