When the call went up within the Messenger Down street team for someone who knew something about art doing things. It probably wasn't phrased that way.
I volunteered, thinking it would be a one or two day project like most of the flyers I did for my residence hall last year. I talked to the band's manager, got a basic idea of what the band wanted, and started my initial sketch.
I got the go ahead from the band, and started a digital draft, which involved me using my scroll pad to pen-tool the crap out of my pencil lines.
The band looked over the draft, and made their suggestions. They requested added detail, and for the shield to look less hand drawn. So the next step was to even out the lines, straighten out the shield, and add the banner.
Next order of business was to talk to Amanda, the band's manager, about color. I suggested keeping everything black and white so printing would be cheaper. The band still wanted to see more detail, which I was beginning to worry about, because all I have is a trackpad and most graphic designers have tablets. And training. And an idea of what they're doing. And don't save over their drafts with reference images.
At this point, I was starting to feel pretty much done, because I was deluded and thought the glamorous life of an unpaid designer would be easy and involve a lot of cocaine and hookers. But I was wrong, which is weird because I'm usually never wrong, so I went back into photoshop and added more detail and made the banner grungier with a more script-like font for the band name. As I began to work on that, Amanda also began to look at the layout of the future shirt, and also asked that the banner be scaled down in relation to the shield to improve the proportions of the shirt.
I spent a very long time hand lettering with my track pad. I was very proud of myself. I was patting myself on the back saying, wow, I'm the best, this is it, I'm definitely done. They liked the banner. They didn't like the lettering. So I found a font and typed it up in about five seconds. Also like two days because I was busy and sue me I'm going to college I have work to do.
The guys still wanted to see more detail (which I was like, "great, how, what, why, what"). Then Amanda said the magic words (by magic I mean life ending) "just kidding" and asked for the banner to be changed, grungier. So I went in. I went hard. I tore that banner a new one.
To be fair, Amanda did apologize for being picky, and I told her the truth, that they had every right to be picky about their first shirt design. I didn't mention that I was slowly dying, sleeping 20 hours a day, missing classes, and wishing I had a paid job or just found hundreds of dollars in my mattress.
Amanda sent me a reference photo, and I redrew the banner to match the reference.
She liked the edges, but asked to go back to the original banner layout, which seemed like it defeated the purpose of me redrawing the banner. And by now all my artist friends had told me I shouldn't let people not pay me for my work so I was starting to get tired of working when I could be getting paid. But I wouldn't be getting paid doing other things. I would be sleeping in squirrel boxers and eating cheddar popcorn all day.
Next came the clean up of the fleurs de lis and a redesign of the skull. And I knew that I was going to run out of time and start putting off my school work to get this thing done because that's what I do. I once cleaned my entire dorm and made a full dinner for four people just to avoid doing a reading for my Italian class. I would get nothing done if I had this project looming over my head. So I told Amanda that I was going to need specifics, and to be done within a few days. So she put me in touch with the band's singer, Garrett, and I started making progress again.
Maybe it was working with another artist, or maybe he's just a cute dude and I wanted to impress him. I don't know, I'm not a psychologist.
The rest of the edits (and there were still a lot, like five drafts worth) came much faster, and after two weeks of nonstop work, we had our final product.
So here's what I learned. Sometimes, you're going to convince yourself that something is going to be easy, and it isn't going to be. And that's good. You need a little challenge to keep you going. But sometimes you're going to take on more than you can handle, and you need to tell people that it's more than you can handle. You need to tell them what you need, or you're not going to make any progress. And working with other artists can be hard. They know what they want and they won't be satisfied until their vision is fulfilled. But working with other artists is also a great way to learn more about your skills. Artists push each other to do better, and give the kind of criticism that non artists can't give. Because I'm not taking criticism from a stock broker in a suit.
I fulfilled one of my life goals, designing merch for a great band. That's pretty cool.