Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fashion Most Fowl

     A few months ago, I participated in a design competition to design patterns and/or art for various clothing.  I was waiting to hear back from the competition to blog about and, and honestly forgot after I received notice I didn't win... or rather didn't receive notice that I had won.  I always thought it was rather uncool of a company to not even send you a form letter telling you you lost, or in modern times a simple form email would suffice, and even less effort to accomplish.... Grouchyness aside, I'm here to discuss the art.

      My favorite online t shirt company, hands down, is  They hold an open submission year round to recruit new artists to print designs for thier shirt company.  They even hold special design challenges every now and again to design for special collections or promotions they are involved.
Funny thing is, I participate in their challenges, then get irritable with the politics of their selection process, then vow to NEVER EVER Design anything for a Threadless Challenge again, then time goes by, I forget about my vow, buy some shirts on Threadless, see a new and interesting challenge concept, get excited and then get Sucked Back Into designing for them all over again.... I know... Sucker, right?

     So a few months ago I got sucked into doing something for their Monsters Challenge, their Socks Challenge and their Fall Selection Challenge.
Ill post a blog about each art process separately for each design.  Today's entry is all about socks! :0)

     So the initial directions and premise was simple: Design a pattern or art piece that could be printed on a pair of socks.  My initial inspired idea involved elaborate drawings of sock puppets that would fully wrap around the sock itself. It was going to be designed to be a functional sock puppet as well, if you felt so silly or inclined to have a sock puppet show, which I will admit, sometimes, I may feel inclined but never act. Only few people in my life know that my childhood ambition was to grow up and be a professional puppeteer.  I wanted to work for Jim Henson and live happily ever after with my hand puppets and funny voices... until arthritis I suppose.  I even got puppet related gifts at Christmas growing up.

    I remember quite vividly a cardboard sesame street puppet stage and making puppets from brown paper bags with glue, markers, finger paint and yarn.  One year, I was given a ventriloquist dummy.  I practiced everyday to learn how to throw my voice and I was coming quite adept at it.
I even still have Corky, my ventriloquist dummy.  He now watches over my studio from the director's chair... He has his own stuffed pet dog.  He doesn't say much these days, as I am a bit out of practice. ;0)  He is a childhood relic I am apparently unable to part with, even though I left the world of puppetry dreams long behind me when Jim Henson passed away.  All this is rather moot considering, I didn't go with this sock design concept as it would be too elaborate to execute in the time I had to do it. I was working on 4 other designs simultaneously... Thank God for 5 Hour Energy, right?

    So, I settled on an idea that would not take as much preparation or time to execute.  When I am designing stuff for Threadless, my cornerstone in the brainstorming phase of the creative precess is "Bee Clever."  If you are familiar with the brand, you would understand that notion.  Besides printing designs from some great artists worldwide, they print really really really clever stuff.  So they inspire me to try an be as clever as possible, at the time.  So I was thinking how similar, phonetically, Chicken Pox sounds to Chicken Socks.  I don't know why I thought of this.  It just popped into my brain.  Perhaps, the FatMan was whispering to me.

     Anyway,  I thought how neat/interesting it might be to creating a design that was fun but poked fun at the unfortunate virus that plagues most people int heir youth... maybe put a more appealing face on the viral stigma.  So I decided to play on those words "Chicken Socks."  I mean, who doesn't love a drawing of a chicken wearing spiffy, colorful and fun socks...
It certainly would turn my frown upside down.  Since I'm not the most adept at creating seamless patterns, I felt it would be to my advantage with this project, as chicken pox are more so random and messy than clean and precisely spotted over the skin.  so to augment my happy sock wearing chicken, I used a red spotted design element to fill in my pattern.  The red spots added a splash of color and fun to the design as well as aluding to the origin of my concept, the chicken pox.

     I also wanted to incorporate a visual aesthetic similar the the design and animation of the 50s and 60s in the US.  This style is often referred to as the Cartoon Modern in the Animation World. It's one of my favorite art aesthetics and I wanted to incorporate that into this project.

     The process was a bit cumbersome.  I sketched everything freehand then scanned the drawings in.  I have to run them through a raster to vector conversion program.  After they were vector I could begin the arduous process of separating and cleaning each drawing to be on it's own.  I then added loose color behind the chickens.  I then had to create the "pox" spots.  After each element was separated, prepared and polished, I could begin the business of creating the pattern itself. FUN! :0)

     I used a 3 color pattern on yellow fabric. Red, Orange, and Yellow worked together in a lovely warm color scheme contrasted against a warm dark green.  I wanted to keep everything "warm."  It works as a selling aide appealing to the buyer of Threadless.coms clothes, but also, conceptually, as the virus it's originally inspired from causes warm fevers.  This is essentially the ideas and process behind the Bad Case of the Chicken Socks.

Until Next Time.
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

[ink doodle sketches]

[ink doodle sketches]

[WIP Screen Shot]

[WIP Screen Shot]

[WIP Screen Shot]

[WIP Screen Shot]

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