Q&A: Glennz: A Threadless star goes solo

Posted by Rob Walker on March 12, 2008
Posted Under: Murketing,Q&A,Subculture Inc.,The Designed Life

A few weeks back I noted that Glenn Jones – a Threadless star I first interviewed for a July 8, 2007 column on the famous T-shirt company; he’s had 20 T’s produced via its contest system – had announced he was leaving his day job to do his own thing. He’d started selling some greeting cards and prints, but it seemed obvious that before too long he’d be bringing out some T’s.

And now, he is. GlennzTees.com has just launched. Seemed to make sense to use the occasion to ask Mr. Jones a few Q’s. Here they are, with his A’s.

So what are the basics of the new project? I gather it’s six designs to start, will they be sold mostly online, or retail, or some combo?

Well, as you know I’ve been submitting designs to Threadless for a few years now, and I’ve had a lot of designs that scored pretty highly but weren’t winners. That’s led to a lot of requests from people over the years for me to make available t-shirts of some of those unreleased designs.

So I’ve taken four of my more popular unprinted designs, like Rock Me Amadeus, and refined them taking advantage of more colours I’ve got available to me now. Plus I’ve added a couple of new designs that haven’t been seen before.

For now these will just be available at GlennzTees.com.

You mentioned to me that you’re working with some folks in Austin, TX on this. And they got in touch with you via Threadless? So who are they, and when did they get in touch? How did this come about, in other words?

Yeah, last year I was contacted by Justin Sewell, who runs Despair.com, about doing some design work for them. That’s been a great working relationship, and from there Justin started talking to me about Amplifier — which is sort of a sister company that does all Despair’s order fulfillment, and a lot of their print and shirt production.

Justin invited me to the States to get the tour of both companies, and I was able to see their in-house production setup, and the quality of their work — which was really cool. It’s definitely a huge advantage to have your shirt, print, and distribution facilities all under one roof. They already do work for companies like PennyArcade, JibJab, Ask A Ninja. So it was an easy step for them to do my stuff.

Justin, his brother Jef Sewell, and another Despair colleague named Walter Stokes have been working on the launch of GlennzTees for a little while now.

Is it a little weird working in a non-Threadless way — coming out with several designs at once, and in a couple of cases without the built-in audience feedback of the Threadless mechanism? I’m curious if the Threadless honchos have had any reaction to your new project…

I guess it’s a bit different, but at this point I have an idea of what stuff seems to work as far as my designs go. I guess in the end you just have to go with your instinct.

I think this is a natural evolution for me. And I’ll still submit to Threadless, because I’m an addict! But there are heaps of designs I’d like to see printed, and more ideas in my head, so I guess this gives me more control over that. Also the whole online and fulfillment side of things is definitely a major part of this, and to have the guys in Austin who have ‘been there and got the T-shirt’ with this sort of stuff made it possible to get this off the ground.

I haven’t spoken in depth with the Threadless guys about doing my own thing, but they’re aware of it and were encouraging.

Did you have a basic plan for, you know, making a living, when you left your prior gig to go solo? Are you doing freelance design work in addition to selling your own stuff?

It was definitely something I thought over for a long time – I think you have to, especially when you’re going leave a senior position that you’ve worked most of your career to get to. I planned a bit so I was financially covered for awhile, in the hope that I would pick up some freelance work.

But the reason for the move was definitely to concentrate a bit more on my own projects – T-shirts, but also the cards and art prints. I am doing a bit of freelance design work too, so it’s nice to have the balance

In the end I just decided that I needed to see where the whole ‘Glennz’ thing can go. So my attitude has been, “I’ll give it ago, and if it works great! If not, I can just go back to work.” Meanwhile, it’s definitely great to have more time to work on my own creative stuff

So if it goes well, what’s your grand scheme, or your great hope, to the extent that you’ve worked all that out?

T-shirts got me here, so I’d really like to see that become as big as it can be. There’s nothing more satisfying than to walk past someone in the street who’s wearing your design. So I hope to see more of that, and get heaps of designs out there for people to wear. I’d like to keep on creating designs for an audience that already appreciates my stuff, and introduce more people to my work along the way. The sky’s the limit, I guess!

Murketing thanks Mr. Glenn Jones for his time. His T’s are at GlennzTees.com; his cards and prints are at www.glennz.co.nz. His Threadless designs are here. An interesting article about Despair/Amplifier is here.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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