Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How Design vs. Cancer is Making a Difference

As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Which is why we have decided, over the next couple of weeks, to feature some of our great customers who are making a difference in the fight against cancer and help them get a little more visibility.

When designer Peter Deltondo’s mother started her fight against stage 3 breast cancer, he experienced first hand the strain her battle put on the whole family. So he began to sell his own designs and galvanized his creative friends to donate their talents as well, instead of simply asking for donations. As more designers wanted to get involved, he soon realized that he could actually help other families who were going through the same ordeal by providing them with some financial support. Design vs Cancer was born. We asked him about his work below.

Can you talk about Design vs. Cancer’s mission?
Our objective is to help families who are fighting cancer cover a major expense like a medical treatment/procedure or alleviate the stress of a rent payment so they can focus on their healing and recovery. By end of 2014, we want to make a real impact in the lives of at least two families. We’ve been able to help one family so far, and right now we’re saving up to help out a second one. Also, we are reaching out beyond the design community and starting to get involved more heavily with other cancer support organizations so that we can join forces.

How does Design vs. Cancer work?
We raise money by selling shirts and posters on our website. Since we are an online “for-profit” retailer, we set up a non-profit organization, Creativity Helps, through which we can donate 100% of our after-tax profits and then provide charitable financial aid to those fighting cancer. We hope to have our official status in the coming months, at which time we will be able to accept tax deductible donations.

● What’s the accomplishment you are the proudest of so far?
Our biggest accomplishment was running a successful Kickstarter campaign. I was spending  about 4-12 hours a day reaching out to people, sending out press releases, doing interviews,  communicating with backers on social media and anything else we could do to get the word out about the campaign. The hard work doesn’t stop after getting funded. The next couple weeks and months were spent handling orders with vendors, shipments, and managing any hiccups along the way. Aside from a delay on a few shirts & beanies, things went really smoothly. Our backers were so excited, supportive, and gracious. Without them, Design vs Cancer wouldn’t be here today.

● How do you choose the graphic designers for the prints and shirts you are selling?
We both approach designers and are approached by designers. We launched the Kickstarter project with a handpicked group of designers whose work we really admired. Design vs Cancer also sponsored a Dribbble playoff, which we included the top three designs into our campaign and product line. It’s so amazing to hear from designers we admire through our site wanting to create something for a future release. We’ve got some really cool things in the works right now!

● What sort of design aesthetic usually works best?
We like things to be simple and clear. While the styles may vary, everything is conceptually and artistically simple. Our products all have an uplifting and inspirational tone to them and in many cases (as often is with design) less is more. Most of our designs have a clear relation to our mission of fighting cancer, but they stand on their own too. We wanted to create apparel and prints that people would wear daily anywhere they went, not only at times/events with a cancer focus. These shirts won’t sit in the back of your closest or wind up in a donation pile, you’re going to want to wear them all the time!

● What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome so far?
Our biggest hurdle has been exposure. We’ve established a great presence amongst the design community, but we haven’t had the opportunities to tell our story to a broader audience yet. This is something that we volunteer our time to do on top of our freelance work, so we don’t have a big marketing budget to gain mass exposure. While it’s ok to grow slowly and naturally, we want everyone to know about us so we can raise more funds to help more people. Social media has been hugely helpful, in that regard. We post lots of design inspiration on top of our products to involve the design community. We also blog regularly and attend design conferences, such as Creative South (which Mike Jones founded) & WMC Fest. We had an amazing turnout at these conferences and it’s also a great way not just to raise funds, but to connect with designers who want to get involved with us.

● How can people help / contribute?
Grab a new tee or poster for yourself! Better yet, grab one for a friend too! Perhaps one of my favorite orders we received came with a note. “A friend of mine was just diagnosed with cancer, can you include a hand lettered note that we’re praying for them and put it in the poster tube?” It was my good friend, Sel Thomson’s “Don’t Be Afraid” poster. I teared up reading that. Knowing that an item in our shop may lift the spirits of someone who just got diagnosed with cancer is amazing! If you are a designer and want to contribute, you can get in touch with us on our website and submit artwork for future releases at

● Last but not least: How is your mother doing?
Mom is doing great! She started off with a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer and after chemo, surgery and radiation she finished her last treatment in September (last month) and has been  given the “all clear”! It’s been incredible to see her slowly return to her old self, the energy and life returning to her body. I thank God every day for her and all our friends and family who have been on this journey with us.

You can check out Peter’s work and all the great designers’ who are participating here. And while you are at it, if you want to help them make a difference and provide financial support to families affected by cancer, you can buy your next favorite t-shirt or print (enter MT4DVC for a special 30% discount).



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