One of my favorite TV shows is Firefly and you have to check out his Beatles/Firefly cross over shirt, it is just brilliant. It was this shirt that really got me into Ken's designs.
Enough of me babbling on, let me get Ken to tell you all a bit more about himself.
Can you start by giving some background about yourself? Where you are from? What is your background? How did you get into design?
I'm a graphic designer in Roanoke, VA. I got my design degree at Radford University and I'm a designer at The Roanoke Times newspaper. I've been designing t-shirts for several months now and I don't know why I didn't get into it earlier.
It's so much fun! I don't really know how I got into design. I always liked art in school, but wasn't any kind of artist until college. But now I can't really see doing anything else, except maybe QR Link Tee
I was at a friends house years ago and he was playing some kind of RPG on his computer, I don't remember what it was. But it had a random name generator and most of the names sounded like something out of Lord of the Rings, but then Kent Zonestar popped up and I thought it was hilarious.
Like some kind of lame super hero. So I was like I will be that lame super hero and I adopted the name. First it was my xbox gamertag and then when I started designing tshirts is when I fully became the Zonestar. Now he's a part of me...
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
I'm a huge geek so I have a vast knowledge of scifi, video games, and all things that are nerdy so I pull from that knowledge mostly and whatever else that I think is funny and pops into my head. I also keep up with design and tshirt sites to see what trends are going around.
When you create a new t shirt design, what is sort of process do you follow?
LOTS of brainstorming originally. I have a huge list of ideas and I only get to a fraction of them. Whenever I think of something i jot it down in my phone so hopefully I won't ever lose my phone. Then I bounce the ones I think are really good off my friends and get feedback. Then I sketch it out on old fashioned paper and pencil, which I'm thinking of hoarding because I'm sure they'll stop making it one day.
Once I scan it in I usually create the majority of the design in Illustrator. I prefer Illustrator over Photoshop and will usually only use Photoshop for some of the details and creating the halftones. Then I pray to the tshirt gods to bless me with a tshirt baby, who will grow up and make me lots of money.
300 (Ewoks) T shirt Rough Sketch
300 Ewoks" is a Star Wars/300 mashup and is now available on Redbubble
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
It would have to be my "Return of the King" design. I'm a huge Final Fantasy fan and the Tonberry King is pretty intimidating and awesome. It reminds me of being in High School and playing final fantasy on my PS1 for hours.
Return of the King" is a Lord of the Rings/Final Fantasy design and you can buy it here
What current projects are you working on now? And can we get a exclusive peek?
I just finished a Star Wars/300 mashup, which isn't for sale quite yet. But I think we can all agree that Ewoks are very similar to Spartans, just smaller and furrier. I also have some zombie ideas I'll be doing next that should be fun.
Who are your favourite designers?
I have the privilege of working with very talented designers every day As far as tshirts go my favorite designers are Bensanity and LocoRoboCo, who both put together some very impressive work. I also gain inspiration from the group of artists on the RIPT artist group on Facebook. If anyone is interested in some pointers in tshirt design, that's a great resource.
Hero of Time" is a Legend of Zelda/Back to the future mashup. Here's the link to the shirt page
Do you try to convey any message in your designs?
I would have to steal a quote from monty python and say "Always look on the bright side of life". I try to find the humor in everything and I hope that shows in my designs. Don't take yourself too seriously.
Star Wars Or Star Trek? Which Do you prefer
Definitely Star Wars. Although I like Star Trek too, if that's allowed. But I've always been a huge Star Wars fan. I don't even want to know how many times I've seen those movies and my living room is decked out with Star Wars stuff. Don't judge me.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Wow, I'll be old in 10 years. I don't like to think about that too much. I could say a millionaire with a jet ski and a nobel prize, but that's not too likely. So I'd say I'll be doing what I'm doing now, but hopefully I'll have learned some things along the way and have a family and be a little older and a little fatter.
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
The time that I'm not designing seems to be getting smaller and smaller lately, but I'm not complaining. I love going on hikes whenever I get the chance and I recently got into Magic the Gathering and I'm hooked. So I spend a lot of time perfecting my decks for the next battle. Other than that I like to play video games and watch movies.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
I would like to give a shout out to my family and friends for all their support and buying my shirts even though they may not get the references. And to my wonderful girlfriend who has been my biggest supporter/manager.
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
Twitter ID: @KentZonestar
Facebook Page: Facebook.com/KentZonestar
RED BUBBLE STORE: KentZonestar.redbubble.com
tumblr: kenoliverdesign.tumblr.com (my government name/secret identity..shhh!)
Anything else you want to add?
My robot crush tee will be available from qwertee.com this Thursday
Robot Crush is also available from Redbubble. Here is a link to it
One last question, when you going to design another Firefly shirt as I am a massive fan?
I'm glad you liked my design I got super excited when I had that idea. I couldn't resist an opportunity to merge Firefly and the Beatles. There are a lot of Firefly shirts out there so I don't want to do another one unless I get a really good idea. But I hope I do because I would love to do another Firefly shirt!
Thanks Ken for a great interview, don't forget to check out his store for more great tees.