Introducing the RBC: T-Shirt Artist Collective

Who are RBC? It’s a question that’s pondered the world over i’m sure you will agree?

I wanted to introduce the RBC group of designers and artists as I think it’s a unique find that so many great people are willing to work together to promote and support each other. They are all creative minds who are heavily steeped in the online t-shirt world through sites such as Qwertee, Redbubble, TeeFury, OtherTees, Nowhere Bad and so many more! Collated over on their RBC Facebook the guys soon hope to have their own RBC website for you all to check out, so watch this space!

So just who is going to participate today? It just would be a logistical nightware to get them all on board for today’s interview! So today we are lucky to talk to Rob Wood, Paul Harckham, Billy Allison & Fishbiscuit.

Rob Wood aka cubik

“Pixel-manipulator and canvas-botherer; geek: Like a nerd, but with social skills.”

'Doctor Pooh' Rob Wood on Redbubble

Paul Harckham aka robotrobotROBOT

“My name is Paul. And I am a survivor. It’s been 37 days since I have seen another human being and I am beginning to think I am the only one left.”

'Dr Zoidberg' ROBOTrobotrobot on redbubble

Billy Allison aka Bleee

“Animator and cartoonist.”

'Dr Horribles Revenge' Billy Allison on Redbubble


“English teacher by day, pretending to be a shirt designer by night. Pretty successful at the day job, so that’s kind of good.”

'Super Birds that are angry' Naheed on Redbubble

What is RBC, What was the first steps in getting the group together?

RW: RBC is a group of artists and designers, from many different backgrounds, countries, and disciplines, but all talented. The ‘Crew’ was born after spending many enjoyable, yet frustrating hours on Twitter chatting with each other in 140 characters or less. A Facebook group was created initially so we could chat, in a more structured and private forum. RBC is currently 45 strong and growing. Via the Facebook group, we provide each other with critique, support and feedback on designs. We also keep an eye out for each other when (and others outside of the group) when designs are being used without permission.

PH: On the surface RBC appears to be a collective of artists who use, organised by Rob Wood. In reality it is a front for an international crime syndicate specialising in extra terrestrial organ harvesting.

BA: The RBC, the first rule of the Rb ..oh wait, no thats the other group .. erm, I really think it was quite simply a bunch of RedBubble artists started working on designs of a similar theme, offering advice and critiques.

FB: RBC is a group of very talented, like-minded artists with a desire to help each other succeed. I remember finding people on Twitter and things just snowballed from there. It’s so nice to be involved with people who want to help other artists create and find success. They’re also a pretty fun bunch!

The hosts from online show Nerdlocker wearing Skeletron by Fanboy30 and Vadermeister by Spacemonkeydr.

As artists you mention you look out for one another to make sure artwork isn’t stolen and reproduced without permission. What are the best ways in which people can minimize the ways in which their artwork can’t be stolen. What are the pitfalls people should avoid to make sure artwork isn’t stolen.

RW: The Internet is both hero and villain in this scenario. Firstly it makes it so easy for us to do what we do, but at the same time, makes it very easy for anyone else too – with little or no effort on their part – to take a copy of the original design and upload it somewhere else. Unfortunately, this can mean that unsuspecting people are then purchasing inferior (fuzzy edged) copies of our designs – RBC produce high resolution (300dpi minimum) vector or raster images for printing, whereas, the copied designs will be very low, 96dpi at best. There is little that can be done to prevent design theft. Even watermarking can be removed with a little skill.

PH: My chosen method is to produce very low quality artwork.

BA: First thing I would say to the artist is NOT to upload hires artwork anywhere, if the rip off artists only have low res artwork they can’t really do anything with it (apart from steal the ‘idea’ anyway) I know it’s tempting so that people can get to ‘see the detail’ but it’s not a good idea.

FB: It’s difficult to keep people from stealing your art. I’ve personally never had this happen to me, but I’ve seen it happen to other artists many times.. Having a group of artists who know you and are familiar with your work helps you stay on top of it when someone takes your work. Everyone just kind of looks out for each other.

What methods of social media do you all engage in? & Which have you found to be the most beneficial and the one to get the most feedback from?

RW: Primarily, I use Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook to advertise, notify of new designs and bug people for votes. Additionally, Stumble, Reddit, Blogspot and some others that I use so infrequently, I can’t remember. It’s difficult to say which one is the most beneficial as they are so closely tied together. Blog entries are automatically Tweeted, Tweets and Blog entries are set as Facebook statuses and wall items, Facebook statuses get Tweeted… The same goes for feedback. People who buy my designs use my Facebook Page to post images, and Twitter users send via TwitPic, YFrog, etc. For feedback from within the group though, Facebook is Boss. There is rarely a time when one or more of us isn’t online, so, posting up and requesting thoughts on a design concept or WiP gets a response very quickly.

PH: Twitter,tumblr, facebook, telekenisis, brainwashing, negative reinforcement, answers on a postcard etc. The most effective is probably the “laugh-ometer”

BA: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Deviant Art, telepathy and the scariest … outside, most beneficial for me would be the facebook one, I’m still new to tumblr so have yet to see how that does for me.

FB: Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr seem to be the most popular. I’m not sure which one works the best but they all seem to be very busy and full of activity.

You are all artists/designers of some form how did you get to be the t-shirt designers you are today?

RW: Strictly speaking, I am neither of the above. In my day job, I’m a Web Developer, a back-end/middle-tier coder and scripter, which unfortunately means, don’t get as much exposure to front-end design as I’d like. I’m a self-taught artist/designer and just love doing what I do; before my foray into paid work though, I used to produce flyers, covers and t-shirt designs for a North-West (UK) Indie/Alternative band. It’s only been since February 2011 that I’ve been producing designs, on a hobby basis, but with a view to turning it into something more in the future.

PH: This t-shirt designing body is my third host and the first one with a low enough immune system to maintain stability.

BA: I personally have been an animator longer than some of the members of the RBC have been alive, but have always drawn, my first tshirt print was in 2007, an advert on a pack of DVDs for a now defunct website ‘dshirt’, I thought maybe my cartoons my work on there, submitted and won, there was a lull for a while but then it came back recently after a top selling designer on one of the larger one day sites linked me in his bio, I was bitten again by the bug and started producing more designs whenevver I could, and have been ever since.

FB: I’m not a trained artist/designer. I actually went to school to become a teacher. My foray into t-shirt design was pure accident. I found a shirt-a-day site about a year and a half ago. I started buying shirts then realized anybody could design them. Nine months of scouring the Internet for tutorials and information and the prints started coming in! It’s all very exciting.

Naheed Saeed-Snyder talks about scouring the web for tutorials and information to create her own designs. Have you guys created any tutorials yourself? and which tutorials would you recommend for a single designer to check out when first starting out to pick up some illustrator/photoshop skills.

RW: Yes, we do have people that write tutorials. We also discuss techniques and methods for producing certain effects. With regard to learning and developing skills, in my opinion, doing is the way to go. I wouldn’t like to point anyone in a particular direction when it comes to tutorials. Sometimes, there are many ways to flog a pixel. Trial and error, Google and copious amounts of coffee work for me.

PH: I have gained all of my considerable skillz from listening to the lyrics of songs. My personal recommendations are anything by Heart, Venom or Celine Dion’s first album “Hints and Tips for Illustrator and Photoshop”.

BA: I often help out young/new inexperienced artists by talking through a particular process that I might use for a particular thing or technique and sometimes in terms of helping where drawing is concerned, I may do draw overs to help explain.

FB: I have not created any tutorials, but I highly recommend checking out Odysseyroc’s YouTube channel. That guy has skills! Walmazan has also created a design process video. He makes it look so easy and he’s very charming to listen to!


You all have various ways of selling your art online, which is your most preferred? Have you a preferred site to sell from? Or do you prefer to sell your art and work with other brands?

RW: I don’t really have a preference for selling my art and design, though I was more than ecstatic at my first print on I have stores on various sites on the Internet, but only really concentrate on RedBubble at the moment. Reason? It’s instant, no waiting for vetting or voting. Next to RedBubble, is probably my favourite ODP [One-Day-Print] site for submitting designs to. Qwertee’s submission process is nice and straight forward. I have submitted to Design By Humans, Teefury and Threadless too, but nothing has come of these yet. To be involved with a brand would be great in the future.

PH: I prefer the barter system although I do accept earth money as well.

BA: To be honest, as far as RedBubble is concerned, I simply upload and every now and then post links on Facebook/Twitter etc. I would love to get more prints in the larger one day sites, but don’t we all, basically I have no preference.

FB: I like the shirt-a-day sites, but prefer the sites that have catalogs like Goodjoe and Threadless. I have yet to print on Threadless but it’s a goal I think we all share.

Andy Hunt's "Miskatonic Uni" being worn by none other than Wil Wheaton (@wilw) at a Comicon event.

What do you think is the reason a site such as Qwertee is preferred by so many artists? Does it have a distinct selling point that makes it better than the other sites right now?

RW: I think the main reason – as I think I said earlier – is the ease and speed at which designs can be added to the site. Though I will also have to say that Qwertee support is the BEST BY FAR of all the ODP sites, and communication-wise, second to none. Marry those details with the fact that is great looking, uncomplicated and easy to use (for both designers and voters), they can do nothing but win.

PH: It’s really easy to type.

BA: I’m not sure on that one, maybe it’s the fact that your design is the focus for the day(s) and you can put all your effort into promoting that one shirt on that one day and get pretty fast feedback.

FB: I really like Qwertee. They are extremely artist friendly and excellent with communication. The voting system in place is fair. Designs get voted up and then they get printed. Qwertee will choose designs that are not at the top of the voting page to ensure variety in their prints. The print quality is also fantastic. I really appreciate knowing where I stand with my designs on Qwertee. I can tell if something is popular and well received or if people are just not interested. Oh, and they always include a delicious sweet in the package with your shirts! How can you beat that?

With such a great group dynamic you have going have you all got on something like skype and had conference calls to discuss work? Have you guys thought about putting together a podcast or video series on youtube?

RW: I’d love to be able to do something like a podcast, or YouTube series, but unfortunately – and I think I can speak for all members – having time enough for the day-job and designing is scarce as it is. Facebook is our main method of communication, and so far, is working pretty well.

PH: We already broadcast a series of encrypted messages into space. I think that’s enough for now.

BA: Not something I’ve thought about, we do chat about ideas etc, but a podcast etc? I don’t think so (unless they all hate me and left me out)

FB: I haven’t heard any chatter about this, but it’s a great idea!

Where do you go for your inspiration to create your new designs? Do you scower the web? Tv shows? films? What websites would you all recommend as being a big part of your rss feed reading throughout the week.

RW:There are many things that I find inspiring. T’Interweb, TV, films, radio, magazines, conversations (yes, real conversations too! With actual talking and all that), but I don’t go out looking for ideas, they tend to leap into my head, like a belly-flopping-high-board-diver.

PH: I have my inspiration delivered weekly in a specially designed inspiration delivery basket.

BA: I don’t get much time to watch TV these days or do pretty much anything away from my desk, haha .. Ideas usually find me, I don’t consciously look for ideas, when they do, I like to get them down in a couple of hours or so …

FB: My inspiration just comes from daily life. I usually see something and start to think about it differently until a design idea hits. Unfortunately, I have many more ideas than designs. Finding the time to pull the ideas together is tough sometimes.

More RBC tees out in the wild

Do you have ambitions to setup a brand or online store of your own in the same ilk as many brands do? Or do you much prefer to work as artists for your own work and sell via sites such as RedBubble?

RW: Of course! I’m currently writing a website for RBC members, to be able to have a more public front to the group, where we can link to our various portfolios and stores, and anyone can find us. One day, with help from the rest of the group, pull all of that together and we’ll be running our own store, hopefully under an RBC (or similar) brand. At the moment though, selling via ODP sites and RedBubble meets my needs – to increase and hone my skills, to make people smile, and maybe earn a little.

PH: Continuing to sell t-shirts plays very little part in my ultimate plan to become Emperor of the Universe. However it is helping to raise funds for a death ray machine, which will probably come in handy.

BA: No ambitions like that for me, I would love to keep producing my designs as an artist while continuing to work on my animated shorts.

FB: I’m pretty satisfied selling on RedBubble and submitting to the various sites, but I’m always open to new opportunities!

What are your favourite three t-shirts designs in the world today?

RW: In the World? Wow, that’s a biggie! Erm… I love retro shirts. My first choice would have to be a ‘Stuyvesant’ shirt, as worn by the Beastie Boys’ AdRock; I think this is the first shirt I REALLY coveted. Second, another retro (and rap/hip-hop-based) design is RUN DMC, Kings of Rock (1986)

Lastly (as long as I ignore all the other retro-hip-hop shirts * ahem * Def Jam, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys logo (“Get off my dick” back-print), I’ll go for something modern, RBC related and one I actually own – ‘Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder’ by Synaptyx.

PH: The one I am wearing now. The one that got lost in the “Great Fire” and the one that I used as a parachute when I fell off Mothra.

BA: 1. an old one, it’s a shirt I got from a company that produces an animation package called Hash animation master, it’s a simple green shirt that has the letters H.A.S.H on the front in the style of M.A.S.H … lol I don’t why it’s my fave though.
2. an ‘Eagles’ band shirt I got when I saw them play at Wembley.
3. so hard to say, sorry, I don’t want to say my own, but if I have to, it would be my ‘bye bye’ one (the rocket ship) … sorry to all those reading hoping that i picked theirs .. I can’t choose sorry!

FB: “Don’t Care Bears” by Alex Solis 
Pop culture done right. Alex brings his talent and style to this design. It’s bright and well illustrated with that little bit of edge that makes it fun to wear.

“Negative Bob” by BootsBoots 
BootsBoots is that rare designer with a unique style and a sharp sense of humor. Her illustrations are cute and clever and tend to have a funny twist that makes you lol!

“In the Library with the Wrench” by kevlar51 and walmazan 
This is a collaboration by two very talented artists. Walmazan’s distinct cartoony style combined with kevlar51’s outstanding coloring and halftoning skills makes this a fun, wearable shirt that references a game we can all remember from childhood.

What can we all look forward to seeing from the RBC in the rest of 2011 and beyond? any big plans you can share any sneak peeks with our readers?

RW: RBC will have a proper web-presence eventually. I’m hoping to launch ‘something’ soon. Beyond that… who knows? All I can say (pretty much guarantee) is that there will be MORE awesome output from the group. As for sneek peeks, well, the time between concept to submission is so short with us lot that there’s no time for peeks – you either get the full shot, or nothing.

PH: We are having a group picnic in 2016. There will be cake.

BA: There is a collaboration for charity in the works, it’s very up my street in terms of subject and style… and… sorry, that’s all I can say at the moment.

FB: We are all working on individual designs at any given time. Ideas are always popping up for critiques and advice. The Red Bubble pages are constantly updated with new designs. As for a sneak peek, there’s definitely something in the works!

The end of the world is nigh and you are about to rush out of your house being able to only take five items with you. What do you grab and why?

RW: My Wife, 3 kids and my iPod (obviously, my lovely new [Bose*] headphones would already be attached, so they’d come too). Why? Because I love them all.
*Hey Bose, can I get some freebies for the advertising?

PH: Why is the world ending? It makes a huge difference to my choices. If it’s the Zombie Apocalypse I will take a crowbar, a baseball bat, a torch, some rope and a first aid kit. If it’s anything else I will just take five copies of Metal Gear Solid for the PS2. SNAAAKKKEEEE!

1. my family – because I’d be nothing without them …
2. my computer (not forgetting the trusty old intous2) er… because I’d be nothing without it… erm
3. my Pink Floyd CDs collection because it is awesome
4. my spectacles as my eyesight is deteriorating
5. my shades, 25+ years of working in art and animation daylight is a killer on the eyes

1. My child;
2. My husband;
3. My iPhone;
4. My laptop;
5. My car keys
I realize there will likely be no Internet or cell phone service when the world ends, but I’m hopeful I will end up somewhere with a 4G connection!


Thanks to all the guys involved in putting this interview together, I think we call all agree that they each brought their own character to the interview. Don’t forget to check out their links above and be on the lookout for when the RBC crew website goes live to keep tabs on the 40+ artists and designers that come together to produce some of the best t-shirts around!

Big thanks for Rob for being my liaison to make this happen!