Welcome to the latest Geek Shirts HQ Designer Unlocked Interview
…Where we have scoured the known universe and beyond, travelled across dimensions and even went to Calverton (a small village in the UK) to try and the best designers we can find.
This week we have a very talented young designer, a design based in the UK, who have just started making a name for himself through Redbubble and a number of other t shirt sites.Teague Hipkiss first came to my attention through his Right Angle Design (which you can see later in the interview).And what I like about Teague designs, his humour can be seen through his designs.I can see him developing his style further and getting better and better.
Geek Shirts HQ Welcomes Teague Hipkiss….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?
Hi, first I'd just like to say thanks for having me here, I had a look at some of the other Designers Unlocked and you've talked to some really talented people!
As for me, I'm a student, living in a quiet village in the East of England where I have done my whole life.
My interest design was really a gradual one; several year’s back I began designing Mock Covers for a magazine I read, before sending them in. After much persistence, I got some designs featured in the publication, it was really exciting!
After that, I got a little tired of mock covers and moved onto more complex endeavours. I got Photoshop and started working on Forum signatures where I got to know the program and my skills developed.
Early in 2012 I joined DeviantART and was soon caught by an apparel design competition, having had no experience in it before, I had a go at designing a t-shirt. I didn't get very far.
Undeterred, a tried a second time and got down to the last 100 designs after lots of promoting myself. Please by my progress, I entered the Original Quotes challenge, and was chosen as one of the 3 finalists? My prize? $1,500 and 50 of my own shirts.
Buoyed by my success, I started designing more regularly and uploaded my shirt designs to Redbubble.
Where did you get the name Tjhiphop?
Oh dear. So TJ Hiphop (As I more commonly write it), is my internet alias I've used since a young age. It's derived from my real surname Hipkiss. The 'TJ' just sounded cool to me, and my first name does begin with T also. That wasn't very interesting was it…?
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
From everywhere really, but mostly in the media I consume on a daily basis. So I could be inspired by my favourite TV show, a You tuber I like to watch, or a band I like to listen to.
Most of my designs do have a pop culture link, with many going back to retro Video Games, which I love. The Eighties in particular are a great era to take design choices from, but usually with my own modern twist.
How would you describe your design style?
I still feel I haven't been designing that long, so I often stick to simplistic but bold colours and shapes in my designs.
I don't like limiting myself to just one particular feel so I like making hand-drawn, 'cute' t-shirts if I can. Sometimes it'll change based on the theme of the design, whether it's typography, to do with the past or parodying something.
When you create a new T-shirt design, what is sort of process do you follow?
I don't really see myself as having much of a 'design process'. I'm always thinking of ideas in the back of my mind, and if I have a really good one, I'll make a note of it and go straight into making it when I can (Not before checking it hasn't been done before).
Since I'm not much of an illustrator, I don't usually draw out rough layouts of the end product. I have a clear picture in my mind, and I'll try and emulate that as close as possible, usually with the help of some reference images from the internet. If it works out, I'll polish it, and upload it to Redbubble.
Here are some in progress shots from my Monarchy Rules design.
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
That's a tough question, but I'd probably have to say 'A Link to the Past' (featured earlier in the interview) since I made it for me.
I wanted to create a design that I'd actually wear in public, so that was motivation for me to work harder and be really proud of it. I admittedly took much inspiration from Chiptune band Anamanaguchi, but the design was all me.
There are others that I'm just as proud of, like my 'Night of the Undead Piranha Plants' design. But 'A Link to the Past' sticks out for me.
What current projects are you working on now? And can we get an exclusive peek?
I design sporadically, so nothing at the moment, but if you follow my Tumblr [linked at the bottom] I'll be sure to post something exclusive as soon as possible. My hint is it may have something to do with crustaceans.
Who are your favourite designers?
But DREW WISE is a cut above for me. He's always coming up with brilliant ideas which are executed perfectly, be it in pixel or vector form. All of his work is clean and high quality and it's no wonder he has designed the official Wreck-It Ralph shirts. He's everything I aspire to be in terms of graphic design.
I'm also really fond of the work done by Bleee who is a fantastic illustrator, and MrSaxon as he is my absolute favourite when it comes to Doctor Who shirts.
When marketing your designs how much focus and importance do you place on social media sites?
I would never underestimate the importance social media holds in marketing for the independent designer.
I know I wouldn't have sold half of the products I have if not for social media, which is why I invest a lot of time in promotion through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and others. This isn't to say you can market just anything, the design has to be solid before you can parade it across the internet.
Social Media is simply a platform which gives people a chance to see, share or buy your work.
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?
It's not something I've considered just due to the ludicrousness of it all, but I would jump at the chance if it ever arose.
Redbubble currently gives me all I need in an easy-to-use package so I'll stick with that for now.
Do you try to convey any message in your designs?
I'm not sure if I ever think about my work on that level. But I'd say it's just about promoting nostalgia and promoting a love of geek or anything you're passionate about.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That seems like a really long time for me but all I can hope is that I'm doing something I love, and I'm still doing graphics in some way.
What do you prefer designing for, something wearable or a print?
Usually something wearable as I don't have to worry about as many things but it's sometimes nice to design for something that's more complete, like a print.
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
Let's see…drawing, football (that's English football), playing games, reading (especially manga/graphic novels) and occasionally, photography.
Do you have any advice for budding designers?
To be persistent. Keep trying and improving and always try to make your next work, your best, don't settle for something you're not happy with.
Like before, I'd also place an emphasis on social media. Sometimes, the design will speak for itself, but it needs to be given a chance to rise above the thousands of other works.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
Yeah, while I don't know them personally. I'd love to give a shout out to Orange Rakoon and Photosmagoria.
They're both talented designers who I feel deserve a little extra recognition.
Orange Rakoon puts out consistently clever, quality designs, and Photosmagoria's typography work is some of the best I've seen.
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
Featured once here –disillusioneddesigns.com
Don't be surprised if this list grows though as I'm always looking to branch out.