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If there’s one thing Brazilian artist Tobe Fonseca likes when designing, it’s a minimal color scheme. That being said, it comes to little surpriseonecolor_smallbanner when he entered our One Color design challenge – and won! His design “How to Kill a Mockingbird” is not only adorably clever, but it features the execution of one color with expertise. The result? A dynamic design created entirely in gray tones, that climbed the scale straight to victory. On a roll after recently launching his Artist Shop, Tobe answered a few questions for us about his winning design. Read on to learn more about it, and shop the new tee here!

“How To Kill a Mockingbird” by Tobe Fonseca

Congrats on your winning “How To Kill a Mockingbird” design for the One Color challenge! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a bearded guy that became an illustrator by chance, and  love
folk and pop songs. I want to believe that the world can become a better place; sometimes it’s hard, but I must to go on. I like winter, but to be honest, autumn is my favorite season – those leaves are the best.

What’s your typical approach to color when you design?636x460shirt_guys_01

I have a complicated relationship with colors. I love them, and I think people love them too, but I prefer to wear ‘one color’ designs. When I realized that, I started to do all my design with less color. I love when I can make a one color design, which seems simple but it’s really hard!

How did this challenge force you to think about color differently?

One color – or as few colors as possible – are my favorite kind of designs to wear. So if you see my work, you’ll figure that I love minimal designs with minimal colors. I tried some texture (inks and bushes as well), but it didn’t work very well. I went for the simple solution, and as I see, it worked!

636x460shirt_girls_01Knowing you had to stick to one color for this challenge, where did you look for inspiration?

This challenge was a gift. When I saw it, I knew I had to do something. I sent some old designs as well, but wanted to make something within a collection I call “Reading is Fundamental”. It features animals, mostly cats, who are reading books, and includes some sort of humor. And it worked! Yay! I can’t believe it!

How did you ultimately come up with your final concept?

For me it’s all about the concept. It’s not unusual that I spend more time with the concept than the design itself, and I love that. I love 636x460vneck_guys_01gathering information, referencing on Pinterest, taking notes. Getting an idea, changing it, and transforming it. The core of this concept is something that I really love (animals reading books) and I’ll sure keep doing it for some time!

Would you mind taking us through the process of this design? (Feel free to share any WIP’s, if you have!)

Well I don’t think have any WIP’s. Let me check my sketchbook. OMG I have one! The first idea is terribly old, but I’ll show you that. The original title was “To Kill a Mockingbird”, but I changed it to “How To Kill a Mockingbird”, which seems more appropriate. OMG this illustration is terrible, thank God I changed it! LOL.


What advice do you have for other artists who want to explore working in only one color?

It’s all about experimentation. Some designs are better with tons of colors, but if you’re creating it from the sketch with ‘one color’ in mind, it’s easier. Look for tons of references and see how other artists work with just one color. Texture helps, watercolors, worn papers, anything can be used. Try different brushes to add texture within one color. Halftone is always helpful, too. And, of course, last but not the least: it’s all about the concept!

636x460vneck_girls_01What’s your absolute, most favorite color in the whole world?

Dark blue. It works with anything.

What’s your least favorite, and why?

I think with the right background, all colors work in a good way. But I hate to wear orange. Maybe it’s a sign!

Any other shout-outs?

Thanks so much for this interview! It’s really nice! Thanks to anyone who voted on my design and made this a real t-shirt! When I got the email I was actually feeling sick and terrible, and it really saved my day. Thanks Threadless for all these amazing opportunities, and to my friends and community, you’re all the best! And sure, visit my tumblr, there are some nudes! Hugs!

Shop the winning design!

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Shawn Gauthier

Content Manager & Writer at Threadless. Into the usual stuff like words and music and internet animals.