MEET OUR “MAKE YOUR STATEMENT” CHALLENGE WINNER!
Due to the recent launch of our app Type Tees, we’ve had lots of reason to be makin’ statements around here. Therefore, we wanted to toss the opportunity out to our awesome community to do the same, in the form of our Make Your Statement challenge! We had so many amazing designs roll in featuring witty, clever, funny, goofy, meaningful, silly, heartfelt (oops, are we getting wordy?) statements, that it was super tough to award the winning crown. However, in the end, we must present it to artist 38 Sunsets of Poland for his tongue-in-cheek design “Le Royal Meh”. Check out an interview with him below, and don’t forget to snag his new tee here!
Congrats on your winning design! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
The grand prize - sounds so big! It is really exciting. I am thrilled. Thank you so much for picking me! There were so many entries, tons of cool ones, and I want to salute every single participant. It is an awesome sensation to compete with you guys! I want to thank also all the supporters that have scored me highly.
I am bicultural. I was raised in Poland, but spent half my life in Paris. Being multicultural is nice, but sometimes it gives an impression of strange duality and identity. I am an independent artist, working on very diverse commercial and private projects. Self employment is hazardous, too. There are blank moments (ouch!). Incoming projects include designing for an art show catalog and a video/photo report about sculpture creation. Private projects include paintings and photography. I’ve been hooked on illustration for about a year now (thanks, Threadless!). I have now a new tag: “Modern Zombie”, as I am working through daylight, and working through moonlight. No sleep.
This challenge was a little different since it focused on words vs. design. Why did you decide to partake?
While studying contemporary art, I was attracted the most to language. The language of art, the language we speak, the universality of signs… those kind of things. I have made a lot of very conceptual artwork words in my paintings or videos; words have been always of big interest to me. The Make Your Statement challenge was a perfect occasion to renew my interest with words and play with different concepts and styles.
What words do you live by?
DIVERSITY is probably my word for today. Society needs to be diverse; it’s a concept that’s understood largely. Diverse people even like opposite thoughts as there is no hate, no aggression between them. Diverse things all around feed me well… oh yes! Like diverse sauces on a hot dog: ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise - YUMMY! That’s a cool word too - and STRANGE at the same time. I like the word SOUND. I love DIVERSE SOUNDS. I love to listen to JAPANESE. I listen to Japanese movies while doodling my illustrations; they have such cool sounds.
We love the tongue-in-cheek concept of your statement and design. How did you come up with it?
So often we take life events too seriously. What if we could be more relaxed? The day I came up with Royal Meh I was upset and wanted to say something to help alleviate the rising stress, but the common “Fuck it” has a negative charge. I needed to chill out positively. What’s more relaxing than a good laugh? I said “MEH” out loud, which has a funny sound to me, and an instant later thought of “ROYAL MEH”… which got me laughing hysterically! I have realized that Royal Meh is double-faced: both serious and funny. And very positively charged because of the underlying laughter. The word “royal” came up spontaneously, but I think the real source of it is in the French part of me. The title with the determinant “Le” adds another layer of funny reference like in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction dialog about burgers. “Tongue-in-cheek” is really the perfect description; it concludes what I am trying to explain with too many words!
What officially makes a “meh” royal?
The apparent formal elements, like a crown and leaves. But, most important, “meh” is royal when your attitude is appropriate. That includes your body posture, how you pronounce “meh”, and the timing with the situation. Imagine you slip on a banana in the street and you fall on your face. This is the perfect time to show up your “Royal Meh!” You atten to the meeting of adversary political camps. “Royal Meh!” Your boss is pissing you off. “Royal Meh!” So attitude and timing are definitely the official rules. Yet, a positive state of mind is also very important. I actually think there is a potential in this “Royal Meh”. It could be a popular saying. From now on, why don’t you say “Royal Meh!”. Please test and report to me the observed effects.
What was your process of creating it?
My goal was to encompass the feeling of the royal design from the past, since “royal” has rather a historical connotation. I have few old coins with a lot of royal stuff on them, and I searched the internet too to see royal emblems. But my design could not have the true royal precision as “Royal Meh” is a tongue-in-cheek concept; making it too precise would appear too serious. So all elements are plain and bold, not too many details, and everything is drawn by hand. The “MEH” word design has the letter E bumped a bit so it has the feeling of a monogram, something aristocratic. Also, that bump fills the space better between the crown and leaves. I knew exactly what I wanted this design to look like, so I had no hesitation. I sketched the final result straight ahead.
How do you approach font design differently than you would typical design?
Actually, when I treat words differently than typical design, I fail - royally(!). I have decided to treat fonts as geometric forms that have a role to play in the whole composition. I treat them like pictograms (logograms, ideograms, or whatever you call it), rather than phonograms, then continue to tweak. Font design is really not easy; it’s a science, a real knowledge. Instead, I treated “Royal Meh” exactly like an image in its totality. I even forgot for awhile that the statement was meant to be read, so I filled the circle with geometric forms. The words came out of that more and became more unified with my design.
What advice do you have for artists trying to incorporate words into their designs?
The most difficult task is to give one piece of advice for a thousand cases out there. But, basically, try to forget that words are composed with fonts, and play around with forms instead. Check out the rest of your design in accordance to the lines and curves of your words. Take risk to loosen readability. Explode the words into their most simple elementary parts, then recompose everything. Clean your stuff, and be delighted. Practice a lot. Draw. Forget your computer. Take something you’re comfortable with, like a pencil, and draw for five minutes. Then take something you hate, like a brush and ink, and paint for an hour with it. You actually might be surprised of what comes up from the chaos.
If you had to wear one statement t-shirt for the rest of your life, what would it say?
I’ll be snobbish on this one” “Le Royal Meh”. Yeah!
Any other shout-outs?
You guys at Threadless are so cool! No wonder so many of us are so hooked to you. Simply: Long Live Threadless.
P.S. Yes, as soon as I get a copy of the tee, I am going to send it to the Royal Family… who knows, maybe I’ll get a response with a Royal Meh?