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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
around.

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!







Read about past projects that inspired Forest Stearns to make "Top Hat!"
Add a Comment:
 
:iconsonnywong001:
sonnywong001 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
effing dope brother!
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks Wong! You're next!
Reply
:icontloatdae:
TLoATDaE Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
So very many wonderful possibilities here!
I'm a 'fringe' fan of the Steam-Punk Genre, and there are many things here to peak my interest.

I look forward to seeing more of your works.
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Awesome, I love the term 'fringe' fan. I am certainly a fringe fan of many subject matters and I only wish I had more time to dive into more things in my own art. Are there any other subjects that you are a finge fan of?
Reply
:icontloatdae:
TLoATDaE Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012
I'm an active fan of SciFi, Fantasy, Super Hero and RPG (for lack of a better term).
Have a peek at Drake Fenwicks' stuff as an example.
*WARNING* Stack Overload is quite possible if you go there!
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I love some Sci Fi as well! Ill look at Drakes work! Thanks!
Reply
:icontechnoshadowblood:
TechnoShadowBlood Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not that there's nothing wrong with this but he's just having shirts come out of the wazoo, ain't he?
Reply
:iconruwie:
Ruwie Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
this is epic... must have it!
Reply
:iconadu101:
ADU101 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
OMG I LOVE IT!
Reply
:iconoceanymphadora007:
oceanymphadora007 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I would soooo wear this, it's awesome!
Reply
:iconzeronemike:
zeronemike Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
cool story....and awesome design....
Reply
:iconmikeerson:
mikeerson Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
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
around.

or....

you could just look at your old areosmith alblums from the 80s and make devinatART think you created this all on your own - lol
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Are you serious?

This piece has nothing to do with any records in my non-existant collection of 'areosmith alblums.'

Thank you for reading the process and seeing the full story of the workflow. We appreciate your input, but I have to totally disagree with you saying that I am stealing any art and passing it off as my own. As you can see, the history of this image has had many incarnations in many hours of drawing over many years.


I appreciate your feedback mikeerson. Have a nice day.
Reply
:iconiamgazz:
iamgazz Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
I bought myself this T-shirt in December and think it is a stunning piece of art - completely original (loved steampunk). Ignore the haters. Well done. Please make more!!
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Right on thank you, I am happy you enjoyed the T-Shirt thank you for being a part of this rad global community! It was a pleasure to make the collection as a whole and I know it is impossible to please everyone. Haters are going to hate, we just keep practicing and getting better by the piece!
Reply
:iconmikeerson:
mikeerson Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012
I'm just saying you said it's New... don't know how old you are, but what you did with skull and wings is old school... it's not original and frankly I've seen been art of this type come from jr. high kids - now if you want to put some time into it and send it to me, I'd be more than happy to give you a critique... I just didn't like you sounding off as if this style is "New" or your "Idea" the bands in the 60s and seventies craved this type of art... Greatful Dead? Areosmith? black sabith, Ozzy.... bassically, your writing is what got me... just think if I told you I'm gonna mix and match and stick a barely dressed woman in a cocktail glass - you too would laugh and say it's not your idea bro - so, don't get bent at me, read what you wrote and you'll understand where I'm coming from... now, if you would of wrote I like the album work from the 60s and 70s, I want to create something similar, I would of said, good job, I undertand I too like skulls and wings.

and writing me this piece has nothing to do with your NON existant Areosmith collection - please... go to a record store and you'll realize what you did more than likely you saw sometime in your life and something triggered you to create it - I'm telling you that something is areosmith - weather you like the band or not, they snuck into your mind and you created this thinking it's all new and you mixed and matched it all together - skulls and wings go hand in hand, it's been in lots of art just to let you know.
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you again for your input, and once again I am going to have to kindly disagree with
you. You have a rock solid point when you say skulls and wings are old school. And yes the rock bands of the 60s and 70s did crave the imagery. The statement that you quoted and then followed by accusing me of stealing:

"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
around."

I have to totally agree with you. I did use the word "new" and "idea," but you know as well as I that I didn't invent skulls, nor did I mean that this is a "new Idea." Although I was speaking about using art from multiple sources like Steam Punk, birds, dead people, top hats, lettering, hammers, straight razors, etc. In this piece I used many subject matters pulling my favorite parts of each and created a new graphic that I had never executed before. It was "new" to me, and part of the bigger conversation that art as a whole takes. I love skulls and have been a collector since I was young in fact I have a human skull on the shelf in my studio that I draw quite often, I love wings and often draw them regularly in different pieces. I also love lettering, and so on.

You are right, this is nothing to get bent about, but I am coming from a very passionate place and that is why I put so much effort to make these illustration available with their process.'

Nothing in art is NEW, everything is a spin of an old idea. Like you, I study many types of art, record art, poster art, Gothic art, Punk rock fliers, tattoo mags, skateboard graphics...It all uses very similar imagery. Designers always riff on other ideas in a new and trendy way. We are no different, and I appreciate you reiterating that from your first note on a different thread.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we may have totally different tastes, be different ages, and have totally different backgrounds. But that is the excitement of this whole experience. Our love of art, making it, appreciating it, and sharing it with our community is why we are here. I do my best, but I am not expecting you to like it, I do hope you can appreciate the effort. Thank you Mike for your time, and your feedback. I look forward to seeing more of your work as well.
Reply
:iconmikeerson:
mikeerson Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012
Just got back from checking out your galleries home page - wow... I didn't know you were Young - lol... but that is a good thing... it also explains we are from two different eras in time... and that's why we weren't understanding each other 100%. I left you some writings in your home page so I'm gonna keep this short... I noticed my avatar was on your page under friends - thank you. I also noticed you have me under the "watch" program - lol - thank you. I seen on your page a list of visitors and times - that's cool, I don't think my page has that, I gotta go check, if I don't have it, maybe you could tell me how to set it up. I post over at Renderosity.com and every now and then I post here. it's been a few months that I have posted here.
Reply
:icondraweverywhere:
draweverywhere Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks Mike for the clarification on what you were meaning. I am not sure how Young you think I am, but we are not that far apart. Yep, I put you on my watch as well and I am looking forward to seeing your work. Thank you for sharing the Renderosity site. I just did my first piece in z-brush, very interesting to work in the 3D. Have a good one.
Reply
:iconmikeerson:
mikeerson Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
wasn't that you in the picture on your gallery home page that says you're a senior in high school?

I see I have 7 pictures to look at, I so hope you posted your zbrush picture... I just installed zbrush and have played around, but I haven't tried to make or save anything... I've watched a couple tutorials and it's like they expect you to know what they are doing.... I need some tutorials that start at the start - do you have some good links? I do know after I create my model, I can paint it - just the program I want - lol

Renderosity is more for graphic artists but the have catagories for 2D art, Photography, Writing.... You can put anything you like in your gallery but no touching private parts, no erections, no figures under 21 nude - not even a baby... I have a friend that is a photographer and he posted a Mom and dad holding their nude newbown - very cool picture and Renderosity made him take it down.
let me know on those zbrush links, would ya?
Reply
:iconravenssouldesigns:
RavensSoulDesigns Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Love the design and the process, I'd love to be able to do this one day and afford to buy your t-shirt I also have a thing for skulls :D Also will be looking into this steampunk I think I may have to give it a go! :D
Reply
:iconanjourekloos:
anjourekloos Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012   General Artist
now finally a design i would proudly wear!!!! very very cool. love the process you have done too.:iconblueroseplz:
Reply
:iconcold-creature:
Cold-Creature Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah! It's SO great to see the design process of these shirts~ <3 Beautiful!
Reply
:iconstorm-aquario:
Storm-Aquario Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012   Photographer
Want!
Reply
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