It’s always a great personal pleasure to connect with designers and all round turned on creatives in various industries to expand your horizons and knowledge. I think it’s important as a designer not to stay too locked down in your own niche area of design, we should look to outside inspiration in t-shirts, web design, print design and more!
Today it’s great to showcase the talents of artist and designer Nick Hammond, most well known to myself for his work on his own self entitled clothing line. You wouldn’t want to catch yourself in a (paint)gun fight with this wild west slinger! Nick has a wide ranging array of talents and business knowledge and I trust you can find this latest interview as insightful as the last. Today we discussed; social media, the future of facebook, social media circles, paintballing, blogging and the online clothing world.
Hi Nick, It’s a great pleasure to introduce you to our Design Juices readers. I’ve been a fan of your clothing line for a while but I know that’s not your only link to the creative industries. Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them how you fit into the big world of art and design.
Hey Jared, thanks for featuring me on the site! And a big hello to all of the readers.
My clothing line definitely isn’t my only link to the creative industries but it’s something I pride myself on and work every day to make better. The stance we take at Nick Hammond Design is one that is geared toward a younger audience. Having been involved with playing tournament paintball for a number of years I was exposed to some stunning designs from packaging to banners to products and everything in between. Not to mention tshirts. This eventually branched to the world of music and boardsports, which is where we are today.
There are obviously the big name companies out there that cater to these audiences but none of them ever seem too personal, nor do they ever really design things themselves without the help of designers. What we’re doing is providing our aesthetic to both the clothing that individuals wear as well as the logos, flyers, jerseys, and anything else they need to market themselves. A push toward a more unified style all in one stop!
Tell us about your clothing line, What was your motivation to get this off the ground? How has the line developed since it first launched? Do you undertake all of the work yourself?
I’m not gonna lie, the initial motivation for the clothing line came from seeing other startup clothing companies and thinking
“Wow, those designs are horrible, I can definitely do better and with a larger smile on my face.”
After that reaction I realized, in relation to business, how it could potentially help my design company. When kids see my work on tshirts they buy them, wear them proudly, and tell their friends. Is there a better way to use guerilla-marketing tactics? I think not. It not only helps spread the word about our design services but it helps spread the word about the clothing as well. It’s kinda like a continuous circle that feeds into itself. The more business I do with the clothing line, the more it helps my design services and vise versa.
Keeping in mind that our goal is not to plaster our name on every single shirt in huge letters but to provide an article of clothing that a passer-by would look at and instantly want to wear. I have been hard at work since the launch of the first line and am constantly tossing around new ideas in my head. Since the first launch I can say that our designs for the clothing have developed drastically. And for the better. As a designer my job is to always improve upon what was previously made which is why I constantly work so hard on each new line.
The new fall/winter line will hopefully be released in a few months and I think people will really love it. Everything new is going to be a lot more cohesive with a grunge style feel as well as having the qualities that a good sharp vector design always has. We also wanted to create the new line in a way that portraits the kids wearing them as being more adult while still keeping true to it’s paintball, music, and boardsport roots.
At this point in time I do undertake all of the work myself as I am still developing the style of the brand. If I were to bring in new designers or even hire out for work it wouldn’t be sticking to the business plan I have loved since day 1. I do, though, occasionally ask for constructive criticism and opinions from friends as any normal person would do ha.
How did your education and experiences in school and beyond lead you to the role in which you are working today?
I can honestly say that without any one of the single things that have happened in my life that I would not be where I am today. Starting with simple drawing classes in middle school I worked my way into my first computer art and design class in high school. It was probably the coolest class I had ever taken at the time and I couldn’t get enough of it. During the time I began getting interested more with graphic design I had been playing paintball in the warmer months and snowboarding in the colder ones. One winter I ended up deciding it was a good idea to go off of the biggest kicker on the “mountain” which resulted in almost losing my left arm. While in the hospital for 2 weeks I had a good long think session about whether to pursue paintball or snowboarding since continuing with both would be too expensive.
I chose paintball. Here’s where the quirkiness comes in. Around age 16 or 17 I was talking to a friend on the ever-popular forum PBNation. His name was Jimmy Hickey and he was just starting to get involved with photography. He told me that one of his friends owned his own clothing line and that he might need help with fliers and other random designs here and there. At that point in time I began my first set of work for a clothing company out of Seattle, WA. It only grew from there as I started doing work for another friend with a clothing company out of the Los Angeles, CA area. My services grew to the point where I started my own blog to document what I was creating. Nothing special, just a simple little Blogger site.
This sparked the notion that;
“Hey, this is the only thing I’ve ever really loved doing as far as work goes. Why not stick with it?”
After that I began attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for Graphic Design and am currently pursuing a business degree to level out my experience in the design field. Because of the blog I started and the work I had previously done for clients I was able to land a job as a designer for the Housing Department on campus. Without any of the happenings that lead to this point I would surely not be in my current position with design.
You talk about your blog and how it since evolved to allow you to document your work. Is your blog now an outlet to write or simply to showcase your work and clothing line?
This is something I’ve actually been giving a lot of thought to lately. There’s always some really interesting stuff that pops into my head when working on projects and I think;
“Hey, that could be a really awesome post.”
Most of the time, however, I almost always end up scrapping it and going for a post about new work we’ve done.
The reason I think I’ve gotten into that mindset is because I was originally doing some writing for my friends over at Copyrioting.com. A couple months in we had a problem with the hosting site thinking we were spammers, or some nonsense, and all of the posts we had on the site were lost. We had some really awesome stuff going but after that hit we never really recovered. Not because we’re lazy but more due to the fact that all of us, about 4 total, had started becoming increasingly busy with our own projects. I always saved my more lengthy and discussion type posts for that site but now that I haven’t had an outlet to get those writing juices, as opposed to design juices (pun intended), flowing I want to incorporate more of them on my own site. Much like yours!
If an artist was looking to get involved into the t-shirt world, do you think it’s worth looking into their own brand or should they first check out sites such as Redbubble, Teefury, Qwertee and the like?
I have always drawn heavy influence from other artists. So for me, I would say that it’s definitely best to check out these types of sites first. If not to buy then to just get a feel for the style of other artists and designers out there before undertaking a huge project like your own clothing line. A lot of these sites even have forums or areas where there are a TON of informative posts and links to resources or tutorials. A bunch of potential clothing lines today could greatly benefit from checking out these sites.
Recently, I’ve gotten real heavy into Mintees.com as I believe a lot of others have. Our friend Jack Roman over at TheTshirtExchange.com is also doing some awesome stuff with recycled and indie clothing. It’s inspiring to be a part of such a large community that is willing to help. Without these amazing people behind you, it can be really hard to survive in such a competitive industry as I’m sure you know all too well with your work over at The Tee Gazette! Shameless plugs
What have been your most succesful designs? Why do you think that is?
Well, according to our Behance portfolio over at behance.net/NHammondDesign, our most successful design would be our Circles font that we made a good year ago. It was a really simple font, and wasn’t anything that special, but I think the fact that so many people could get so many different uses out of it was appealing. This was one of the deciding factors into creating the new font that will be included with our fall/winter line release.
Other than that some of our most successful designs have been involved with our roots in paintball. We have had tremendous results with our Jersey design for the Ambush Army team from B.C., Canada and have also gotten a lot of appraise for the laser engraving design we did for their team paintball guns. It was exciting for us because we were allowed access to schematics of a paintball gun that wasn’t yet on the market, and once completed, were able to see pictures of the players shooting the guns at tournaments throughout Canada and the United States. They are now pretty much decked out from head to toe in our designs. Nothing gives me a better feeling than seeing our work put to good use, and with such a large audience!
You speak about having your work showcased on behance, I know the site myself and connect and showcase my portfolio of work over there also. What do you think a site like behance has its edge over communities such as coroflot or deviantart for example?
When I first heard about Behance it had been through a couple friends in my early design classes here on campus. At the beginning I mostly just used it for inspiration but as I started getting more projects I quickly realized it would be a great place to use myself. I hadn’t even heard of Coroflot until a couple months later and always regarded Deviantart as a place for more of the fine artists, whether that be true or not.
Recently I had been checking out Coroflot more but didn’t really see the need to have more than one portfolio site, especially when I have my work on my own site at NickHammondDesign.com. I think Behance has an edge simply because it seems as though they have more users. Almost 100% of the designers and artists I come into contact with on Twitter have their own Behance portfolio but only a select few have one of Coroflot. It’s just like the social media thing. Once people find a site or feature they like better then they’ll move if there is enough hype. Behance recently implemented a new “Prosite” feature, which allows users to create an actual website out of their portfolio. I’ve seen a couple people use it already and it’s pretty nifty so I think that could definitely start giving them more of an edge.
How has social media and networking impacted upon the way in which you work, brand and promote yourself today? How do you use the likes of twitter for your brand also?
As any industry leader would say, social media is absolutely huge. Without a fan base and a way to directly talk to your fans you can’t grow as a company. Without social media we would have to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars taking our work to people directly. Just check out the success of companies like Arkaik Clothing. Social media is one of the biggest reasons they have seen a boost in fans other than some awesome designs. I can now sit at my computer on a daily basis and when I’m between working on projects hop on to sites like Twitter to get people to notice our work. Some people may see it as a distraction, but not if you’re using it correctly.
Some of biggest advances and partnerships I have made with Nick Hammond Design have been through Twitter. This interview, cough cough, hint hint. Social media has helped me make connections that I would have otherwise not likely made. I like to use Twitter, and the like, for posting about the happenings with our company, resources that have helped me, talking with fans and most importantly, funny stuff. You can never underestimate the power of getting a good laugh in whether it be during a stressful day or some hard times. We’ve recently stepped back a bit from Facebook as there has been a crazy amount of rumors and talk about what will happen to them now that Google introduced their new Google + site. That, and some other reasons, but that is an entirely different conversation all-together.
You say you have stepped back from the likes of Facebook, have you dipped your toes into Google plus? What do you think the social networking world online will look like in 2-3 years time? and what would you prefer to see?
I have indeed stepped back from Facebook a bit. There are all of these bloggers and designers out there in Internet land who say that Facebook is invaluable. A year or two ago I would have agreed with that, but as times change, so does the social media. More and more I have been reading various articles about the not-so-hot business moves Facebook has been making and various actions they have taken both in changing their site and how they treat others. From day one I was never a fan of Facebook being that I come from a design background. The user interface of the site doesn’t seem to make too much sense to me as buttons are always moved and the screen seems incredibly cluttered. That, also, could just be me.
On the other hand I have been reading only positive things about what Google has been doing in this world. Because of that I definitely decided to dip my toes in Google+. I absolutely love it so far as it’s sort of a hybrid between facebook and twitter in that you can add people to your “circles” but they don’t have to add you to theirs. Seems to resemble a “follow” or “unfollow” type deal which is cool. I really do hope they are accepted with open arms once they get past their little test phase as I think they really thought things through on how the site should work. With all of the social media sites popping up nowadays I really think that we will see a trend toward getting off the computer and back into the real world. We’ve become so dependant on social media to connect with friends and family at all hours of the day that it’s effecting how people interact in real life. Not to say that social media is an entirely bad thing, because hey, with out the likes of Twitter I would definitely not be writing this interview right now!
Using social media to follow the specific things that interest you is definitely going to be a major aspect of how these types of sites change in the near future. I think that the sites will become more targeted instead of blasting you with advertisements for things like medication for middle-aged men and women. It’s like hey, I’m 20 years old, do I look like I need prescription medication for my cholesterol? We’ve already seen these things start to happen with Facebook’s use of target ads on the right sidebar as well as with Google+’s Sparks. Stumbleupon has done a fantastic job with that sort of stuff also. What I would prefer to see is anything that has an ease of use. I don’t want to see myself turning into an old man that can’t figure out how to use technology, especially at a young age because of the websites not being up to par. A good functionality and a nice, simple design is something I look forward to in a social media site.
What brands, artists and general fellow creative minds would you recommend from your social media circle of friends?
Obviously I’d recommend all of my “Follow Friday” creatives on twitter. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a Follow Friday, or FF for short, is a small list of the people you think are awesome to the fullest extent and would recommend other twitter users follow them. In the design category I can recommend Marc Davison (@RorschachDesign), Eric Noguchi (@pixel_jockey), Kyle Chicoine (@KyleChicoine), Martha Schulzinger (@MSchulzinger), and some others!
On the tshirt side of things I can definitely recommend The Tee Gazette (@TeeGazette), Jack Roman (@T_ShirtExchange), and I am The Trend (@iamthetrend). Recently I’ve been searching for tshirt designers whose work I can draw inspiration from. Some of those people would include Jared Hensley of Inspire and Infect, Sam Kaufman of Lead & Light, Greg Abbott, and Jack from The Simple Art. I would highly encourage everyone to find each of these guys and take a look at their work as they have some stunning stuff. The reason I’m drawn to it is because it has a more adult feel while still remaining appealing to a younger audience. They also like to create a visually dynamic tshirt through the use of implied lines and depth even when it’s only a one-color job.
Do you have any grand plans for your brand in the future? Any future ideas and exclusives you can share with the Design Juices readers?
Getting all of designs and clothing to a more unified aesthetic is always our goal and what we strive to accomplish on a daily basis. Our current focus, though, is definitely on the fall/winter line of clothing we will be putting out in a few months. I don’t like to give out too many details both because it’s nice to pleasantly surprise people and in case plans fall through but I will just for the Design Juices readers.
What we will say is that the fall/winter line will be giving back a lot of money to a charity, as we always love to do, along with including a font for fellow designers out there. It won’t just be a clothing line folks! Design and clothing are coming together on this one.
It’s not hard to guess that in your time off you like to get out paintballing? What other activities do you like to partake in outside of a long day or week designing.
I absolutely LOVE getting out and playing me some paintball. It’s a real bummer because within the past couple years the industry has really taken some hard hits because of the economy in the United States. Paint prices went up and it can put a large dent in your wallet to even go out for a day. I don’t play as much as I wish I could anymore but it’s always a blast when I do. Paintball would be one activity that I suggest everyone try. And not just once. Get out there with a ton of your friends and relieve some stress! Enough of the paintball rant, though, I could go on for hours.
Outside of the typical designing I just love kicking back with friends like any normal guy. Being that I just turned 20 a month back I always make sure I have time to live a “normal” and stress free life away from my work. There’s an edge against my competition in that I don’t have a family to take care of yet but I try not to get too enthralled with my designing that it takes away from my fun. It’s a real bummer when I get invited to go have drinks with some of my design peers or acquaintances in the tshirt industry because I’m obviously not 21 yet and can’t get into bars. However, I always love to pleasantly surprise people when they find out I am indeed younger but can be treated as an intellectual and an adult.
Thanks to Nick for taking his time for this interview today.