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Inside the Design with J Press Designs ~ Jeffrey James and the Haul T-shirt

For this installment of Inside the Design, I welcome designer Susan McCanless with J Press Designs to talk about her design perspective and the process she took with the latest t-shirt design for Memphis band Jeffrey James and the Haul. When I asked Jeff what sort of direction they gave to the design, he said, "We like Susan's art so much that we said 'Hey Susan, make us something cool and she did.'" See Susan’s description below to understand how she caught the essence of their music.

The t-shirt design above is now available for purchase {just in time for Christmas} along with their vinyl records. Shirts and records are $10 each. Shirts are available in all sizes and 3 colors: green and red for the ladies and in smoke for the guys.

To order, contact Jeff Hulett at jeffhulett@hotmail.com or call 901.859.9430.

“Good design must have both function AND form - not one or the other.”

For me, concept is the most important aspect of design. Design is not about Photoshop or InDesign or any other programs; those are just tools.You can't build a house with a hammer and nails alone. You need the blueprints - something to back it up - an actual reason. If you are designing something because "it looks cool" - then you are missing the point entirely. Good design must have both function AND form - not one or the other.

In school, our teachers encouraged us to start the design process with a pen and paper - brainstorming - a skill that I use to this day. When developing the Jeffrey James and the Haul t-shirt - I started with a list of adjectives that reminded me of the band:
{folky, genuine, happy, country, loving, energetic, homespun, gritty, plaid}

After that I start with the nouns:
{guitar, ferris wheel, nudie suit, whiskey, smoke, cowboy boots}

Now I have a feeling of where I want to go with the design, and I begin sketching .

Once I have a couple of pages of ideas/concepts, I go to the computer to fine-tune my concepts into finished designs.

Once I have a couple + (2, 3, 4...) designs that I am happy with - I send them off to the client to get their feedback. For me, this is the scariest part of the process - sometimes you hit the nail on the head, and they LOVE you. Other times you have to start all over and you feel like you failed. The most important thing about this stage is to lose your ego. It's not about hurt feelings or the client not liking you or your designs - it's about problem solving. They have a visual dilemma that YOU as the designer need to solve. You have to listen to your client’s ideas and suggestions, because in the end, you AND your client both need to be satisfied – only then have you done your job.

Susan McCanless

J Press Designs
475 North Highland • 8H
Memphis, Tennessee 38122
t: 901.336.7560
f: 901.525.8820

Special thanks to Susan and Jeff. Images courtesy of Susan McCanless, J Press Designs.

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