You mustn’t be afraid to look a little closer, darling…because when you see it, you’ll freak out. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t gotten stuck in a how-did-I-get-here internet loop of just looking up “when you see it” pictures? They’re like the visual equivalent of riddles. And the winner of our “When You See it…” challenge, Grant Shepley (@Gamma-Ray) successfully stumped us with a design that made us do a double take.

We talked to Grant about how he created this design, if he thinks aliens are out there (hint hint if you haven’t been able to find the hidden image in the design yet), and of course, all about sci-fi. Read all about it!

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Congrats on the win! What have you been up to lately?

Thanks. Really happy to have won this challenge, as there was some fierce competition. I’m a graphic designer from South Africa who has been part of the Threadless community for about five years now. My girlfriend and I recently moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa. So we’ve been exploring our new city and its beaches and hiking trails.

“He Can Change” – one of Grant’s earlier designs.

Your style seems to have changed a lot over the years! How has your style evolved? What do you most enjoy creating?

I like to keep trying new styles. I would get bored of doing the same style. It’s hard to say how my style has evolved, as it keeps changing. I feel I have learned how to get the most out of a design idea and find the right style for it; for example, if a design is more suited to a minimal style as opposed to a detailed style. I will follow through fully on the minimal feel, whereas back in the day I would be confused and probably settle in somewhere the middle. My illustration has improved over the years. I used to struggle to draw characters. I’m very impressed with my “Toadally Rad” design from last year.

Grant’s submission for the ’90s design challenge.

Did you have any other ideas you bounced around for this challenge?

Yes, I had one or two other ideas, but they didn’t come together as I had imagined. It can be quite frustrating when you envision a design in your head and when you actually design it it doesn’t work haha.

The original design that Grant submitted to our X-Files design challenge. Quick game of “spot the differences”?

How did you plan out this design? 

“We are not Alone” is a complete revamp of an older design that was subbed into the X-files challenge a few years back on Threadless. The original had the X-files detectives and their car instead of the camper with a telescope. The big improvement, in my opinion, was to make the alien face in the stars way less obvious.

We Are Not Alone” on just a few products! Top row: laundry bag (NEW!), heavy duty phone case, and an art print | Bottom row: sherpa blanket (NEW!), men’s longsleeve, and a twin duvet cover (shop the design on these products and more right here!)

How long did this design take? What were some of the challenges?

With the original sub and the revamp combined, probably about 8-10 hours. The main challenge was getting the face right and to finally decide on the right level of visibility of the face.

This design in extraterrestrial action.

Do you think there are aliens out there?

Most definitely…the odds are too high for there not to be. Whether they look like the pop culture one I have in my design is probably unlikely. They could be invisible or as small as an ant…who knows, haha

The Urban Effect” in Grant’s Artist Shop.
The Vinyl System” pin.

If aliens landed on Earth and you could give them one kind of food to try, what kind of food would you offer?

Hmmm, I have no idea. Maybe I would offer them a beer to ease the tension.

Do you have a favorite sci-fi movie?

I love sci-fi films! Interstellar & Inception are some of my favourites. Prometheus and the terrifying Dreamcatcher were amazing alien-themed films. Mars Attacks is still a cheesy classic that I used to watch on repeat years back.

Size Matters

What’s your artistic philosophy?

I suppose I could go down many rabbit holes with this question. In my opinion, everyone is an artist with their own style, and no two people will draw the same thing in the same style. So it’s really interesting to see all these different styles on a community like Threadless and in everyday life.

I also very much like the idea of using art to convey a message. Kinda like Banksy, who is conceptually brilliant at pointing out harsh truths in society and world politics.

You’ll be equaliterally unable to even with Grant’s “Can’t Even” shirt.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m very interested in travel and history, and would like to get into travel/culture photography and writing soon. My girlfriend and I are both fascinated by ancient ruins and intend to go see as many as possible. Thanks for the interview.

Shop the winning design!

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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.