I Am All These Things And More
This piece started out as a client project that just didn't pan out. Once of the agencies I work with wanted to rebrand themselves, or really to create a secondary site that they could show to people in the video game industry that they were trying to woo as clients - a site that would be much more fun and irreverent than their existing site, which was traditional-looking and catered to their more conservative clients.
The agency described their plant to me, and I began working on the piece without any kind of formal agreement, which was not smart. It was a handshake kind of deal - "Here's what we'd like to do - an Otaku-influenced site - do you have anything you can show us in this style?" I didn't, but just thinking about it inspired me, so I started drawing in my favorite vector program, FreeHand. Within half an hour, I had a ninja, and I liked that ninja. I kept building from there.
I was working on my It Must Be Me book illustrations during this same period, and I enjoyed the challenge of working in that style - conveying the different characters in simple geometric shapes. Sometimes I feel almost guilty, creating pieces like this with so little detail - but whatever speed comes from the lack of complexity is often made up for in the time required to get the shapes that are there just right. I kept these colors desaturated as well, and I gave each of them a radial gradient in one or two places, to give their forms a sense of dimension. Background strips were added, each a little thinner than the characters' widths, so the six dudes could pop forward a bit.
And then nothing happened. The agency absolutely loved the images, which originally didn't have their descriptions beneath them. Each of the six characters were meant to be animated, and when clicked the backgrounds were to expand, bringing up one of six different areas of this new website. But the agency wasn't ready to commit to launching the new site (and as far as I know, three years later, they never did), and though I was disappointed, it was my fault - they were so enthused to get started, that I let myself get sucked in, moving forward without good reason. My bad.
A year or so later, I started putting up my Zazzle store, and revisited the image. I thought it would make a fun t-shirt idea, and since no one had paid for or used the piece, it was mine to use however I wished. I came up with the title "I Am All These Things And More" to tie the six characters together, added the descriptions below, and posted it for sale. I think I sold my first shirt in an hour. I should have known - people like ninjas, people like pirates, but combining those two characters with the other four seemed to be a winning combination. Lesson learned. It's now one of my top selling items. I've even sold one to someone named Esmaeil in Falun, Sweden. I hope he/she is wearing it - maybe even right now - and feeling like a Pirate, Clown, Viking, Robot, Ninja and Monster, all at once.
I Am All These Things And More on Zazzle