If you were an artist and super fan of Marvel Comics, and its creator, Stan Lee, showed up at your doorstep and asked you to design a new shirt for him, what would you say?

Although the scenario wasn’t quite as dramatic as Lee showing up at the front door, the same opportunity recently fell into the lap of artist and comic books fan Louis Blaut, the CEO and Founder of NYC-based Soul Purpose Designs. After Blaut and his team presented some impressive design ideas at Big Apple Comic-Con, the convention’s co-founder, Mike Carbonaro, approached Blaut and asked him if he’d be interested. “Mike asked us to do it as a gift for Stan, who is a lifelong friend of Mike’s.”

Blaut said yes in a heartbeat.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough for Blaut, a horde of superhero celebrities attending the Big Apple Comic-Con agreed to sign Blaut’s shirt for Stan Lee.

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Not only that, but Blaut has decided to share the love. He is offering the only other copy of Stan Lee’s shirt that exists–his personal replica–to one lucky fan in a new contest. (More on the contest in a moment.)

The amazing work by Blaut’s humanitarian-minded company, Soul Purpose Designs, shows Blaut’s passion for comics and helps explain why he caught Carbonaro’s attention. Blaut and his team spent 365 days coming up with 365 unique design ideas for custom shoes and apparel–many of which were comic book superheroes–for their current Kickstarter campaign aimed to raise funds for arts education.

One shoe design, for example, called “The Etheria,” is a tribute to comic book heroine She-Ra, which includes “a gold molded leather heal tab, royal blue lining, a gold leather and elastic strap and a ruby jewel all emulating the style of She-Ra’s tiara,” according to the Kickstarter page.

Blaut’s shirt design for Stan Lee is just as thoughtful and unique.

The front of the shirt features an acrostic of Stan Lee’s name, written in Spider-Man font, with each letter forming a phrase that describes something about Lee. The back of the shirt, in Captain America font, uses the names of characters created by Lee to form an acrostic of Lee’s catchphrase “Excelsior.”

Blaut chose these fonts because his wife is from Spider-Man’s hometown (Queens) and he is from Captain America’s (Brooklyn), two places that are also special to Stan Lee. “It was made in New York City, Stan’s home town,” said Blaut.

Stan Lee's Custom Shirt by Soul Purpose Designs (smaller size pic)

Made in New York City, inspired by Spider-Man and Captain America, and partly inspired by the origin love story of the artist and his wife? It sounds perfect for Stan Lee, America’s favorite storyteller. “The shirt is about our long standing admiration of Stan, and it is our way of thanking him for the amazing universe he created that millions love,” said Blaut.

And like Lee’s comics, the shirt was made to last, as Blaut noted: “The shirt is 100 percent cotton and triple-stitched for quality and durability like all of our clothes.”

Whether Stan Lee loves the shirt or not, Blaut will likely have the chance to find out in-person. The shirt will be presented to Stan Lee at AwesomeCon in Washington, D.C., which will be held from June 16 to June 18, 2017.

If he gets a chance to meet Stan Lee, Blaut said he will express heartfelt gratitude: “I would want Stan to know what an important influence he and his creations have had on my life–how I am a better, stronger, more confident person with a greater moral compass and understanding of the complexities of life because of him.”

The crowd of celebrities who signed the shirt might not be there in person for the ceremony, but they will certainly be there in spirit, as Stan Lee reads the many names that will emblazon his chest. Blaut was able to get no less than 15 high profile celebrity signatures:

  • Frank Miller (“Sin City,” “300,” “The Dark Knight”)
  • Spencer Wilding (“Dart Vader”)
  • Jon Bernthal (“The Punisher”)
  • Elden Henson (“Foggy Nelson,” “Daredevil”)
  • Gideon Emery (“Daredevil”)
  • Peter Shinkoda (“Daredevil”)
  • Jason David Frank (“Power Rangers”)
  • Barbara Eden (“I Dream Of Jeanie”)
  • Geoffrey Cantor (“Daredevil”)
  • Johnny Brennan (“Family Guy”)
  • Kathy Garver (“Firestar,” animated)
  • The Amazing Kreskin
  • Tai Mak (“The Last Dragon”)
  • Jackson Bostwick (“Shazaam”)
  • Dan Slott (current writer of the “Silver Surfer” and “Spider-Man”)

How You Can Get Your Hands On the Only Copy of Stan Lee’s Shirt That Exists

Besides the upcoming shirt presentation to Lee, Blaut is also excited about his new contest, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans of Marvel and Stan Lee. The lucky winner of the contest will win the only replica that Blaut was allowed to make of Stan Lee’s custom designed shirt. Although it doesn’t have the original ink on it, the replica bears the images of every celebrity signature and personal note that was written for Stan Lee on the original shirt.

The contest has other prizes as well, such as custom-made sneakers made by Blaut’s company, designed with your help according to your superhero preferences.

To enter, go to the contest entry page, and follow the instructions at the bottom to enter, which involves completing tasks–i.e. signing up for their newsletter, following @soulpurposedsgn on Twitter, retweeting them–and other tasks that, if completed, unlock more entries in your name to increase your chances of winning.

You can also get a pair of custom superhero-themed shoes and other custom-made items made by Blaut’s company, Soul Purpose Designs, by joining their Kickstarter campaign, which offers top-tier incentives (including their jaw-dropping custom-made shoes). A percentage of proceeds from the Kickstarter campaign will go toward arts education, to Materials for the ArtsJamaica Center for Arts and Learning and Urban Arts Partnership.

It’s definitely worth a look: the campaign’s top incentive sends you to New York City to design a new pair of shoes with Louis Blaut himself, the man who designed a custom shirt for Stan Lee.

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