MEET THE ZIP HOODIES CHALLENGE WINNER!
Welp, it’s officially September, meaning the inevitable is upon us: cooler weather. Thankfully, there is a certain something that makes chilly weather bearable: majorly awesome hoodies. With that in mind, we launched our Zip Hoodies challenge, and after zippin’ our way through a whole bunch of super sweet submissions, we’ve landed on a winner: “Ninja vs. Ninja” by Brooklyn artist Daniel Stevens. Read on to learn more about Daniel, and if you want a totally badass hoody (‘cuz obviously you do), snag his new design here!
Congrats on your winning design “Ninja vs. Ninja” for our Zip Hoodies challenge! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Graphic Designer/Illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY. During the day I create graphics and prints for a sleepwear company and at night I work on personal projects, freelance, and of course, Threadless stuff. I watch cartoons, collect comics, and love procrastinating.
What inspired the concept behind your design?
My inspiration for this comp was actually through research. While I was at work, not working, I checked out all the hoodies Threadless sold. By the time I got home, the idea just popped into my head.
You mentioned that you wanted to “create a design that told a story”. What exactly is the story behind this design?
The story is just a simple interaction between the two characters.
Why were these badass ninjas fighting in the first place?
Shhh… I can’t say or I’m next.
How was designing for a hoody different than a typical tee?
I think when you design for a hoody, what works best is minimal color and a clean design. There’s so much going on with a hoody between the hood, pockets, and the zipper, that less is more when it comes down to graphics.
Did the idea of integrating a zipper play a part in creating your design?
Using the zipper was the biggest part of the concept. I needed that fun interaction.
Please walk us through the process of creating this design.
For this particular design there wasn’t much of a process, more like design freestyle. The visual was so clear in my mind that all I needed was a few ninja references to get started in Illustrator. I didn’t even sketch the concept.
What do you think fellow ninjas on the street will think of your new hoody?
Ninjas will probably feel like i’m exploiting their careers to sell products and send their best men after me.
If you so decide to enter the dark arts of the ninja world, do you think this hoody will give you special powers?
Ummm… I hope it gives me some kind of power so I can defend myself for when they come for me. They will come!!!
Any other shout-outs?
I want to give a shouts to my mom and dad for the excellent creative genes, my lady for being so supportive, and my job for being soooo lenient with what websites we can go on at work. I would also like to thank Threadless for choosing my design. Being printed has been my dream for awhile and to finally achieve this goal makes me feel truly honored.
You never know what life may throw your way, so sometimes you gotta ask the big stuff: If you had to choose, would you rather draw with your toes for the rest of eternity, or eat paintbrushes everyday for life? Yea, we know, it’s a tough one. Thankfully, the artists behind next week’s new tees shared with us their preferences, so finally we’re getting some clarity. Check ‘em out below, and come back to shop their awesome new designs next Monday!
Q: If you had to choose, would you rather draw with your toes for the rest of eternity, or eat paintbrushes everyday for life?
“I would say drawing with my toes would be best, being that eating paintbrushes every day could possibly kill me. And I’m already pretty skilled with doing toe stuff.” Buy this tee now!
“I would choose to eat paintbrushes for lunch, as long as I can have other food that’s more chewable. Drawing with my toes would definitely give me cramps and I would end up contracted.” Buy this tee now!
“I’d rather eat paintbrushes for lunch every day, as long as they comes with a side of nacho cheese!” Buy this tee now!
“I would use the way I learned to draw with my hand to start to draw with my feet (I think I’ll need a bit more practice… and more time. LOL!), so as not to give up a huge, giant plate of spaghetti with a good glass of Valpolicella wine. They say that in Italy the food is good… it’s true!” Buy this tee now!
“I heard paintbrushes are very nutritive, but I would rather draw with my toes. It ain’t that hard. :p” Buy this tee now!
“I would prefer drawing with my toes.” Buy this tee now!
MEET STREET ARTIST JAKE MERTEN!
After three years in Los Angeles, street artist Jake Merten, otherwise known as lookatart, returned to his native city of Chicago, where he’s been blowing up the art scene ever since. Thankfully for us over here at Threadless, he expressed some of that good ‘ole Midwestern charm and stopped by to spread the wealth. Now one of our once gross, bland, and basically altogether unappealing garage doors features Merten’s spray paint interpretation of a Saga comic book cover (originally created by artist Fiona Staples), and heck, we’re super pumped about it. Oh, and he also took some time to answer our questions, because he’s awesome. Therefore, read on to learn more about this very cool dude and his very cool work!
Merten’s interpretation of a Saga comic book cover makes our garage door look 100% cooler.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
How did you get into street art?
I was working in the film industry in LA, and hated my job. I had been getting interested in the art scene out there and met a few artists that encouraged me to start painting. So, one Monday morning when I was fed up at work I quit, and started messing around with “street art-like” paste-ups, tags, and stencils. That was spring 2012. Later that summer I picked up spray painting and have been hooked ever since.
Merten’s work in Hollywood, California drives color into an otherwise uninspired street side (Image courtesy of Jake Merten)
Some of your work seems to be influenced by comic books while others are very realistic. How would you describe your artistic style?
Ha, I’ve been trying to figure that one out for a while. My love for comic books stems from childhood. I grew up idolizing the images and drew replications a lot as a kid. So, I think that aspect of my style just comes out naturally, but I’ve been working on photo-realism as sort of a study. I never went to art school so I feel like I have a lot to learn and absorb.
How do you decide what style to go with for each individual piece?
It kind of depends on what I’m into at the moment, and what has inspired me lately. But, at the same time I like to try to imagine what would be best received by people that look at that particular wall everyday. They’re the ones that have to live with it.
This LA building reveals a hidden personality due to Merten’s mark (Image courtesy of Jake Merten)
Your website has “indoor” and “outdoor” works separated. Do you find the two environments that different to work with?
The work I do indoors tends to be more acrylic and brush based, with some aerosol, whereas my outdoor work is strictly spray paint.
How does your extensive traveling affect the work that you do?
Traveling always humbles me. Suddenly you’re in a city where no one knows you and you have to prove to everyone, most importantly to yourself, that there’s a reason you’re there. Even more so, you’re restricted on time and materials, and you have to deal with whatever the weather is like for that trip. I’ve painted in frigid, snowy conditions because I only had three days to do it, so I did it. Absorbing the culture and interacting with the community wherever I paint is one of my favorite aspects to doing murals. It’s amazing to feel like you’ve given something inspirational to an area, hopefully leaving it better than when you arrived.
Merten stakes his claim in Denver (Image courtesy of Jake Merten)
How did you hear about Threadless?
I started shopping on the website in college, probably around 2007.
What made you decide to paint a cover from the Image Comics series Saga on the Threadless garage door?
Someone recently turned me onto the series and I instantly fell in love with the imagery. I had been wanting to paint that cover image, and it was a cool coincidence to find additional Saga fans working at Threadless. Plus, the space was a perfect fit.
The original Saga comic book series cover by Fiona Staples that inspired Merten’s work
How does your aesthetic align with Threadless?
It seems we share an appreciation for the power of design.
We saw that you’ve been working with Hollywood based artist MDMN. How did that collaboration begin and how is it working with him?
MDMN was one of the first artists I met in the LA scene. He and I began painting around the same time and quickly became friends based on similar interests and goals. We’ve been able to keep the creative relationship going since I relocated from LA to Chicago by working on collaborative digital projects, as well as meeting up to paint in various cities in the upcoming months.
A Jake Merten and MDMN collab in LA (Image courtesy of Jake Merten)
Do you work in any mediums besides paint?
I dabble in carpentry. I’m really into interior design and building furniture
Do you have any big projects coming up?
I have a few projects lined up in Chicago for the fall; one or two larger walls to look out for. I’ll be traveling to Denver and Miami for mural festivals before the end of the year, and am planning a solo show in Chicago for 2015.
Merten’s work waits to be discovered in an LA parking garage (Image courtesy of Jake Merten)