On my Desk this Week: Tee Shirt Art

Tee shirt art in progress | VanillaArts.com

What am I working on today?

graphic art for a silk screened tee shirt

Here's where my worlds start to collide- because I promised you a real time glimpse of what I'm working on every Wednesday. And today, it has nothing to do with my classes or website.

Besides teaching, I freelance as an illustrator. I also volunteer as a webmaster and the Creative Director for the band program in our local schools. Every year, I design 2-3 tee and sweat shirts as fundraisers for our 11 different bands.

A few years ago, another band parent and I redesigned the band's logo. You can see our friend Clef the dragon on the inset computer screen. Clef is fun to work with because he's a slinky and slithery dragon and we get to bend him into all sorts of unique shapes depending upon the purpose.

By the way, I think kids with dragons for high school mascots are the luckiest kids on earth. There's nothing cooler than a dragon. Abraham Lincoln was my high school mascot. Not cool at all. Lincoln was a great man but he pretty much sucks as a school emblem. "Hey rival school, our team is gonna Gettysburg Address you on the football field tonight!"

So here's Clef the dragon in a uroboros shape for a unisex tee shirt. And yes, as with pencil sketches, I've got the contrast on this scan amped way up. I'd kill my students if I saw them drawing this dark.

Dragon uroboros shape | VanillaArts.com

What's going right?

I've drawn this guy countless times. Each project goes quicker and I'm always a little happier with the results.

Practice definitely improves both your drawing skills and your mental outlook.

What's going wrong?

This is the first time I've twisted him into an infinity symbol and added the uroboros element (when a serpent eats his tail). As a standard figure-8 he felt pretty lifeless, so I warped him a bit for interest.

But right now, I do not have the proportions correct. And while I love his tail in a swishy curl, that kick back on the tip spoils both the infinity and the eating-his-tail element.

So I'll be drawing this guy again, at least a few more times until it feels better.

Oh, and Clef has 4 feet and I've only left myself with room for 2. I have to squeeze 2 more claws in and place them all better. Ugh.

What's next?

Another re-draw (or three) and then I'll scan him into the computer to trace in vector format. Then I'll pick out my negative and positive shapes in their final color, looking at the balance one more time. After a size adjustment and ink selection, he'll head off to the printers.

In summary: a pretty good idea but still a poor execution. improvements needed.