In this month’s installment of Designer of the Month, we sit down with Magnaen, self-described “6 year old boy in the body of a 26 year old man-child”, and dig deeply into the inner working of his brain, his love of felines, his artwork and design life and even where his Game of Thrones allegiances lie. Follow the jump to learn more about the man-child that is Magnaen—October’s Designer of the Month.
Magnaen! It’s a pleasure to finally meet you! Thanks for taking the time to sit and have a chat with us and congratulations on becoming Spreadshirt’s Designer of the Month for October! How does it feel? The fame, the women, the riches?!
Very honored, indeed! The riches in particular come in handy!
We can see in your User Profile that you have been selling with Spreadshirt since May, 2012. How did you hear about us, and how have you found the experience so far?
I’d read a story about a stock photographer whose sole income was licensing niche yet non- highly specific work (surfing and seascapes) indefinitely and was very successful. This passive income model appealed to my inner sloth. I’m no use with a camera and more of a hermit with a penchant for doodling, so tried to apply that same logic to art for clothing, once I had a plan of action I fired up the old google machine to see if such opportunities existed and here I am! The experience has been absolutely perfect, from website functionality, to complete user control, to product range, to print and shipping times, to global span, second to none of the competition, easily. Griffons and lions and Buddhas, oh my!
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs, and what is it, creatively, that enables you to deviate from your more popular themes when you turn to cats, or dinosaurs or rainbow-pooping unicorns?!
Haha it depends on the mood! I love the aesthetic of eastern religious iconography, I love cats and I love silly childish humour because I’m essentially a 6 year old boy in the body of a 26 year old man-child and still feel surprised seeing a beard trying its best to pepper my face. I prefer to build my image library based on established niches rather than keep up with the hustle and bustle of fads or trends, for the sake of timelessness (and laziness). Trying out different aesthetics is the real fun part, experimenting with the look and feel of a specific thing or experimenting with intricacy in limited colours, I’d actually love a DTG printer in my house just to do experiments with.
We can see your varying talents and background in your eclectic designs. Where do you come from and what makes magnaen the artist he is today?
I’m South African born and lived there until I was 21, then moved to England to enjoy the wonderful weather (heh). I guess the penchant for art is genetic, my father enjoyed painting oil landscapes in his youth, and I was known to leave masterpiece or two on the walls of my bedroom as a toddler…with my mother’s very expensive makeup. Slowly I guess the skillset got fostered through self-learning and a lot of free time!
What medium do you use to create your art? Are you an old-school pencil and paper artist or do you trend toward the new-school tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, or other digital art programs?
I used to enjoy sketching with traditional media, and I think there is more magic in something done with just your hands, but as I became introduced to better software and drawing media, it became practical to ditch the mess and silver palm (left-handed problems) and go purely digital. I use Photoshop CS6 exclusively in all things visually static.
How much time, on average, do you spend creating designs and managing your Spreadshirt Shop?
Depending on the intricacy and how much drive there is to get it done and dusted (nothing is ever finished) a typical design usually takes a day or 2 (dedicated work) up to a week or two (casual progress). The Spreadshirt management on the other hand takes no time at all, just a matter of uploading, applying, describing, tagging and presto!
We always like to guess what our designers do for a living when they’re not designing t-shirts. We asked around the office and took the three most popular guesses: you run a medieval fair, you’re a Shaolin monk or you’re in IT. Were we close? How do you pay the bills if it’s not collecting huge commission payouts from Spreadshirt?
Those sound pretty sick! I imagined being a Shoalin Monk and have somehow pulled a hamstring… I’m qualified in Advertising and Design but have luckily built enough of a library with this model of work in mind across a few platforms, so I get to avoid having a boss forever! The combination of adding to forever exploitable non depletive art as a resource and a few private exclusive contracts let me live my dream of a sloth life with my very fat cat in the lap.
We particularly like your clever creations with “third-eye” creatures. How do you decide which animals are given the gift of omniscient sight?
You butter me up like pancakes on a Sunday morning. The extra-ocular beasties were a result of becoming fascinated with shamanic practices in South America dealing with psychedelics that sort of stuck in my psyche and I guess expressed in a variety of cats! I do love them kitties.
If you could pick one of your designs that best represents you, who you are, your style, etc; which would it be and why?
Mushin/Ire Channel remix for sure, it’s feline (kitties <3), it’s messy and looks slapdash in nature (like yours truly) but actually has a lot of fun stuff going on under the hood (like yours truly). It’s in fact a painting of a tiger in 2 emotional states blended together on opposing optical channels, with each being visible separately when viewed on an additive source (like a computer screen) with an appropriate filter, like colored film wrap or old school 3D glasses. If printed in correct colors the effect happens when the art is viewed under red or blue light, becoming animated in 2 step strobe lighting!
What kind of advice could you offer to someone who is looking to open their own Shop on Spreadshirt? Do certain product sell better for you than others? Certain designs?
My most popular articles seem to be those that don’t delve TOO far into a niche or aesthetic, namely nationalistic affiliations and punny cute stuff. To anyone looking to build a library of art/products in Spreadshirt, I’d suggest picking a clear theme and direction with a large recognition factor that personally resonates with them (animals, a dog breed, space, a sport or hobby, a job) and keep it pretty generic yet playful within that realm, the deeper you delve into specifics within a niche theme, the lower the potential to connect with a large audience.
Last one: Stark, Lannister or Tyrell?
Free men above the wall don’t hold fealty to any below it!
Many thanks to Magnaen for taking the time out of his busy schedule to give us such an interesting look into his design life. We hope that you were all able to take something away from his answers and successes, and that you can apply some of his advice to your own Shops. Have a suggestion for our next Designer of the Month? Can you think of any questions you like included in our next interview that might help you with your Shop and designs? Put them in the comments!