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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Interview with Jay and Be-Him of Van Tribe

I first met Jay and his lovely wife Bettlina (aka-Be-Him) on the Spreadshirt forums. We became instant friends. Jay has a very edgey rockabilly style in his designs and his wifes digital work has a very dark yet very sensual feel.

What inspired you to start designing tee shirts ?
We read in the german news magazine “Der Spiegel” about a new company called
Spreadshirt, where designers could get their work printed on high quality T-Shirts
and sell it to the public easily.
Years ago we had tried this before, selling merchandising shirts of our bands, but it
was a very complicated process at that time.
The quality of prints and the shirts were, lets say, horrible, and you had to buy a certain amount of shirts.
It was lots of work, expensive and not that satisfying, so we finally stopped it.
But here we are again.

How long have you been in the industry?
We started VAN TRIBE in 2006.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?
You should ask yourself three questions:

Do you want to make a lot of money the easy way?

Are you giving up soon when times get rough?

You dont really have time to work on your designs over and over again?


Then it will be difficult.
First of all you need to be patient.
Be sure, to develop the designs, your shop, the network, the marketing.
Just everything takes a lot more time than you expect. And if you are not burning for your ideas, if you are not convinced that the world is waiting just for your designs, you will not work as hard as you can.
Start sketching your ideas roughly, train yourself in doing this.
Dont expect pieces of art at the beginning, thats not necessary, then work it out, work it over until it fits in all systems you are working with.
You have to understand the differences between Digital Printing and vector graphics, there is a lot to know about technical specifications, your computer system and the designing software.
Thats maybe a little frustating sometimes, but it`s no magical mystery tour, blogs and the Spreadshirt forum will be helpful. Be sure: There`s really nothing you can`t learn !!!!
So be curious, be patient and never give up.

What style has worked best for you as a designer?
Our hearts belong to Tribals, Skulls, Tattoo designs, that´s what you`ll find on VAN TRIBE, but we do other designs for our Manga-Shop and our BADASS-shop, where we got lots of political or funny graphics.

Where do you see your company in 5 years ?
On top
Just Kiddin`.
We want to be established as a high quality brand and give people the chance of wearing our designs at a competitive price.

What is your favorite design?
Be-Him: I love my “Lucky Skull”. Its fresh, cute and it looks a bit melancholic. For me it`s absolutly perfect.
JayOne: My favourite? Well it`s “Killing Fields”, a design that reminds me that life is a journey that will end someday. It`s very clearly drawn in a graphical style, there is a strong message in it, and: it looks awesome.

Who has been your biggest influence in your design?
Be-Him: I can not say influenced, but I am deeply impressed by old woodcuts from japan, images of the “danse macabre”, the “Vanitas” theme, comic art, graphic novels, the artists Albrecht Altdorfer, James Ensor, Edvard Munch, Max Klinger, Aubrey Beardsly, Wilhelm Busch, Heinrich Zille, and many, many more.
But really the biggest influences for me as an artist are music (Loud and Hard) and the works of Oscar Wilde, because they feed the cinema in my head and keep my dreams alive.
JayOne: Well, I`m not that much into the classical stuff, I do love Comic Art like Marvel or DC, the Japanese Manga-Style and Pinstriping Art, made by designers as Herb Martinez, Tommy The Greek, Art Himsel, Von Dutch, Robert E. Dunn or Tommy Otis.

What is your favorite design by another artist?
The design “Skull Fade” by tat2ts, printed on a deep red teeshirt is our favorite at the mo.
Its cool, quite elegant, no mainstream skull trash, its high class

Two of our favorite designs
Killing Fields