Indie Tee Spotlight #24: Ugmonk

This week I am excited to present my interview with graphic designer and Ugmonk founder, Jeff Sheldon. We’ve been going back and forth the last few weeks and so I am quite excited to finally have this particular Indie Tee Spotlight on the site. Jeff was also kind enough to provide a coupon code for the readers of this site and so if you fancy any of the tees that you see here you can purchase them at Ugmonk and save 10% off your entire order by using the coupon code “COTY09″ at checkout. Be sure to also follow Jeff on Twitter, he is twitter.com/ugmonk.

Jeff Sheldon of Ugmonk

Coty: Ugmonk is such a unique name, how did you come up with it and what does it mean?

Jeff: Actually came about pretty randomly. I came up with a bunch of different names, many had to do with design or apparel, but then kept coming back to “Ugmonk” (random, but had a nice ring to it). It was weird enough to stand out, while still being short and memorable. I like the idea that before I started Ugmonk, the word itself was ambiguous and had no preconceived meanings associated with it. This allows me to define what “Ugmonk” is and represents.

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Coty: Your typography inspired tees have been very popular. Have you always been interested in typography or was this just something you started doing as part of Ugmonk?

Jeff: I grew up doing all types of traditional art (painting, sketching, sculpting) and it wasn’t until a few years ago when I started college that I transitioned into graphic design. After studying design, I realized that typography was such the key element for almost all design. I soon developed a passion for type and began experimenting with using type as a design element for shirts rather than using it just to write out a slogan or brand name. The more I played with the letter forms, the more I realized the potential to base a clothing line around type. Mixing typography and t-shirts has been done before, but my goal was to find new ways to merge the two and bring something fresh to the apparel world.

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Coty: What prompted you to start your own clothing brand? Was the startup process difficult for you?

Jeff: I had been doing quite a bit of t-shirt design for contests (DBH, Scribtee, Uneetee) and had some success. I then became more interested in the “art” of t-shirt design and the t-shirt industry as a whole. I always thought I would be fun to start my own line and maintain control over every aspect of a brand rather than working for clients, so that’s when I decided to start Ugmonk.

There is definitely a lot more to starting a brand than most people think. It takes tons of time and energy, but I enjoy it and it has been a fun challenge.

Coty: Ugmonk was recently picked up by Urban Outfitters. How did this come about?

Jeff: Networking. Honestly I can’t say enough about developing relationships with other people in the industry. You never know what it will lead to :)

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Coty: The question begs to be asked, what is your favorite font and why? Have you ever designed your own font?

Jeff: Oh, the classic “favorite font” question :) . I don’t know if I have one favorite, but a few of my favorites at the moment are Gotham, Lubalin Graph, Clarendon, and FF DIN.

I’ve haven’t designed a full font yet, but I’ve drawn custom type for logos and other projects (the Ugmonk logo was created completely from scratch).

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Coty: Have you had any experience in clothing design prior to Ugmonk? If yes, what kind of experience?

Jeff: The only other clothing design I had done before Ugmonk were the other t-shirt designs that I did for contests and freelance jobs.

Coty: Are you a big fan of indie brands yourself? If so, what are some of the indie brands that you enjoying wearing?

Jeff: Honestly, before I started Ugmonk I didn’t have the same apprecition for indie brands as I do now. I always enjoy discovering new brands and other startups like me.

Johnny Cupcakes is a big inspiration and I enjoy following his brand and the amazing things he has done with it. I also appreciate his work ethic and his emphasis brand consistency.

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Coty: You have experienced a lot of early success but I am sure that there is much more room for growth. What are some of the goals that you have set for Ugmonk?

Jeff: It is humbling that Ugmonk has had so much success so soon. Ugmonk is less than a year old, and there is still tons of room for growth and development. I am constantly learning every day and am always trying to think up news way to improve and innovate. I’ve got some exciting things in the works for the coming months so be sure to stay tuned for new designs and updates.

Thanks again to Jeff Sheldon for taking the time to chat with me! Be sure to check out Ugmonk and save 10% off your entire purchase by using the coupon code “COTY09″ at checkout, enjoy!

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