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Friday, January 2, 2009

Interview with designer Flynn the cat

Interview with Flynn the cat

What inspired you to start designing tee shirts?
T-Shirts aren't my main product - I started off simply painting pictures. I started painting because I've always drawn, I've always had too many ideas and wanted to capture sweeps of line and curves of colour - and because I see things, and they give me ideas. And of course, I see other people's work and I wonder 'how did they do it?' 'Could I do it?' And this becomes - 'I know how they did that!' and 'Maybe if I try this...' and finally 'I can do that, I can do BETTER than that'. So of course, I have to prove it ^_^
I've just started branching out into t-shirts (yesterday! actually) because I realised that I had all these pictures, many of which were still on transparent layers, that I could tweak into T-Shirt designs. ANd then of course, I got carried away - I like make and designing things with my own artwork.

How long have you been in the industry?
Hmmm... painting and putting work up online? I started on DeviantART about a year and a half ago. Seriously selling? Well, I started looking about a year ago and settled on Zazzle three months ago.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Research more than one site before you decide; it's time consuming to set up and you won't see immediate returns so it's hard to back out in time if the site isn't suitable for you. But before that? Have some work - paintings, photos, designs, phrases, whatever you're hoping to market. Make sure you have initial stock, and that it's worth putting up (one good reason to wait until you have a lot - you improve with practice). And finally don't ...stop. Don't stop experimenting; always try something new. The first attempt will probably flop, but the second and the third will probably work. And you'll learn things that will crop up in your other designs, and will give you other ideas. You don't have to sell it, but most people like seeing variety.
Myself? I started with simple prints/posters; added everything to cards, then started playing with cropping for stamps and variations. THEN I looked at what other people where doing and realised that I could adapt my work, or do other things...
Descriptions. You need them. you need to learn how to write them. And the first ones will be horrendously awkward (...I have some especially purple prose lurking on some of my offerings)
Promotion, unfortunately, is very necessary - you simply have to build up a 'base' of people who know of you, if you can. They can't buy, if they never encounter you.
Ah! Don't forget - LEARN FROM OTHER PEOPLE. Including the person-who-you-were-yesterday who made that rather clashing banner. Take something away from everything - these colours work well, that link was useful, this is how NOT to draw an eye...
And probably the most important tip - have FUN. If you aren't enjoying yourself, frankly, why are you doing this? If you aren't happy and enjoying playing with your designs, it'll usually show.

What style has worked best for you as a designer?
....oooh dear. Um. Very colourful work, generally, people like the bright colours - but really? I can't predict which ones people will lke past that. The more time it took, the more people usually like it (as one of my main faults is that I get bored and don't tidy up enough)

Where do you see your company in 5 years?
Mmm. Assuming the world and the internet is still here? Well, I intend to take over 70% of Earth by around 2011, and then... oh, oh RIGHT, the 'art' company!
Well, The New Zealand internet is fianlly being reworked so around then I should actually see improvements. I'm doing my art and online selling concurrently with a degree (about to start my post grad diploma) and a part-time job (YES. I am a poor and struggling student! ..well, sort of ^_^ ). But - unless I get 'discovered' or get hit by some random occurrence of luck (good or bad), I expect my art to be a LOT better (I... improve pretty fast) and therefore to have built up a niche following of minions who worship my every brushstroke.
But seriously? I can't put any more time into it right now, so it'll be slow and steady. Currently I'm a tiny tiny minnow... with ambition, mwahaha.

What is your favorite design?
This piece:
( image link:)
It's the best painting I ever did, in my opinion (so far!) and I spent longer on it than any other - it's not always as popular, because other designs are more eye-catching, but it's full of detail ^_^ I love asking people if they liked the deer. They hardly ever spot it on their own.

Who has been your biggest influence in your designs?
Um? Me, because I'm so competitive ^_^ But really? Uh, I tend to take ideas from EVERYWHERE. Studied Art History at school so the Impressionists stuck; a lot of the fantastic artists on DeviantART (there is always someone better than you. ALways. It gets quite irritating ^_^). I would mention Himmapaan - - whose delicate pencils and watercolours proved to me that I was a lazy, untidy layabout who had no excuse for not finishing their work properly. My Aunt's - simply because one would send us artwork, and the other had done a painting that we had in our house so I grew up knowing It Could And Should Be Done.
I've picked up a lot of tips about organising and building up galleries, and the technical stuff for designs around Zazzle, but most of the *artistic* influences are from DeviantART, and other artists I've found offline.

What is your favorite design by another artist?
On Zazzle? Currently a tossup between by Liiga and by KyleFinchsigmate

Here are 3 of Flynns best designs