Every season we partner up with Pacific Northwest-based artists to create never-before-seen, custom artwork for our line of super soft graphic tees. This season, we brought Portland's Jason Sturgill into the mix to lend his irreverent, lighthearted style to four tees for men and women.
With a portfolio ranging from logos for local businesses to illustrations for behemoths like Warby Parker and Muji, we wanted to hear more about Jason's process, work environment, and how he got started in the art world. Read on for a glimpse into his studio and insights into what makes this accomplished yet humble designer tick.
What was the collaboration process like working with Bridge & Burn? Where did the inspiration for the tee designs come from?
The collaboration process with Bridge & Burn was super organic and was essentially born out of a casual coversation over coffee with Erik. Inspiration for the designs were culled from that conversation and focusing on the nature side of human nature.
You’ve worked with everyone from Muji to Widmer Brothers Brewing and Warby Parker. What are the first steps in the collaboration process? Who provides the direction for the illustrations?
Each project is usually pretty different from the project that came before but it always starts with what is trying to be communicated through the artwork. Whether that’s communicating product attributes like the work I did for MUJI or themes central to the project seen in the Warby Parker assignment. Other projects are more wide open to how I approach the artwork so I have to give myself a constraint to play within. The bottle design for Widmer Brewing is a good example of that where I could essentially do anything that I wanted. The commonality behind the process of all the work is the research that is done that really informs the direction the most. The Widmer bottle is a good example of this because it was solely inspired by the architecture of the Czech city of Pilsen, the birthplace of the Pilsner beer.
Tell us about your work space. How and where do you find yourself being most productive?
My workspace is as varied as my productivity. Inspiration and focus wax and wanes over the course of a commission. Sometimes I work from home, other days you can find me at Outlet. Other times I can find myself inspired working at a coffee shop or window shopping at antique malls. I’m at my best when I trust the process of the ebb and flow.
What does a typical weekday in your life look like?
My typical weekday is never typical. One day I could be working on multiple projects at once, another I could be taking advantage of a break in work and do errands or tend to things around the house. This flexibility and variety are definitely one of the highlights of working for yourself.
When did you know you were interested in being an illustrator? How did you take it from a hobby to a profession?
I didn’t grow up drawing or thinking I was a creative person. I studied marketing in college and it was during that time that I became interested in art and design through music. I was a DJ at the college radio station and I organized all the concerts for the university. Through these experiences I got inspired to start a record label and release a 7” by a largely unknown band at the time called Modest Mouse. At this time I was teaching myself design working on packaging design for the label and creating posters for the shows at school. When I graduated I realized I wanted to be doing creative work but I didn’t have a portfolio to get a job in that field. I started out working in advertising at Wieden & Kennedy and while I was there I started an online art gallery as an excuse to work with some of my favorite artists at the time. Eventually I became dedicated to learn design and was fortunate to cut my teeth starting out at Dark Horse Comics. Through a friend I worked with at Wieden I got the opportunity to work with him at Nike Skateboarding. After leaving Nike I went back to school and got an MFA degree in Social Practice which led to me sharing a studio with Kate Bingaman Burt and Will Bryant. This is where I became inspired to start drawing. Knowing both Kate and Will were self taught gave me the courage to go for it. It’s been 7 years since then and I’m still growing.
Jason steps out of his home sporting the Burl Grey Herringbone jacket
What’s next for you? Anything you’re particularly excited about in the pipeline?
I’m working on a project for a new hotel in town that I’m pretty psyched on. I also got selected as one of the artists for the Blazers Gameday poster series, really looking forward to that piece seeing the light of day next year.
Shop Jason Sturgill collaboration graphic tees here.