From the Portfolio: Triple Five Soul

Barack Obama Portrait Deck on

Barack Obama portrait deck by Oliver Barrett of Go Media

In August, the Obama campaign was running a contest for the next Obama T-shirt. I thought to myself “Self, you don’t like John McCain, and you certainly don’t like Sarah Palin. You DO like drawing, fresh ideas, and what Barack Obama will bring to this mess of a country that we’re living in.” So I decided to whip something up for this shirt contest. I was thinking about what would make a good piece for this particular project, and figured that putting Barack Obama’s face on a tee for the Barack Obama campaign made some sense, so I started there. I fleshed out the portrait in a couple of hours, employing this new layered drawing technique I’ve been developing.

Once the portrait was done, I wanted to get some complimentary elements into the piece. I added a flurry of Obama logos and some of those concentric circles that I’ve been beating into the ground since 2006. I mocked it up on their template and submitted it.

For some reason, the submission never showed up on the page. Not sure why. It could have been that I just didn’t do it right (even though I tried a few times), or the contest couldn’t handle the big, fat wad of coolness that I was shoving down its throat.

So now I had this illustration that didn’t have a purpose. I decided that I should turn it into a poster and let people download it for free. I posted it to my Behance profile, but was too busy with other projects at the time to really push it. About a week later, I was putting some stuff together for Deck Peck and thought this poster/shirt design/whatever it had become would make a pretty cool deck. We submitted the illustration on a skate deck and it was well received enough for Urban Outfitters to feel the burning desire to sell it. Woo hoo! Go America.

You can buy the deck here. Buy it, get some fishing wire, and put it on your wall.

Here are some in progress images of the piece:

Barack Obama portrait deck by Oliver Barrett of Go Media

Barack Obama portrait deck by Oliver Barrett of Go Media

Barack Obama portrait deck by Oliver Barrett of Go Media

Barack Obama portrait deck by Oliver Barrett of Go Media

Barack Obama portrait deck by Oliver Barrett of Go Media

This is the finished poster. The aged look worked better on the poster than it did on the deck, so I left the deck clean.

Help Go Media on Design by Humans!

I had some spare time at home last week and thought I’d submit something to Design by Humans’ 10K contest. I tweaked another piece from 2006’s Concentric Series into a tee. I actually think it will make a better shirt than the design that won shirt of the month in June,which is currently sold out. I’m in buried under an avalanche of student loans, so help me out and send some votes my way. It would be the nice thing to do. I realize that some people might not agree with this submission after I won last time, but it’s a series. You need more than one. Tell your friends about it. I’d really appreciate it.

How to Draw Your Own Vector Wings

Ok, I lied. We’re not entering the Food Service industry. But a tutorial on how to make some chicken wings would be pretty cool, none the less. This tutorial is all about how to make those really cool hyper detailed wings that all those bro-dawg brands are rocking.

First things first, we’re gonna need to find a reference photo of a feather. After some searching on the information superhighway, I found one that I liked. The reason I chose it is because it had good curvature and a good amount of disheveled strands. Check it out below.

So I placed it into a new Illustrator file (by going to File > Place). Once in there, like a lot of the other tutorials on here that require tracing from a photo reference – I’ll be turning down the opacity of the image and locking it’s sub-layer.

So we’re gonna start tracing the feather out. We don’t need the plume on it, just the feathery part. I put enough crazy ridges and stray strands to keep it as a good base. I didn’t go too hyper on the first one because we’ll be duplicating the base shape and adding further detail to prevent the feathers from being so repetitive. We can’t have a boring wing, you know?

So I duplicated the feather base once and dragged it off to the side. I made a couple of my own tapered brushes for the detail. If you’re unfamiliar with making tapered brushes, we have more than a couple tutorials that touch on how to achieve this effect. It’s a whole tutorial in itself, so like last time, I’m omitting it from this one too. I added a ton of detailed strands all around both base shapes. I expanded the appearance on the brush strokes, deleted the invisible stroke marks (by making a transparent box, using the magic wand to select all the invisible lines, and hit the delete key) then added the shape of the details and the corresponding base feather together with the pathfinder. And we’ve got two feathers.

Now I start building the wing. The curvature comes into play here, because it’s what is going to give our wing a legit look. I duplicated each feather, and switched off each style to keep it different, while decreasing the size little by little. I know I reached a good stopping point when the detail in the wing begins to get lossy with the naked eye.

premium content rss

Now we need to add the secondary part of the wing. I duplicated the wing we have so far and added it with the pathfinder. I turned down the opacity (locking it’s sub-layer is up to you, but not necessary) and got to work with the additional part. I added the detail strands much like I did in the feather. I also added some more smaller feathers to give it some more character and kill off a little of the negative space.

Now I repeated the expanding of the brush strokes, deleted stray transparent lines, and merged the wing all together with the pathfinder tool. We have a wing! Now let’s duplicate it and mirror it like it’s shown below.

So let’s align this bad boy properly, and group it together.

You’re now equipped with a pretty nice set of wings to put behind your logo or graphic. I used a skull here from the Arsenal, well, because I can… and there you have it.

Now I’m gonna go look up some Hot Wing recipes and throw down in the kitchen. Adios!


The feather used as the photo reference was aquired by using Google’s image search, from the website Owl Prowl. Just giving them credit where it’s due.

Become a Master Designer: Rule Five: Add depth to your designs.

Part Five of Seven Easy Principles to Becoming a Master Designer.

Catch up on the first four rules here

First, let me apologize for the long hiatus I took from this particular series of articles. It’s been really busy around here. I have to squeeze these articles into my spare time (and I don’t have much of that.) So, without further ado, let’s chat about depth.

Depth, ok, we’re not talking about pop-up books or holograms here. We’re talking about simulating depth (or dimension) in your 2D illustrations and designs. The first four principles in this series dealt mostly with what I would consider to be usability basics. Depth is the first design principle that I think gets into the “cool factor” – basically, what makes something look bad-ass. Adding depth to your art will help it bust off the page, or conversely, pull the viewer in.

There are a great number of techniques for adding some dimensionality to your designs. I’ll cover my favorites starting with the most obvious ones and then work my way to the more sophisticated ones.

Overlapping objects

Ok. This is just plain obvious. You probably learned this in kindergarten. If you made a nice crayon drawing of a bus and a house, and the bus overlaps the house, then it’s obviously in front of the house. But if the house overlaps the bus, then the house is in front. Duh.

So, why even discuss this? Well… just to remind you – you can overlap your design elements. It’s easy to get into a habit of just spacing out all of your design elements. If you put a nice thick margin of space between all your photos and all of your design elements, you’ll certainly have a clean design, but it may look a little flat. Sometimes I will even add in design elements just so I have something to put other elements on top of.

Let’s look at an example of how a simple overlap can add some depth to a design.

Here is a gig poster that Dave Tevenal and I are working on. Dave did the initial pencil sketch of the guy, then I added the water splashes around his feet, the koi on the wall behind him and inked it.

You’ll notice that in the lower right corner I have the venue’s logo (the Grog Shop) over top of a black bar. Now, I really didn’t even need a black bar there. All the copy in the bar could have been black and the logo could have just sat on the drawing. But I wanted to draw some attention to the copy on the bottom of the poster.

Here is the same poster without the black bar along the bottom.

Now compare it against one with the bar in place.

By adding this bar with the venue’s information and then over-lapping it with the logo, the depth I’ve created is as follows: Club Logo, then bar with info, then poster artwork. It also helps set up priority. The venue logo is the most important, then the club info, and finally the specific show artwork and details.

The illustration also has a great number of overlapping objects. The guy overlaps the koi (fish), the water splashes overlap the guy’s feet, etc.

Object Size – variability

I like to use variety in the size of the object in my design. This is particularly effective when you have several similar object that are only varied by their size. A good analogy for this is varying the distance you are from a person while shooting photography. It’s typical to shoot a picture of your friends from about 3-5 feet away. You’ll either capture most of their entire body or at least from the waist up. This is a fine picture, but if you shoot 30 pictures like this – they start to get boring. And since MOST pictures are shot like this – I consider them fairly common. Now, if you want to spice things up – shoot a super close-up. Maybe you only capture half of your friend’s face. Then maybe shoot some pictures with your friends way off in the distance. Or, best of all, a combination of all three. Have someone in the foreground, have someone in the middle ground and then have someone off in the distance. This will maximize the sense of depth in the picture. Or if you’re shooting nature pictures, I would suggest trying to capture as much depth as possible. For instance, maybe you can capture some leaves from a tree that is near you in the foreground, a beautiful lake in the middle ground and a snow capped mountain in the distance. Together they form a variety of depth in the image – because the relative size of the objects in the image varies. The leaves are relatively big -because they are close to the camera, the mountains are relatively small because they are in the distance.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how the size of the objects can create depth. This first example is very simple, just a bunch of circles. This example shows how varying something as simple as size can create depth.

Each is slightly smaller than the previous. See how their change in size creates a sense of depth. Which circle looks closest to you?

This next example is a bit more complex. This is a T-shirt Jeff Finley did for Paint the Stars. There are a number of depth inducing techniques being used here, but let’s focus on the object size variability.

In this example the skulls in the design each get slightly smaller as they get higher up on the shirt. Also, the rope-like tentacle that winds through the eye sockets gets smaller and smaller. Those combined with the previous technique (overlapping objects) creates a real nice sense of depth in this design.

Line thickness (weight)

Closely related to Object Size Variation is Line Thickness (weight) Variation. This is a particularly great technique for drawing, but whether it is the thickness of the lines you’re drawing or the thickness of the strokes you’re putting on your designs; weight matters.
The rule on line weight works just like object size. The thicker the weight of the lines, the closer it feels to you. The thinner the line weight, the further it is from you.

Let’s look at a great example of this in a drawing.

This is an inked comic book page by Art Adams (one of my all time favorite comic book artists). This is an excellent example of how weight of your lines helps create depth. If you look at the gladiator in the foreground and compare how thick the lines are that make up the shape of his body with the weight of the lines that make up the buildings way off in the distance – you’ll obviously see the dramatic difference. Thin lines in the distance, thick lines close-up.

Depth of field

Depth of field is the portion of a scene that appears sharp in an image. Depth of field is actually something that happens naturally in our own human eye, not just a camera lens. If you hold your hand up and focus on it, then, without losing focus on your hand – try to see the other things in your peripheral vision. Are the things behind your hand in focus? No. We have the perception that everything we see is always in focus. But in fact, what’s happening is the human eye is constantly adjusting the focus of your eye to exactly what you’re looking at. The truth is that only the objects at that correct depth are in focus – everything else is a blur.

We see examples of depth of field in photographs and our brain knows how to interpret the information. Item out of focus are at a different depth than objects in focus.

Here is a macro photo of a spider that one of our staff members (Dave Romsey) took.

In addition to just being one bomb-ass photo of a spider, you’ll notice that only the spider’s body is in perfect focus. But everything that is in front or behind the spider, like the leaf in the lower right corner is way out of focus. Even the legs of the spider shift from in focus (near the body) to out of focus as they extend forward or backward away from the body.

Japanese animation or “japanimation” has been taking advantage of this little trick for years. They will apply a blur to objects in the distance or foreground. I think it adds a really nice touch! Here is a single frame of animation that shows this technique in use.


Colors can even help represent depth. This is mostly the case with great distances. The atmosphere is made up of trillions of little particles of vapor, dust and translucent molecules. And while the “air” seems 100% clear over short distances – it is not. It’s actually a milky film that becomes more opaque the greater the distance. So, when selecting colors for an exterior scene – objects in the foreground should have strong vibrant colors. Objects way off in the distance should have less saturated colors.

In this photo I found online of the Blue Mountains National Park you can see how the milky haze of the atmosphere affects colors. On the left, in the foreground, the color of the rock and hikers seems clear, at full saturation. Just to the right you can see how the forest in the distance has its colors washed out by a haze.

Effects – drop shadows

Ah, the most classic of all design effects – the drop shadow! Both Photoshop and Illustrator can quickly add a drop shadow to your design. They may be cliché at this point, but I still use them, and I still love them. I think most people don’t “see” them as an added effect. When used properly, they blend right in with the design while adding a nice touch of depth. Here are two examples of a design I did, one with drop shadows and one without.

Now, this is an example of subtle drop shadows. The design on the top does not have them, the one on the bottom does. First, just look at the title on the top of the ad. See how the drop shadow makes the text pop just a little bit more off the background. Now look at the fighter’s head where it slightly overlaps the title. Each case uses just a subtle drop shadow to assist the depth. You can also see it under most of the text and under his fist.


Perspective is defined as a technique of depicting volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface. Ok, that really didn’t do us any good at all did it? Let me try and explain perspective in laymen’s terms. Basically, as lines head into the distance, they converge on a vanishing point. A classic example of this is the image of a road that heads straight off to the horizon. The lines on the road converge to a single point. Maybe an image will help.

Here is that classic image of that road. You’ll notice that as the lines of the road head off into the distance, they converge on a single point.

You’ll notice that all the lines: the horizon lines, the rows of grass, the flowers, even the shades on the road converge to that same vanishing point.

The road in this scenario is essentially flat – so its lines converge to a single vanishing point. But object with multiple sides will converge on two vanishing points, not one. Let’s take a look at another example.

Here is a little box with a window. You can see how it’s two sides each have their own vanishing point.

Now, perspective is not something that can be summed up in a few paragraphs. So, I won’t get into any more detail on it in this tutorial. But suffice to say that it’s important enough that you should do some research and teach yourself about perspective!

Check out the rest of the posts in this series:

Become a Master Designer: Part 1
Become a Master Designer: Part 2
Become a Master Designer: Part 3
Become a Master Designer: Part 4

How to make an animated GIF with 8-Bit Characters: Part 1: Design

creating a retro video game animated GIF from scratch

Have you ever wanted to make a kick ass animation of 8-BIT characters tearing each other to shreds? Well now you can. In this tutorial, I will take you through the process of creating vectorized 8-bit characters for use in an animated GIF. I’ve also included the vector source files of the characters and objects so you can create your own animation. So start jamming to The Advantage and get started!

1. Set up your document in Illustrator

To begin, open Illustrator and create a new document. It doesn’t really matter what size, so the default 8.5 x 11 dimensions will be just fine (Since these are vectors, they can be resized later to suit your needs).

2. Turn on the Grid

Next, you want to make sure you turn on the grid in your document. You can do this by going to the VIEW menu and selecting the SHOW GRID option (or by pressing CTRL + “ for the shortcut). This grid will serve as a guide for all the pixels you will use to make your characters, backgrounds, items, etc. Also, I find it helpful to turn on the snap to grid option as well. This makes it easier to move the pixels around the grid, without having to spend time lining them up by hand. You can find this option in the VIEW menu under SNAP TO GRID (or by pressing SHIFT + CTRL + “ ).

creating a nintendo character

3. Use Squares to create your Character

Now your document is set up, you are ready to make some vector 8-bit characters. First, use the square tool to make a square the exact same size as the squares of the grid. Since you have the SNAP TO GRID option on, this should be fairly easy. This square will serve as a single “pixel” that you will copy to make all of the objects in your 8-bit environment.

creating a cool game character

4. Get Creative!

Next, you’ll have to decide how you want your characters to look. You can either sketch them out and scan them into your computer or just wing it. If you are going to sketch them out, make sure that you turn the opacity down on your sketch so you can still see the grid in Illustrator. For this tutorial, I am just going to wing it using characters from the Final Fantasy series as a guide.

At this point, you need a quick way to move the pixels around to create your character. I find it works best to work with one color at a time, and then go back and add detail later. The fastest way to do this is to select the pixel you want to use, and hold ALT while pressing the arrows in the direction that you want the pixel to go. This will copy your single “pixel” and move the copy in whatever direction you choose.

Start with using Squares on the Grid

5. Color your character

When you have your outline finished, it is time to fill in your character. I use the same technique as before, but I have found you also need to use the mouse to hand place pixels at times. When choosing colors, keep in mind that you need to use a limited palate like a real 8-bit game, if you are going for authenticity. If it helps, you can also keep a single pixel of each color next to your characters that you can copy or use for other elements in the 8-but world you are creating. Also, don’t forget to create a weapon for your character.

creating an 8-bit Nintendo character

6. Create more characters

After I finished my first character, I made some other characters of a similar style so that he has someone to fight.

more 8-bit characters

7. Create Your environment

Now, you need to create an environment for your characters to fight in. This can be a bit tricky, but just remember that most retro games had a block or unit of background that was usually repeated across the screen. In this background, I have created a couple of different trees and used darker shades of greens and browns to add depth. Then, I repeated them across the background using the HORIZONTAL DISTRIBUTE CENTER tool to keep them looking uniform. In the fore ground, I created a dirt road that the characters can be placed on. Also, when blocking out large areas of color in the background, it is much easier to create larger sections of color using the square tool.

create a cool retro gaming background

8. Create Some Objects

You may also want to create other elements that the characters can interact with in the environment. For this free vector sample pack, I have made a few different things that you can add into your animation like mushrooms and torches. And now you should be ready to bring your characters to life, through the power of an animated gif!

post links to your character designs

I’m curious to see what our readers come up with. I want to see some awesome 8-bit characters, monsters, bosses, objects, etc. I’ll even post my favorites in another post!

create an awesome 8-bit animated gif


Free 8-Bit vector elements



In Part 2, I will take you through the process of animating your 8-bit characters using Photoshop CS3’s animation panel.

57 Inspirational Sites from 7 Remarkable Apparel Designers

I gathered 7 of the top t-shirt designers today and asked each of them for a handful of sites they couldn’t live without; sites they surf for inspiration, design resources, advice, community, etc. I was surprised at what I found. A few sites that I didn’t expect and some I’ve never heard of. And of course, there were a few sites that made it into almost every list.

Most of these artists hang out on the t-shirt site and the shirts they’ve designed can be seen plastered all over the walls at retail stores like Hot Topic or winning tee of the month over at Design by Humans. So if you’re looking for the definitive list of what real pros are looking at for inspiration and resources, this is it.

Richard Minino (aka Horsebites):


Richard has been one of my favorite artists over the past 1-2 years. His illustrative style is a big influence in my work if you couldn’t tell. He’s done work for countless bands and he’s also the guy responsible for the distinctive branding behind The Fest – the best punk music weekend of the year. He also plays in the bands New Mexican Disaster Squad and Gatorface. Here are five sites he drools over (in his own words):

    Zack Johnsen is a bad ass. His style puts me to shame everytime I see it but it inspires the hell out of me. His work keeps getting better too. That’s what I love about him. He doesn’t stay complacent. He just keeps getting better. His use of watercolor mixed with pencil and ink is a perfect blend of mediums. I also love how evertyhing has an edge to it and is in your face.
    What can I say? Garbage Pail Kids were one of the best things to happen to me as a kid. I was obsessed with these wonderful illustrations. I mean how else can you go against the mainstream toy sensation Cabbage Patch Kids by making stickers mocking them with puke, guts, boogers, butts and everything else nasty for kids to laugh and stick them on everything? Amazing times.
    The late Ed Roth is a super hero to me. I really freaked the first time when I saw his work. I was super young and craving anything low brow and weird. Although I didn’t know it at the time but he completely changed my life because with out him the illustration on a t-shirt wouldn’t be the same. He made it what it is. That’s what made me so interested in GPK in the first place! I love going to his site and checking out the decals and images. His documentary that just came out is amazing!! A true legend.
  • jimphillips.comNow here is the guy who took all the things I loved as a kid and made them extremely bad ass. I remember sitting with all my friends and checking out everyones skate graphics and I would look at it way longer then they would and I would want to preserve it somehow instead of messing it up. I was way more of a drawer instead of a skater. Although his site is set up real bad and it doesn’t have too much stuff, the little stuff he has makes my brain hurt and scream for more!
  • emptees.comThe only reason I put this as number one is because I can’t stop going to it. Ever since I joined (thanx to you and a few others) It’s been interupting my work schedule. I love this site. I’ve met amazing people and have a first eye on which the newest designs are coming out by my best friends. It also opened my eyes to sharing more and knowing that people got your back when people rip you off. Super amazing site and a great creative release.

Dan Mumford

Dan Mumford

Dan Mumford is an amazing illustrator that popped up on my radar this past year. His use of color is astounding and the detail in his linework is just mind boggling. I’ve used some of his artwork as my desktop wallpaper for a while. The guy is a true pro.

    Great daily blogs from a core group of posters and guest posters every week, always something nice and interesting to look at, and always unearthing new talent.
    Again, another great site with interesting daily posts.
    And another, as you can see..i like my daily post websites!
    As ive gotten more into working digitally ive found digital arts quite a useful portal for tutorials etc. Good place to find some little tricks.
    I should probably explain this one, but being an avid movie fan i check this site everyday to see the latest trailers and posters, i have a great interest in movie posters etc and narrative, not really a design website though!

Advice from Dan: First and foremost, don’t take too much from other artists work, its all very well being inspired by someone, but there’s a fine line between inspiration and outright copying. Secondly i get a lot of people asking me how to get their work out there and get recognition, well unfortunately there is no easy answer here, you simply have to get it out there in anyway you can and get involved in anything you can.

There are always opportunities out there for young illustrators and designers, competitions, exhibitions, even just making fliers for various happenings in your local area, you just have to take these opportunities. Just because you did a degree for three years doesn’t mean you will automatically do well when you leave, its all about knowing people and having the contacts, like any industry, so if you are in university then take that opportunity to get out there and make contacts before you leave, its a tough industry and you need all the head start you can get!

Derek Deal

Derek Deal

Derek Deal is another talented illustrator who has appeared on my radar after he destroys the competition over at Winning Shirt of the Day countless times and also snagging a shirt of the month with his homage to Garbage Pail Kids tee.

    I’ve been a poster collector since I eyed my first Kozik at 17. Some of the best artists in the music industry post here.
    The majority of my work revolves around apparel, so I usually frequent this site a few times a day.
    Now that I’ve built up the network, its become an incredible resource. Receiving periodic updates from not only my favorite designers and illustrators, but also photographers and retro image archivers has created an invaluable collection of inspirational imagery.
    On the rare occasion that I do some branding, this is the place I go to see what’s working
    It came to my attention recently that its actually a publication…Ive been resourcing the apparel in their store for months…no idea.
    Every now and then I scan Computer Arts mag for tuts, to either brush up on my skills or try something new. When I had a subscription I learned more about Photoshop there than I did in school.
    The blog of John K, creator of Ren and Stimpy, I just started reading, but so far I’ve enjoyed reading about his inspirations and thoughts on animation and character development.

Some words from Derek: I usually feel the most inspired when I’m away from the screen. Every now and then ill find myself getting into a visual turnstyle, so I’ll mix it up and go to a library or an antique store. As much as I’m online, it’s almost startling how much of the world hasn’t been scanned in yet. Sometimes just taking walk or drive to some music, or taking a couple steps away from the computer to the drawing table or the couch to do some sketching does a lot of good. It’s easy to get too reliant on imagery to fuel your creativity, especially when its so accessible. Just putting the pencil to paper and letting everything you’ve been digesting spill out on the page whether you’ve got something in mind or not can do wonders.

AJ Dimarucot

Collision Theory

AJ is an artist that I see has a vision. He’s not content with looking like everyone else and oftentimes his designs are very experimental. He pushes the envelope conceptually of what can be printed on a t-shirt. And he was very generous with his list for us. He even broke it down into categories for everyone.


    Pure design/visual/art treat! Once you check out the way they lay out their features you can’t help but click on them. Lots of inspiration covering everything from design, architecture, art, photography etc.
    Similar to but features are more in-depth. I find inspiration not only in graphic design but in all aspects of art and design. These sites have an abundance.
    Pure eye candy. It’s a social bookmarking site for images. You can’t imagine how many images i’ve downloaded from this site alone. I keep a folder on my laptop that says “INSPIRATION” and most of the content there comes from this site.

All these are totally invaluable to me because anytime I feel like I’m
in a creative rut I just open up my folder of ‘inspiration’ or visit these sites.
The visual stimuli alone can jump start any design task.


    I’ve bunched these together because I use them to get my work out there. I’ve put up my folio and have networked with other artists and designers. This has led to some good leads and actual freelance work. Browsing other folios also gives you an idea what other designers are doing.
    Contrary to popular belief, I’ve actually found some decent clients over there who pay well. But it’s a matter of rummaging through the crap to find the good ones. Being a freelance t-shirt designer, work from here has partly sustained me for almost a year now.

Since July 07, I’ve been totally committed to t-shirt design work and it’s paid off quite well. Last February 08, I finally left my day job as an Art Director for an ad agency and have focused solely on freelance work. Halfway into the year and I’ve already earned twice as much as what I would have earned in a year in my previous job. So it’s been totally awesome!


    I’ve recently been successful in these two sites (threadless soon!) and it’s been great at giving me confidence in developing my own style. Working with clients, you have room to adjust based on the what hey want, as long as it’s close to your style. But submitting designs to these sites, it gives you total freedom to do your thing. As a younger designer, I tried too much to fit into the style of dbh and threadless, that didn’t work. But as soon as I started to do my own thing everything seems to fall into place. Getting loves and getting my designs printed. It’s also good for work because some clients have found me on these sites.


    My favorite site at the moment. I get to showcase my t-shirt designs, it’s a great way to find potential clients. But what I love about this site is the bonding and camaraderie that you form with other t-shirt artists/designers. Tons of drama on the message boards [from time to time] but it’s all good.
    Similar to but only for t-shirts. It also has a social networking aspect but not as vibrant as emptees. I love the variety of t-shirt styles over here compared to emptees though.


    Aside from Go Media, I visit these sites occasionally to pick up some skillzz or a few vectors and fonts here and there.
    Great resource for learning about the business aspects of putting up a clothing brand. Also has a social networking aspect but I’ve only started to use this.
    Tons of good advice for freelancers.



Godmachine (real name Aziz) is some fresh talent that has been exploding this year. That’s not an understatement. As of this writing, he’s been awarded with 15 Shirt of the Day awards and one Shirt of the Month for this design. His style is raw and very illustrative. As drawing makes a big push in the t-shirt design community, Godmachine is shoving his way to the front of the crowd. He’s someone to keep an eye on.

He provided us a quick list of sites he loves:

Chris Sandlin

Chris Sandlin

Chris is another talented illustrator that I noticed because of Emptees. He’s got a very pro-looking and dare I say “cartoony” style. He’s won his share of SOTD’s as well (13 as of this writing). He sent me a quick list of links that he loves as well as a few books that he finds inspirational.


Wes Allen

Wes Allen

Wes is a versatile designer that has been establishing himself as a premier artist for the music industry. He’s also on Emptees and his work is often seen in retail stores that sell band merch.

Wes says, “Here are a few sites that I always look at for inspiration. Just about all of them are well known for their collage work. I would not be doing the type of design work I do today without the inspiration of these people. I’m a sucker for crazy collages using vintage photos. In my opinion, keeping yourself inspired is one of the most important things about designing.”

So that’s about it. That’s a whole lot of resources for the aspiring artist who wants to break into the music industry. These guys are pros at what they do and are all around good people. They’re nice and were more than willing to share a few of their “secret” resources hidden behind their bookmarks.

Tell us YOUR thoughts

These artists want to hear what you think. Just post a comment and I’ll have them answer them right here on this post. And feel free to give us sites YOU can’t live without!

Jeff’s Moleskine Round 2

Here we are again with another round of scans from my Moleskine. Not much to say about these other than I was just having some fun drawing skulls and things. I was using just a regular ball point pen, which to my surprise, works great in these books. I think I’ll do so more often.


So the last time we posted some of my sketches, fellow Cleveland designer Geoff May ask for some close-ups. So, these are for you Geoff! By the way, he has some of his own sketches to feast your eyes on.