Stand Back ‘Cuz This Design’s About to Explode!

Every once in awhile we like to strip away the rules, and one of our favorite ways to do so is by challenging the community to create awesome all-over prints for our sublimation collection. Instead of sublimation2_smallbannerstaying within the dimensions of the typical design format, we encourage our artists to defy boundaries and treat the entire tee as a canvas. We did it once with our first sublimation challenge, and we loved the results so much, we launched Sublimation 2. Today we announce to you the winner, Philipp Rietz of Germany, for his design “Color Bomb!”. Read on to learn more about Philipp, and shop the winning design here.

The winning “Color Bomb!” design by Philipp Rietz

Congrats on your winning design “Color Bomb!” for our Sublimation 2 challenge! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

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Hey! My name is Philipp; I’m a German-based digital artist and web developer, and I work as a freelance creative doing magical illustrations and design experiments. I’m 27 years old, and considers my art as a personal hobby which turned out to be my full-time freelance work. I’m not the typical artist (If they exists at all); more a computer freak with and big obsession with art. I play with all kinds of digital media and technology, and I really like to design t-shirts. But, I do also traditional art like street art stickers or crazy watercolor paintings. I’m very addicted to art and design and have always been a bit crazy and nerdy.

You’re a freelance graphic designer living in Germany – in what ways does your hometown inspire your art?

I’m like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to inspiration, so there are certainly a few things in my hometown that inspire me a lot. In my youth it was truly our local graffiti and street art scene, but I get a lot of inspiration also from architecture and nature. My hometown of Saalfeld is small and very old, about 1100 years, with a big mix of historic and modern environments, which can give me a lot of great inspiration. But one of my biggest sources of inspiration is truly the internet, and particularly the community of Threadless.

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Aerial shot of Saafeld, Germany, taken by Rietz

Had you always intended to become a freelance graphic designer, or did you stumble on it by accident?

No, not really! It was more like that I grew into this job by time. I started building websites and making flyers for some local parties around the age of 13. Since then, I continued playing with Photoshop or cool web experiments and it grew bigger as a hobby, and finally I decided to make it more professional. But not too much, that’s bad for a creative job! ;)

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What about the Sublimation 2 design challenge compelled you to enter?

Definitely the chance to make something crazy without ‘rules or borders’ (in respect to the print). I really like these kind of design experiments; trying something new. It’s not that I don’t like ‘traditional’ t-shirt concepts, but making something ‘kick ass’ or ‘borderline’ is always a great challenge. I had also my first printed design in the ”Sublimation 1 design challenge” called “Painting the Universe, which was certainly an additional incentive.

How did you come up with your ultimate and winning concept for “Color Bomb!”?

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I wanted to try and make the ultimate colorful all-over pattern t-shirt! I absolutely love polygon-art and high contrast colors, and the rest was more playing and experimenting. I often don’t have a real concept when I start; I set about mostly with a pure ”white screen” and begin playing.

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

Sure, first I created a big abstract low poly pattern in Illustrator. It was very simple, purely free hand, much like feeling without thinking too much. ;) It looks like this…


Then I filled the triangles with color gradients. With the basic backbone done, I started the post-process, which is very hard in Photoshop.


I added a few subtle textures, shading, and a bit of film grain, and made around one million color adjustments. I go about everything completely by feel. The result was an about 70 megapixel big baby, which was absolutely great as it added a lot of texture for this challenge.


The rest was basically placement and presentation. This part is very simple work.


When creating an all-over print vs. a typical design, how do you approach your work differently?

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I wouldn’t say that it makes a big difference in my work process. I’m very spontaneous, but it always boosts up my creativity to use the whole shirt as a canvas. The great thing about an ‘all-over/sublimation’ print is the many possibilities for bright colors and even brighter ideas.

What kind of relationship do you have with color when creating designs? Do you typically like to go big and bright?

Big and bright. YES! That’s truly something that defines my art, although I have not quite found my kind of style.

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Why do you believe a great, super colorful piece of clothing can totally revamp an outfit?

A great eye-catching design can always revamp an outfit. Especially if the colors are sick and dangerous! For myself, I prefer rather plain fashions, unless it is really eye popping and suitable for a special occasion. But I definitely can’t wait to wear this tee (especially in summer!). :)

Any other shout-outs?

Hold your color :) Big Hug!

Shop “Color Bomb!” here!

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Shawn Gauthier

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