For the past 6 years, every time the holidays rolls around, a new tradition has come upon me; an outpouring of emails and Facebook messages asking me if I know that my picture comes up on Google for ugly Christmas sweater. Or that my picture was used on a flyer for an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Or recently, that my picture is on the cover of an Ugly Christmas Sweater book. And of course my response is always something of the…”here we go again”. But deep down, I kind of like it.
There’s actually much more to the story then most people think. I never anticipated what happened would. In fact, the pose that has won me all this attention was really just a last minute, spur of the moment thing. After all this time, I thought it be fitting for there to be a place that tells that story. And at the very least, celebrate not just my photo, but all the amazing ones that went along with it.
The year was 2007, and it was a cool, brisk Autumn day like many others. But this day was different. I was a few years into my tenure at Microsoft Advertising, and had fallen into an amazing group of dudes at work…The COT…or circle of trust if you will. A group of fellas that entrusted each other with information that would never be shared outside of the group. It really wasn’t that top secret. Mostly a lot of jokes about the bathrooms at Microsoft. Don’t even get me started.
I can’t take credit for the greatest idea of all time. That falls on my friend Matt. Matt was the elder statesman of the group back then. He was older than dirt..so these days I can’t imagine he even knows what planet he’s on, but bless his heart for the gift he gave The COT. His brilliant idea of hitting up Value Village for some hideous sweaters, then heading to Sears for a photo shoot was ballsy..but we were in. We just wanted to create a funny poster to hang up for our team at work. It ended up becoming so much more.
You see, Ugly Christmas Sweaters were not as big in 2007 as they’ve become today. Shit…you can actually buy a kit to make one these days they’ve gotten so popular. I’ve been offered 3 figures for mine repeatedly (holding out for 4). When we got to the store, I literally just wanted to find the most ridiculous one I could find. I figured if I was going to do this, I might as well go all in. You should have seen the look on some of the older ladies faces as I proudly found my winning vest/turtleneck combo.
I don’t think I ever laughed as hard as I did in that photo shoot. It was so incredibly random, and the gal taking the pictures…bless her heart, she had no idea what she was in for. Ridiculous pose after pose, and then someone pushed me into frame and without even thinking I just did what I thought might be funny and whalla…history.
A week or so after our shoot and tremendous praise at work for our efforts, our photos were submitted to The Seattle Times for their then annual Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. I was in Chicago and got a barrage of texts and calls. I remember them vividly.
“Your picture is on the paper!” they said
“Oh…cool…like in some special section?” I asked
“Um, no…your picture is ON the paper…the front page!” they said
And thus begun the ascent to all things Ugly Christmas Sweater. It worked it’s way up to the top of search results, on the front cover of a book, and ever since then, it’s become more recognized more than I ever would have thought. To this day, people will bring it up in conversation and they’ll say “Holy Shit, you’re the Ugly Christmas Sweater Guy?!?!” I’ve learned to embrace it.
I still look at these pics every year and laugh my ass off. Unfortunately, most of the guys have moved on to other things, and we don’t get to see or hang out as much as I would like. But I still hold on hope for a reunion shoot. Perhaps Easter?????