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The making of Unlim 500+ festival t-shirts

Overview   Process  

Starting to search for ideas.

Designer: Developing the heraldic theme. Coats of arms with allegoric animals or auto parts.

Art director: Without a legend the heraldic details will be hard to understand.

Designer: Aesthetics of blueprints and the beauty of complex machinery.

Art director: That’ll work. Go on.

Designer: Shirts for those who want to feel in the shoes of a racer. Emotions of a race participant? Implied image of a race through silhouettes of beautiful girls and other attributes of such events?

Art director: Let’s go with something less funky. Like portraits of inventors.

Indeed. The designer chooses three inventors: Nikolaus Otto (internal combustion engine, 1878), Louis Renault (gearbox, 1898) and Alfred Büchi (turbocharger, 1905).

Art director: Too many details. The portrait should be at the center of attention. And don’t forget about the festival’s logo.

Art director: That’s better. Can you make it even more simple? Right now it’s really unclear what the t-shirt is about, the inventor or the date.

Separating the inventors and the inventions into two different concepts and getting rid of the noise as we go.

The logo was inspired by four birthplaces of sport car traditions: Great Britain, Europe, the USA and Japan. The art director suggests using the same classification on t-shirts. The designer comes up with sets of models.

Art director: A simple collage wouldn’t do. You need to find nice illustrations.

Designer: Maybe instead of showing a bunch of cars from each country we can demonstrate some characteristic features or situations? British racing traditions, American muscle cars, Japanese drifting, European rally, etc.

Art director: Go ahead.

Preparing a presentation with four concepts: engines in the chest, inventors, inventions and automotive stories. The client decides to go with the stories.

The designer prepares a description of each of the nations’ traditions and makes sketches of the illustrations. Replacing drifting with drag racing and showing to the client.

After some consideration the client decides not to dive too deep into history and use modern cars instead. Finding suitable models.

The client chooses three of them.

Designer: With the historical and narrative basis removed from the illustrations, the cars themselves are all that’s left. I suggest we make them a thing in itself: instead of showing cars driving against some background we can make an emphasis on their faces with nice glare, glowing headlights, etc. On the back of the shirts we can show backs of cars, they also look cool.

Art director: Let’s wait for the illustrator to come up with sketches.

Here they are.

Art director: Cool. But the flames are too cartoonish. It would also be better to make the illustration less decorative, add some background.

The designer finalizes the roof and tries the illustration on a t-shirt.

Art director: Nope, looks cheap. Let Yana try.

Yana adds the environment.

Trying it on a t-shirt and showing to the client.

Client: The black background looks cheap and we don’t like the ribbons.

Changing the background.

Client: Now it looks too banal.

Inviting the second designer to join in.

Designer: 8-bit cars turn into real ones, like it’s for real this time.

We can try to make it interesting by adding a fighter jet or a UFO :-)

Or launch the cars into space.

Art director: These are fun, keep going.

Designer: Here are some more. We can try to make a series based on car faces.

Or with guns, like the cars are faster than bullets.

And a cartaurus if we are going totally crazy :-)

Or simply a hyper jump.

Also supercars look like UFOs, only cooler.

Art director: This is cool.

Designer: All right, on a more serious note. I hope.

We can try to show the evolution of supercars. It’s educational.

Or something more expressive with fire, explosions and shit.

Or go with typography. Like cars drifting on some text.

Art director: OK. Do you have a couple more in you? :)

Designer: I might.

We can try to go without any cars at all, just with classic racing stripes.

Or speedometers on fire.

Or we can try diluting the cars in color.

Or a victorious finish.

I couldn’t help myself with that last one.

Asking other designers to chip in.

Client: The one with the umbrella is spot on (poor weather conditions is the infamous bane of the event’s organizers). We like the UFO as well. And the cheetah.

We’ll take them.

Adding a space ship to the car.

Client: You can’t recognize the space ship here.

Changing the hand.

Art director: I think you should have simply altered the ship to be more in line with the concept. Now it all looks like a noisy dust ball and the car can barely be seen.

It’s the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars.

Or we can simply decrease the noise in the previous version.

Art director: Yeah, the second illustration looks better compared to the static first one. But try to highlight the car some more. And please check the perspective, right now it looks like the car’s back is jumping up on the road. I would also remove the knocked-off crate and other hints at an accident.

Designer: I’ve finalized the one with the ship and drew the one with the cow.

Art director: There’s not enough of Unlim here, add a logo to the sleeve. In the second illustration, are you OK with the fact that the car is drawn in three colors while the beam and the cow use only one? It’s like a collage of separate pieces.

Designer: I’ve added some details to the cow.

And moved the logo.

Art director: Go with the smaller UFO, otherwise OK.

Designer: I got the cheetah done.

Art director: Good.

Client: We need to find a place for the Unlim logo.

Designer: I made some changes and drew the knight.

Art director: The knight is awesome!

I want to ask about the numbers. Do we have to use the corporate background shape when putting the numbers on animals?

I don’t entirely understand the situation with the cow. It looks like the cow takes part in the race (since it has a race number) but it’s being abducted by some sort of a UFO-car? Doesn’t make sense.

Designer: I’ve changed it.

Art director: The number made of spots is barely legible.

Designer: How about this?

Art director: I wouldn’t draw the number on the cheetah in plain white, it looks foreign.

Designer: I moved the spots somewhat here.

Art director: The cheetah is OK, although you could search for a better position (or slant) of the number for some more. Now it looks like the number is in a slightly different plane. As for the cow, I don’t understand the logo rising up from the ground. Maybe you can simply add a number or a text logo to the UFO-car?

Designer: I made some more changes.

Art director: OK.

Client: The ship still doesn’t look like it’s the one.

Designer: Well, if it doesn’t now, I really don’t know what else to do :-)

Client: Now it does.

Let’s it all.

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