Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

Apparel Collection: Monster Talk

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:47 AM

Monster Talk
Character Design on Simple Shapes

Together, we are deviantART, an amazingly diverse community of fantastic individuals from all reaches of the globe. It’s a beautiful, creative ecosystem where the wildest voices can speak their minds and share their expressions. When designing this collection, I wanted to celebrate that diversity. When you’re at a concert, on an airplane, or sitting at a café, it's sometimes fun to look at the people moving and talking around you, each with their own unique style and outlook. Be part of the big conversation, where all voices matter and everyone can be involved.

The characters in this piece spawned from a conversation I had while teaching a high school class on character illustration. The topic was making interesting-looking characters, and everyone seemed to agree that you have to make a complex contour shape in order to satisfy the goal. I countered by simply drawing a line of jelly bean shapes on the board. At first, it looked boring -- just a bunch of wonky ovals. Then, I made each into a character by giving them features, paying close attention to their placement within the composition.  The idea went from the chalkboard to my sketchbook, where I played around with it through many sketches. 

The idea of having a series of characters with the same basic shape was really intriguing to me. They became known as the “thumbheads,” and I had a ton of fun coming up with personalities for each of them.

I was doing my best to observe the characters in my everyday life, mixing their attributes with fantastical forms and exciting patterns.

I even went so far as to fill the shape with an entire character’s body, which was an interesting thought, but it got lost in the complex linework.

It's really gratifying to draw a subject so many times and in different ways that you suddenly realize you've got a whole series of related images.

The intricate linework of these drawings made them great candidates for a T-Shirt design, so I began digging in my sketchbook for other ideas I’ve had to more cohesively tie this group of monsters together. I came across this lockup drawing of the dA logo, where a bird and worm are having a funny interaction inside it. That doodle was enough to spawn the idea that the letters could be filled.

Searching for another level for the graphic, I came across a page in my sketchbook where I had slapped a dA nametag over another character, which gave me the idea to have each characters inside a speech bubble. I’d seen this basic concept before, but it was a great opportunity to explore it in my own style.

My mind was racing as I sketched each curious character. Should I put the characters in speech bubbles? What size should they be? Should it be characters talking about characters? Should it be sharp or hand drawn, solid or full of chatter? The only way to discover the answers to these was to try out every possible option!

A lot of the time, I will write random words in a consistent font to give me an interesting starting point to draw from. Most of the time, they make no sense, but they’re great for inspiration. I recommend trying it with your own sketches!

After working out the concept and translating it digitally, it quickly took shape in the graphic that you see in finished form: characters within the dA logo encapsulated by a speech bubble, inspiring conversations amongst each other and around the world.

To shop this and other new Apparel Collection designs in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop click here.

The printed garment and an energetic model really set the mood for the completed piece during the photo shoot. The journey of this piece really drove home the importance of combining ideas and cross-pollinating concepts. I hope it helps you in your future artistic endeavors!

Apparel Collection: Sunset Burner

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 1:16 PM

Sunset Burner
Legibly Balanced Design

The celebration of letterforms is a timeless and globally universal art form. When pushed towards the abstract, the individual letters become more about the overall shape than the words they form or meaning. The graphic becomes about the marriage between the whole design and composition and the letterforms seemingly hidden in plain sight.
Contemporary graffiti is often done in this style. As you may know, artistic graffiti is powerful global art movement where artists choose more non-traditional ways to execute pieces and more publicly accessible places to display their artwork. 

This specific piece is done in a linear Wildstyle fashion and symbolizes the wearer’s proclivity for pushing the boundaries of abstraction and taking risks with their work. In this garment, you can feel free to take your style, put it in a blender, and mix it up with your inspirations, influences, surroundings, and emotions. Pour this concoction into a cup and paint with it, do the unexpected, and develop new ways to say things that are perceived as banal. Enjoy the creative explosion! 
There are a million ways to write our comparatively short alphabet. In the art form of graffiti, many fundamental styles have been developed and are universally recognized. In my first rounds of work on this concept, I was really pushing for the letters to be abstract. This piece below really has a lot of energy, but it was really hard to read and was more composed for the rectangular orientation of a sketchbook, not the anatomical features of the body under a shirt. 

The second piece I developed was in a style of letter that is much more legible. This version was conceived on a trip to Art Basel in Miami, where deviantART had a pop-up art gallery. I was able to paint a bunch of graffiti pieces there and sketched a number of different letter styles for the name “deviantART.” 

After many exploratory sketches, I found the right composition, and I wanted to flesh out in color. Of course, there’s a huge difference between hand-drawing a piece based on graffiti style and actually painting a huge beautiful graphic with spray paint. Making this illustration digitally gave me the ability to really explore the colors and attitudes of the letterforms. When painting with cans, you usually hatch your plan and stick to it. No control-Z on the wall ;) 

This was a nice piece, but, if you can believe it, I thought it was almost too legible. Graffiti lettering often has the curse of not having enough Style with a capital S, and I didn’t think this version was up to deviantART’s style standards. I was on the right track, but I needed to head back to the drawing board with a more stylized eye for this graphic. 
At this point, I reached out to one of my favorite artists, sonnywong001, and he gave me some hints on how to push the piece in the right direction. His sketch added on some landing gear, ticks, and letter connectors. It’s always valuable to talk to other artists and get critiques on your work during the working process. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference when you’ve been staring at so many variations that you’re not sure what to do next. 

I really appreciated his input and wanted to start fresh with his ideas in mind. So, I jumped ship and went for a totally different thought process. The intention of the next version was to make a piece in a Wildstyle lettering where the overall dynamic movement and composition would supersede any hope for legibility. 

I was able to settle on the final outline of the new version’s lettering rather quickly. The color scheme was a whole different story. It took many tries to find a happy medium between too many colors and too few colors, not to mention which hues worked best with each other. Here are six of what felt like 50 colorway attempts. 

After what seemed like an eternity of trying different color combinations, the clear winner emerged, and the sun set on this design process. I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. The Wildstyle lettering is legible after a bit of searching, and the color scheme is reminiscent of a sunset, giving it an overall solid composition. 

Connect with your inner wild style, and wear Sunset Burner with pride. 

Apparel Collection: Raining Ideas

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 1:07 PM

Raining Ideas
Create Your Own Storm

It’s so exciting when you’re in Creative Mode, and the ideas are just flowing out of you. It’s almost electric how one idea can spark the next and the next, and you’re creating as fast as your body can keep up. Don't hold it back! I created this shirt to shout from the clouds that it’s okay to let the ideas well up and storm onto your media! Share your ideas with your team, and let your collaborations really fill your mind and canvas with a deluge of output.

This illustration started with the intention of making a cute cloud into an energetic storm. I wanted the cloud to have the contour of a brain so the importance of the mind in the brainstorming process would be prevalent at first glance. The preliminary sketchbook drawings in ballpoint pen were a mix of adorable thunderheads and raining brains. Experimenting with the placement of the eyes and the shape of the cloud was fun. It was harder than I expected to get the sizes right and actually make the brain cute.

The lightning started off looking almost like earrings for the character, which was interesting, but I wanted the bolts to read as more energetic – the kind of electrified jolt that chatters your teeth! The brain went a few rounds as well, and I studied up on the anatomical structure of brains to make sure the simple shape would translate to the viewer. The shape of the brain and the forming cloud really accentuated each other and gave the visual effect of a cloud moving forward in space.

Seeing this natural movement, I pushed it even further by making the pattern of the rain push diagonally backwards as the storm rapidly approached. It was a conscious choice to misalign the outline and the inner texture of both brain and cloud, so the layering would create some tension between the colors and line work. Along the way, I toyed with the idea of having some text printed on the shirt, but I decided the graphic spoke for itself. And they say to keep it simple, so I pushed on and tried to figure out the final eye placement.

This proved to be difficult. In the original permutation, I considered putting the pair of cute eyes in the middle of the cloud’s “face,” but it looked too high up, especially with respect to the brain. After dropping them down, my new artistic hurdle was to the make the eyes interact with the action without being too big and pulling too much focus. There needed to be another element to make the graphic come together.

Since it was a studious brain, I stumbled across the idea of adding some big reading glasses, and it really worked! The momentum was successful, and the concept really worked as a serious thinker.

The lightning fell right into place after the glasses were figured out, adding visual balance to the piece. My original intention of the cute storm was met, and I was really happy with the outcome.

I dubbed the cute, little brainstorm to be called Raining Ideas and printed it on a beautiful sapphire T-Shirt. The models immediately took to the inspirational design, and it looks great on everyone who wears it.

Check out this T-Shirt in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop. Click here to see all T-Shirts.

Whenever you’re in a creative drought, the only solution is to stand underneath the perfect storm of Raining Ideas!

Apparel Collection: ALL dAY EVERY dAY

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:44 AM

Design for Words with Meaning

“ALL dAY EVERY dAY” represents the artist’s constant love for making art. This drive and determination is always working in the back of our minds, always noticing inspiring things, always adding notes and drawings to notebooks, and always thinking creatively. DeviantART is a wonderful, swirling artistic ecosystem with a fertile breeding ground for this never-ending creative spirit.

Recently at deviantART, we tried out a small-scale collaborative program, bringing in outside artists to illustrate pieces for the seasonal clothing line. For the piece ALL dAY EVERY dAY, I’m proud to introduce Tony Van Groningen, or tonybricker here on dA. It’s always a pleasure to hand an artistic brief off to an artist and have them come back with an exciting piece that can go a few rounds in collaborative sessions to make final. Working collaboratively brings multiple viewpoints to the drawing board and adds a great deal of richness to successful pieces.

So, for this Journal, we asked tonybricker directly if he could outline the creative story behind making ALL dAY EVERY dAY. Enjoy!

"Hello, Deviants!

My design brief was wide open on this one. I was instructed to do something typographically cool with the phrase "All Day Every Day," which, in the world of deviantART, is encouragement to make your art and work on your skills all day, every day!

I started by going through my typefaces and trying to pick fonts that were sturdy and thick enough for the bluntness I was going for. I wanted to be sure it was a pretty legible font, since the whole shirt was type-based, but I also wanted it to have somewhat unusual proportions. This was not a job for your standard Helvetica Light.

Experimenting with different fonts on the page, I was able to consider each one individually.

These might look really similar to some people, but I was trying to pay attention to proportion and individual letterforms. I printed these out individually at large sizes, hung them on the wall, and looked at them from a range of distances, including about 15 feet away down my hallway. This might sound silly, but it's a really useful thing to do to make sure your eyes and brain aren't locked into "on-screen" mode, where things often look huge and super high-contrast.

After doing this, the one that had the right funky and legible feel to me was the upper-right option, using the lovely Apex Sans typeface.

 From there, I went through and made each of the letters look even and balanced. Never trust default spacing in any program! For example, the gap between the "D" and the "A" was too large, the "D" felt like it was floating off the rest of the word.

I flipped it backwards because I wanted to work with the digital letterforms off the computer, but I also wanted to add a traditional twist by using wet artistic media like ink and watercolor.

After copying the backwards letters on tracing paper, I laid the tracing paper graphite-side down on top of my watercolor paper, and using a pencil, transferred the typography to the watercolor paper by rubbing it, so I‘d have a template.

I did this process a few times so I’d have several templates to work from, since I doubted I would do something I liked the first time. Here's what the tracing paper looked like after the rubdown.

Now, it was time to get to the artsy fun part. I pulled out a ton of tools to experiment with. I didn’t know how it would end up, but I felt I’d know what I liked when I saw it, and no better way to get there than by trying everything.

One of my all-time favorite techniques is using gouache with India ink, so that had to be in the lineup. The Japanese squeezebrush pens are amazing for spontaneous linework. Whiteout pens can be fun, and the weird-shaped bottles in the back are refill containers for Tria pen ink. I often like to drip it straight onto the paper for supersaturated color. 

I just started mixing things up and working intuitively to see what happened. Here are some results.

I scribbled notes underneath some of my favorites so I could recreate the effect later if I needed. I need to do this more. I often look at some of my older sketches and tests and can't figure out how I once made something cool! 

Ultimately, I decided that I really liked the mostly uncontrollable effect of brushing water over the letterform, adding some drops of India ink, and gently swirling the entire page around so the ink actually travelled around inside of the water droplets.

The results looked great and interesting, and I really liked that, since there wasn't a lot of real control over how the letter ended up looking, all the letters looked different.

I scanned in each letter and cleaned them up digitally. But I didn't feel that this alone was enough, so I played around with the visual contrast between the blobby ink letters and the super-rigid structure in original letterforms.

I went back to my Illustrator file where I’d typeset the quote with Apex Sans, and using some vector magic and some typography skillz, I redrew the Apex Sans letterforms to be a super-hairline mono-weight version that would sit nicely inside each letter.

Once I had done that for every letter, the backbone elements of the shirt were ready, and it was just a matter of composing everything. As mentioned earlier, I was interested in juxtaposing the flowing edges of the letters with precise vector lines within each, so I created a vector pattern to use in the background, to create a balanced, interesting composition. Here’s one of many patterns we tried.

At this point, I sent them off to Forest. He had the great idea of making the uppercase "D"s in my piece into lowercase "d"s so they would read "dA" on the shirts, which was a brilliant idea. I was excited to go back and redo the watery-ink trick one last time to make the lowercase "d"s.

We decided that reversing the black inkletters out to white on a black shirt created a nice, ghostly effect. I adjusted the background pattern to a muted purple and sent Forest the working file.

As any individual designer would do, this design went through many more revisions, including shifting the alignment of the words around, deleting the background pattern, and changing the colors, until we finally decided on the awesome design you see before you.

And that's about it! Thanks for reading. I hope it was at least educational if not inspirational! Feel free to leave a comment or note me to ask any questions you might have about any part of the process. 



This was a
n inspiring process outline from the primary artist of the piece. As Tony mentioned, this design came a long way from the perceived final version, but we ended up with a very successful piece and a great collaboration.

Shop ALL dAY EVERY dAY in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop. Click here to see this and all T-Shirts!

Apparel Collection: Soundwaves

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 2:01 PM

Design Inspiration that Flows

It feels really good to be surrounded on all sides by music, feeling it pump through you like an electric pulse! This design would be the perfect complement to a carefree night of dancing with friends under the stars or boogying down alone in front of a mirror using the build-in headphones.

This illustration was inspired by my love for music and science together. Sound waves are pretty amazing in the way they move ever forward, undulating up and down outwardly from their source. I love the way scientific textbooks illustrate natural phenomenon, because, of course, my artistic mind wants to SEE everything, even things that can’t be seen by the naked eye without special tools. Scientific subject matters are a fun challenge to many artists as they dive into the shapes of nature and physics and apply to them their own styles and techniques. 

Like many pieces of art, it can sometimes take the simplest concept to inspire a whole thought process to be expressed on a canvas. I dove into studying sound waveforms and went to town drawing many concepts.

Music is one of my favorite art forms, and it was really fun to translate that into a graphic.  With so many ways to illustrate a wave, by the time I had gotten down to the bottom for the page, I knew I wanted to use a jagged calligraphic style to write “deviantART.” In manipulating the colors of the drawing, I got to see color schemes develop that I wouldn't have been able to visualize on white paper. 

After transferring my sketches of the waves to the digital realm, I started adding more fuzzy, chattering, dramatic marks. This was a bit too much visually, and the multitude of colors made the music seem really loud. I added “deviantART” in this phase, and its clean lines were a nice juxtaposition to the contrasting visual.

The letters were really interesting to me, so I pushed the sharpness of the waves and laid them over a halftone pattern to accentuate their bold line. The rounded ends were really pleasing to the eye and made the halftone dots visually correlate with the underlying pattern. These colors were really exciting and vibrant, but they didn’t end up being the final palette. 


The final graphic was pulled back to a clean set of overlapping sound waves – one of which was very crisp, while the other looked much more organic. 

Holding true to the original concept, I was really interested in the idea of waves literally moving through the design and around the wearer as they listened to the sounds emanating from the drawstring’s earbuds. To help manifest that visually, the decision was made to add a design to both sides, effectively wrapping the garment in sound. 

Thrilled with the looks of the final digital mockup, we sent the piece off to the printer. 

The models were quick to put on the piece on our brisk day of shooting, and they were so comfortable, they were the first to see that it’s truly the perfect Hoodie to take with you anywhere you might need to snuggle up or listen to some tunes of your own.

Visit the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop's Hoodies Category to shop this and other HoodieBuddie Headphone Hoodies in the Holiday 2012 Collection. Click here to go there now.

Apparel Collection: Better Chemistry

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 1:09 PM
Read About the Artistic Process Behind Better Chemistry

Better Chemistry Through Artwork
Exploring Science in Design

As artists, it is really important that we venture outside of our comfort level and look for inspiration in a multitude of places. DeviantART is a great place to find all sorts of different types of art that are as different or similar to your own as you can imagine. Beyond the arts, it’s good to look to other fields of study and other thought processes for creative insight. Bringing in elements from unconventional fields of inspiration can really broaden your audience and help make your art a rich experience for all who view it.

This shirt was designed with science in mind. I often study science books and watch nature shows for ideas to bring into my work. Better Chemistry is a nod to the science of chemistry and its beautiful visuals. This illustration can be worn while meticulously testing out your artistic ideas and solving your creative theories. Be an alchemist of art! Explore with your art tools and document the journey. Remember to show your work ;)

One morning, I was experimentally building sculptures with a molecular model set for organic chemistry. I thought it would be great to build a molecule chain that looked like a cluster of characters connected in these chainlike ways.

These characters are fun, but a bit grimy and not clean like these orbs were. Suddenly, I had an epiphany when I made the molecules look like the letters “dA.” I was super excited about this realization, but it needed something more. Sometimes, though, all you need is a spark to send you down what will prove to be the path to a breathtaking work of art.

While building this entire collection, I was working with tonybricker, who I know to be a science-loving artist as well. I did a quick sketch for him of “dA” as a periodic table element. Whether for inspiration or to tool with until he went down a different road of his own, I’m not sure, but this would go on to be the basis of the graphic, and the other ideas floating around like molecules in our heads would be shelved for future use.

Our science-meets-art conversations went back and forth as we did more sketches to develop this new idea. We looked at the Periodic Table of Elements and researched how scientists have used it over time, even delving into how scientific illustrators themselves have tackled this topic historically. Research is fun when you’re interested in the subject matter and inspired by the outcome of your project.

It made sense for this design to be super clean and straightforward with a devious twist. We added a tagline that we’d come up with along the way, too.

From the sketchbook, the graphic went digital, and it was time to talk about color. Since we were dealing with science, we did want the color scheme to be “serious.” We explored many colorways and landed on grey and red. As you can see in our Shop and in the pictures below, both the grey-on-red and the red-on-grey T-Shirt versions are rich and vibrant without being too flashy. The Hoodie in blue followed, and we went with a colorway a bit cooler in temperature but just as strong.

It’s always a suspenseful time when we’re finished with our design and send it off to the printer. Will the end result come out looking like the vision in our heads? 

The models donned the clothing at the shoot, and we were able to really appreciate the finished product. Success! Which colorway is your favorite?

Check out the Better Chemistry Through Artwork Hoodie here. Also, shop both colorways of the Better Chemistry Through Artwork T-Shirts here.

Apparel Collection: Never Normal

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 3:42 PM

Never Normal
Deviating from the Norm

While we should regularly observe and study traditional art and its history to inform our own pieces, deviantART exists as a community to encourage those within it to push the limits of “normal” and loudly embrace the title of “deviant”!  

In life, there’s a lot of black-and-white. To maintain order, things are sorted into categories and organized into piles. Signs all around us dictate what we can and can’t do, but rarely do they inspire us to create and imagine. When brainstorming this shirt, I very clearly imagined standing in front of a stark door, and on it was written “NORMAL” in black and all caps. Simple. Nothing fancy. Serious. 

Another vision appeared in my mind as I was brainstorming. The same door, the same authoritarian font, but this time, someone had scrawled something over the text, taking “NORMAL” right out of the equation, and leaving a beautiful, dripping reminder that sometimes it’s the right thing to deviate from the norm, go outside of the mainstream, and be DEVIANT!

This philosophy is exactly what I was going for when I set out to design Never Normal, and I really like how it turned out. Starting with a silver brush pen, I practiced drawing a simple sentence in my sketchbook. This proved to be too elegant, so I experimented with other methods, designs, and emotions.  

Pages and pages of my book were covered with different variations of the word deviantART or some version of it. I experimented with many different fonts in black marker and inverted the colors digitally, just to see how the silver would look against a dark surface. 

The experimentation of different thicknesses, tips, and inks went on thanks to a full quiver of pens. It’s always good to have a host of tools at the ready. 

With a broad silver marker, I experimented with Krink Ink on a blue surface. It looked beautiful on the rich hue, and the piece’s name was coined.

Next, I added wet drips and splattering to the piece. I turned it yellow digitally to test out that color scheme. It was striking for sure and definitely worth remembering for future projects, but I ultimately ended up with a few different color combinations as my favorites.

The final shirt colors were chosen to be mailbox blue and brick red. Metallic ink was specially ordered, and the design was sent to the printer. We were so excited to see the outcome. 

The metallic ink was more successful than I expected. It was printed straight over the “NORMAL” text and dramatically dripped down the front. 

These shirts help prove that striking through convention, breaking out from the norm, and finding comfort and strength in making your dreams come to life is the most powerful thing a deviant can do. And it’s never normal.

Deviants play well with others!

Apparel Collection: CMY

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 1:55 PM

A Celebration of Color Theory

The most difficult part of putting a piece of art on a printed surface is making sure it translates successfully. This design came about after I created a presentation for my co-workers on color theory. A lot of studying went into the lecture, and because I was presenting to deviantART staff, I wanted to make sure everything I was saying was on point. Color theory has everything to do with association -- in other words, how the colors live next to each other on the color wheel in the visual spectrum. When looking at your screen, it takes the three colors – red, green, and blue added together on a black canvas -- to make all of the colors you are seeing. But in traditional media and print technologies, it takes three other colors starting from the white canvas to make the infinitely wide gamut of hues: cyan, magenta, and yellow. In theory, mixing the three colors (referred to collectively as “CMY”) will make black, but in most cases, it makes an organic dark grey. For this reason, we add black (K) to the mix to get a robust spectrum. 

Starting with a sketch, I knew I wanted to make a piece that only used the three hues -- C, M, and Y -- to make an interesting piece of art. Having a light bulb in the center of the spectrum was a primary thought, but I kept going back to the three main colors. 

There are many theories on how to think about colors and how to artistically use them. Color wheels (like the ones below) show different and exciting examples. The Color Bias wheel on the left (painted from an art lecture) shows how neighboring hues react together when the same color's temperature is warm or cool. On the right is Grumbacher brand art materials' color wheel, which is a much more dynamic illustration of the three-dimensional interaction between opposing colors on the wheel and how they make neutral grey when added together. It also shows examples of how colors react when black and white are added. These are only two examples of many ways color theory can be visually explained, but they're some of my personal favorites -- simple and thorough. Isn't color theory fascinating? 

The color wheel inspired me to pull out the traditional media and mess around with limited colors. Even in simplicity, there are some beautiful and playful moments. 

Watercolor, markers, colored pencils, and hard crayons all use the same hues, but have different features on the media. It’s really fun to mess around and just experiment to find interesting outcomes

These colors are everywhere in nature, and I found examples of them just by looking around outside. Sometimes the best way to find a color scheme for a piece is simply to look at Mother Nature. Beautiful. 

If only I could paint as well as this tree does!

Traditional media was an insightful adventure, but my creative intention was to represent the color much cleaner with crisp levels of transparency. I knew I liked the concept of the hues with some graphic splashes of black and white. You can see here that I even pulled in some found objects to conceptualize with. 

Fully inspired, I jumped back into the digital space where RGB is king…usually. First I made a wheel of CMY divided into thirds and cut it into many pizza wedges. Those were turned transparent and, while trying to keep them pointed toward the center, I overlapped and scattered them, which created subtle color changes of secondary colors orange, green, and violet. 

A really tricky part was translating these little pizza slices of color into solid, printable screens. After I had mocked the piece with transparent layers, I got word that the printer didn't print transparencies, so I had to figure out a way to fake it so it appeared transparent. Sometimes the creative process throws you a loop -- POW! – and you gotta go with the flow and get real tricky to make your vision work! 

This was a totally successful experiment.  I used the halftone tool to make different value frequencies with tiny dots, so the forced “transparency” would still interact with the neighboring color. It worked! Here is a close-up of the detailed halftone dots. I really learned a lot on this piece!

For some graphic accompaniment, I added some white and black shapes and did some hand-written letters. This was definitely the piece in the collection that was furthest from my comfort zone, and it’s one of my favorites printed in those strong hues. 

The models looked great in the piece as well. 

Lesson learned. Allow yourself to push your boundaries, because you will always learn from these experiences. Whether outside your comfort zone or within the confines of something that appears to be a roadblock, seeing a project through to completion can yield beauty you didn’t even know you were capable of.

Visit the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop to shop CMY and the rest of the Holiday 2012 Collection. Click here to shop now. 

Apparel Collection: Deviant BARK

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 6:28 PM

deviant BARK
Fun Character Design

From sheepdogs to wolves to coyotes, dogs are inspirational in their energy and passion for nature and all life has to offer. Join us in appreciation of our furry canine friends with this cuddly deviant BARK tee!

We love creatures of all shapes and sizes. I grew up with dogs and have always loved them as friends and adventure buddies. This concept started out as sketches in my black book, and I worked out many styles. 

From foxes to long cats to wolves to simple barking dogs, I was drawing them all  in marker, ball-point pen, and pencil. I liked that each of them had a different feeling that was really accentuated by the choice of drawing tool. 

During this process, I went to a drawing party, and there was a fun little canine there named Dexter. I considered him for the piece, along with some other dog friends of the same breed. Using brush pens, china crayons, and thick markers, I ended up with a multi-media piece that I think truly captures this little guy’s attitude.

Sure, it was a fun divergence from the main concept, but it was entertaining to draw!

Ever since we launched deviantART muro, I’ve wanted to draw this kind of dog on another graphic. He’s pretty animated, but not quite the graphic quality I was thinking would be appropriate for apparel. Big ups to Sancho, Ernie, and Dexter for being models for these drawings!

When creating pieces for clothing design, it’s crucial to think simple. I was back to the drawing board many times on this concept, looking for a way to make deviant BARK happen.

During a lecture, I drew a big bone chasing a dog, and it made me laugh. This dog was much more universal and much simpler in graphic qualities. He became the style for the finished piece, drawn with a nod to one of my original compositional sketches. 

This super-graphic dog character inspired me to experiment in 3D to see if the idea could take a different route. I made a little diorama of beasts with the loyal herding dog in the foreground giving a resounding BARK! Ha! The trees on the coffee cup make you really feel like you’re out in nature!

The final piece came together, and our new dog protagonist leaps out at you in front of the deviantART logo.

A bold statement for all those friends of dogs in our community! I hope, at the very least, this design makes your tail wag.

To grab one, shop this and the rest of the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Holiday 2012 Collection. 

Apparel Collection: Fangs

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 4:11 PM

Design with a Bite

Slip on this design with strength and pride any time you need to face your creative fears. When a homework assignment, due date at work, blank canvas, or creative brief stares you in the face, stare right back with an intimidating snarl. The challenge can be daunting, but with practice and determination, you can succeed.

The concept of this piece came to me after messing around with gold-colored aluminum foil worn over my teeth while dressed up in costume, giving the camera a growling look. Looking at the photo taken, I felt as if I had just become one of the many wacky characters I draw so often. The overall feeling was worth exploring in a drawing. Showing your teeth is a powerful and primal reaction, but rather than pimping out my grill, I thought it would be interesting to wear that look on a shirt or hoodie.

I have a healthy fear of creatures in nature that could eat me live, so this idea of giant teeth worn across the chest seemed empowering. Grizzlies, wolves, wild dogs, zombies, vampires, bats – they’re all a bit scary when flashing their chompers at you in predatory manner. The first prototype for this concept was painted directly on a hoodie with gesso and glow-in-the-dark paint. The teeth were really grimy and the drips and splatters added a fun artistic element. Here it is in action in my studio. Yes, I am a nerd.

I wore the heck out of that hoodie until the zipper broke and I had to retire it. But the idea lived on, and I pushed composition further making the teeth look like an open mouth about to bite rather than the more horizontal top bar of teeth. A funny mustache even creeped into the thought process for a little bit.

When building this piece, I took a good amount of time to study my own snarling grimace, as well as angry expressions of dogs, cats, and other fanged creatures. After drawing many different sets of teeth, I decided on the appropriate composition.

After scanning the piece into the digital space and redrawing it much cleaner, the teeth were really sharp-edged and tight, but it looked too mechanical or false. Not the feeling I was going for, so I added some splatters that made it feel more dynamic and raw. The hand lettering was applied to make the viewer take a second, closer look at the graphic and connect the feeling to the deviantART experience. At the printer, we came up against the last of the conundrums: making the piece big enough for the XLs but not too huge for smaller Women’s sizes. We decided on a nice width in the middle that worked well for all.

When we put the shirt on a model, we saw our decision had paid off. The graphic was a great size, and he immediately struck a fitting pose. It really brings out the animal in everyone who wears it.

This product was so hot that the T-Shirts are sold out. Click here to shop other T-Shirts.   To get a brand new Fangs, hoodie style,  click here to shop this and all awesome Hoodie styles.


Apparel Collection: Movie Time

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:24 AM

Movie Time
Reels of the Dramatic

To wear this shirt is to cast yourself as the main character in the film of your life, with the dynamic and brightly colored images that make our days as beautifully composed as any award-winning movie. Art is a projection of your creative vision, so project it proudly!

Art exists across many media, from the very static to the super dynamic. Moving-picture media is a great subject matter, and it is the inspiration for this graphic illustration.

This design began on tracing paper with a sharpie marker as fast and furious lines over a pencil drawing. Knowing that this would be a shirt graphic and wanting to mix up the styles on the collection, I was happy with the drawing but wanted to move a different direction. In searching through images of movie-making and projecting systems, old-school projector technology caught my eye as a relic of times past. It’s all about following the inspiration, and the imagery of this machine that existed as a building block for the film technology we can appreciate today. I found an old projector and shot some really crisp photos of it. It still worked, and the bright projector bulb inspired the colorful final result I wanted to recreate with this shirt design.

Building from the stock photos I had taken, I drew my own reels and film to fit the graphic quality of the piece. It was turning into an exciting concept, but it lacked the action of light.

Experimenting with some dramatic colors and adding some bright arrows blasting out of the lens, I finally felt the piece was complete.

We decided to go with two colorways on this piece, and I am happy for this decision because we get to have two completely different styles, so there’s something for everyone. In my opinion, the orange is super energetic while the grey is much more sophisticated.

Another super-fun adventure! Which design matches your style?

Check it out now in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop. Click here to shop this design.

Apparel Collection: Top Hat

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 3:03 PM

Top Hat
Victorian Steampunk Inspiration

Making art from multiple sources of inspiration allows you an opportunity for
different avenues of thought to converge and spin into genres you’ve never
before tried. Mixing it up and treading on new ground creates entire new worlds
of unexplored subject matters and themes for you to build your masterpiece

Steampunk is a fun sub-genre of science fiction that mixes many ideas together, including Victorian Era style, steam-powered machinery, retro-future civilization, and great attention to technical detail. The result is a truly wonderful mash-up
that’s popular for artists and writers alike. 

This piece was spawned from a series of other works I had done in many different medias. Skulls have interested me greatly throughout my life, and the subject matter has always been prevalent in my artwork. One of my favorite pieces is on the belt buckle I wear daily that I made in a jewelry class years ago. It has very special meaning on many levels, and the skull design has inspired many offshoots. 

Being an avid attendee of the super art-centric festival Burning Man, I find myself doing a load of public art for different installations. A friend of mine -- who loves Steampunk and wears dresses in the fitting attire daily -- asked me to make a mural for his booth to welcome newcomers to the volunteer resource tent at Burning Man, and he wanted it to have some serious style.

It was important for the piece to look industrial and classy. We talked about the various symbols that epitomized Steampunk, and he kept visualizing old razor knifes and ball-peen hammers from the Victorian age.

I brought with me some Victorian photos to have a visual resource handy, and I also showed him some skull ideas I’d been working on from my sketchbook. To top it all off (literally), he asked if I would include one of his own hats in the piece as homage to the style.

The installation went beautifully. I used white paint straight on the 3-by-8-foot
surface, and the negative line-work really came out dramatically at this size. Here he is posing in front the final piece.

Fast forward a year or so, and I am still inspired by the subject matter. Since I maintained ownership of the image, even though I gave him the original painting, I could use the image again however I wanted. 

From this large painting, I took a good photo and brought it into the digital space. The line-work was very simple, but even with the addition of some ornamental gears and geometry nestling in the skull, it was lacking something. Maintaining the three values, I added a good amount of texture and detail through the center of the composition, making the visual story all about the top hat and the skull. It was a fun idea and quite a challenge to interpret from metal belt buckle to large mural to clothing design.

We chose a fitting color scheme and sent the piece off for printing. Thankfully, we work locally, because when it was time for a press check (to proof the work before mass production), I was able to see that my original visual decisions on the screen were not reading quite right when translated to silk-screened print. I broke out the laptop and made the changes needed to fix the problem.

Check it out in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop. Click here.

The finished design turned out to look really great when worn by a real person. I
learned a great deal in the process on this one, for sure. I hope you enjoy the journey this design took on the road to completion!

Apparel Collection: I dA LA

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 11:18 AM

Love for dA's Hometown

Whether embarking on adventures with friends or just out making art in the wild, this design is appropriate for any occasion. It’s all about the love we have for our roots as we travel the world building new communities. The "kernel" of deviantART was sown in Los Angeles, and while we represent all cities worldwide, LA will always be in our hearts. Tighten up your sneakers, and get lost in creativity!

This piece started with my love of this dA sticker:

So good and so simple. Pixel hearts: solid! Inspired by the phrase, I went to my sketchbook to figure out how I would execute this piece in my own style. After filling up page after page with a Chisel Tip and a large Paint Marker, I just wasn't finding what I was visualizing in my mind. 

It got messy for sure, but that’s cool because perfection often wears the mask of chaos. In the tumult of ink and page killers, I decided to change tools. The big, chunky marks I was making were not fine enough and not sophisticated enough, either. 

After looking through my arsenal of supplies, my dip pens stood out to me as the best tool to push ink and make an assertive line, while being precise at the same time. It’s traditionally a calligrapher's tool, but of course it can be used for some mixed media. The Wacom tablet would also come in handy to deliver the final touch.

The marks came from my hand on the first try, and I was stoked to have found the right tool.

The square logo of dA was not a perfect fit, so the final note was a crown added digitally with nice sharp marks.

For this piece of local love, I chose a serious color scheme… and another version that is bursting with color!

It’s truly a bold statement for a lover of local roots, no matter where you are in the world.


Apparel Collection: Inside Voices

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 1:00 PM

Inside Voices
Bold and Colorful Characters

Words are full of meaning, and the characters themselves are fun to think of as individual characters (literally!) in a dialog that speaks the words. I envisioned this shirt as being worn by someone with an eclectic team of friends, working with them on a common collaboration. It’s always exciting to work together, and doing so never fails to bring out the best qualities in everyone in the group. I can’t recommend it enough. Band together with your fellow artists, and make big things happen. 

This piece started out as a thought scrawled on a sketchbook page. It sat for some time, and when searching my sketchbook for unfinished ideas, I happened to stumble across it right at the perfect time. This piece had the fun challenge of making characters out of the physical characteristics of the letters themselves.

The "d" is a perfect girl with a feather in her hair.    

The "e" is a funny, little monster with a gaping mouth. 

The "v" forms the pointy nose of a rat or mouse.

The "i" is a pedestal on which a little bird can perch proudly and peer outward. 

An antagonizing "a" forms a cat who watches intently.    

The "n" is a yawning creature with bad teeth.    

The "t" is a drunken fellow blurting out his opinion.

After deciding what forms the letters would take, I wanted to figure out a way to encapsulate the whole word and bring them together.     

I went some rounds with shapes of all sizes -- from super-tight rectangle forms to ovals -- and ended up being really happy with an opaque, rectangular shape that I made with an ink brayer.    

The tool made just enough chatter texture – deliberately imperfect grooves and scores -- and had such an interesting contour that it was the perfect mass to encapsulate the creatures into one family. "ART" holds down the end in a nice geometric explanation. Yellow and purple are very beautiful together, making it a striking color scheme for this bold piece.

It was a bold simple choice to rock just one color, but I believed the liveliness of the piece lives within its characters and springs to life from the design just fine. Here is how we sent it off.

We received the shirts from the printer and the model promptly got comfortable in the garment.

This piece and others in the collection are now available in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop. Click here to see them all.

I really hope you enjoy this piece. Which character are you?     

Apparel Collection: Nerdy Bird

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:51 AM

Nerdy Bird
Exploring Vantage Points

Creativity can be associated with the nature of birds -- very capricious, observant, exploratory, and able to fly free and far in every direction. Imagine that you’ve gathered your tools and your focus is sharp. From a bird’s-eye view, you are ready to jump into your project knowing you have what you will need to succeed.  

This concept has really intrigued me for a while, and I have drawn a few iterations. At first, I was inspired to make a coy bird with a nest that was formed with letters. The interlocking shapes of "Wildstyle" letters (an intricate form of graffiti) often reminds me of weaving or nest building. I began building this piece by stacking different drawings and a photo of a neighborhood power plant with a limited palette.

This bird was a bit too simple, so I pushed the complexity and the narrative of the character by adding fun words into the composition.

It’s fun to write into a drawing. It can often add feelings and meaning to the visual story that are not being portrayed by the line work alone. And, sometimes, like in this case, it’s just silly.

More little bird brains. This was more the feeling I was going for in anatomy, but it was still too disconnected. Even with the cartoonish face he is too serious. More drawings followed. 

Making the nest in script lettering was on my mind, where the bars and accents of the letters really did interweave to make a nest of meaning. 

This work, written with a delicate brush pen, was fitting for "Animal Style,” so I used this phrase to explore the concept. It does resemble a nest of letters that could hold a bird’s little body, even though there isn't much depth portrayed in the solid black monochromatic lines. 

This piece really struck a chord with my creativity. I really went to town drawing in the composition with illustrator blue first before going in with tight line work. The letters were still giving me grief, so I searched around for other inspiration.

I took some photos of a scruffy-looking urban flying rat and a plane making a landing at the local airport. Look for inspiration everywhere.

It’s really helpful to make models of the actual things you’re drawing so you can really see how the light hits them and how they look in context.

Yo, duck! Smile!

Getting these photos is just what I needed to inspire me to draw this next iteration for an interview about the drawing tool called muro Redraw

We fell in love with this piece, and after some hours rebuilding, using a minimal amount of color for silkscreening on clothing, it was finished. Super fun and nerdy!

This is the info that accompanies a piece when I send it to be printed.

We sent it off, and a while later we received the finished garment. It looks even better in context. The model seems to like it as well, as he looks through a stack of fun drawings. 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the flight!

Shop this product and all of the 2012 Holiday Collection in the deviantART T-Shirts & Gear Shop.
Click here to specifically shop for T-Shirts or Hoodies in the new collection.

Apparel Collection: Deviant Cursive

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 12:32 PM

deviant Cursive
Traditional Style with a Modern Edge

Today, I'm thrilled to tell you about Cursive. This design was a definitely trying, but it worked out well in the end. Plus, I had fun in the process and want to share with you this little art tip. Move your whole body as you draw for fluid strokes and dynamic lines. It really works and I had fun practicing that technique during this piece. 

Sometimes the simplest pieces take the most time to perfect. It's one thing to draw a word all crazy and let the color scheme carry it visually, but to write words in an elegant form can be difficult to perfect. You'll see throughout the story of this piece many iterations the piece went through. I think I wrote this out over 100 times before I felt that it had the right essence.

The concept started in pencil, using many variations of letter forms and fonts to see if one of them would catch my attention. Script styles quickly caught my eye, but I was not sold on which medium to use. So I explored many.

I went through page after page of concepts to get just the right feeling. That's what sketchbooks are for -- to kill pages and practice.

I love using felt-tipped pens mixed with China Markers brand to make certain effects.

When I took it digital, I manipulated the piece into sterile vector curves. It was nice, but didn't convey the energy I was going for.

It's always good to write some other words when you get stuck in the typographical elements of a piece. So I abandoned my Wacom tablet, and dove back into ink, this time dipping a sumo brush directly into a puddle of it! This exercise was helpful in turning out some juicy and energetic letters, but the overall composition still wasn't working.

Ultimately, I moved on to huge sheets of paper where I was able to write with my whole body in motion; it's quite a lot of fun to write like this.
Despite the fun, it was a big artistic mess. I was frustrated because I wasn't finding success on a piece that I originally thought would be cake. So, I did what most artists would do: the opposite of whatever I was doing.

I pulled out my metal quill-top dip pens and tried doing the words in a few forms -- upright, italic, reverse tilt. After much vigor, I finally emerged with this composition.

The letters come together at the bottom much like a triangle. The final drawing was only a few inches tall, but I knew that it would turn out nicely when fully expanded across the garment.

I had some ideas for colorways and couldn't narrow down to one. Ultimately, I chose two shirts that would work well with the bright-blue ink color.

When asked to lay it out for a new HoodieBuddie (hoodies with built-in headphones) design, I was mostly inspired by the contrasting color of bright orange on the charcoal-grey canvas. This one really pops. It's a joy to see the graphic show up on these fabrics, and it's especially fulfilling to see the final developed garment.  

This piece had a very interesting journey to get to its final edition, and I loved every minute of it. As always, I would be happy to chat with you about this Journal or any other topics you all want to discuss. I'm happy to have this opportunity to communicate the intentions behind each piece and share with you my artistic process. I hope to learn more about yours, too!  


Apparel Collection: It's Art!

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 1:25 PM

It's Art
An Ongoing Battle for Street Artists

This piece is best worn while you are working on something huge and pushing yourself to the limit. You may get some paint on your clothes, tear your favorite jeans, or end up with some cuts and bruises, but it'll be worth the escapade. The marks of life add character. Go big, deviate from the norm if it feels right, and don't listen if people tell you that what you like or do isn't valid! Remember, if you love it and it flows from your creative mind, then It's Art.

This piece came to me after spending an evening drawing with a group of friends at an event. I wasn't the best artist in the circle, but I was very inspired by the opportunity to learn and watch new techniques while doing my best to keep up with these folks and make good work. There was a group of artists that were drawing in a cool, old-school cartoon fashion. The topic of conversation among the artists was mixing older subjects with contemporary ideas. I sketched out some full-page ideas, and this creation stood out on the paper.

Artists are always trying to put their own artistic thoughts out there in the world. Some art forms are so historical, traditional, and ingrained that viewers accept them without a second thought. However, art that's outside the canon of tradition and pushes artistic boundaries can often struggle for acceptance.
In graffiti, this is an ongoing battle. Some say it's art, while others consider it vandalism and may only see it as a crime. As I worked through ideas, the piece continued to evolve in my sketchbook.

I considered a number of characters that could appear in this scenario -- the graffiti artists, the intrigued viewers, the cops in chase, characters chilling and watching the world go by, and, of course, the buff (people who cover up graffiti).

Oftentimes, it takes several rounds to get the right feel. I tried this with artists running in various poses, all the while trying to depict the body moving fast without losing a cool graphic style in the piece. At one point, I was even debating adding a landscape so the piece of art could be showcased. It turned out to be a bit overwhelming and simplicity won the visual battle. 

After scanning the piece and pulling it into a cleaner digital format, I was able to make some more important design decisions. The wardrobes were key, and getting the right patterns and density of values in such a small composition was a fun challenge.


The characters are obviously in a chase scene, but there needed to be some additional narrative. In adding the searchlight, the characters suddenly popped out of the graphic. The flatness of the monochromatic color scheme and the animated word bubbles really tied the piece together.

Here's what that final glimpse looked like for me. It's incredibly exciting to see something you've created printed and being worn by a real human. It was a very rewarding endpoint to the artistic journey of the piece.

On a personal note, this one makes me laugh every time I see it. It reminds me of a number of artistic adventures I've had in the real world. 

What do you think? I would love to speak to you about any questions you may have regarding this piece, Art Not Bombs, or anything at all. Conversation helps us all educate, learn, and thrive as artists. Please submit your comments below.