TAMPA, Fla. — A lot goes in to creating the perfect T-shirt.

“First I start with a sketch, and then from the sketch I put it on to the computer,” explains Matt Shaprio, owner of 1771 Designs.

What You Need To Know

  •  Matt Shapiro started 1771 Designs when his family's art gallery was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic

  •  He wants the designs to represent the Tampa Bay area, without specifically naming the city

  • Related: More information on 1771 Designs

From design to conception, every step is done carefully to deliver to the customer exactly what they want.

“I want everyone to be able to connect to the shirts," Shapiro said. "I want people to see the shirts and know it’s the Tampa Bay Area without it saying Tampa Bay."

It’s a meticulous effort, especially for an idea that was born out of unknowns.

“My family owns an art gallery and about a year ago we had to shut down due to the coronavirus, and I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen going forward,” said Shapiro. “I also knew that if the gallery was permanently shut down, I had to find another way to survive.”

A little bit of panic, and a lot of passion sparked the idea for 1771 Designs, pushing this Tampa Bay Sports fanatic to take a leap of faith.

“What I knew was that the business was closed and I wasn’t going to sit around and wait to see what happens,” said Shapiro.

Fast forward a year later, and the community support is keeping the gallery alive.

It's also allowing 1771 Designs to thrive.

“For the casual fan or someone walking down the street, they won’t really understand or appreciate what these designs are," Shapiro said. "But that’s not what I want it to do."

The shirts represent moments where the most diehard sports fans can look at them and say, "Hey, I remember that!"

Shapiro says the love this city has to offer is undying.

“As dire and black and bleak and dark as it was, people really wanted to support me,” said Shapiro. 

And he will continue to love it back in the best way he knows how.

“Seeing the response from the city and the community has really made me want to keep designing as well. Kind of as a thank you to them,” said Shapiro.