Welcome to the Geek Shirts HQ Designer Unlocked Interview Series.
Iin these series of interviews we try and get the inside scoop on some of the best independent designers plying their trade.
This week’s special guest is a designer who believes passionately in what he does, and does it for the enjoyment of it and think this really shows through in his designs.One of my favourite designers, I am a real fan boy when it comes to certain designers and David Benton AKA Droidloot.He is one of those cool designers, whose awesome designs I have brought via We Love Fine and Redbubble, so it is a real pleasure to welcome David Benton, the latest designer to get unlocked.I heard David has been hiding out in the Far East because of crimes against Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks, personally I think he is a hero!Whilst in the Philippines, he relaxes during his day job as a kissagram, this gets him in the zone to start creating some of his awesome designs. This helps him de stress and he has a lot of love to give!Seriously, David seriously, can you put down that French Maid’s costume; we have an interview to complete.
Can you start by giving some background about yourself? Where you are from?
I'm a U.S. expat living in the Philippines. I grew up around Boston, MA, went to art college there, started a modestly successful creative firm in 1993 there, got fired by my business partners for being an unreliable, substance-abusing-prick in 2000 there, got married in Bangkok, got divorced in Boston, did a year of rehab in Florida in 2008 and moved to the Philippines in 2010. I left out a few other things, but you probably get the picture.
What is your background?
Currently it's a lush tropical mountain; and my foreground, a turquoise-coloured bay.
How did you get into design?
I don't remember getting into design; I just know I never got out of it.
I think Droidloot is a really cool name! Where did you get the name from?
Thank you! Asim is a pretty bad-ass name too. Unfortunately, the story behind the moniker Droidloot is not as cool as the name. Let's treat it like a piece of abstract artwork and let everyone take from it whatever they like.
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
Family, friends, politics, philosophy pop-culture, music and plenty of rest. Nothing blocks creative flow like unnecessary stress, or worrying about things over which I have no control.
When you create a new t shirt design, what is sort of process do you follow?
I don't really do a lot of brainstorming, so I don't know how a good idea comes to me. I just know if I don't write it down, when it happens, I'll forget it. As far as execution goes, this is a little tricky for me to answer because I do whatever the concept demands.
I prefer to work in vectors because I'm anal-retentive and anchor points allow me to indulge the shit out of my obsessiveness; but I'm happy to scribble around in Photoshop, build 3D models or scan in a napkin drawing.
I'll spend hours researching reference images in Google, but if I can't find the right one, I'll set up the shot and take a photo myself. I'm a firm believer in using reference as a tool to better express a concept, but if the integrity of the concept starts to get polluted by the reference materials, then it's time to change strategy or just drop it and move on to the next thing.
I've been sitting in front of a computer for the last 20 years of my life, in a variety of mental states; and if nothing else, I've become reasonably proficient with the tools of my trade. So yeah, whatever it takes. If the concept demands it, I'll do it. Here's an example:
Downtime Design Process
01- Concept-sketch – Most of my works start of as a rough sketch in Illustrator, Photoshop, or a napkin.
02- Build models – This concept required some technical accuracy. Fans get rabid when details are wrong, so I Googled the best reference for lightsabers I could find and modeled them in Wings 3D, my favorite 3D subdivision modeler.
There are always some issues with accuracy due to the fact that silk-screening forces artists to work in a limited color palette.
03- Texturless render – In this case, I posed and rendered a texturless image so I could have a good idea where the lightand shadow falls.
04- Vector linework – Next step is to do the vector line work.
05- Color fills,reduce palette, separate and submit to Woot for print consideration.
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
If you'll allow me to avoid your question gracefully, I would have to say every piece is my favourite as I'm creating it. I wouldn't say I feel about them, the way a parent feels about a child, but perhaps more the way a nostalgic lover feels about an ex. I remember when the relationship was so committed I could think of nothing else. Then I run into one a few years later, and I'm like "wow, what did I ever see in you?"
What current projects are you working on now? And can we get an exclusive peek?
My brother said something pretty damn hilarious over the holidays and a million images came rushing into my head. It has to do with premature burials and chocolate. Here's a 1px by 1px preview cropped from the hi-res work in progress. Enjoy!
Who are your favourite designers?
I have a lot of unbelievably talented colleagues and competition out there, but I love the t-shirt work of Glenn Jones, the information design of Edward Tufte and the Oil Paintings of Vincent Van Gogh.
When marketing your designs how much focus and importance do you place on social media sites?
I live in the Philippines, so basically 100%.
Do you try to convey any message in your designs?
Sure, every design conveys a message. Not necessarily an important one, but a message nonetheless. For instance my design 'Think For Yourself' is like a message I'd engrave on the inside of an antique gold pocket watch.
Then there's my 'I'm Kind of a Big Deal design. That one's more like a fortune cookie message. Some people find it clever, others… not so much.
Star Wars Or Star Trek? Which Do you prefer?
My name is 'Droidloot'. Not 'Androidloot'. Still though, Star Trek carries the more meaningful messages for humanity. Seriously, that question is like asking whether I like waffles or Bugattis.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hanging out with Tim Minchin and Neil deGrasse Tyson in a hot-tub as we one-up each other with our epic accomplishments.
What do you prefer designing for, something wearable or a print?
I've done some art prints, but shirts are my main game. Nothing beats the compliment of someone wearing something you created. It's right in that sweet-spot between putting it up on their wall and tattooing it on their skin.
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
I think art is just the natural result of my other interests. That is to say that art really only happens for me if I spend time indulging my other interests.
I like reading about current events, watching movies with family and friends, taking walks in the mountains philosophizing and bouncing ideas around with creative people.
I spent too many years being totally self-absorbed and fearful, so at this point, my interests are mostly centred on the human connections in my life.
Do you have any advice for budding designers?
Sure. Don't get into this industry for the money. Don't get into it for the fame. Do it because it needs to flow out of you. Don't let other peoples' opinions dictate how you feel about yourself. And always bring a towel.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
I hate this kind of question, 'cos I know I'm going to forget someone… My whole family, of course.
All the struggling artists who have ever taken the time to help promote or provide a constructive criticism. For incredible artistic support, Mephias, Apalooza , and Zerobriant.
For super-effective promotion, Jon Martin, owner of www.shirtoid.com.
Owner of Welovefine.com, Guy Brand ;
And It goes without saying I have to thank every fan who's ever bought a design. You've allowed me to live what is essentially a totally self-indulgent dream.
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
ANY OTHER WEBSITE THAT FEATURES YOUR DESIGN
One last question, when you going to design a Firefly shirt as I am a massive fan?
I've only ever watched a few episodes and I liked what I saw, but other forces were at work in my life at the time. It's on my list of shows to watch;
And the Philippines is a consequence free environment for torrenting, so I'll get on it soon. Just finished all seasons of Breaking Bad and I need to do some work in between viewings.
Thank you for a fantastic interview David! Don't forget to checkout David's designs at various stores on the Internet.