St Patrick's Day
St Patrick's Day in Chicago is like a big green Mardi Gras featuring corned beef instead of Gumbo but the same amount of alcohol-probably more. I was hired to create a St Paddy's Day themed shirt. The character is a mashup of the internet meme sensation Salt Bae and a Leprechaun. I created my own St Patrick's themed shirt designs a few years ago and sell them on Zazzle, Cafepress and other sites!
Saytoons on Amazon!
I began my journey into apparel designing using the Print on Demand(POD) platform in 2008. I posted my art and designs to Cafepress and later to Zazzle. As the industry grew many other POD outlets developed and I joined some of those followed with meager success. When I mention the big print on demand outlets where I sell my designs I find many people aren't familiar with those websites. However everyone has heard of Amazon. That has led me to the next phase of Saytoons as I begin posting my most popular designs and new all over print fashion on the biggest online marketplace there is. Much more to come!
Who's the Boss?
After placing a few pieces of my old art on Cafepress and Zazzle with modest success I began to think of new stuff to add to my stores. I don't know what prompted me to create my first "Boss Lady" text design. I knew Snoop Dogg referred to his wife as the Boss Lady. It struck me as term of respect and endearment and so I utilized Zazzle's great font collection to design a Boss Lady mug to sell for Mother's Day. My main creative thought was to distinguish the font "Boss" from "Lady". So "Boss" was a wild looking pink script font and "Lady" was a white distressed san serif. I made the obvious design choice and made "Boss" a rougher looking font and "Lady" cursive feminine looking.
I began to look around the Cafepress and Zazzle marketplace and saw only a few generic "Boss Lady" designs. A year later after posting dozens of variations of my Boss Lady products I realized I had created a new category judging from the explosion of competing Boss Lady gifts. I've seen several I like, but still think mine are the best-Boss Lady Designs out there-LOL!
My life as a Marvelite
After watching the show, Marvel 75-from Pulp to Pop! I was caught up in the nostalgia of those early days of the Marvel comics revolution. In elementary school I bought DC comics. Superman, World's Finest and Legion of Super Heroes. By junior high Marvel became my favorite line of comics. They were different and felt contemporary next to the staid DC heroes of the time. Plus they gave the artist credit! The dynamic art of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko was a sight to behold. The constant hucksterism of Stan Lee completed the package-he was like every family's cool crazy uncle.
During my art career I had the opportunity to work for Marvel in the 90's and it was my dream come true!
DC eventually upped their game and followed the Marvel formula. They revamped their characters and universe but I still have a soft spot for all things Marvel.
Alas my old Saytoons Kustom Keds-a thing of the past!
In 2008 I came across the Direct to Garment website Zazzle. I had already begun a store on CafePress in 2007 that had some mild success during the previous Xmas season. I wasn't sure if it was worth my time to try another similar site. However Zazzle had Keds canvas sneakers to design and sell. I joined and have been a shopkeeper ever since. Unfortunately the deal Zazzle had with Keds apparently ended and those products were discontinued. I was disappointed as those items had become my most consistent sellers. Zazzle assured their many shop owners they would come back with a bigger better shoe deal, but that was 4 or 5 years ago. During that time their competitor, CafePress, introduced a basic slip on shoe and flip flop's for footwear products.
I began looking for some place else that made customizable sneakers I could design and sell.
I have come across a website-custom drop shipping-that will print on generic canvas sneakers. I just began adding some designs for all to check out and purchase. Nevertheless my search will continue for other print on demand outlets that offer that print shoes.
Eventually CafePress came along to fill the void for customizable footwear
Now I'm adding my designs to sneakers on Custom Dropshipping!
Feeling my way through Adobe
I was one of those artists that was slow to adopt the digital tools that became widely available in the 90's like Photoshop and Illustrator. As a storyboard artist I was used to using the tools of the trade-pencil markers with colored pencil and opaque white. I also used a little airbrush to give my work a slicker look and make it seem like I worked harder on the project.
The first time Photoshop really made an impression on me was when I viewed the coloring in the early issues of Image comics.
Love 'em or hate 'em Image advanced the era of digitally colored comics. Eventually Marvel and DC followed suit and now it's the industry standard. I was inspired and got a copy of Photoshop 4 or 5 from a friend, but was too busy or too cheap to take a class to learn how to use it. I would try, but ultimately got frustrated and went back to markers, paint and airbrush.
Then a project came along that promised great riches, but had to be colored in Photoshop. I taught myself enough in a weekend to create decent samples(shown above) to get the job. Sad but true-it took the lure of a big paycheck and a deadline to send me hurtling into the digital art realm.
Me art and Pro Wrestling
One of my original print on demand designs
As a kid I watched pro wrestling on a black and white TV in the days of Dick The Bruiser, The Crusher and BoBo Brazil. It was full of action and the wrestler promos were enthralling. Many years later my lovely wife to be, Jean, turned me into a fan again at the dawn of the Hulkamania era. One of my favorite independent comics of that time - Love & Rockets by the Hernandez brothers featured story lines involving female pro wrestlers.
Needless to say when I opened my first online print on demand store the first t-shirt design I posted and the first one that sold and continues to sell was “Elbow Drop!” Many other designs have followed in that vein.
My Creative Process
Confederate Flag Remix
The Confederate Flag Remix design began to develop after I decided to create flag graphics for the custom shower curtains I was selling on CafePress . http://www.cafepress.com/customdesignstore/9193910 . As an African American the “Stars and Bars” left a bad taste mostly for what it symbolized to me in the context of race relations in this country. As an artist – the Confederate flag is a cool flag design and is already on a host of diverse products.
I decided I would play with the colors in Photoshop. Will a viewer perceive the flag differently when the colors change? The first version was monochromatic shades of green – I was thinking recycling and the whole green movement. Using green in that design led me to use the colors of the black liberation flag – red black and green - in the second Remix version. I added yellow gold to the stars as a nod to the Jamaican Rasta flag.
I'm Seitu Hayden - artist designer cartoonist and print on demand evangelist