Polynothing, AKA Joshua Kemble is an artist who’s work has adorned many surfaces including; Skateboards, C.D’s, editorial publications, snowboards, comic, posters and of course T-shirts. His work has a strong visual style that is reminiscent of all the comic art greats. His strength lies in the gritty, underground feel of his line work. Joshua does what he loves and he does it well. Hailing from Long Beach, California he has three prints in the bag and a more recent fourth with ‘Ein Stein’.
Polynothing is featured in the Design By Humans Collective. He has brought on his famous people puns, with POElie, Winston Churchhill, Mozart and Hitchcock, the rooster. These are creative portraits of famous people in punning their name with their face. Check out his collection of vintage comic book style artworks avilable in the Collective. Let’s have a warm welcome for Polynothing.
Q: Tell the crowd here at Design By Humans a little bit about you?
A: Hmm… Well, I’ve been a freelance illustrator for about 6 years now, love drawing, and am madly in love with my two pugs, and fiancÃ©/fellow illustrator Mai Stewart. I’m also really into old hat detective fiction, punnery, and art theory. I run a podcast about freelance illustration called Big Illustration Party Time (illustrationparty.com), with fellow illustrator Kevin Cross, where we chat about the inns and outs of being in such a crazy business.
Q: Your work is on all sorts of awesome items, how do you go about attracting such fulfilling design projects?
A: When I first started it was really hard to find fulfilling projects, so I’d use design competition sites as a sort of side project to vent my creative desires. That and work on my graphic novel. I started to do well on design competition sites, and started gaining more fulfilling work by putting fulfilling projects out there for clients to see. I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you put out good work, good work will come to you, and it seems to be turning out that way.
Q: What is it like being a freelancer; give us a run through your regular day?
A: First off, the thing about freelance is it is constantly in flux, constantly changing. Especially when you’re starting, lots of feast and famine with little stability. As you keep at it, it sorta starts to become more balanced out. My typical day is me waking up (usually a bit late, as my schedule usually goes late into the night, and sometimes early morning), then brewing coffee, putting on a podcast like this American life, or best of the left, or Radiolab, and then checking my e-mail, contacting clients, responding to clients, and potential clients with either quotes, etc… then getting to drawing projects that I already have on the bill. If I’m caught up on my freelance work, I usually will do either work on my graphic novel, or work on t-shirt design ideas that I’ve had kicking around in my head for a while, and hadn’t had the time to do. I’ll occasionally take a few breaks, play with the pugs, or hang out and watch a movie with my fiancÃ©, but then it’s usually back to work on comics, or freelance for the rest of the day. Sometimes (more than I should admit) this runs into weekends, but I really love making comics, and art, so it’s actually the way I like to live. Probably sounds fairly boring to most people 🙂
Q: You have been printed 4 times now at Design By Humans and I would like to know which is your favorite t shirt design and why?
A: I’m actually really fond of this Ein Stein shirt. That or the Puppet check up. I think I like them because they’re both concepts that when I thought of, I thought, someone must have done that, it’s so obvious, and found that no one had yet. I’ve realized that those moments conceptually are the best for a t-shirt designer. Concept is key, and if you get a good concept, it can pay your rent for a while, and you also can rest easily knowing someone will pick it up.
Q: Comic art is obviously a huge influence in your work so tell us about your passion, what should we be reading?
A: I think comics are the best form of artwork and expression in the world. I’m in love with the medium, and love that it’s one of the few forms of artwork where you have complete authorship over visual storytelling, which is probably why I like t-shirt design as well. If I had to suggest comics for people, the list could go on forever, so I’ll just boil it down to some essentials: Jimmy Corrigan the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, Little Nemo In Slumberland by Windsor Mckaye, Maus by Art Spiegleman, The Bottomless Bellybutton by Dash Shaw, Fun Home by Allison Bechdel, Blankets by Craig Thompson, Berlin by Jason Lutes… I could go on forever, but those are a few that come to mind! Oh, and Jacob’s Apartment when that comes out 🙂
Q: I hear you have your own comic. How did this start and what’s it all about, was it easy to do and would you encourage other to embark on such a thing?
A: I’m about 9 pages to finished on my graphic novel Jacob’s Apartment for NBM publishing. Prior to that I had done a short 24 page comic called Numb which I received the Xeric Grant for. Once I felt that I’d gained enough skill at CSULB in the illustration program, I started making comics. I have these story ideas that I want to tell visually, and I just started working on them and sending them out to publishers. So far, I’ve been fortunate. Comics are a much slower build, but are eventually where I’d like to be making my living. Luckily, Terry Nantier from NBM publishing gave me a contract for Jacob’s Apartment, a story about two people who are polar opposites falling in love amidst the death of a loved one, and confusion of young adulthood, and dreams in both the waking and sleeping world. It’s taken about 4 years, but I’m finally very close to finished with the 128 pages.
Q: OK so let’s deal with the whole ‘Puppet checkup’ thing. Some people seemed to get a little upset that DBH printed a parody/pop culture referenced piece. What is your take on this?
A: I find it absurd. When I first started in t-shirt design, DBH was just getting going, and they had printed quite a lot of parody/pop culture related shirts. Just because that’s not the direction DBH goes all the time, doesn’t and shouldn’t negate them from selling a good shirt design. In my opinion there isn’t a line between genres with shirt design. A good design is a good design, whether it’s arty, cute, pop culture related, doodle art, designy, or geek based. They’re all like different sections in the book store. Despite the genre, a good book is a good book. Despite the genre, a good shirt design, is a good shirt design.
Q: Of all the t shirt designs you have been involved in which has been the best and why?
A: I’d have to say my graphic novel, Jacob’s Apartment, and it’s the best because it’s the work that I’ve done purely for love. I find that the stuff you do for love is the most fulfilling, and while in the short term may not provide profit, in the long term really helps my career as well.
Q: Puppet Checkup is a very popular shirt design and has been reprinted several times. It has also been picked up by Urban Outfitters too. Where did you get the idea from, was it a gradual thought or something that hit you while showering?
A: I was watching scrubs. They had a gag about a kermit x-ray. I thought it was brilliant, and wondered if anyone had done a shirt with that joke. No one had. I decided a well rendered version would scale up the comedy, and I made the piece. Once again, if I think of something, or see something that I think, that should be a t-shirt, and it hasn’t been done before as a t-shirt, I jump at the opportunity. That design has done me very well.
Q: If you could pick a t shirt design by another artist you think deserves to be printed, what would it be and why?
A: I’d pick Intoxication by hafaell. It’s such a distinctive, inexplicable memorable graphic, with limited color, and awesome execution. Something iconic and grabbing about it, and it’s great because it’s really difficult to explain why. Either that, or anything that hasn’t been picked up by Sonmi because she’s freaking unstoppably rad at t-shirt design.
Q: Would you dance, if I asked you to dance?
A: Would you run, and never look back? (If that’s the thing that’s being referenced, awesome… mwahahaha)
Checkout Joshua Kemble T Shirt Designs in Polynothing’s Collective store.
Or Browse is personal portfolio: http://www.joshuakemble.com