or “I’m just happy to be here!”
To start with…
Friends, let me be one of the first to congratulate the winner of the Disney Store’s Design by Me contest, Christy W. This is something other designers look at, smack their heads and say “why didn’t I think of that?” It’s such a simple premise, and yet it says so much. Just as good design should. My hat’s off to you Christy!
The only constant is change
Ok, so until May 4, we all thought the results would be different. But according to Disney, many of the votes, including some of mine, were not legit. No more info was given. In the end, I came in second place, losing about 400 votes, taking me to 1,200 total.
As for Michelle M.’s shirt, her take on Mickey was, I think, exactly what Disney wanted from this experience, a fresh, new look at Mickey Mouse. Yes, it was polarizing. Very polarizing, complete with accusations of cheating and even some generational trash talk about those “Brooklyn hipsters.” But good design, as with good anything, should cause a little stir. As my wife once said to me, one of the reasons she married me was I could make her the most angry. Something that illicits this much emotion has some serious emotion behind it. But more on that later.
For me, this entire adventure, and trust me, it was just that, was one of great highs, the lowest lows and everything in-between. And even though I didn’t win, I can thank all of you who voted, and had your friends vote for me! I even made the front page of the business section of the our local paper’s Sunday edition! How cool is that?!?!?
The truth is, I truly was honored to just be in the final five. I have no idea how many they got, but we can assume it was more than a few. And for about an hour on the first day, I thought I might have a chance, by the Friday after the contest started, I knew there was slim chance of pulling out a victory. And I felt how you say, not so great about it. I decided to try to get 1,000 votes, and I did just that. So thanks to each and every one of you. You made me feel like I created something meaningful.
So, about the contest itself, and the thread on the Disney Store’s Facebook wall about it. Wow, those people are vicious. I mean, just read through them. Yes, I was surprised that some of the designs got so many votes so quickly, and so long after the contest started, but that’s the internet folks. And for those people accusing some of the designers of ‘knowing the right people’ yeah, that’s how it works. It’s “social” media. I told every single person online I could tell about this. Some of you who voted for me may not even have liked my shirt, but voted for me anyway. And that’s cool.
Last year, I sent some Disney attraction posters I did for fun to Boing Boing. I was proud of them, knew that one of the moderators on the blog was a big Disney fan and thought what the hell. Within the hour, I got word via Twitter that he had posted them. Within 24 hours I had over 16,000 hits to this very blog. Even now, I get 2-3 hits a day just from that one post.
I also did some “Keep Calm” Disney posters, based on the English posters used during WWII. I posted them here, on Pinterest and Tumblr. I’ve had over 700 repins on Pintrest and over 7,000 reposts on Tumblr of these three. My point? This is how Social Media works. And though I tried to get my shirt higher in the rankings using these very same sources, it wasn’t in the cards for me.
And some of the things said about my shirt: “…it does not represent the spirit of the Disney brand or of our beloved Walt,” and “common and uninspired.” Sigh…Such is the life of a designer. Unlike fine artists, who have the leeway to create based on their own emotions and experiences, professional designers and commercial artists design for the marketplace. And we are met with much criticism much of the time. You have to have a thick skin in this business. Don’t get me wrong, it is through this fire we emerge as better artists, but it can sting at first.
I’ve also done these charity posters recently. I’m including them here because I can. And I think they’re really cool.
But in the end, it was just a t-shirt. Let’s all dial it back a little…
Getting to the point
The one thing I can take from this? Out of all the entries, someone at Disney thought mine was one of the best.
I’ve tried to get Disney’s attention before. I would so love to do this very thing for them and design Disney Park merchandise. I even caught the eye of the Disney Store President on Twitter with my Mickey Ears idea. But this is the first time someone in the organization actively picked me. For that I am eternally grateful and will carry that with me the rest of my life. The masses can say what they will, but I’ll always have that nugget of validation.
Why so serious?
If you’re still reading at this point, I’d like to take a minute and talk about the design process, because this is my blog and I can do that if I want ;-).
Why I did I what I did?
Market research…i.e. looking at the Disney Store Online for shirts, and walking outside my office to see what the kids are wearing these days. Working on a college campus give one a unique perspective on fashion and current style. This year? It’s all 80s dude. From off-the-shoulder t-shirts, big belts and gladiator sandals to neon sunglasses and bandanas, what was hot when I was in high school, is hot again. So, it seemed a natural fit.
Disney Park merchandise has had a decidedly retro feel to it for the past few years, with the 1970s being in the forefront. I decided to go one step beyond (see what I did there ‘Madness’ fans?) and bring Mickey into the 80s.
But what 80s style? Well, 8-bit games are a hot design trend now…
so I did a low-res version of the ears. Bright colors. Bold lines.
The “every guy you knew had one” Nagel posters are making a bit of a come back. So I tried one of those.
And I did one more
I even tried my Keep Calm idea
It wasn’t until I was somewhere with my daughter and saw my inspiration…shutter shades. Thank you Kanye for bring these back. Ever kid in my daughter’s school has a pair of these.
Of course, I couldn’t find an illustration of these in a vector format I could use, so I made my own:
Which led to this:
Add this totally awesome 80’s font, which happily matched the sunglasses:
Add some 80’s color from a palette I found online:
I remembered how much I loved paint spattered clothes when I was young…
Plus, we could only use a black or gray shirt, so I wanted something that would stand out against the black and really be in front. I also was going for a fun, Summertime shirt, and something that evoked those emotions of being with your friends, being outside and enjoying yourself. Back in the day, I spent every Summer from 1983-88 in Southern California, and most of that time was spent at either Disneyland or Universal Studios. I would have worn this shirt to within an inch of its life. So, for me, this turned into a bit of an exercise in experiencing my youth again.
We’re almost done here
The strangest part of all this? Two different Greek media outlets picked up on this and posted links. In the end, it didn’t do much for the votes, but cool none the less.
So, it’s over. A week of surreal experiences. I got new followers, talked to a lot of people and heard nothing but kind words from friends and family. Again, because I can’t say this enough, thank you for your votes, and making this a most memorable task.