Some say he was inspired by South Park to horde thousands of bottles worcestershire sauce in case he wants to bring about “world peace”. Others say that years of watching horror movies still hadn’t adequately prepared him for the job of changing diapers. And yet others say that back-breaking and soul-crushing manual labor is synonymous with t-shirt design. All we know is his name is Mike Handy.
This week Tshirt Roundup turned the spotlight on stay-at-home dad and t-shirt designer, Mike Handy.
Who are you and where are you from?
I am Mike Handy and I hail from Holden, Massachusetts.
What are you currently working on?
Most recently I’ve been working on a Back to the Future / Teen Wolf mashup I’m calling “Bark to the Future”. It’s gonna be twice the Michael J. Fox for the price of one!
What inspired you to become a designer? How did you get started?
I’ve been drawing my whole life, but I was initially inspired to become a graphic designer after visiting my good friend Steve Hamady at the McFarlane Toys design studio in New Jersey. I had hopes of working for McFarlane some day, but by the time I finally had my degree, working there was unfortunately no longer an option. Instead, I wound up taking a marketing design job at a small stationery company in my area, and I stayed at that job until my daughter was born last year. I then decided to become a stay-at-home Dad and to return to my first artistic love: illustration. After trying to brainstorm different ways that I could possibly showcase my somewhat strange / geeky pop culture art, I stumbled upon tee shirt design. It seemed like the perfect venue for selling my work, so I decided to pursue a career as a tee shirt designer.
How would you achieve world peace?
I’d invent a virus that starts the Zombie Apocalypse. Sure, there would be even more fighting and a lot of carnage for awhile, but eventually all the living people would be wiped out, then the world would just be full of slow-moving moaning corpses. At that point, everyone on the planet would be instinctually likeminded and conflict would no longer exist. What could be more peaceful than that?
Books, movies or games? What are your favorites?
Movies are probably #1 for me. I’m partial to horror, sci-fi and comic book movies. Come to think of it, my tastes in books and games are generally the same.
Who would you most like to see in one of your designs?
I’d actually love to see any one of my fellow tee shirt designers wearing a shirt I’ve designed. I think it’s the ultimate compliment when another artist likes your work enough to buy it and wear it.
You’ve got 24 hours before the world is annihilated. What do you do? (And does it differ depending on what the impending apocalypse is?)
Well, if it’s the aforementioned Zombie Apocalypse that I was responsible for starting, then I’d probably have a lot more time to prepare. If it’s something like a meteor hitting the earth, I’d lobby to have Bruce Willis sent into space ASAP.
What would you be doing if you weren’t designing?
I was an amateur musician (I play drums) for about 10 years before becoming a designer, so I’d probably still be pursuing that. My day job would probably also be the same as it was back then, filled with copious amounts of back-breaking and soul-crushing manual labor.
Who are some of your favorite designers? Who should we feature next?
There are so many folks that come to mind, but just to name a few – Nik Holmes, Karen Hallion, Megan Lara, Matthew Parsons, Anthony Hall, Jesse Sanz, TrulyEpic, Billy Allison, Midgerock, Synaptees, Mandingo, Bamboota, Fishbiscuit, Winter Artwork, Jerry Bennett, Buzatron…the list gets longer every day!
And I think my buddy Chris Allbright aka Corrose (http://www.facebook.com/CorroseDesigns) would be a great artist to feature. He’s an incredibly talented up-and-coming designer and his work is starting to show up all over the place!
Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
Although I love designing tee shirts, I actually don’t wear them very often. I’m more of a button-down shirt type of guy and the tee shirts I’ve gathered over time are more like ‘collectibles’ to me rather than something I regularly wear. Also, I once ate ice cream with a fork.
Which design has been your most popular? Which are you most proud of?
My ‘Parkbusters’ design (South Park / Ghostbusters mash up) which was featured on Teefury was a fairly popular design. Unfortunately, Comedy Central found out about it and asked me to stop selling it. Since then, I’d say that my 8 bit / Stephen King inspired design Tower of Darkness has been the most popular. It’s hard to pick which design I’m most proud of, but I’d say my Hello It Tee, Mother Pus Bucket! and Hoop Nightmares designs are among my favorites.
What advice would you offer to aspiring designers?
Don’t rush into the field of tee shirt design and start cranking out tons of half-hearted designs in the hopes of achieving quick fame and fortune. Really take the time to hone your skills so you can turn out quality designs. It can take awhile before you have something accepted for print, so be prepared to deal with a good amount of rejection early on and learn how to accept criticism from others. Also, research your ideas before starting a new design to see if anyone else has already done it. I think one of the best ways for new designers to get noticed is by creating really original work or by coming up with a concept that’s never been done before.
Anything else you’d like to share?
One of my designs should be showing up on a daily tee site fairly soon (Hint: It involves the smell of burning marshmallows).
I really want to thank all the amazing and hysterical folks in the RxBA artists group for giving me so much help and support, and for treating me like an equal since day one. Karen Hallion for inviting me to join the group, and for being so humble and willing to help others. Megan Lara for promoting my work and for always making me laugh. MJ and Chris Flint at Teefury for being so supportive and going out of their way to help me. My wife and daughter for their continued love and support as I’ve pursued this new career. And of course Tshirt Roundup for being so supportive of my work and asking me to be the featured designer of the week!
Finally, where can we find you?
Redbubble Store: http://www.redbubble.com/people/mikehandyart