Welcome to another cool new Designer Unlocked Interview

….where GSHQ brings you the best designer talent currently plying their trade over the internet.
 
This week, we have a designer from the UK, a designer whose video game designs and in particular his awesome Bioshock designs have proved to be hugely successful.
 
His designs have been featured on a number of websites, I find his designs to be colourful and bold and very popular judging by his Facebook page.
 

I am talking about Adam Howlett.

 
adam-howlett-header1-650x200
 
Adam is into video games but a confirmed geek, but there is something about Adam you may not have heard about him before as he keeps it secret, he is actually a massive fan of Saved By The Bell J remember that 90’s teen sitcom.
 
There is many a day when he is day dreaming thinking he is the main star of that programme, it’s that and his other secret hobby of planning ludicrous robberies of some of the worlds most valued jewels, that gives Adam the main impetus and creative juice to get up each morning and put his awesome talent to work!
 
Adam Howlett
 

Geek Shirts HQ Welcomes Adam Howlett

……the latest designer to get unlocked.
 
 
Can you start by giving some background about yourself? Where you are from? What is your background? How did you get into design?
My name is Adam Howlett, I live in Macclesfield in the UK. I've been doing freelance design work and designing t-shirts for the last two years. Prior to that I hadn't been working in design, and I hadn't really done any artwork since I was at school over ten years ago.
 
It all started with Redbubble, I saw what other people were selling on there and thought I'd give it a shot. I started off with some very simple design and gradually became more competent with the software.
 
I started off using Gimp, and to be honest I still use it a lot, despite also having Photoshop. My designs were selling, so I kept at it.
 
 

Sugar and Splice and Everything Nice T-Shirt

Sugar and Splice and Everything Nice T-Shirt

Available at Redbubble

 
 
Where did you get the name Adho1982?
It's just a profile name I was using a lot when I set up my Redbubble account. I'd really like to change it to something a bit more dynamic, or even just use my full name. It's something I've been thinking about doing lately.
 
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
I'm a fan of most geekish stuff in all its mediums, but I quickly realised that I had found my niche in video games.
 
My first popular designs were based on the Fallout and Bioshock games, but I generally try to create designs based on whatever I'm playing and enjoying.
 
Recent favourites have included Ni No Kuni and Bioshock Infinite.
 
 

Obedient and Expendable T-Shirt

Obedient and Expendable T-Shirt

Available at Redbubble

 
 
How would you describe your design style?
Good question, I'm not sure really. Having not had much of an education in design this is a difficult question to answer. I like to think there's a certain boldness to the colour palette I tend to use.
 
To be honest when you're working on pop culture designs derived from or parodying existing ideas it's almost impossible not to imitate all kinds of different style, depending on the themes of your design.
 
When you create a new t shirt design, what is sort of process do you follow?
Typically, I'll start with a pencil sketch of the key elements of an idea. I'll scan this, then start to tidy the design up with vector paths, colouring and shading. This isn't always the case.
 
My most recent design started with a photograph of my own hand, other times I might incorporate the use of free stock images if it's a more efficient way of realizing the design.
 
Once the key elements are in place I'll starting building the design up with peripheral elements, framing and text.
 
I normally have an urge to get the design done in one go, but I often find it's beneficial to take a break from a piece to consider what is and isn't working or even take advice from others. 
 
 
Here are some in process shots of my latest Bioshock design called Constants & Variables T-Shirt
Constants & Variables T SHIRTS 1
 
Constants & Variables T SHIRTS 2
 
Constants & Variables T SHIRTS 3
 
Constants & Variables T SHIRTS 4
 
Constants & Variables T SHIRTS 5
 
Constants & Variables T SHIRTS 6
 
 
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
I'd probably say Megaton Deathclaws is my favourite. It's a sports team style design inspired by a creature from the video game Fallout. I'm quite fond of it because it's one of my first designs that I remember being really pleased with. It's quite easy to look back on older work and be quite critical about, but I'm still really happy with this piece.
 
Admittedly I have gone back to it very recently to tidy it up, but I didn't feel I had to make and significant changes to the layout in any way.
 
 

Megaton DeathClaws T-Shirt

Megaton DeathClaws T-Shirt

Available for Redbubble

 
 
What current projects are you working on now? And can we get an exclusive peek?
I just finished a Bioshock Infinite design called "Constants & Variables", which is kind of a companion piece to my popular "A Man Chooses, A Slave Obeys" design based a quote from the original Bioshock. You can see a few pictures of the design as it was developed in this post.
 
I have a few other ideas floating around at the moment, but nothing has been committed to paper yet.
 
 

A Man Chooses, a Slave Obeys T-Shirt

A Man Chooses a Slave Obeys TSHIRTS

Available at Redbubble

 
 
Who are your favourite designers?
There's a ton of talented designers I admire out there, to name but a few in the t-shirt game, Harebrained, Bamboota, Megan Lara, Brandon Whilhelm, Karen Hallion, Ollipop and NinjaInk.
 
When marketing your designs how much focus and importance do you place on social media sites?
It's very difficult to know exactly how much impact this has, but I do make an effort to make sure I promote my work on social media, and maybe bug a few well known bloggers to help me cast my net a bit wider. Quite often, when I have sold a design on Redbubble within the first 24hrs, it's because a design has had a lot of reblogs on Tumblr.
 
Reddit is a good place to go too, but can be a tougher nut to crack, and it can be a bit brutal at time. 
 
 

Pika Suit T-Shirt

Pika Suit T-Shirt

Available at Redbubble

 
 
A lot of designers use sites like Redbubble and café press to market and sell their designs. Have you thought about setting up your own store?
Most of my designs go straight onto Redbubble and Society6. I've considered printing and selling my own stuff and maybe it is something I will do in the future.
 
The main appeal of sites like Redbubble is that there is no costs to the artist to produce and distribute the product, all I have to do is invest time in creating and promoting my work, and both can be done for free.
 
Redbubble is also a reputable and well know platform for selling art which attracts much more traffic than I possibly could attract to any site of my own. This helps me continue to play to my strengths, which is art, not business.
 
 
Do you prefer to sell on the daily tee sites or through your Redbubble store?
They both have their place. Redbubble is a more stable source of income, I can count on a monthly income from Redbubble. If I want a regular income from daily sites I need to keep working on new designs. This isn't a bad thing, it keeps me motivated. 
 
It can also be an exciting event when you're on a daily site.
 
 

Proper Tidy Bites T-Shirt

Proper Tidy Bites T-Shirt

Available at Redbubble

 
 
Do you try to convey any message in your designs?
I'm a fan of all of the video games which I base my work on, I like to think this is the special sauce which makes my work appealing to other likeminded geeks.
 
What do you prefer designing for, something wearable or a print?
I make most of my work available as prints and t-shirts, but I start all of my designs with T-shirts in mind.
 
The main difference is the use of borders. I also always consider that the design may be printed on a daily site. These sites usually restrict the design to about 6 colours. It sounds quite restrictive at first, but I think it helps the design process and the overall outcome, as you have to more carefully consider your colour palette.
 
 

Welcome Vault Hunter T-Shirt

Welcome Vault Hunter T-Shirt

Available at Redbubble

 
 
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
Apart from gaming, I'm a fan of all other mediums of geekish fiction, books, comic books, films and TV. I also have a part time job providing social and educational support to young people with autism, which gets me out into the real world.
 
Do you have any advice for budding designers?
There's a lot of niche knowledge and pitfalls in terms of working with sites and as part of an internet community of artists. I'd recommend that people read this guide by artist Dora Lerf on Ript Apparel's blog. There's a lot of great advice in there.
 
 
Any plans for the future?
I just want to continue to develop my craft. There are many artist out there who a far more talented than me, I'd like to be creating stuff on their level.
 
 

Tardis Self Destruct Button T-Shirt

Tardis Self Destruct Button T-Shirt

Available at Redbubble

 
 
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
There are too many to mention really, I wouldn't want to make anyone feel left out.
 
I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past couple of years. 
 
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
You'll find most of my work on Redbubble and Society6, you can get in touch with me on my Facebook page.
 
Any websites that have featured your design