Interview with DBH Winner AJ Dimarucot

Fresh off his big $10,000 Design By Humans win, AJ Dimarucot (aka CollisionTheory) sat down to talk with me about his winning design Black Hole Sun, the stress of competition and the power of networking and family. 

Coty: Congratulations on winning the Design By Humans $10,000 contest! You must be really excited. DBH stretched out announcing the winner for an entire week. Did that stress you out? How did you find out that you won and how did you respond?

AJ: I was stressed out during the whole competition from the Final 10 to the announcement of the winner! I found out I won through my Mom and Dad who called me up 4:30am Saturday my time. It was cool and sort of expected, only because the daily votes indicated that I was on the top spot for the whole finals week. My first response was to check out the site on my crappy cellphone.

Coty: What was your inspiration for Black Hole Sun? What did you try and accomplish with this design?

AJ: I’ve recently been inspired by space/galaxy imagery and I’ve always wanted to do a design based on the solar eclipse. I like simple designs that overpower the shirt, also thought it was cool to use negative space – the shirt color being the “hole”, indicating the moon blocking the sun. DBH mentioned they can print anything with up to 14 colors so I really pushed the original design without thinking about color restrictions. I really think that the colors made the design.

Coty: DBH changed the colorways for the printed version of the shirt. How do you feel about this? Do you prefer your original colors over the DBH assigned colors?

AJ: I was really hoping they printed the original colors because it really made the design come alive on the shirt. In fact, I was expecting to see that when I checked my phone after I found out I won. When I saw the yellow and red on black I just thought my phone was acting up and the colors were off. I only realized it was the colorway they chose when I finally checked the site on my laptop.

They did print the correct colors on the white and grey tees though which was cool. Just thought the design itself got printed bigger, either that or the model was wearing an extra small shirt. To be honest, I was a bit sad at first but I guess DBH has their technical reasons and can do whatever they want with the design since it’s now theirs. I just hope people who voted for the original colorway still buy the shirt.

Coty: To win you had to get a ton of votes. Jimiyo went all out with promoting his top 5 tee. Did you do anything special or extra to publicize Black Hole Sun?

AJ: Funny you mentioned Jimiyo because every time he came out with something to promote his design, I tried to come with something on my own because it pressured me to get more votes!!!

Here’s some of the things that probably helped me win:

a) I gave away a couple of vectors at vecteezy.com after I saw Jimiyo give away animal vectors on gomediazine.com. I asked for votes in return.

b) Also placed some banner ads on targeted websites during the semi-finals week. I figured I could spend up to $1,000 to win the $10,000. I ended up spending around $300 worth of banner ads.

c) My parents became my best campaign managers after they email blasted the plea for votes to everyone they knew. They have a huge network and it just created a ripple effect.

d) I emailed a local newspaper about being a finalist and they featured me,my t-shirt designs, and my plea for votes.

e) I was an invited speaker at a local design conference called Graphika Manila, which included Tokidoki, Pixar, and other Filipino artists. So I ended up pimping my design to around 1,000 people.

Coty: Finally, I think most people are interested to know how you’re going to spend/use the cash prize?

AJ: Well I’m a family man so this goes partly to investing for the future. But before that, I’m bringing the family to Hong Kong for some R&R, maybe upgrade my laptop (Mac?). Also planning to give some money to our supportive parents. Lastly, I’m putting up a baby clothing business with my wife – we want to do onesies. So I guess I’m also going to be the designer for that. Do watch out for it. =)

Black Hole Sun is now available in the Design By Humans online store in three different shirt colorways. AJ, a Manila native, who calligraphy and bold patterns. He enjoys freelance and collaborative work. You can find out more about him and his work at his site, Collision Theory.

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