In this, the first of a series of interviews for Tee HQ (and the last one in which I will get to choose the interviewee), I threw some questions at the incredibly talented Matt Simner. It took me more than a minute to think of the questions – and I guarantee it took Matt more than a minute to answer them, but hey, alliteration is “everything”!
How did you find Redbubble?
A friend actually came across the site, and mentioned it to me as they knew I dabbled in t-shirt design. I was quite excited as I realised RB was based in Melbourne. I had fairly low expectations initially, but was blown away when I joined. Then when someone (Muscular Teeth) commented on my first upload, I was hooked.
Does your day job help or hinder your tee designing?
I’m not a ‘trained’ designer, and it’s not my day job. I work as an independent software developer. I’m fortunate enough to be able to switch off from work when I get home, which allows me to turn my mind to other things. I’m also mostly doing web-based work too now and the design, usability aspect of the web actually helped to re-spark my own creativity. My designs tend to be mostly graphical so working with (and on) the web all day means I see a lot of food for thought.
Who or what inspires your designs?
It could be anything. A recent tee was inspired by my 4 year old’s pyjamas!
Sometimes I’ll just see a graphic style and want to try it for ‘something’. I might see a car that I’d like to draw, or just something I think might be amusing or original. I keep a list of ideas on my phone so I can note things when they come to me, as it might be a while before I get the time to do it. If I come back to the list and look at an idea and think ‘meh’, then it’s either missing something or too specific a subject that people just wouldn’t get without explanation.
I’ll sometimes upload things just for me, and know a lot of what I do won’t necessarily have mass appeal, but I’m comfortable with that.
Three people (dead or alive) for a dinner party. Who and why?
OK this is tough because I should probably say Banksy or Napoleon or something, but off the top of my head…
1. Eddie Izzard as he’s a hilarious, intelligent and an interesting guy. You’d also be wondering whether he’d turn up wearing make up and heels :)
2. George Martin – As the producer of the Beatles, his experience and influence on modern music is something I’d like to know more about.
3. Isambard Kingdom Brunel – A legendary engineer, who constantly redefined ‘possible’ in his lifetime.
One important thing you’ve learnt from RB?
Less ‘is’ more. Challenge yourself to develop something new or better with every work, and don’t settle for a work you have doubts about. The work on RB is a huge and fantastic library of styles, techniques and skills to learn from.
Have you dabbled in any other genre on Redbubble?
A little bit. I take the odd happy snap and convert some tees into cards/art. I’ve planned to do more ‘real’ drawing for a while (for tees and art work) and take a break from vectors. Just got some Sakura micron pens so I’ve got no excuse now :)
What do you do to market your work?
I realised a while ago that (at least for now) I’m effectively confined to the web, as I don’t really have the time to physically market my work. I try to use SEO and different channels/sites to get the word out there. I try to get keywords in titles and descriptions, then I post tees on (my site/blog), and I tweet sporadically. There’s a heap of background cross-posting opportunities these days, so my blog entries also end up on my Facebook profile (through the networked blogs app). I try different things from time to time, but writing about artists here , being part of the community with things like commenting and my little resources, also helps I’m sure.
One thing about you that might surprise us?
I once recorded guitar for a friend at Robin Gibb’s (Bee Gees) house, and saw his platinum disc for Saturday Night Fever. :)
Design Plans for the future?
More drawing, more technical vectors, more James Bond, more improvement.
Who should we interview next?
Nick Ford please.