Welcome to the latest Designer Unlocked Interview
…Where we have scoured dirty pans, scoured the ends of the earth, looked under the bed, and in that cupboard where the monkey lives to find you the very best independent t shirts designers
This week we have an interview that is ‘truly epic’ .. Sorry about the pun, couldn’t resist it!Another one of my favourite designers has agreed to be interviewed by Geek Shirts HQ.I am talking about Jerry Nowlin of Truly Epic, a designer who regularly features on the daily/weekly t shirt sites and who always gets rave reviews on his designs.
Geek Shirts HQ welcomes Jerry Nowilin
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?
Sure. My name is Jerry Nowlin, I'm an illustrator and apparel artist. I'm from Shelbyville Tennessee, but I currently reside in Arkansas.
I am in the process of getting a degree in illustration at the Academy of Art University, although I'm putting some serious thought into transferring to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
I first got into design when I submitted to Teefury on a whim. It not only got accepted, but it did amazingly well. I realized that I could make a living at drawing t-shirts after that and never went back.
I think Truly Epic is a really cool name! Where did you get the name from?
Truly Epic started off as an attempt at being a video game based web comic. I chose it because of my love of playing video games and I felt the phrase "truly epic" was synonymous with that. It then evolved into my artistic brand name once I started doing t-shirt designs and illustrations
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
I get inspired mostly from pop culture. I can be a pretty big fan boy sometimes. Other than that I get a lot of inspiration from other artists. I can browse some of my favourite artist’s on DeviantArt and it always motivates me, especially if I've been in a rut.
When you create a new t shirt design, what is sort of process do you follow?
Hey is the design process for one of my latest designs Hey Puddin available over at Redbubble
My process is pretty simpleI do some very quick and dirty roughs to get an overall idea of what I want to do. I do a quick sketch after that, and then go over top of the sketch with the details
Line work comes in after that
Followed by my flat colours
Once my flats are laid down I start rendering. My shadows are usually first, followed by highlights and midtones.
Once all that is done I finish it off with a little rim lighting and any other tweaks and nit-picks’ that I have. I can get a little OCD at that point and tweak it to death until I'm satisfied.
What current projects are you working on now? Can we get an exclusive peek?
I've been experimenting with art nouveau lately so I've decided to do a Harley Quinn nouveau. I'm just about wrapped up with it. It really is a fun style to work with and I might do a few more. The Harley Quinn piece will be done very soon but as far as exclusive sneak peeks go…I think I can show you a piece of what I'm going to work on next.
Geek Shirts HQ, You can see Jerry’s Harley Quinn nouveau (Hey Puddin) design and some of the steps he took to design it above
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
I think that my favourite is my Zelda inspired design called "Take This." I wanted to create the famous "It's Dangerous to go Alone" scene but done in a first person perspective instead of the overhead 8bit.
I really like the way it turned out although I get some grief over my design choices from time to time. Instead of the wooden sword I chose the old man to have the Master sword. It looks better plus the master sword is synonymous with The Legend of Zelda.
Who are your favourite designers?
I have so many that I really like. My top two are probably Winter Artwork and Megan Lara. I love Winter's bold lines and design layouts. I honestly think I have more Winter Artwork t-shirts than any other.
Megan's stuff is great. She is an incredible illustrator and I always find myself inspired by her work. Also, they both happen to be very nice and helpful people.
When marketing your designs how much focus and importance do you place on social media sites?
I think social media is very important when it comes to an artist's success. Its hard work putting together a fan base but it's essential. It's doubly important when you are trying to make a living off of your work as a freelance artist. You always have to hustle your t-shirts, prints and anything else you happen to sell and social media is the only way it can be done.
Do you try to convey any message in your designs?
Honestly, I'm not very deep. I just try to draw to the best of my ability. No hidden messages or deeper meanings.
Star Wars Or Star Trek? Which do you prefer?
That is a hard question. I was a big Star Trek fan when I was a kid. I know enough Star Trek trivia that it is beyond nerdy. I even had model toys of the Enterprise, Klingon Bird of Prey, Romulan Warbird….I can keep going but it might take me all day.
I am pretty big on Star Wars too. I have a pretty good Darth Maul outfit and lightsaber in my closet but if I'm going to have to decide on one, I would have to choose Star Wars at least until the new Trek movie comes out. Luckily JJ Abrams is handling them both, so I know it's in good hands.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Realistically, I would have to say a successful freelance artist. Unrealistically, I'm going to go with Ironman.
What do you prefer designing for, something wearable or a print?
I think print is a lot easier to design for. I can do a lot more with a straight up illustration that I can't do with a t-shirt design. T-shirt design is all about layout sometimes the screen printing process and colour restrictions tend to also limit what you can and can't do. You really don't run into those kinds of issues with regular prints.
For instance I can do an incredibly detailed battle scene for the fantasy genre and it would look great on print, but would never work for a shirt.
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
I like to play a lot of video games. It helps me unwind while giving me some inspiration for other designs. I've been thinking about doing some clay modelling lately. I want to create a really elaborate handmade Lich King costume for Blizzcon this year and I want to take up modeling for that purpose. I think it will be fun.
Do you have any advice for budding designers?
I think Neil Gaiman in his address to the University of the Arts Class of 2012 said it best,
“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do…Make Good Art.”
If you get rejected, laughed at and criticized, just keep drawing and Make Good Art.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
My talented artist of a wife, who goes by OfficeInk and my kids! I can always count on them for their love and support.
Teefury for giving me the break I needed and the members of the various artist groups I belong to, for their wealth of information and continued support.
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you.
If you want to contact me, you can through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org I am always interested in job opportunities and expanding my portfolio.
One last question, when you going to design a Firefly shirt as I am a massive fan? 🙂
I have a Firefly design right here
I plan on working on another one very soon.
Oops! I forgot about Jerry’s Firefly design when putting this interview together!It is a toss-up between this one and Come Get Some design as which is my personal favourite from Jerry’s Portfolio.Thanks Jerry for a great detailed interview and of course you can check Jerry’s designs at the links above and don’t forget to follow him on Facebook for the latest news on this designs and where you can see them next. – Geek Shirts HQ