Tom Neal, 19 years young.
Believe it or not, I’ve never actually studied illustration, graphic design, art after secondary school. I’ve always wanted to become a film-maker, and that’s the path I decided to pursue at The Northern Film School, UK. Fashion and merch design is just something that I have always loved to research and get involved in.
Why/How did you get into design?:
I’ve always doodled strange and wonderful things in classes when I should have been concentrating. I guess I’m just one of those people who can’t stop designing things! Whenever I have a spare few hours, I’ll find myself sketching away or brainstorming ideas. I found that my illustration and ideas were improving every day, and found that my drawings worked best using T-shirts as my canvas.
Favorite Project(s) that you have done:
I have yet to work with any seriously huge bands and brands. I found my ‘Pretty Gosh Darn Awesome’ shirt really fun to put together, and it was extremely rewarding to see it achieve my first Tee Of The Day on Emptees.com. It’ll soon be available from those crazy Italian guys at Suck Clothing.
It was pretty special to see the rise and rise of Johnny Cupcakes. I have always been a fan of his ability to take a simple idea and make something out of it, and to see his little business venture grow into the huge multi-million dollar industry it is today! I know I’ll probably never become as successful as Mr Earl, but he has definitely inspired me to go for it and put together my own clothing line. In terms of my design style, I’m fascinated by futuristic artwork from War Of The Worlds, and fun character concepts from all the cartoons I watched as a kid.
How Would You Describe Your Style?:
I’m all about huge, colorful, vibrant prints. If my art doesn’t cover the vast majority of the front of a shirt, then it’s not complete! My designs also tend to be pretty simplistic, and I love to create cute little character shirts.
Is this your full-time gig?
I spend pretty much all my spare time working on designs for clients, or for fun, but unfortunately it’s not enough for me to live on. I work behind a bar whilst I’m not studying my course at University. Maybe in the near future I would like to get into full-time freelance work, but for now it’s just to earn a bit of spending money.
One piece of advice:
If I can do it, so can you! No, but seriously, just keep at it. I spend too much time on Photoshop and Illustrator, it’s just a case of pursuing what you’re passionate about, and not letting other things get in your way. Dedicate some ‘me’ time for you to concentrate on your goals.
Almost all of my work is drawn up on the computer. I find it easier to develop a design on the screen, mainly because you have the freedom to completely alter it effortlessly if required. I also don’t have the steadiest of hands, so I find myself using ‘ctrl-z’ an awful lot. It would be difficult to do that on paper/canvas!
I think social networking is the future. It’s incredible how easily we can all stay in touch and meet new people with a few mouse clicks. I’d say I use Facebook the most, but Myspace and Twitter follow closely. I’m also obsessed with Emptees.
Favorite Band At The Moment:
It’s been out for a while now, but ‘Homesick’ by ‘A Day To Remember’ is possibly my favorite album at the moment. Pop in a pair of bassy earphones and it’s pure bliss. For those quieter, calmer moments I’m loving ‘The Dangerous Summer’ too.