Lewis Robinson is an award-winning Maine author whose 2009 novel “Water Dogs” was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection. He’s won the PEN/Oakland-Josephine Miles Award, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review and other prestigious publications.

In his spare time, he likes to make T-shirts.

“I just like making things in general, and making a novel is time consuming and excruciating in a lot of ways,” Robinson said, “so it’s a fun, gratifying thing to do that takes no time at all, really.”

Robinson and a friend, Justin Jaffe, have started a hobby business called The Original Portland that sells T-shirts silk-screened with scenes from around the city – The Quality Shop on Stevens Avenue, the Eastland Hotel (now known as the Westin Portland Harborview), and a guy sitting on a bench overlooking Back Cove, holding his dog on a leash,

Robinson learned how to silkscreen from his aunt when he was in high school. Until now, he’s made shirts just for fun, coming up with designs for a friend’s wedding, New Year’s Eve parties, and other events. For his father’s 50th birthday, he made about 30 T-shirts featuring a photo of his father staring off into space, with a thought bubble that said “Maybe I’ll get it all figured out in the next 50 years.” More recently, he’s put his kids’ artwork onto T-shirts.

Robinson hopes to have eight to 10 new Portland images ready by summer, including one of Fort Gorges and one of the locally iconic Time and Temperature building.

“Everyone’s relationship with the city is personal,” he said. “People identify with their neighborhoods and with landmarks nearby, and so we thought that we would try to come up with some images that would be representative of different neighborhoods.”

The T-shirts cost $20 each and are delivered free in Portland. The only place to buy them, for now, is on The Original Portland website, originalportland.bigcartel.com.


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