SHAOLIN JAZZ – T-shirts / Graphic Designer Interviews: Chris L

What’s your name and where are you from?

Please call me Chris L, I’m from Toronto-Canada and I’m currently based out of the worlds most densely populated city-Hong Kong.

Who or what got you interested in design?

Born a Libra, I feel I have some sort of natural attraction to well designed things.  Design has been a big part of my life since my teens. From what I remember it started from collecting comics, hip hop records, magazines and all sorts of party flyers. There was this one xl sized rave flyer with a chrome 3D skull, neon tech fonts and a million DJs listed with another million sponsors all neatly placed and aligned.  I thought that was the shit. But things changed when I bought GZAs liquid swords, the artwork by Denys Cowan/DC comics made me see design differently. It mended my love for drawing, design, and Hip Hop all together.  Click here to order Chris’ SHAOLIN JAZZ graphic tee.  To read more click>>>

How has your upbringing and or environment inspired you or shaped your design process?

My dad has always supported my creative itch.  He has always been good at building cool projects ex: boats, race cars. It’s inspired me to practice being creative.  Whenever I could I would make up brands, draw, and take on pro-bono projects.  The trial and errors have helped me develop good habits.  Accepting errors continues to shape and improve my designs. Its a never ending curve though. Without them I would be static. The experiences I go through have one way or another translated to my work/process.

What kinds of projects do you most enjoy?

I connect with projects that I can relate to. Its a different bond when developing a design. There are certain outlets and resources available to research and find inspiration.  The personal experience with that subject makes the final outcome seem more authentic  But to be humble, when given the chance to be creative it’s a privilege, all projects have their perks.

Who or what are some of your design inspirations?

My friends have always inspired me, constantly reaching for more and never being completely satisfied. The mentality runs deep.  On the daily I try to take in as much as I can from the streets and my surroundings. I’m into black & grey tattoo work, especially the portraits and imagery done on skin.  It has also been an under-laying influence to my work.  “We never trade the passion for glory” Jose Lopez.

Talk about your creative process.

Usually I do quite a bit of surfing and reading content online about the subject before I start.  I find reading related content helps me visualize elements from memory vs any existing influences.  I like to think within boundaries and working inside of the box.  This gives me the opportunity to stretch the limits with what is provided. A challenge I like.  With all the content I’ve collected I filter out what I can work with and simplify the idea/elements as much as possible.  On a side note I make it a habit to have a camera with me to take flicks. There is always a photo that helps explains a story. Its a piece of tech I’ve come to admire and treasure.

Does music play a role in your design process?

Always. Music is a part of my inner mechanics, makes me tick. I listen to a lot of jazzy hip hop, jazz & instrumentals from different producers and artists. I find it helps me focus and shifts me into a space where I can roam free.  I think its more of a feeling that music gives off then anything else. I like to listen to music through earbuds/headphones when I’m working on tedious areas of a project, puts me right in the zone.

What are some of your favorite album covers?

Off the top of my head in no order:

Beastie Boys – Licence To Ill

DJ Muggs – Soul Assasisn Part 1

Freeway/Jakeone – Stimulus Package

Gza – Liquid Swords

Guru – Jazzmatazz vol.1

How did you go about designing your submission for the SHAOLIN JAZZ – Album Cover Design Contest?

I started off by collecting a series of reference material (online, reading, friends) and making mental notes.  Once I feel I have enough, I put together a bunch of elements in a rough format, loading fonts, testing colors, work the grid and play around with initial ideas. After that I’ll marinate on it for a couple of days. When I get back to the design I sketch out a couple variations for layouts and start creating/drawing the elements. From there its arranging everything-bringing all the graphics together, clean up, refine and tighten everything up. The most fun is adding the little details.

Did the music from the project influence your design?  If so, how? 

The music helped set a mood and communicate the design.  I listened to the tracks in the background and subconsciously let the layers of sound help tell the message.  The Shaolin Jazz album has a nice contrast and rich sound. Creating a whole new flavor from both worlds.

Was your creative approach with this project different than others?

The approach was the pretty much the same. I’ve developed a series of habits I follow, but not locked down to.  If a new approach produces a better final result, I’m flexible. The results of the design have been more gratifying then I expected.

What are you some of your upcoming projects and where can people see your work?

I’m currently working on a series of graphite drawings, something completely different from what people may have seen.  Some of the process pics may be floating around the web. This is an on-going project I hope to complete within the next year or two.

(Note to Gerald, how difficult would it be to put together an album for this project)

I mostly use my blog to share what I’m up to –   It’s more of a jungle of music, design, art and stuff that catches my interest.

Click here to purchase Chris’ SHAOLIN JAZZ inspired graphic T-shirt.

*SHAOLIN JAZZ – PHILA Listening Party – Fri. Sept. 30th. Click here for details.


About gmoney77

My name is Gerald Watson and I do lifestyle marketing for various companies/agencies. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the people I work with, the work I do as well as the shit I see on the regular.

Posted on September 19, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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  1. Pingback: SHAOLIN JAZZ – T-shirts « New Ish

  2. Pingback: SHAOLIN JAZZ – The 37th Chamber – The Full Project | New Ish

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