“I feel the need. The need, for–“

Ok I’m not going to finish that sentence with “tees”, because we like you and will spare you that pun. And if you’re a Top Gun fan, we like you even more. Whether you’re an Iceman, a Maverick, or more of a Goose, Jeremy Martinez’s (mockart) winning design for our Top Gun challenge is fit for a wingman.

We talked to Jeremy a little bit about his design, Tom Cruise, and his least favorite kind of cheese. Check out the interview below.

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Tell me about yourself – hopes, dreams, least favorite kind of cheese.

I’m just a little boy trapped inside the body of a 22-year-old who, coincidentally, has the body of a little boy. Also, I’m from Wisconsin, where it’s against the law to say anything disparaging about cheese…but just between you and me, bleu cheese is the devil.

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“Bad Astronaut” by mockart

What do you do on the daily?

Eat a concerning amount of candy. Decide that I’m going to start flossing tomorrow. Sleep less than I should. Wind up in a Wikipedia wormhole. Wonder why I live somewhere that’s so cold. Watch Seinfeld. Feel bad about not responding to emails. Avoid eye contact. Have a mild panic attack over the number of tabs I currently have open. Get one day closer to my eventual death. You know, the usual.

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“The Eighth Wonder”

Word. What most inspires you and your art?

Sleep deprivation and a complete refusal to take anything seriously.

On to the art stuff – How would you define your style?

I’ve never felt like I have one real distinguishable style. For me, the style of the design is dictated by the idea. So, if anything, I think my style is more of a tone or point of view rather than an aesthetic consistency. I’m not totally certain what that point of view is yet, but it seems to be characterized by a dark sense of humor and the inability to draw people.

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How has that style developed? 

Through years of experimentation and subsequent failure. I love Threadless because it really serves as a timeline of my development as a designer. I’ve been submitting semi-consistently since I was 15 years old. My earliest t-shirt designs were the first things I ever created in Photoshop. So if you look through my submission history, you can see the progression from complete amateur to an actual working professional graphic designer.

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“What Are You Hiding?” vs “All Eyes on Me”

I think the only thing that has remained constant throughout all the years is the absolute certainty, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that this new design will definitely get printed.

A lot of your pieces have a subtle social commentary – is this on purpose?

It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about and I definitely don’t make silly t-shirt designs to send a message or promote some agenda. I think it just comes down to making things that I find funny and those things tend to have some edge or latent absurdism.

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“Good News”

Big Top Gun fan?

I’ve got to admit, never seen it. Does that disqualify me? Please don’t take away my winnings.

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“Game, Set, Match”

Depends, you must answer this question: which Tom Cruise is the BEST Tom Cruise?

Hands down Frank T.J. Mackey from Magnolia Tom Cruise is the best Tom Cruise. Not the best person, but the best Tom Cruise nonetheless.

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“Z Movie”

Acceptable. A lot of the challenges you’ve submitted to have had an ’80s/’90s pop-culture theme – are you particularly interested in pop-culture at that time?

That might just come from growing up during that time and having always been obsessed with TV and movies. I think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Office Space shaped my entire worldview.

Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.