When we hear the word “city”, our human people brains picture stretching skyscrapers and traffic flow, not tall pine trees and flowing rivers.
But the winning design for our “rep your city” challenge totally replaces the urban jungle with pine tree jungle (not a thing, but you get it).
Brent Schoepf (a.k.a wowrainbows) channeled his love of scenic Minnesota and his love of photography to make a sublimated shirt that satisfies that wanderlust itch by bringing the outdoors to you – whether you’re a city dweller or an outdoorsy person.
We talked to him about his winning design and his outdoors-inspired artwork. Check out what he had to say!
Let’s hear a little bit about you!
Ha! I’m not too hard to figure out :) I was raised in central Minnesota, and learned throughout my formative years that I really enjoy three things: photography, design, and music. As an adult, those are the three main things I focus my time in.
I’m currently living in Minneapolis, and during the week I do design at Studio MPLS, at night I make music (which will probably never make it to the internet), and on weekends I photograph weddings. Besides that, I hang out with my wife Rachel, and design Threadless shirts!
A week exploring space or a week exploring Sasquatch-infested woods and learning their secrets?
I’d like to think that Bigfoot would rather stay hidden, and I respect that. I’m jealous of the future photographers out there who will get to shoot intergalactic landscapes that none of us can even imagine. So, if I had that chance, I’d take it in a heartbeat (unless Matt Damon is there).
Is this your first photo sublimation shirt? Is it a photo you took of a place that’s special to you?
Yup! My first sublimation shirt. The photo was taken way up north in Minnesota, where my wife and I take our vacations. It’s also the home of my favorite place to snowboard, and so I look forward to going there all year round.
It’s also just a few miles away from where I took this photo for the last Threadless photo competition (my wife just LOVES that her face on shirts all over the world!)
You have kind of an outdoorsy theme to a lot of your pieces – Does Minnesota inspire you a lot?
Oh, absolutely. We recently took a trip to Colorado to visit some friends, and as much as I enjoy the mountains, I don’t think I could ever leave all the lakes, rivers, and waterfalls we have in Minnesota. If I could go explore Minnesota every week, I would.
My first ever Threadless print was inspired by my time watching the sunset dip behind the clouds and trees on a lake here, and I think that particular design kickstarted the barrage of nature-themed designs I’ve submitted over the past few years.
Do you have any crazy travel stories?
I was flying by myself a few years ago when I was twenty. I was sitting in the back of the plane before takeoff, and the flight attendant came back to me and said “I’m sorry sir, but you have to be at least fourteen or older to sit in the back alone.”
I noticed you have a triangle/square/circle theme in a lot of your photos/designs. Do you have a story behind this?
I can’t think of three simple shapes that look better together than that combination. They deserve to be plastered on as many shirts and photos as possible. Who needs a story or meaning behind it when they look so darn good?
What most inspires your art and photography?
I’d be lying if I said it was anything other than the creativity and talent of people. The way people see things, and more importantly—interpret them, is vastly more inspiring to me than relying entirely on my own brain. Someone will make something great, and that can say to me, ‘Hey Brent, you don’t have to always make things a certain way; just look at this person! So stop being a dummy and make something new and fun.’
When it comes to photos, I’d say the people (or implied presence of people) can make an alright photo fantastic. When it’s a landscape photo, knowing that the photographer had to climb somewhere or hike a long distance encourages me to do the same.
What’s a dream project of yours?
If I ever finish writing this darn album, making the artwork for it will be a blast. There are no restrictions, and I can do whatever I want. It’ll be a chance to combine all three of my passions—design, photography, and music. That doesn’t come along everyday, and it’s certainly a dream project, only because I’ll never be satisfied with any of the songs, and continue to take 5+ months on every single song.
What’s something that most people wouldn’t guess about you?
Despite being a designer living in Minneapolis, I don’t drink coffee, beer, or own a bicycle. Is part of that because my brother took my bike to college, where it got stolen? Maybe. But I’ve had three years since I’ve moved here to buy a bike, get in on all the cool coffee shops, or try out the dozens (or hundreds) of microbreweries around here, but I’ll just take darn coke, please.