The RBC Interview of T-Shirts, Geeky Films & TV

In the first RBC interview we pondered just who are the RBC? So in today’s second interview with a whole new set of RBC members, we discuss all things geeky, retro, how they fit into the world of the RBC and how they fit into the online t-shirt world.

These creative minds are found on several top sites across the web (each individual links are listed below) but some of the top sites you can find them are;  Qwertee,RedbubbleTeeFuryOtherTeesNowhere 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 Malc Foy, Pete Bessent, Matthew Parsons, Tanith Diggory & Nana Leonti.

Malc Foy

“Exoteric esoterrorist.”

Pete Bessent (PurpleCactus)

“My crack team of trained Hedgehogs do all my Tshirt designs and edit the photos and I take all the credit.”

Matthew Parsons (Fanboy30)

“An Englishman living in Canada.”

Tanith Diggory (perdita00)

“I am a digital artist specialising in pop culture T-Shirt designs. My favourite geeky loves are Firefly, Harry Potter and Dr Who :)”

Nana Leonti (NanaLart)

“Geek, artist wannabe, Tau’ri, fangirl, mummy of two.”

What drew you to get involved with the RBC?

MF: I was one of the original RBC members on Twitter along with @cu3ik, @bamboota, @random_tees, @Billy_Allison, @seven_hundred and a couple others who got friendly after finding each others work on and, thereafter, stalking each other on Twitter.

To be honest, at the start, it wasn’t so much discussing WIPs/processes/advice/etc as it was @bamboota drooling over the fact that there were three Scottish guys all chatting to her about Irn-Bru and cabers throughout the day. Eventually, though, the first proto-RBC #collabollection (Marvel Whales) was born and it all took off from there.

Actually, now that I am reminiscing, it’s been a little while since we had a #collabollection on the go (last one was the RBCBrewHouse – Best get our thinking caps on.

PB: It was all Rob Woods fault. He Lured me into it by leaving a trail of coco pops, leading up to the door. Once I stepped inside they wouldn’t let me leave. When I joined it was really just a few like minded people chatting about t shirt design and now it’s grown into…er well, there are more of us and we talk about t shirt designs. Boy how things have changed!

MP: I’ve been on Red Bubble since 2009, originally to sell my photography work. It wasn’t long before I noticed T-shirts seemed to be where the real money was. Basically I would only sell the odd greetings card and canvas print and those seemed to be to people I knew.

TD: I started designing shirts a few months ago after buying a wicked Firefly inspired shirt from fellow RBC member Karen Hallion. It gave me the kick I needed to finally start showcasing my art.

NL: I think everything started with a collabollection called Marvel Whales. I was online buddies with our “founder” Rob Wood so when he made the group I was one of the first people invited 🙂

How did you find who the RBC were and what they were about?

MF: I’m an original, baby. People find out who I am. Ha ha.

MP: It seemed to happen by accident, I was headhunted by Ript Apparel for my ‘Skeletron’ design which was on sale via RedBubble. A fellow RBC member Karen Hallion recognized my design from her Red Bubble contacts and messaged me saying Ript was looking for me. She then mentioned about a group of artists on Facebook who were all RedBubble members and sent me an invite. I was intrigued and jumped head first into the group. Since then they have given Facebook a new life for me and I rarely venture anywhere outside the group.

TD: I got chatting to a few designers on Twitter and soon started to notice the mysterious RBC being mentioned. I managed to wrangle an invite from Nana Leonti and haven’t looked back since. They are an extraordinary bunch of talented artists who really go out of their way to give advice and a helping hand to newbie designers.

How would you class your style of t-shirt designs?

MF: Amateurish Pop-culture mash-up and parody. Very much the same as most of the RBC…save for the ‘pop-culture mash-up and parody’ part.

I jest! I jest! Ha ha.

Reckon I’m the only amateur there (though there might be one member who’d fight me for that title but I’d win) 😀

PB: I don’t think I really have a style, I just play around with stuff I like until it looks ok. I am still a kid at heart (I think that’s a common trait for most t shirt designers) so my tees are usually based in fantasy, Robots, science fiction, comics, oh and music… I lurve music so that plays a big part too.

MP: On the scale of things I consider myself quite new to this. I am basically teaching myself how to use illustrator and really only mastered things in the last 5/6 months. With that I think I am still finding my style, evolving with each design and picking up new techniques from the RBC. If I had to say what my style was, well it sits on the edge of cartoon/comic style with a heavy geek influence.

TD: My tees are very geeky and often inspired by my favourite TV shows and books. I’ve always been a fangirl and everything I design is something I would wear myself.

NL: Oh yeah, I do pop culture almost exclusively. I haven’t found my own style yet though. I range from cartoony to elaborate and from simple lineart to photorealism.

Is there a particular theme you like to follow in your designs?

MF: Deadpool, Flight of the Conchords and Star Wars seem to be my “goto” themes but I do try to make sure the idea is unique.

I’m not a born designer/artist like some of the RBC so I don’t always get the artwork right but my ideas are usually (not always) one-of-a-kind and, at the very least, my titles are chuckle-worthy.

I’ve had a go at a non-parody design now and again and, to date, only really had one show it’s face for sale: The Imperial Japanese Navy design was actually one of my first designs on Redbubble and was recently printed by (where it generated a little controversy too).

MP: Anything within the realm of pop culture is where you will find me. I worked at my local cinema for 15 years so my movie knowledge is slightly unhealthy. I can quote lots of films word for word, this is one of my more embarrassing mutant powers.

TD: Not really. Most of my designs are very different in composition but I have alot of fun making each and every one!

Have you collated with any other artists at all on any of your designs?

MF: Apart from the #collabollection, where we’ve teamed up only in the sense we all draw to the same theme, there has been but one collaboration between artists.

However, I shouldn’t say anymore about it, for now, other than I was part of it for a while but I just couldn’t nail the look I was going for and dropped out of the project. Not to worry though, I’m sure I’ll get the biggest space on the next one.

PB: One of the best things about being a part of the RBC is that it is full of artists that overflow with awesomeness, so when I have an idea or am working on a design, I can always get opinions and critiques from this font of knowledge and talent. I’ve not done a specific collaboration with anyone but being a part of the RBC is like a giant collaboration in itself. My latest design “Iocane” for example. I got a great deal of help from Ian Leino and he helped me turn my basic idea into a solid design. Cheers Ian!

MP: Recently I have joined forces with fellow RBC artist and photographer Chris McVeigh aka Powerpig to form Pigboy Tees on Facebook. My knowledge of graphic design/fonts are limited right now and he has been in the industry for 20 years and I have 15 years of Fine Art experience so we have combined our skills to produce a number of cool designs. I also have something in the works with Crystal Bam Fontan (aka Bamboota) but thats a secret sssh!

TD: Not yet but this is something I would love to do in the future.

NL: So far I’ve never collaborated on a t-shirt design but I’ve jumped on design bandwagons like the RBC brewhouse and the Droidarmy.

I’m assuming a lot of you are all CS4/5 based designing your shirts on illustrator/photoshop. Is there a particular program you are all most confortable in? & What programs would you recommend people to check out if they wanted to design and sell their own t-shirt ideas.

MF: My current workflow is Illustrator based with a smidge of Photoshop thrown in. I’m not that fussed for any particular programs though and would try my hand at any. For the moment, AI and PS work well enough.

I recently bought a little Wacom Bamboo tablet and grabbed a few demo programs (ArtRage, Inkscape and Sketchbook) in order to try designs with the stylus…stay posted for the results with that!

I guess I’d recommend any software you can get your hands on…that and youtube for vital tutorial videos to get the hand of the software at your disposal.

PB: Photoshop is my work horse and the program I am most familiar with. I have illustrator but don’t find myself using it much because it’s such a little blighter to learn. When I need to create vectors I nearly always go with Inkscape and this would be my suggestion for people starting out. It’s an open source program so you can dowload it for free and it’s a great way to dive into the world of vectors. There are oodles of tutorials out there for it and I find the whole thing, well put together and intuitive to use.

MP: Photoshop would be my most comfortable program to work in but I actually do all my T-shirt designing in Illustrator because I feel you have more flexibility with the vector tools. I am not that clued up on other methods as I am quite new to all this myself and I’m basically self taught.

TD:  My favourite program is Photoshop CS5 and have been using photoshop for years. It’s easy to use and there are tons of helpful tutorials out there for designers of all levels. I haven’t really tried anything else but plan to get up to speed with Illustrator before the year is out!

NL: I use Photoshop cs3 because I hate change 😛 If someone asked me to recommend a program then I’d say Photoshop right away or GIMP if you want something free.

What design has been your biggest success to date for you?

MF: Definitely, “…droid in your droid…”

It’s listed as part of “The Droid Army” collabollection but was actually drawn prior to that and part of the success was due to it randomly being picked up and blogged by a French Android phone blog.

It’s sold a good few and is one of my own personal favourites…the little android just looks so cheeky.

PB: My biggest success to date is actually a series rather than one individual design. My Heroes and villains series on Society 6 has blown me away with it’s popularity. Each work is a portrait made out of paint splashes and simple brush strokes and includes Boba Fett, Captain America and the Mad hatter.

MP:  Without a doubt it has to be my ‘Portalmon’ design which merged the Portal and Pokemon universes. I was lucky to be featured on Kotaku and overnight it went viral getting hundreds of hits and votes on Qwertee where it was later printed a few months ago. It continues to sell on Red Bubble and the design pops up all over Tumblr and various blogs.

TD: My most popular design so far has been my “Jurassic Betrayal“. A mashup of the Jurassic Park sign and a quote from the cult show Firefly. It was the second shirt design I created and I am still amazed now that literally hundreds of people around the world are walking about wearing it. It makes me feel insanely grateful and happy.

NL: I’d say My “Jayne Hat” and my “Disney Firefly“.

I really love how both of these turned out, especially the Jayne Hat since it was the first time I worked on a typography design. Success for me is a bit of everything, people adding my work to favourites, sales and quality. The most accomplished I’ve ever felt though was when I saw a random someone using my artwork as a Facebook Avatar. That felt good 🙂

How would you define success for your designs? Sales? Quality?

MF: Honestly? Personal success, for me, is when I can actually make a design look like I saw it in my head. That said. In terms of a design being out in the world? It’s all about sales.

I pretty much design for myself, in that I create designs that interest me or from ideas that made me laugh and that doesn’t always result in sales (Robert Fett.)

So, while it’s great when someone purchases a design it’s even better when 20, 30 or 1000 people do. I’ve already gained the satisfaction of finishing the design; from then on all I want is your cold hard cash!! I’ve got 5 kids to feed!* Ha ha.

But, seriously, send me money. *may not be entirely accurate.

PB: This is a difficult one. Sales are obviously important but I think more important to me is recognition from artists that I look up to. I have only been doing this seriously for a little over a year and to get compliments from artists that I am a fan of is an incredible feeling and validates my work, in my eyes. Recently Mathew Dunn told me I have mad skills and I nearly passed out!

MP:  With every design my skills are improving along with the quality of my work. Sales have certainly picked up over the last few months and I owe a lot of that to the RBC because their advice has helped immensely.

TD: To me, if someone tells me they want to wear one of my shirts that is a success.

DroidArmy is something that has seen a spotlight on The Tee Gazette, and I remember seeing a lot of the Brewhouse designs. Which design is your favourite in the two themes?

MF: This might seem a little self-serving but I still love my Droidtrooper droid– I like the way he looks just a little fat, gives him a bit of character I think. Having said that, there is no denying the absolute minted quality of @Billy_Allison’s Droilien tis a work of art.

As for the #RBCBrewhouse, my favorite is @seven_hundred’s Irn-Man and @SholoRobo’s Thor’s Light. 2 genius designs. From my own catalogue I really, really like Magetos Mutant Cider.

The #collabollections are great fun when they are running and it isn’t just restricted to RBC members – If you see a #collabollection (or even fancy adding to existing ones) jump right in. We’d love to see more designs in there.

PB: There are so many awesome droids that it’s hard to choose but I love Bleee’s “Droilien” and “Vulcoid” by SholoRobo always makes me smile. From the brewhouse “Evil genius” by cu3ik is my hands down fave.

MP: The DroidArmy was pretty much done and dusted by the time I joined the group but I did find most of the Star Wars themed ones amusing, especially the Jabba the Hutt one.  I did however get involved with the Brewhouse project and chose a specialty beer called Rogue which I naturally gave an X-Men twist, I was going to do the Magners Cider as Magneto’s but Malc Foy beat me to it.

TD:  My favourite out of the droidarmy is Malc Foys’s “I put a droid in your droid”  and from the Brewhouse – Megan Lara’s “Mudder’s Milk” –  I am a huge fan of Firefly and this fits in so well with the look of the series.

NL: Of mine? Of the Brewhouse my favourite is “Daniel Jackson’s Abydos Whiskey” mostly because the pun has been there ever since I watched SG-1 but I had no clue on how to work it. Of the Droidarmy I really like my Lion-o and Cheetara Androids. Thundercats are awesome.

Other people’s from the brewhouse I love Perdita’s “Butterbeer” and cu3ik’s “Jedimaster”. Droids, Bleee’s Alien and Bamboota’s TMNT ones.

Is getting a print on the likes of qwertee and ript something that happens overnight? Do you approach them, or can they come to seek out individual designs? 

MF: All of the main “one-print-a-day” sites have a submission system. Some work on public votes for a t-shirt to get printed others are picked by the site owners.

I can’t say I have ever been requested to submit by a tee site (yet) but I know plenty of the RBC have which must be a really gratifying thing to have happen.

I will say this though, sites like RIPt, etc seem to have a completely chaotic system for choosing designs to print and, although I appreciate there must be tons of submissions to deal with, their communication (as experienced in a limited capacity personally and a much greater capacity as part of the RBC) with artists is obscenely bad, especially with, but not exclusive to, those designs that are rejected.

That statement will probably not win me any friends with the “big” print sites but it’s the truth. I mean how hard can a generic rejection email be to send?

Hah, got a bit off topic there, didn’t I.

PB: You can be lucky and get a design chosen straight away but I would say that the key to getting printed at one of these sites is perseverance. You need to keep designing and keep submitting to sites if you want to get printed. Try and keep your designs current, whether it be a theme that is popular (a new movie for example) or a style of design (sports logos etc). Work, work and then do a bit more work!

“You can be lucky and get a design chosen straight away but I would say that the key to getting printed at one of these sites is perseverance.”

MP: In the past I have been head hunted for a design by Ript Apparel but for the most part its a long and arduous task of submitting to numerous sites and then waiting in Limbo for weeks to see if anyone bites. Qwertee has a voting system which is more of a guide for them to see what is popular with the fans. If you grab enough attention quickly then you are more likely to get printed faster but sometimes your designs can just sit there stagnant for months.

TD:   No, often this is something that can take anything from a week to a few months. Qwertee is primarily a voting site where the most popular designs get printed although they have started to mix it up a little so that their is a nice mix of arty and pop-culture designs making it to print. Sites like RIPT ask you to submit your art to them for consideration and then it’s a waiting game to see if you have been selected or not. Occasionally sites like this will approach the artist direct if they have seen something they like. For instance, NowhereBad asked me direct if they could print my Stay Shiny design.

NL: On Qwertee and OtherTees it’s mostly based on a voting process so if your designs are voted high chances are you’ll be printed. On most of the other sites it’s submit and forget until they contact you which makes for a nice surprise 🙂

Recently we have seen a number of similar sites to the voting model in Othertees and Nowhere Bad. Would you describe these new sites as good or bad for your line of work?

MF: I like the voting system. It can give you the opportunity to run promotion to get people to view and vote for (if they like) your design. It lets the print site see that there is an appreciation (I say appreciation instead of desire as votes DO NOT equal sales…generally) for a particular design.

Providing the voting system is well managed by the site (and that isn’t always the case…even the brilliant could spruce up their system here and there) I think it’s a preferable option over the “submit, wait, wait, wait, keep your design exclusive to our site, wait some more, wait, continue waiting ad infinitum* (while remaining slightly parched)**” system.

*that last bit can be changed to “Hurrah, I’m being printed!” Or “Hurrah, I’m being printed…just wish they’d told me sooner than 5 hours before the print date!”

**really think I’m burning bridges here. Ha ha.

PB: These newer sites are awesome and I highly recommend subbing to them. If you want to sell shirts you have to get your name out there and what better way to do than get on board with an upcoming T-shirt site. You support them, they support you and everybody wins!

MP: First of all I think its good having more chances to get printed but it can also be bad from a buyers point of view as so many designs get featured on different sites time after time. The sense of getting a unique one time only design is lost if offered in exactly same way but on 3 different sites. Naturally some of these sites will collapse over time but everyone wants to be the new Teefury but I don’t see it happening for a long time.

TD:  I think this is a good thing mostly. Each site has a different feel to it and will select slightly different kinds of designs. Sites like OtherTees, which is based in Poland, may entice Europeans who have been reluctant to buy from the US. Each site also gives the artist valuable exposure which is very important in building up a fanbase of people who like your kind of designs.

NL: I’ve had no experience with Nowhere Bad but I was the premier artist on OT, had 2 prints there and one in the queue to print soon. Overall the experience was fantastic Krystian does a great job and is working hard to make the site competent. Their print quality is wonderful too so if you’re considering buying from it I’d say go for it! The shipping has been a bit slow but this is going to change soon 🙂

What design background do you come from in creating your work today?

MF: My design background is from Graphic Communication class at high school 17 years ago and, currently, I work for a living as a Forensic Scene Examiner (cue the “YEEEAAAAHHHH!”). Honestly I have no prior experience in this field (yes, yes, I’m sure some of my work illustrates that perfectly), I can barely draw! I’m a total ‘shapes’ man.

Everything I do (except for the Spiderminke and Hulkwhale designs – the latter actually drawn by my wee boy, Charlie) is built up with shapes and cut outs. It can sometimes prove quite taxing to create this way but, until I can get that deal with the Robot Devil signed off, it’s my most successful avenue for creating my masterpieces.

PB: I started out as a photographer and then about a year and a half ago I discovered a program called Inkscape and everything changed. I have never been able to draw or paint but with the use of vector programs and computers I can make as many mistakes as I like and make infinite changes to each line or brush stroke until I feel it is right. I haven’t looked back since.

MP: My background is actually in Fine Art and Photography. In school I loved art, painting on canvas was my main focus but my ideas were so frequent that I struggled to finish one piece before starting another. With photography I could execute my ideas faster allowing me to move on with a sense of completion. Its strange how things go full circle and after getting my degree in ‘Design: Photography’ I found it very hard to make money from it and turned back to my drawing skills but this time in the computer. Finally people pay me for my talents which is one of the best rewards an artist can get for all the hard work.

TD: I don’t come from a design background at all. I have always loved drawing and painting but studied Ancient History and Archaeology at university. I carried a sketchbook around with me for a long time when I was younger but my art got pushed aside a little when I had babies. Then a couple of years ago I decided to draw a series of pencil portraits of my children and remembered how much I loved to draw. I bought myself a little second hand Wacom Bamboo tablet, decided to go digital and here I am!

NL: I’ve attended a Graphic Design school but I’ve picked very little from it since it was in a technical High school. Sadly I couldn’t afford a better art school but I’ve learned most of the things I know on my own by accident or by online tutorials. You can see my art progress on my tumblr:

What are your favourite 3 t-shirt designs in the world today?

MF: Wow. I’m not sure.  Let me see.

Well there is “Marty and the Pinheads” by Darkbunnytees.

Second, I’d propbably say ”It’s Not My Fault” by The RBC’s own @actionfigured (or Powerpig as he is known on Redbubble).

And, finally, I really like this 300 themed tee from the RBC’s @d4n150t0 – I don’t own this one yet though.

There are obviously others but those are the ones that come to mind first.

PB: I always dread this kind of question for a couple of reasons. There are so many awesome designs out there by so many awesome designers that it is hard to keep up sometimes and also I’m rubbish at keeping up with who is doing what. I can tell you my most recent purchases were “Ulysses” by Fanboy30 and “Hoth Tauntauns” by Kari Fry. Both theses shirts rock my socks!

MP: Thats a really hard question but if I had a gun to my head then it would be ‘Beam This!’ by Bamboota, ‘Hoth Tauntauns’ by Kari Fry and ‘Plastic Villains’ by Powerpig.

TD: This is a tough one…..and I shall go with

1. Megan Lara’s “Bad Horse

2. Synaptees – “Fight for the Empire

3. Bleee’s – “Bye Bye!

NL: 3? Darn, why do you make me pick? D: I’ll pick 3 from the top of my mind

First must be Megan Lara’s Zelda Nouveau, second DB’s “Create” and Geek Chic’s Dali AT-ATs.

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?

MF: Jeez! I don’t even know where to start.

  1. Wife – conjugals and all that – though if it’s a no women left on Earth thing then I’d take a Fleshlight.
  2. Kids – I don’t know how this end-times thing is going to play out but I’m going to need back up (and possibly bait) at some point.
  3. I suppose I’d grab my iPhone and my Beats Tour earphones. Apocalypse or not, I’ve got audiobooks and podcasts that need to be listened to!
  4. Camera. They said the revolution will be televised, well then, so will the end of the world. If so, I’m getting my chunk of it (in marvelous still format).
  5. Car keys. So that I can drive up to Comet, PC World and B&Q. I’m going to need a couple of pairs of replacement earphones, a new laptop (it’s a DSLR that I have), portable blu-ray players and, from B&Q, solar panels, garden based wind turbines that I can attach to my car and hand crank generators…I will need to power all my gadgets.

Those 5 selections? Mark of a born survivor.

PB: Well that would depend on what was causing the end of the world. End of the world survival kits are particular to each different catastrophe. There’s no point packing silver bullets and holy water if it’s a Zombie apocalyspe and you would be right up a certain creek without a paddle if killer robots were attacking and all you had was a machete and a flash light.

MP: No matter how pointless these things might be for an end of world scenario I would have to listen to music so my iphone and headphones, I could also call my family and say goodbye. I would take my camera because I’d have to document things as they spiral out of control (not that anyone would see the photos) and finally a can of Cider and some Pork Scratchings, gotta go out in style haha!

TD:  My kids + boyfriend (does that count as one?), my shiny new tablet preloaded with lots of my favourite books, games, music and photos, my glasses, chocolate and my favourite hoodie 🙂

NL: If it’s the end of the world I’ll grab nothing. The world is ending so why do I care to save stuff? 😛 I’ll grab my kids and run for the mountains where the view will be better 😛

-RBC (part two)

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 to Malc Foy for helping to put this together being my RBC liason!