Interview With 2010 DBH 10K Winner Yonil

I had a chance to chat with the big winner of the Design By Humans 2010 $10,000 design contest, Jonathan Lax (who is better known in the design circles as YONIL). YONIL talks about the stress of competing, the inspiration behind We Did This To Ourselves, and what he’ll be doing with his big cash prize!

Coty: Yonil, congratulations on winning the Design By Humans $10,000 contest! What has the last few weeks been like having to wait to find out whether you had won?

Yonil: Thanx a lot man! I’ve been saying this to anyone who would listen from competition-day one: This was the most intense and challenging competition I have ever took part in.

A true mind and emotion rollercoaster. From the second you submit your designs up until the final stages there are almost two months of promoting & introducing your designs to friends, family and even strangers.

Then there’s the anticipation for every phase of the competition, seeing if you got up a stage or not. The last couple of weeks were really really hard to handle – no jokes – I personally, never actually thought I would win. fantasized, yes, but at the same time tried avoiding the thoughts about the whole thing. Winning was an absolute shocker for me.

Coty: You pretty much dominated the 10K contest having had 2 designs voted into the final top 8. What was your reaction like when Design By Humans announced you as the 10K winner?

Yonil: I wouldn’t say I dominated anything. Yes, I did have 2 designs up there in the final 8, but if you ask me if it made me feel any safer than all the others then the answer is one definite “No way”. After two failed attempts (in 2009 and 2008) to make it through the first elimination round at the DBH 10K, I was so happy to find two of my designs in the final 24 – you can’t imagine how happy. Then the final-8 day arrived and I had good faith that one of my designs will make it through. I wake up to see both made it through.

How do I handle this? What do I do next? Obviously I didn’t have such great promotional skills like others in the competition had, so I just went with spreading the word in any way I know of possible.

When they announced my design as the winner I was kind of shocked. My reaction was opening up a beer bottle (it was 9am here), sitting back on my sofa at home, letting all the stress wash away and simply enjoying the feeling. Good moment.

Coty: What was your inspiration for your winning design, We Did This To Ourselves?

Yonil: “We did this to ourselves” is a statement about what we do to earth. Us humans have to start realizing what is happening and face the facts that none are responsible but us and that is also why we’re the ones who must fix it. One plastic bag at a time.

Instead, it seems like we’re only getting more and more tangled in our problems for all the wrong reasons, rather than changing our ways.

Coty: The last two DBH 10K winners came from the Philippines. Are you happy to bring the prize home to Israel?

Yonil: I guess it’s nice and all, but it doesn’t work that way for me really. I judge a designer by her/his ability to create something I can relate to, appreciate and that changes my state of mind or emotion.

The country we live in isn’t really a factor you know…

Coty: Both Zerobriant and Christian San Jose/Archan Nair did an amazing job at promoting their designs. But at the end of the day, they didn’t win and you did. What did you do to promote We Did This To Ourselves?

Yonil: Can’t say I did something completely new here but here’s the list of my exact actions:

  1. I obviously emailed every single person I know about the competition asking them to vote for the design and comment. Some friends and family members helped by spreading the emails around to their circles of friends.
  2. After making it to the final-24 I designed a minisite so that people would know exactly what I’m talking about when asking for their vote and so that they could find instructions on how to register to DBH easily. This is the address: http://yonilatdbh.weebly.com/
  3. Posted pics on my website (www.yonil.com), on Flickr, Emptees and Deviantart requesting people’s help if they like the designs.
  4. Using facebook in every way possible, posting the links to the minisite and directly to the design at DBH, opening events for every round of the competition and posting pictures of the designs everywhere I could.
  5. Also on Facebook I uploaded a picture of the designs asking people to tag themselves in it so that as many people as possible would see it and read the info. I promised to have a raffle for all the people tagged and give out a free shirt to five people in case I got 1st place, and so I did.
  6. I printed out little business cards about myself in the competition and handed them out at the local Pecha-Kucha night in Tel-Aviv.
  7. Friends obviously helped a lot posting the links on their facebook walls and promoting my designs on their blogs.

Coty: Some critics say that contests like these are more so a popularity contest than about the art. That is, the most and original and unique pieces do not always win. What would you say to these critics?

Yonil: I don’t really like competitions based on popularity only where “most votes=win”.

If you go by votes, my designs in this competition were far from first place – I’m 110% certain of that – so I wasn’t the most “popular”.

I think that DesignByHumans have found themselves a very good formula for picking out their winners. Yes, one of the elements for judging a design is the number of times it’s been voted for, I think that’s mainly what makes this website a community alongside it being an online store, but the votes are merely one factor in the whole formula, and if you ask me, far from being the most important one.

I’ve seen designs with as much as 30 votes get printed and vice versa, designs with tons of votes that didn’t print. I’ve seen designs that I like get printed and designs that I don’t. What’s important is that the DBH staff get the final say – and this is exactly how I believe it should be – it is their business, it is their store and the public opinion is important, but it’s only an indicator for finding out where the wind blows.

Coty: Of course, people want to know what you plan to do with the big $10,000 prize. Do you have anything crazy planned for the cash?

Yonil: I just got engaged last week. So most of the prize money will probably go into the whole “getting our life started thing” I dunno – Ikea furniture maybe? How whack is that??? heh…

The one thing I do know I will be getting for myself is a Wacom Cintiq LCD screen/tablet. Been fantasizing about this one for too long.

Interview with Threadless Bestee Winner Emmy Cicierega + CONTEST

I had the opportunity to chat with the Threadless 2009 Bestees award winner for Design of the Year. Emmy Cicierega’s It’s Toile About You earned her the coveted award and $20,000 cash. I had the fortunate opportunity to chat with Emmy about her win.

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It's Toile About You by Emmy Cicierega

Coty: So in the video with Charlie Festa letting you know that you won the Design of the Year Award, you seemed truly surprised. What was going through your head when he said you had won the $20,000?

I was so surprised! I had such amazing competition and I already felt like it was a fluke I had made bestee of the month to begin with, so I was pretty sure winning this wasn’t in my future. I’m so glad I was wrong.

It didn’t feel real when Charlie told me, and it didn’t for a few days even. It certainly feels real now!

Coty: What was the inspiration behind It’s Toile About You?

I’ve always loved vintage repeating patterns. I use a lot of them in my artwork, and I always try to hand draw unique patterns myself instead of using premade ones, so I had been meaning to try my hand at Toile for a while now.

When a friend told me that Threadless had belt printing capabilities, I was so excited! All-over printing is something that not a lot of shirt printing companies can do, so I knew I had to give it a go with Toile.

Coty: It’s Toile About You is, to date, your only design submission at Threadless. And it earned you Bestee Design of the Year. Do you have plans to submit more pieces of art to Threadless?

This amazes and kind of bothers me! I didn’t expect to have such great success my first time around, but wow! It will be very hard to work up the gumption to submit again (so many high expectations!), but rest assured that I definitely will.

I don’t like submitting things that I don’t really really want, so I’m gonna have to sit down and really think about a design that I truly want. I am definitely not done with experimenting with belt printing, it is my favorite!

Coty: Threadless certainly has an amazing community of awesome artists and out-of-the-box thinkers. How did you first stumble upon Threadless?

I am friends with many artists, and we all hit up threadless for great artsy tees at some point or another. It’s just what the cool kids do! I didn’t really hear about threadless from anyone in particular, it is just a cultural staple among artists. And rightly so!

Coty: And I’m sure the question that most people are interested in: $20,000 is a huge chunk of money and you mention in the video that you would like to buy a new tablet and take some life drawing classes – anything else planned for the rest of the loot?

I am FINALLY going to go for driving lessons and get my license! This has been on my to-do list for ages, and now I am rather out of excuses!

I am going to put a lot of the money away as a nest egg and try my best to be as responsible as possible with it. Not the funnest answer, I know, but I’m gonna give myself a fun-budget too and make this the best summer of my life! This might include me buying new headphones, cowboy boots, many sundresses, sushi for friends, and of course donating to some of my favorite charities!

Thanks EMMY!

Post in the comments section and tell me what you like to do for fun (hint: it can be anything!) and I will randomly select one (1) winner to receive a $25 Threadless Gift Certificate that you can use to pick up It’s Toile About You or any other tee you choose!

For an extra entry, be my fan of Co-Tee TV on Facebook and post a comment on my wall telling me what what you do when do for fun. (1 winner will be randomly chosen from the pool of people that leave a comment here and on my Facebook fanpage, leave a comment in both places and get two entries). Good luck and congratulations Emmy!

Contest ends on Monday, March 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm Hawaii time. The winner will be announced later that week!

Co-Tee TV/Cottonable Christmas Contest Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the third Co-Tee TV/Cottonable Contest! I had a great time checking out all of your favorite Christmas songs!

Anyway, we’ve selected our winner for the Crazy Dog T-Shirts tee, EIO Clothing T-Shirt and the $25 Threadless Gift Certificate and the winners are …. you’ll have to watch the video to find out if you’ve won! Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who participated!

*Winner have been emailed. If you were on of the winners of the Linty Fresh Prize packs then your prize will be shipped out this week.