Crowdsourcing for money
Against my better judgment, I designed a t-shirt for a contest for the crowdsourcing website Threadless. They call them challenges. Basically they ask for designs, people submit and then site visitors vote and the winning design is made into a t-shirt. Pretty great concept for a company. You get basically unlimited t-shirt concepts for free and the best ones are chosen by visitors to your site. They’ve been doing it for over 10 years and I’ve never tried to enter any of the challenges.
It takes a lot of work to get a winning t-shirt design. The designing isn’t really that hard, heck that’s the fun part. The hard part is trying to get people to vote for you. To win you’ve got to be plugged into a circuit of supporters that are ready to click 5 ($!!!).
I’ve always felt like It’s one of those no win situations. Unless you can harness the power of your inner design monster. Tell him to get up and crank out something so solidly amazing no one can refuse it’s power of win-a-tude. I’ve never had that happen. I’m pretty sure even if I played Phil Collin’s “In The Air Tonight” over and over for 2 hours I couldn’t wake up my design monster. Especially for just an old t-shirt contest. It would have to be a GREAT t-shirt design challenge!
Influence of design
The aesthetic of Charles S. Anderson Design (CSA) is influenced by mid-century graphics and illustrations. They have a keen eye to what made things great from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s and also what was quirky and humorous about it.
I’ve liked the work of CSA for a while and I’ve got some of their design work framed and hanging in my house. A photo of an ultra-rare-ultra-fantastic robot has hung beside my computer for over 10 years. I’ve got several of their stock books that I flip thru for inspiration from time to time and I’m always on the look out for any promotional pieces from French Paper Company, who CSA has designed for since 1989.
I’ll never forget flipping thru the first CSA Archive book. I’m thankful that a co-worker clued me into it. He hung a huge poster of the cover in our office that we shared. It was hip, classic and irreverent all at the same time. CSA’s work has been a huge influence on my design ever since. I still try to keep up with what CSA is doing. Which lead me to design a t-shirt with one of the best robot toys ever created, Big Loo.
Your friend from the moon
Louis Marx made some really fantastic toys. This isn’t the place to review how great Marx toys are, but I might get around to it one day. Until then just go ask the internet about Marx toys. One of their greatest toys was a 3 foot tall toy robot named Big Loo made back in 1963. He did about a million different things from firing rockets to clicking Morse code. To top it off he has one of the creepiest coolest faces to ever be made of plastic. It is instantly familiar and haunting.
The worst thing about Big Loo is he was made of brittle plastic. So he is ultra rare and so he will never be landing in my toy collection. But you know who does have one in their collection? That’s right Charles S. Anderson. Check out this blog post about someone visiting CSA design and touring the plastic stock room. Just scroll down to see if you can spot him in their archive (thanks for the link Mr. Pitzer). I’ll be looking at this Plastock book until you come back.
Threading the needle
“Design a “Pretty Ugly” Threadless T-shirt using design elements from CSA Images” was the subject of an e-mail I got the other day. CSA joined with Threadless and created a challenge that gives you access to CSA’s huge archive. You download 10 free full resolution images from tons and tons of amazing stock albums (the images you get can only be used in the challenge). So I decided to flip thru their digital catalog to see if anything caught my eye.
I flipped thru the hundreds of images trying to keep a mental log of what might work. And there he was in the CSA Plastock gallery. With his big plastic cheshire smile and the saturation levels turned up to 11. An amazing photograph of Big Loo. The same one that hung by my computer for years. I couldn’t click download quick enough.
Big Loo is the embodiment of “Pretty Ugly” and so I went to work crafting a design from elements that I downloaded. I’ve always wanted to draw Big Loo, but this wasn’t a chance to do my own interpretation. I needed to show what could be done with the supplies given to me. So I popped the photo into illustrator and redrew his face to make it easier for screen printing. Messed around for a while adding other parts and pieces until I was comfortable with a design that I’d love to wear on a shirt.
So here he is Mister Magnetic. Surrounded by people who are drawn to him but that have to keep their distance.
Until the cows come home
Being an artist is kind of like being a farmer. Except instead of actually working you sit around and look at stuff on the internet until someone asks you to do something. O.K. it’s nothing like being a farmer. No wait, I did grow an appreciation of art history. Farmers grow things, right?
In art school one of the first things you have to do is learn Art History. Most artists hate it because the reason they went to school was to make art. But I loved art history (it helps to have a great teacher). You’ve got to know what came first so you don’t reinvent the cattle prod. It also outlines what can and can’t be done and that helps you know how to break the rules. The more you learn the better you are as an artist. I guess that’s true no matter what you do. It’s on going and cyclical.
I’m not really sure how those concepts fit in to any of this but I wrote them and now you’ve read them and it feels like a nice place to stop. So I will.
You can vote for my design until July 26th. You do have to sign-up for an account so I understand if you’d rather not.