Glenn Jones is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Auckland, New Zealand. He is also the creative force behind one of the most popular apparel lines on the Internet – GLENNZ TEES. His t-shirt designs meld popular culture with insightful and humorous twists of logic. Glenn is also happy to answer questions about his career. Here they are:
Please tell me about being discovered on Threadless. When did you realize your hobby was a much bigger deal for you? Was it completely unexpected or had you always known you were bound for t-shirt designing glory?
It was purely by chance. I saw a student doing work experience in our studio looking at Threadless, so I thought I’d give it a try. I just liked the idea of having a creative outlet. I was lucky that in the time I was prominent on Threadless, they went through a massive growth period, which meant I got a lot of exposure too. This resulted in a lot of work and business offers which eventually led to having my own brand, so it’s been a great journey.
When you started your career as a junior designer at a newspaper company, you taught yourself Adobe Illustrator 3 outside of your day-to-day work. With so many designers building their professional skill sets outside of classrooms, what do you think this says about the future of creative education?
Well I think the Internet has provided an open classroom for people to become self-taught and also seek critique form designers. When I was learning (in the early 90's), I had a manual in the box, and just tried drawing stuff, now you can read and watch thousands of tutorials online which is great
You've said that if there illustration didn’t exist, you'd be a full time industrial designer. Which industrial designers and/or ID agencies are you most impressed by these days?
I think I meant if I wasn't doing what I do, that’s an industry I’d love to be in. I just like the idea of concept and design to find solutions for products. I love seeing stuff produced on sites like Quirky that are born out of really simple ideas.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back 15 years?
Learn how to code. I think it’s a great skill to have. Creating sites, apps etc.
What is the most satisfying part of your day?
I spend some time with my daughter and then draw when I can. I’ve always enjoyed it, and that hasn't changed.
Besides hard work and doing what you love, do you have any advice for other designers who want to quit their jobs, go full time on a sweet partnership and still do freelance on the side?
Well, I think the two can go together while you work out what you want. I’m not a risk taker so I didn't leave my job as a creative director without a lot of consideration, but t-shirts and freelance opportunities were there, so I thought, “I have to give it a try.” I think you have to go with what makes you happy and for me, being more creative doing my own stuff is what I wanted.
As your company grew over the years and demand increased for your designs, did you have to employ any techniques or habits to scale your creative output?
What I’ve learned is, if I’m not inspired its not going to happen. There has been plenty of times when I’ve thought, “I have some spare time, Ill draw a tee,” but it never really works like that for me. I find all my ideas come when I’m not concentrating trying to think of ideas. So sometimes it’s best just to go for a walk or work on something totally different and then the ideas come, and I get on a roll.