There are many times as an artist when you get to work on a set of illustrations that work equally well on their own and as part of a larger set. Although the individual pieces may be thematically different from each other, they follow a common visual look and feel. This is where the individual artistic style that you’ve practiced for hundreds of hours really gets to shine. Recently I was lucky enough to find myself in this situation, and I’m honored to announce the resulting set of illustrations printed on really cool HoodieBuddie™ outerwear.
The three different garments are very different in material, cut, and area for print, but the illustrations on each have visual harmony with the current collection. Wise Wings is printed on a lightweight Hoodie with many pockets across the front. For this piece, I decided to make a two-part illustration to be printed on the hood as well as the back hip. The second piece, called Circles and Lines, is a unique horizontal-striped crew reminiscent of a sailor sweater. For this piece, the illustration has a similar style of linework to the others, with really rich hues overtop neutral, grey bands. Varsity Crest, the third of the series, is a garment cut and dyed in the fashion of a letterman jacket. My goal was to maintain the line quality of the set while creating a unique graphic illustration to be printed on the double crest panels.
No matter what the medium or even the intention, I feel it really benefits an artist to complete multiple pieces in a series. Whether you incorporate a common thread through multiple commissions for different people or simply spend your time sketching out similar graphics, it can really make your body of work feel more cohesive and gets you to think outside the box, even within self-imposed design limits.
Circles and Lines
Much like riding a bike, making a great piece of art is about balance of many elements while, sometimes bravely, moving forward. This energetic mass of circles and lines on fashionable stripes can inspire the artist to follow an adventurous creative path on any number of two-wheeled transports. As an illustrator, I depend on the quality of my linework to carry through my pieces of art. The line quality that I’ve developed in my work greatly defines my style. It carries my work in a cohesive way and has hundreds of influences.
Bikes are such fun things to draw. Their geometric shapes are so perfectly designed and really interesting to abstract a bit, warping the balance so they really have character. I enjoy taking a perfectly round wheel and making it wonky and off-centered in just the right way. The frame, which is engineered to be super strong, gets drawn in a more organic way, giving it a much more animated quality.
Drawing in my sketchbook is so beneficial because it allows me to be playful with ideas that would look too overworked on the final canvas. With this piece, I pushed the idea of horsepower combined with bikes, and that sketch evolved into the wild herd of horses corralling the bikes to keep them under control.
Bikes show up in my work a lot, and after we chose this cool, striped HoodieBuddie™, I knew I wanted to print them on the garment. The yellow and red colors look really nice together in China Crayon, but the red would be too dark of value to work on the stripes, so I pulled out the pink “Mean Streak,” and with one mark on the paper, I knew that this would be the perfect hue for the job. The final linework would be drawn with one of my favorite pens ever: the double-tipped Zig Writer. It produces amazing lines on Bristol board with a flexible tip that stands up to really heavy strokes. I am a pen nerd!
After I filled a number of pages with these fun drawings, I transferred the project to the digital space, carefully scanning in each 11x14-inch drawing in two parts to be seamed together. At this point, I felt like I had a herd of bikes moseying about, so it took a lot of shuffling and some weeding out to determine which ones would make the final cut. Bike herding aside, I then needed to explore which font would work best for the project. Should I use a hand-written font, or stick to something more “professional”? I tried many different options to more clearly show similarities in form, and in the end I chose to use another designer’s beautiful font work.
I mocked up the final composition with just the right colors to make sure everything was in order and looked correct with all pieces put together. Both the yellow and pink pop from the neutral stripes. Which bike is your favorite?
The outcome of this piece is printed on the garment, and I’m very proud of the piece. I love seeing it worn, especially by someone on his beloved bicycle. Enjoy your artistic adventures!
My goal when starting this piece was to make a letterman-style graphic reminiscent of both a medieval royal crest and a contemporary varsity patch. “The Artistic Wizard College of deviantART” was my made-up inspiration. Crests are pretty interesting historically, and I researched many types throughout many cultures to find which style best suited us at deviantART. Some are long and tall, able to fit on flowing upright banners, and some are wide, fit perfectly for horizontal flags. Some are construed of simple shapes for the most efficient visual recognition, and others are so ornate that the symbolism is almost indecipherable.
Many elements were sketched in the process of finding the right composition of symbols. I knew I wanted the classic “dA” initials as well as a solid font for the top of the shield.
It’s good for my creative process to try out many line weights, like the ballpoint pen pieces above and also the thick Sharpie lines below. The different lines make me consider things within the design differently just because the spacing changes so much with different tools. The ballpoint is so energetic, providing me with the conceptual space to see which ways to push the elements, while the solid, smooth lines of the marker really define the weight of the piece. They all inform each other along the process, and the more information you can sketch out in advance, the more you understand how to make your materials do what you want, rather than letting chance decide. This is a perfect example of how to get over a common roadblock in the arts: if you’re not sure where to begin with something, simply try everything!
One really interesting way to conceive illustrations is by looking at your progressive sketches through inverted values – swapping the colors for their opposing color. This method makes the design look new and fresh to your eyes if you’ve been struggling with it for a while. In these sketches, I‘m really trying to figure out the various textures I’d like to use and seeing if the elements are all cohesive.
The complete graphic was an interesting amalgamation of many process sketches. Every part worked itself out, and I felt the final design was a good balance of space and tone.
I finalized the piece and sent the files off to the printer with the chosen Pantone colors and final graphic dimensions.
When we received the garment back, the print colors went great with the local color of the weave of the cloth, the sporty accentuating trim, and the headphone drawstrings.
The best way to start an artistic adventure is to dive right in! This bold graphic symbolizes the fact that your creative eye is completely open, actively searching for inspiration. Listen to your favorite music AND your artistic intuition as you create masterpieces in this stylish Hoodie!
Many of these physical pieces were born from rough sketches found in the tightly packed pages of a notebook. Oftentimes, it’s the result of many ideas drawn over time that make a concept so rich. Finding what will inspire something that may inspire something completely different is the Artistic Adventure.
There was a good amount of variation to the sketches that would eventually develop into Wise Wings. I got the idea of drawing a character portrait with bushy hair and wings sprouting from his head. This might make a great illustration for another time, but it was not really an image I would want to wear. The ideas progressed further after deciding to draw a skull instead of a head. I was torn between making a big skull patch across the shoulders and making a large, energetic graphic for the front of a Hoodie, with the skull as the focal point. A third idea arose from those two ballpoint-pen drawings that focused more on the energy of bikes and skulls, like a motorcycle jacket. Next, a powerful element that really stood out was the winged skull on the hood with the 3rd eye.
Skulls have always been a subject matter of interest to artists, and there have been innumerable versions created throughout art history. Personally, skulls have intrigued me since I was a child, and I have one displayed in my studio for constant reference as I draw and stylize the form.
In pushing this idea forward, I knew I wanted it to be the piece that connected the fall and spring collections of deviantART T-Shirts & Gear. So it had to have elements of the previous line with the theme and direction of the new line in the making. “Artistic Adventure” is a key theme in the new line, so I thought this would be a perfect place to preview that playful theme. Flying skulls and flowing handwriting? Check!
I headed back to the sketchbook for more pages of development; this time hand lettering was the focus of the practice.
There was one drawing created in the development that didn't make the cut, but it was really entertaining and worth sharing. It shows just how far the creative mind goes when advancing toward a final piece of art - the deer and llama/sheep with art tools as legs. I can’t explain it, but it was fun to draw!
Sometimes you have to write something a bunch of times with a number of different media before the beautiful subtle elements really come to life. In this case, one of my favorite little features is the first “e” in “Adventure.” It is so pretty coming down from the “v.” It’s these little things that really make practice less about work and all about fun.
Finding the right font that would complement and accentuate the illustration happened a few pages into the process, and I combined the two developing ideas to ensure their cohesiveness. Since the garment is the final canvas, it’s important to measure the live area, making sure what you’re designing will fit the intended space.
The final pieces were cleaned up digitally and finalized as a strong graphic set for this Hoodie.
The graphics are a strong match with each other when printed on opposite sides of the garment. This will be a fun piece to help you start your own Artistic Adventure this spring.
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