Last year, we ran the Graduate Design T-Shirt Contest – a competition designed to give one emerging illustrator the resources required to set up their own t-shirt label.
The contest was won by Dominic Kesterton, a then recent graduate from Edinburgh College of Art, who impressed the judges with his colourful and kinetic design. He won himself a bumper crop of prizes, including £1,000 worth of DTG printed t-shirts courtesy of ICON Printing and Continental Clothing, a one year subscription to Shopify, an ASOS Marketplace boutique, business cards from MOO.com, in addition to exposure from It’s Nice That and Glug.
Dominic put all his winnings towards setting up his own clothing brand – half joyed. One year on from his victory, we caught up with him to hear how business has been going, as well as his plans for the future.
Q. What was the first thing you did when you found out you’d won the competition?
A. I think the first thing I did was have a big sip of orange juice. I found out I’d won while was in France, using the Wi-Fi at a McDonald’s.
Q. What have you found to be the biggest challenge in setting up your own t-shirt label?
A. For me, the biggest challenge was just finishing stuff. I entered a really cyclical phase of refinement and second-guessing myself. I really wanted to come up with some good stuff and put loads of pressure on myself to do so. I’m glad it’s out there now.
Above: half joyed’s ‘Pool’ t-shirt
Q. How has the response been to the tees so far?
A. Really good! I’ve been sending them out all over the place.
Q. What’s next for half joyed?
A. I’m just going to keep on trucking. I’ll be doing some new t-shirts soon, and maybe some jumpers for the winter.
Above: Detail of half joyed’s ‘Orb’ t-shirt
Q. How do you go about making your images?
A. My approach is pretty simple really. I’ll usually sketch out an idea in pencil and then draw over it in pen. Drawing is very important to me. I always have a sketchbook on the go and will pull various ideas from it to create my finished images. I’ll work in Photoshop if I’m adding colours to something or separating layers for print.
Above: Back print on half joyed’s ‘Boy Head’ t-shirt
Q. You also make comics as well as t-shirts. How did your interest in visual storytelling begin?
A. I think it began when I was a boy. I used to read Beano, Sonic The Hedgehog comic and stuff like that. When I got to university, I became aware of zines and off I went, making weird stuff.
Above: Spread from ‘Hoss Bay’, a 20 page, Risograph-printed comic written and illustrated by Dominic
Q. What are the five best comics or zines you’ve read recently?
A. I did a zine swap a while ago with Nicolas Menard and was blown away by his comic Elsewhere. This year at ELCAF, I came across Free Fall by Alexis Beauclair, which is also awesome. I still haven’t read all of Mould Map 3 yet, but it’s been great so far. I don’t think I’ve actually read five comics or zines recently, but there are a lot on my list that I need to get around to.