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.Â
Coty: Congratulations on winning the Design By Humans $10,000 contest!Â You must be really excited. DBH stretched out announcing the winnerÂ for an entire week. Did that stress you out? How did you find out thatÂ you won and how did you respond?
AJ: I was stressed out during the whole competition from the Final 10 toÂ the announcement of the winner! I found out I won through my Mom andÂ Dad who called me up 4:30am Saturday my time. It was cool and sort ofÂ expected, only because the daily votes indicated that I was on the topÂ spot for the whole finals week. My first response was to check out theÂ site on my crappy cellphone.
Coty: What was your inspiration for Black Hole Sun? What did you try andÂ accomplish with this design?
AJ: I’ve recently been inspired by space/galaxy imagery and I’ve alwaysÂ wanted to do a design based on the solar eclipse. I like simpleÂ designs that overpower the shirt, also thought it was cool to useÂ negative space – the shirt color being the “hole”, indicating the moonÂ blocking the sun. DBH mentioned they can print anything with up to 14Â colors so I really pushed the original design without thinking aboutÂ color restrictions. I really think that the colors made the design.
Coty: DBH changed the colorways for the printed version of the shirt. HowÂ do you feel about this? Do you prefer your original colors over theÂ DBH assigned colors?
AJ: I was really hoping they printed the original colors because it reallyÂ made the design come alive on the shirt. In fact, I was expecting toÂ see that when I checked my phone after I found out I won. When I sawÂ the yellow and red on black I just thought my phone was acting up andÂ the colors were off. I only realized it was the colorway they choseÂ when I finally checked the site on my laptop.
They did print the correct colors on the white and grey tees thoughÂ which was cool. Just thought the design itself got printed bigger,Â either that or the model was wearing an extra small shirt. To beÂ honest, I was a bit sad at first but I guess DBH has their technicalÂ reasons and can do whatever they want with the design since it’s nowÂ theirs. I just hope people who voted for the original colorway stillÂ buy the shirt.
Coty: To win you had to get a ton of votes. Jimiyo went all out withÂ promoting his top 5 tee. Did you do anything special or extra toÂ publicize Black Hole Sun?
AJ: Funny you mentioned Jimiyo because every time he came out withÂ something to promote his design, I tried to come with something on myÂ own because it pressured me to get more votes!!!
Here’s some of the things that probably helped me win:
b) Also placed some banner ads on targeted websites during theÂ semi-finals week. I figured I could spend up to $1,000 to win theÂ $10,000. I ended up spending around $300 worth of banner ads.
c) My parents became my best campaign managers after they emailÂ blasted the plea for votes to everyone they knew. They have a hugeÂ network and it just created a ripple effect.
d) I emailed a local newspaper about being a finalist and theyÂ featured me,my t-shirt designs, and my plea for votes.
e) I was an invited speaker at a local design conference calledÂ Graphika Manila, which included Tokidoki, Pixar, and other FilipinoÂ 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’reÂ going to spend/use the cash prize?
AJ: Well I’m a family man so this goes partly to investing for the future.Â But before that, I’m bringing the family to Hong Kong for some R&R, maybeÂ upgrade my laptop (Mac?). Also planning to give some money to ourÂ supportive parents. Lastly, I’m putting up a baby clothing businessÂ with my wife – we want to do onesies. So I guess I’m also going to beÂ 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.