Bortwein AKA Brandon Ortwein has won at DBH 6 times and his first winner ‘Mine Shaft: Gold Found’ back in 2007 is still one of my personal favorites. Brandon is a designer who brings bold, eye popping design to the T-shirt canvas. He can create intricate pieces or keep it really simple, either way he’ll deliver a tee that is striking and fresh. Recently we printed ISO808 and I thought I better snag an interview with him while his tee was still in stock!
Bortwein’s T Shirt Designs Highlight Simple Styles and Complex Ideas
Bortwein has just opened up his collective store with a variety of simple designs and witty cartoons. This includes the sequel to 808; 365, a typographic tale of the seasons and days of the year. Brandon Ortwein’s t shirt designs are creative typographic designs, including creative characters as well. He like to use replacement design compositions and create a design with some meaning or saying. Here’s the DBH 1-on-1 with Mr. Bortwein.
Q: Hi Brandon, tell me did you always dream of designing for a living? Were you a doodler as a child?
A: I don’t know how much of a doodler I was as a child but I do know I was creative in some way. I used to cut snow flakes out of paper before I got into actual art classes. They were very intricate in their cuts and I was only in 5th grade at the time. My sister shared some of the snow flakes with her middle school art teacher at the time and I think I really liked the positive attention I got for creating them. I was hooked. Art was going to be what I did from then on out.
Q: What got you started in the T-shirt design business?
A: While working in a job that left little creative freedom I came across some t-shirt contests and began to submit designs to them in my freetime.
Q: Do you freelance full-time or do you have a day job too, if so what is it?
A: I have a full-time job designing packaging and products for a major golf Retailer headquartered in Austin Texas. Yes, I get to design golf clubs and a whole lot more. I also have a background in Advertising as well as Identity Design before I made the transition into product design.
Q: Your latest winning shirt, ISO808 was a slight departure from your usual style, how did that happen and what’s the story behind it?
A: I recently learned a few new design tricks that involved Isometrics and I have always been interested in typography so it just seemed like the perfect chance to experiment with the two. A lot of my design inspiration comes from music and the number 808 has always stuck out to me as a great music reference. It always makes me think of the Beastie Boys.
Q: What’s more important to you as an artist, money or fame?
A: Fame…I enjoy being in the spotlight and want people to like the products that I helped create but of course the money helps pay the bills.
Q: You are good at using the T-shirt as a canvas and really utilizing all the space, is that intentional, do you always set out to with placement at the forefront of your mind?
A: It is very intentional. I always try to sketch out my design ideas with a t-shirt outline as the framework.
Q: When you’re not designing T-shirts, what floats your boat?
A: I enjoy doing marker drawings, watching TV, playing golf and spending time with my family.
Q: If I asked you to name one artist out there who you consider to be an inspiration who would it be?
A: Barnet Newman. His zip paintings changed my view on art. They are simple and yet very beautiful to me.
Q: When you get an idea for a tee design do you sketch it out, do you keep sketchbooks or are you straight into the computer?
A: I usually try and sketch it out, first on a post-it note so I can get the idea down on paper, then I either redraw it in my sketch book or I go straight to the computer with the little doodle as a guide. My sketch book is full of post-it notes and drawings.
Q: If you could select the next winning tee at DBH which design would you pick and why?
A: If I was able to pick one of my own I would select “The Ocean is Alive” because it was another one of my experiments that I felt really found that bold and simple print style I like at the moment.
If you asked me to pick another designer’s work to print I’d have to say “Precious Iceberg” by paulobbruno (http://www.designbyhumans.com/vote/detail/79107) It is a simple yet very bold design that gives you a great visual with an interesting story without having to over illustrate it.
Q: Finally, If I told you could only ever watch one T.V show for the rest of your life what would it be?
Bortwin has recently joined the collective and posted some new shirts. Mesmerized by the Light Blue Diamond is a instant classic portraying the mockery of shinny objects. ISO 365 is a sequel to 808 reppin’ 365 days in a year and the colors of the seasons. He is mostly known for his creative illustrations and witty use of symbols.