Welcome to a New Geek Shirts HQ Designer Unlocked interview, where we bring you the very best from the Independent Designers on the internet.
This week we have a new designer, whose designs were familiar to me, but whose was not on my radar until she emailed me!Her name is Maria and she is from a small town in Italy and basically she arrived in Italy in a small Klingon freighter as a young child from a distant place, I think it was Boston!Maria is very passionate and enthusiastic about her art and it is this I think really comes across in her designs.I love the clever use of typography and how she integrates into the graphical element in her designs and I predict a big future if she keeps at designing t shirts.She gets inspiration for her design, whilst cuddling her cat, when not designing she can be seen (or not seen) in her invisible cloak that she brought from Wizbay (a popular auction site for wizards).Her invisible cloak enables her to fulfil her other passion in life being part of the League of Extraordinary Geeks, to promote geekdom everywhere! Where the cloak fits in I don’t know and I dread to ask!Maria stop it! You don’t need your cloak while I am interviewing you, put it away. How can I interview someone if I can’t see them?
Geek Shirts HQ Welcome Maria, 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?
A friend of mine once said something about me:
“Marie Mokat is a person about Star Trek, mostly The Next Generation. She enjoys cats, cartoons, and being about Star Trek.”
It doesn't account for a bunch of important stuff – like how much I love broccoli, robots and the Sachertorte – but it's probably the best description of myself I have had to this day.
Apart from that, I'm from a little town in the South of Italy where I've lived most of my life – excluding the three years I spent in Pisa, the city of the Leaning Tower.
I'm 22, a Philosophy student, awfully geek. And it's because of my geekiness and my love/obsession with t-shirts that I became a hobbyist tee-designer.
I think Starkat is a really cool name! Where did you get the name from?
Actually, “Starkat” is not the only name I use on the internet. It's dispersive, I know – and this is one of the reasons why I mostly use “Ran Doom”.
Anyway, “Starkat” was inspired by that thing between Starbuck and Adama (from BSG) that I love so much:
“Starbuck, what do you hear?”
“Nothing but the rain.”
“Then grab your gun and bring in the cat.”
Another one is “Mokat”. This one came out from a babbling among friends about Game of Thrones and it's now basically a sort of "internet surname".
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
From my cat.
We have a daily cuddling session and that is often the time when I realize how could be awesome to put something together.
And, of course, that “something” comes from TV shows, mostly, but anything can be inspirational: games, movies, books stories, etc.
It is fairly obvious you are a bit of a geek like me 🙂 What is the biggest geek influence you have?
I can mention at least three great influences for my writing and designing: Star Trek, Doctor Who and Harry Potter.
When you create a new t-shirt design, what sort of process do you follow?
1. Cuddling Penelope (my cat), I get an idea and I start visualizing in my head how to organize the design, how it should look.
2. I write down some key-words – sometimes I forget things, so this step is really important.
3. I Google the idea, in order to check if anything is already been done about it and how and therefore decide if I can really add something with my work.
4. Then, one day, I wake up and I feel it's the day: I open Photoshop and begin to play with shapes.
Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't.
Sometimes I get something completely different from what I had in mind, and this can be good or awful.
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
The one named “Spockat”, I guess.
It came out from Assignment: Earth, an episode of Star Trek TOS. There's a peculiar black cat and Spock says: “Quite a lovely animal, Captain. I find myself strangely drawn to it.”
I like the simplicity and the clarity of the shapes in the design. And I'm a big fan of Vulcans and cats, so I'm pretty proud of the pun.
What current projects are you working on now? And can we get an exclusive peek?
I recently wrote down three ideas.
One about Adventure Time, one inspired by QI (the British show) and one about Fringe, the concept of “Tulip”, in particular.
I retrieved this photo, and for now I just stare at it and think about it.
Who are your favourite designers?
Ahw, this is hard! There are so many awesome designs!
I discovered Scott Neilson thanks to this site, and he had me with his Star Trek / Pulp Fiction mash-up. Just give a look at what is going on in my house:
(It's in an awful quality, I know, I'm ashamed)
And… sorry, I can't remember the names of the others.
Do you try to convey any message in your designs?
Mostly, it's about fun. Just that plain, simple, great, amazing thing that fun is. A “has fun, be fun, show off what is fun for you” sort of thing, you know.
Something can't be too serious. Seriousness is boring.
Take “Up is No”: there's an android and there's a cat; there's roboethics, but most of all there's a funny way to look at it.
Star Wars Or Star Trek? Which Do you prefer?
Gosh, I love Star Wars but… Star Trek! Star Trek, men, it's what I am about, remember?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I can't see myself tomorrow!
But seriously, I wish I could be not so different from now. I've made many changes in the past. I think that the person I am now is the one I really like being.
What do you prefer designing for, something wearable or a print?
Wearable, absolutely! Monday mornings are less brutal since I at least get to choose the fandom to put on.
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
I am a robotics enthusiast. I'm learning a bit of programming and studying Machine Learning.
Then, of course, I read science fiction, fantasy and comic books and kind of make love to Dostoevskij. I play games, watch shows and movies… stuff like that.
And I cook, once in a while; with my mom (she's really good at it). We also make “geek food”, sometimes.
We made, for example, “Orecchiette Vulcaniane” – literally, “Vulcan Little Ears.” Orecchiette is a kind of home-made pasta typical of the region I'm from (Puglia). Its name comes from its shape, which reminds of a small ear.
This is the Vulcan version, obviously pointed. Also, instead of tomato sauce (red blood) I used an almonds-zucchini pesto sauce (green blood).
Do you have any advice for budding designers?
I am a budding designer, lol.
For my fellows I can only say: if you really enjoy it, if it's fun for you… please, go on! Keep trying!
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
There's a friend of mine, her name is Elena Pardini. She has a kind of creativity I really admire. Here's her portfolio
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
One last question, when you going to design a Back To The Future shirt as I am a massive fan? 🙂
I am a massive fan, too! Don't worry; I'll keep that in mind!