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Home > horn tootin', m chen wears, music > To OFF I go…

To OFF I go…

August 12th, 2010

This weekend is the Ottawa Folk Festival, and I’m a little more excited about it than in past years… that’s because I’ve been working fiendishly on the event’s t-shirt and program design! I can’t wait to see all the volunteers and staff wearing the duds (sneak peek here, courtesy of Ming Wu :) — plus there’ll also be merch tees being sold.

This is the final t-shirt design:

I’ve shown it on a turquoise background because that’s what the women’s tees will look like (the unisex tees will be heather grey, and the kids’ tees will be red).

They asked me to come up with a design that was clearly music-based, funky, community- and nature-oriented, and not the typical banjo or guitar imagery… so I came up with this Seussian fellow and his critter bandmates.

Behind the scenes, my process went a little like this…

After a few sketches on paper, I did up a rough illustration in Corel Painter (as always, on my trusty Cintiq):

I brought the graphic into Adobe Illustrator, did a “Live Trace”, then cleaned things up a little; that’s what I presented for my first round of mock ups. For the next round, I went back to do a more complete drawing, again in Painter:

And again, I brought it into Illustrator to vectorize and clean it up, plus I added the text. Apparently, the woodpecker on the keys was a big hit at the OFF office :)

As for the program, I was able to use a lot of different elements from the t-shirt illustration throughout. Here’s the cover and a sample two-page spread looks like:

It’s been tons of fun to work on (though admittedly hectic!) — and I am so grateful to have been asked to do it.

Here’s a funny thing: I started up m chen wears a couple of years ago because I wanted to do more illustration. And as a direct result of doing these crazy t-shirts, I have been getting more creative work in my graphic design day-job. I never knew that my side gig would end up feeding my main gig! This particular project came about because one of the OFF staff had seen my shirts.

Just more proof that if there’s something you really love to do, then do it — and it might just grow into something bigger.

horn tootin', m chen wears, music , , , , ,

  1. dre
    August 12th, 2010 at 22:21 | #1

    Holy adorable!
    The t-shirt is fabulous, I love how he is wearing the horn and all its occupants!!

  2. Meg Mac
    August 12th, 2010 at 23:38 | #2

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this was Dr Seuss! Then I read your write up… Love it!

  3. Steve Moons
    August 13th, 2010 at 07:16 | #3

    Fantastic as usual. And as I’ve mentioned, I really love the behind-the-scenes posts. Great work.

  4. August 13th, 2010 at 10:46 | #4

    Fantastic tee design Em – you never cease to amaze (and inspire) me!!! I think I need to add to my shirt collection … hmmmmm … :)

  5. September 7th, 2010 at 19:15 | #5

    OFF loves the woodpecker, and the design, and the designer!

  6. Jen
    June 18th, 2012 at 09:54 | #6


    So, I just bought Corel Painter 12, and loved this post. What I’m wondering is….how did you get a file to export to a format that AI recognizes (the one that you used for your “live trace”)….and then also, how did you get a file to export to a format that Painter recognizes?

    Please let me know which format you used in both ways — going to Illustrator from Painter, and then also the format you used to go from Painter to Illustrator.

    I currently use CS3. Which AI Version did you use with this tutorial?

    And, any other settings you used to get this file swapping back and forth to work without bugs would be HIGHLY appreciated. :) Great work, bu the way!

  7. April 5th, 2014 at 13:44 | #7

    Hello KimI am working on deniisgng a logo and banner for my business. I have been admiring an image of yours on iStockphoto File #16742067 Vetta stock vector Woman on scooter with dog, clouds in background. Do you design logos and banners? I would like a wall image design (180 width X 540 height) plus a logo featuring the same elements.My business concept is Projects for Professionals focused on working in the cloud (internet applications). I haven’t come up with the right tag line yet, but will when I find my designer.What I like about this particular design is the youthful fun but determination and confidence it offers. The background would need the clouds. My company name is Vicadea Concepts.Please let me know if you are available for design and your costing parameters.With Appreciation,Carrie Drybrough

  8. May 6th, 2014 at 11:07 | #8

    Real brain power on display. Thanks for that answer!

  9. May 9th, 2014 at 23:41 | #9

    Apparently this is what the esteemed Willis was talkin’ ’bout.

  10. May 17th, 2014 at 13:00 | #10

    A really good answer, full of rationality!

  11. May 26th, 2014 at 13:06 | #11

    I’m impressed you should think of something like that

  12. May 26th, 2014 at 13:11 | #12

    God help me, I put aside a whole afternoon to figure this out.

  13. July 8th, 2014 at 05:03 | #13

    You make things so clear. Thanks for taking the time!

  14. Johne191
    July 16th, 2014 at 01:57 | #14

    Keep working ,fantastic job! gecagfaegbee

  15. July 23rd, 2014 at 11:22 | #15

    It’s wonderful to have you on our side, haha!

  16. July 29th, 2014 at 13:11 | #16

    JOIN TEAM JOEY NATION!BUFFALO WILD WINGS IN AUBURN, IN Wednesday NOV. 14th from 6-8(Come on out!) You may contact for counops. 10% of all food purchases will be donated to help JOEY!**TEAM JOEY Christmas Extravaganza** Mark your Calendar!!Date: November 17th, 2012Time: 12:00pm 5:00pmLocation: Auburn First Christian Church,910 N. Indiana Ave. Auburn, IN (Just south of Rieke Park) SANTA will be there for a photo Opp, bring your camera, take all the pictures you need and make your Christmas Cards perfect, coloring table for kids to color pages for the Keller’s, Party lite candles, Premier Designs, a Certified Massage Therapist (for on the spot massage), home made Jams, bake sale, 31, Vault Denim, home made blankets, scarves and purses and many more things! SILENT AUCTION: Debrands chocolates gift baskets, American doll clothes, Cookie cottage gift baskets, Italian Grille gift cert, Albright’s Grocery gift Cert., movie baskets, longaberger baskets, Vera Bradley Bags and MUCH MUCH MORE! Please join us in making this a SUCCESS FOR JOEY!!!! Please share and mark your Calendar!

  17. July 31st, 2014 at 00:30 | #17

    Big help, big help. And superlative news of course.

  18. July 31st, 2014 at 00:39 | #18

    This shows real expertise. Thanks for the answer.

  19. July 31st, 2014 at 00:42 | #19

    The ability to think like that shows you’re an expert

  20. August 23rd, 2014 at 15:01 | #20

    These topics are so confusing but this helped me get the job done.

  21. August 23rd, 2014 at 15:01 | #21

    I can’t believe you’re not playing with me–that was so helpful.

  22. September 14th, 2014 at 03:17 | #22

    I suppose that sounds and smells just about right.

  23. October 25th, 2014 at 00:12 | #23

    Thinking like that is really amazing

  24. March 5th, 2015 at 19:07 | #24

    Breakfast with Santa! Saturday, December 1st from 9-11AMOssian United Methodist Church201 W. Mill Street in Ossian, In 46777Come have pancakes, decuiiols egg casseroles, smoky links, cereal, donuts, dutch crunch dessert, Coffee, milk and juice something for everyoneHave your children’s picture taken with Santa and then they can shop in the Elf Store for their family members. Elves will be available to help them shop so they can keep it a surprise! All gifts are $2 and gift wrapping is included. This is a fun, holiday event sponsored by the Norwell High School Show ChoirSee you there!

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