The Popfunk interview

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Popfunk is a t-shirt design company with a particular geek appeal; even as I write this intro I can see designs for I Dream of Jeanie, Labyrinth and Batman tees decorating the front page. There’s even an Axe Cop section.

We plotted – what might Popfunk be able to offer that might interest our savvy Geek Native readers. Sure; we discussed cute models in cute t-shirts – that’s always a winner. However, what about a look into the mind of a professional t-shirt designer? Could we have a glimpse behind the curtain of creativity. Popfunk agreed and offered up one of their design gurus for a Q&A style interview. So! Let it begin!

Q. Hi. Thanks for being volunteered for this ‘interview’. I promise it won’t hurt all that much. Tell us a bit about yourself; a ‘who are you’ beginning to this interview!

A. Hello, my name is Chad Stilson. I am the Art Director for I have been designing t-shirts for over 7 years now. I also enjoy designing logos for sports teams in my spare time.

Q. What’s it like working at Popfunk? Is a hive of artistic energy, a force of ecommerce pressure or somewhere in between?

A. I would say its very… “Intense”. The Fun is Intense. The Pressure is Intense. And the Satisfaction of working with such great properties like Comics, TV shows, and Movies… is Intense as well.

Chad Stilson

Q. How do you get started as a t-shirt designer? Many readers will have dabbled with design and may well have their own efforts on Cafepress, Zazzle or even Etsy; what does it take to step into the professional world?

A. Having your own little collection of t-shirt designs in Cafepress, Zazzle, or Etsy is a great start. That will basically be your portfolio that a potential employer will want to see. Also, I can not stress enough… Know The Programs. I work mainly in the Adobe Suit. I remember “Thinking” I knew most of the functions of the programs. After my first week, I then realized I was dead wrong! You may think you know the program, but until you are using it every day, you really don’t. So please Practice, Practice, Practice.

Q. Are there any tips, tricks or recommendations you have when it comes to picking designs that work especially well on t-shirts?

A. Like fashion, there are many differing opinions on what looks good on a t-shirt. Just keep your target customer in mind. One think that I like to do is to set up my templates with an actual t-shirt behind my designing layer. This way, I can see exactly how the design is going to look on the finished product.

Q. Popfunk’s website really seems to put the focus on the t-shirt design. The Vampirella page, for example, is jam packed with Vampirella designs but people actually wearing the t-shirts seem to be missing. Do youknow why that is? Are models just a distraction from the product?

A. Models are great for advertising, but impractical for all the different designs we carry. As you can see, Popfunk is filled to the brim with designs, and to put each and every design on a Model just wouldn’t make sense. You are right though, models can be a distraction when you want your customer to focus on the art.

Q. Popfunk does well with geek cred. You’ve Battlestar Galactica t-shirts, Space Ace t-shirts, Justice League t-shirts, Stargate, Speed Racer, Dragon’s Lair and even Zombie Appreciation. Why pick geeks as a target audience? Does this limit your creative vision?

A. I would say we pick Geeks, because we ARE Geeks. We know these properties. We watch these shows. We joke about them within the Art Department. So because we are Geeks, we are able to make designs that only another Geek will appreciate. Also, most Geeks are proud to wear their favorite Comics, Movies, or Television Programs. If anything, focusing on Geeks allows us to be more creative.

Q. Which of the Popfunk collections is your favorite? Which do you think has the most kudos among the geek community?

A.I would definitely say I enjoy working the DC Comics art work. I was the 5 year old with the red underwear outside my pants, blue tee shirt, and the home-made red towel/cape. Growing up, I always wanted to be a comic artist. I would say designing DC apparel is the next best thing.


Q. Is there a comic book series, movie franchise or TV series that you’d like to bring to Popfunk? Why?

A. I would really enjoy working on Star Wars. I am a huge fan. It is one of those products that will never go out of style.

Q. Popfunk carries a DC Originals series. What do you make of the drama around the recent DC Comics reboot?

A. I think it is smart on DCs end to remake itself. It will generate a younger audience and bring in new fans. Look how well Marvel made out on the Ultimates series. I guess my only beef would be the new costumes. A little too 90s Tech style for me.

Q. Have you been following the fallout over Superman grunting “GD”. Do you have a take on the debate? Let’s say Superman was actually saying “God Damn” – would that put you off the new series?

A. I’m not a hyper sensitive person. What I am is a busy person. So I just don’t have the time to worry about Supe letting a curse word slip! I don’t see why he doesn’t just spin the world backwards into time and take it back.

Q. Finally, as the last question and before we get onto the remote mind torture – who would you say your top three geek artists and/or designers are?

A. My favorite artists would have to be Joe Madureira (I don’t care if he cannot finish a book), Jim Lee, and Alvin Lee. Three very different artists, but they started their own style and ran with them.

Thanks very much!

Thank you very much. POPFUNK RULES!!!!


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