GET NOSTALGIC WITH OUR NICKELODEON WINNER!
The time has come. The winning design from our Nick Retro design challenge is here. Can we get a “Happy, happy, joy, joy” up in here?! Out of 499 slime-a-riffic submissions, Mitch Loidolt’s Ren & Stimpy-inspired ”Through Stink and Thin" design is our winner! Before you head over to browse the five other tees in our Nickelodeon collection, check out this interview with Mitch!
Congrats on your winning design! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Mitch and I come from Minnesota originally, but now I live in California with my wife and make video games during the day. When I’m not working, I’m drawing, eating burritos, and watching cartoons and action movies.
What about the Nick Retro challenge made you think “I must, I must, I must submit!!”
Nickelodeon has a permanent spot in my heart and I can credit their shows in ‘90’s with helping shape me into the person I am today. I had so much fun watching and drawing these characters as a kid that I really didn’t have a choice; I had to submit something.
Of all the Nick shows you could have focused on, why did Ren & Stimpy steal your designing heart?
They are so weird and gross and they were different from anything else I had watched up to that point… for whatever reason. I felt like I could relate to them, like they were my best pals. Also, my favorite shirts as a kid were my Ren & Stimpy shirts and I severely needed to wear a good one again. So for myself and for my inner child, it was imperative that I try to win.
What inspired this specific design in particular?
This was inspired mostly by how Ren & Stimpy are strange buddies with a special bond. The specific poses and everything came together sort of naturally as I was drawing.
The faces you’ve created in the “fumes” are a great hidden detail - do they represent anyone in particular?
Yep. There’s Mr. Horse, Powdered Toast Man, Svën Höek, Muddy Mudskipper, Stimpy’s son Stinky, and then a few knee warmers tossed in for good measure.
Would you mind taking us through your process?
It started out as just a few random sketches to warm up. I liked Stimpy with his back to the viewer a bit better than something straight on, and I liked Ren being squeezed. I knew I had to give that fart in there a reason rather than just being gross. Originally it was a heart fart to show that Ren wasn’t being squeezed out of malice, but out of love, even though if Stimpy pressed any harder on his chest cavity, it would probably pop like a zit. That fart evolved into an opportunity to show a bunch of characters I loved, so then I went back to making Stimpy look crazy. I don’t really plan things before I draw them; stuff just sort of happens.
When you were a kid watching Ren & Stimpy, did you ever in your life imagine you’d one day create a winning design based on the cartoon?
No, never. My big goal as a kid was to get a Nicktoons drawing on T.V. during the Thanksgiving specials. I still swear one was flashed for a brief second… but I could never be sure. I was extremely shocked and overjoyed to find out that I had won this. It would have been more than enough to be one of the few winners, but a whole prize pack from Nickelodeon for drawing my two favorite cartoon characters is literally a childhood dream come true.
Obviously, Ren and Stimpy would have very differing opinions of your design. What do you think each character would say if they came across it?
If I had to take a stab at writing the characters (please forgive me, John Kricfalusi), Stimpy would probably have one of his starry eyed monologues, like, “Golly! What a fine pair of gentlemen are we, surrounded by dreamlike memories of our dearest friends, and like hot breath on a frosty window pa-” then Ren would slap him and bark, “Snap out of it, man! We’ve been VIOLATED! Here we’ve been photographed at our most private, with you covered in a haze of your own filth, and you’re prancing around like you’re Clark Gable! You eediot! We oughtta SUE!”
We gotta know: at the end of the day, are you a Ren guy, or a Stimpy guy?
Apologies, but I could never have one without the other - I’d rather die than choose a favorite. But if you’re asking who I’m most like: Stimpy all the way.
Any other shout-outs?
I’d like to thank my Mom and Dad for letting me watch Nickelodeon as a kid and encouraging me to be an artist. I’d like to thank Mrs. Maus for being my only grade school teacher to not yell at me for drawing in class. I’d like to thank Laura and Jeff at Threadless for telling me I won this awesome contest. I’d like to thank Nickelodeon for being the best network for kids, and I’d like to th- *play off music starts*.
OUR GEEK CHIC WINNER IS OUT OF THIS WORLD!
OK, so this tee isn’t available until tomorrow, but we were just way too excited to wait until Monday to break the news that “Ode to the Cosmos!" is the winning design from our Geek Chic design challenge! Who is the designer behind this geek-tastic design? Why, it’s Taylor Rose and this is her second Threadless print. Congrats, Taylor! We sat down with Taylor to pick her brain about design, pixel art, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Cosmos, and more. So sit back, enjoy the interview, and visit Threadless tomorrow morning to pick up this stellar tee!
Congrats on your winning “Ode to the Cosmos!” design! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you! I am a freelance illustrator working and playing in Bend, Oregon. Most of my illustrations are inspired from nature and fantasy storytelling. When I have free time, I love fly fishing, snowboarding, and stargazing.
Of all the challenges, why did Geek Chic speak to you?
I was really drawn to the title “Geek Chic.” It’s a perfect way of representing the evolution of what it means to be labeled a geek that I have been lucky enough to experience, and the growing acceptance and support of that. I think the term “geek” used to imply that you were an outcast, but due to wildly popular events like Comic Con and the success of shows like Cosmos, today it totally is chic to be geek and that’s a beautiful thing! I was just stoked to have the opportunity to try to showcase that with my art.
What’s the most awesomely geeky thing about you?
I have a pretty large amount of geeky toys, books, and comics staring at me right now, but I think foremost I am a nature geek, so it would probably be my ridiculous and ever-expanding rock collection.
How did you come up with the idea for “Ode to the Cosmos!”?
I knew I wanted to do something science-related, and my idea actually started with a pretty elaborate ode to Bill Nye. But, once I thought more about what motivated me most as a kid to study science, I realized it always came back to the mysteries of space. I remembered being mesmerized by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and with Neil deGrasse Tyson reviving the series this year, I couldn’t ignore the idea that they could make for the most epic fist bump of all time.
If you were to bump into Neil deGrasse Tyson or the ghost of Carl Sagan, what would you say to them?
I would want to thank them immensely for all the passion around science that they have ignited in others. They both have such a wonderful and relatable way of sharing knowledge, I would totally just soak in anything they wanted to talk about. Then I think a group hug would definitely be in order.
What’s your all-time favorite Cosmos episode?
That’s a really tough question, I might have to cheat and choose one from each series: Sagan’s “Blues for a Red Planet” and Tyson’s “A Sky Full of Ghosts”.
Please tell us a little bit about your process creating this design. Feel free to share some WIP images!
I started with a rough graphite sketch of the concept and then, after scanning that in, I colored all of my pixel art in Photoshop with an 8 pixels per inch resolution file and the pencil tool. It’s mostly just made square by square. Then once the pixelated part is completed, I enlarge it to a print worthy size and add different glowing effects with the airbrush tool. I attached some WIP images to check out:
What advice do you have for artists when creating a very pixelated design?
Don’t underestimate how much detail you can actually apply to pixel art. I think it gets a reputation of being over-simplified imagery, but for me, I see it as an opportunity to represent lots of detail, just with simplified forms and shapes.
What do you find to be the most baffling, amazing thing about space and time?
I think one of the most amazing things about space is how crazy it is that Earth was able to form into what it is today, and all of the circumstances that made it a perfect planet to support life. Like, for example, how we are just the right distance from the sun, or how Jupiter acts as a space bodyguard with its gravitational pull just strong enough to pull large comets and asteroids away from Earth so they don’t smash right into us. Expanding off of that, I definitely love the possibility of life in other galaxies or planets or moons like Europa.
Any other shout-outs?
Thanks so much to the Threadless community and staff for voting this as the winning design and for supporting art and science and geeks! You guys are awesome!