ABDW: Duncan from ZombieMedia

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Hey Duncan – how’s it going? Not too bad thanks – how are you guys doing?

Pretty good this end & feeling the festive spirit.Tell us a bit about Zombie Media – what’s it all about? When was Zombie Media born? For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a tshirt designer. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a tshirt designer was to own the world. Or something like that! I’ve always been a doodler, always had an interest in Art and Design (in a previous life I was an Art teacher), and the thought of someone somewhere wearing something that I designed was the best idea ever.

My first dabblings into tshirt design was a short series of hand drawn designs, ironed onto Primark tshirts and then flogged under the name Develop Design. This flopped. I sold one, to a drunk bloke at the Ashton Court Festival – it was many years before I went back to shirt work. In the meantime I designed a few websites, and produced a few logos under the ZombieMedia umbrella. ZombieMedia itself started about four years ago, a father’s day gift from my eldest son. I love designing shirts, I still dream about seeing one ‘in the wild’, not just on a friend, family member or in the mirror.

Perhaps the biggest thing, was finding out about the daily shirt sites – the idea that you could put up a pop culture based shirt, sell it for 24 hours and then it’s gone seemed incredible. Summer 2012 I had my first success, A Good Blaster got printed at TeeBusters, and then even more excitingly at TheYetee. I’ve kept on designing and subbing ever since.

dropping science zmedia_cthulahula

What started your interest of design?A huge part of our designs seems focused on television and cinema. From the Lego Movie to Back to the Future, you mix and match cinema in an interesting way to create something unique & quite often, very nostalgic. Would you say you’re a bit of a movie fanatic? I’m all about the pop culture, and a right geek at heart (shocking right?!). T shirts seem to offer a real opportunity to be playful and creative with different cinematic elements. I tend to get weirdly focussed on one area or design style, so at the moment I’ve been working on a short series of Neighbourhood Watch logo shirts for superheros. The main thing is, they make me chuckle. I think that’s probably the key thing – does the design make me smile. I could probably have more commercial success in the shirt world by knocking out a Dr Who design or two, but I just haven’t had a smile worthy idea yet.

How do you go from taking an idea & creating design? Do you sketch quite a bit by hand or is it all digital? Pretty much everything is done digitally for me. There are occasional times I’ll doodle and sketch an idea on paper first, but predominately it’s about getting into Illustrator or Photoshop and seeing what happens. Because I’ve never had any training in the software, there is a lot of trial and error. It took about four years before I began to feel comfortable using my graphics tablet.

Bit of a tricky one, but if you had to choose, what’s your favourite Zombie Media design? Personally we think the Hill Valley Hoverboard design is awesome! I do like the Hill Valley design – it’s gone down well as a sticker. But for me, erm…it changes a lot – probably the Bust Me design, I know technically it’s got flaws (the poor line work frustrates me) but it has the chuckle factor.


You also work quite a bit on designing websites – how much does this differ in terms of work ethics compared to designing tees? Would you say it’s a bit more of a ‘serious face’ scenario or do you approach all your work from a similar angle? Well the websites have kind of died away for me, they take so long to do. I do try to keep a sense of fun and humour when working on anything I design. I just get more joy from a tshirt.

When you settle down to a commissioned project, is there quite a bit of flexibility in what you do, or do you work closely with customers? You do need to be more constructive and controlled with timescales when working for/with a client, whereas the shirts, they’re fun and happen when they happen.

When you’re not busy designing some sweet tees, where abouts do you go out to unwind? Having two under 5s makes it hard to get out and about to unwind. I’ve really liked the Steam Crane and Old bookshop on North Street when I’ve had the chance. Beyond that, it’s all about parks and open spaces. I love having a family walk around Ashton Court; it’s where I got married so it’s cool to be able to take the kids there. If you’re looking for somewhere cool to head to – pizzas at the Hen and Chicken – boom!

You’re currently working on ideas for a book that will showcase t-shirt designs & designers right? Could you tell us a bit more about this project? Ah yes, VigilanTees, this has been an idea knocking about my head for a fair old while, and it seems that crowdfunding is the way to take it. Basically, there are so many amazing tshirts being designed and sold every day on the daily shirt sites, I wanted a way of collecting and collating the art, while also giving a voice to the designers and sites. I’ve done a few designer interviews for the blog IndieMinded in the past, and this experience drove me forward. The book is going to showcase the amazing art, and the talented designers working in the tshirt world.

What sort of designers should we check out who you’d love to feature in VigilanTees? I’ve managed to get 22 designers on board (including some top top top names) and 11 sites. Check out the likes of BeastPop, Fanboy30, cu3ik, Bamboota and more. There are other designers I’d love to involve, so some of the stretch goals will include extra pages to incorporate even more designers. I’ve even got ideas for VigilanTees 2.

How can people find out more about it? If you’re interested in seeing how this progresses – check @vigilantees on twitter, facebook.com/vigilanteesbook and www.vigilantees.co.uk – the plan is to launch the kickstarter in February!

neighbourhood_watchmen zmedia_bustme

What’s the next big step from Zombie Media? Any projects you’d really like to be a part of or perhaps head yourself? The next big step? I’m painting one of the Shaun In The City statues next year. I’m still giddy with excitement about that! I’m going to be on the Bristol52 at this time. Beyond that, the book, more tshirts, more geekery and more tweeting @zombie_media

Anything at all you’d like to add? Not that I can think of…

Finally where can we get a hold of your tees? A range of places – hit up NeatoShop, Teepublic, Imaginative Ink and RedBubble. If you wanted to keep an eye out for updates and fresh designs check out my Facebook or give us a follow on Twitter.

mca_shirtoid zmedia_blaster

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