Monthly Archives: May 2010

evolution of the “Bird Mechanics” design

So, how do we go about creating our designs? As fine artists you can be certain of one thing: We never use clip art. We would cut off our hands first! Here is a brief explanation of our process. Our ideas can come from anywhere, really; sometimes as ideas sketched in the early hours, sometimes from conversations, sometimes pure inspiration.

In the case of the design which became “Bird Mechanics,” I remember Marie saying to me, “I’d like to do something with gears.”

I replied, “Leave that with me.”

I decided to do something along the lines of an automaton. These are typically figures, animals, or artworks animated by the use of hand- or clockwork-driven gears, pulleys, and bits of string and wire. These are delightful devices, particularly popular in the Victorian era, yet still made and enjoyed today.

This is my original sketch:
I pictured a blackbird or crow in flight whose wings are operated by pushrods. These pushrods are driven by a series of gears which in turn are powered by a hand crank with chain drive. All very practical.

I imagined the gears to be made from brass with a black bird and chain. At this stage the whole contraption was to be mounted on a base with a structure to support the various gears.

In the next stage I developed the gear drive and chain-driven cogs using a variety of scaleable gears in Adobe Illustrator. Once satisfied with the layout, I printed this and added the rest of the image with graphite pencil. This was now approximately full size. This image was then scanned and passed over to Marie for further rendering.

Now, Marie took the design into Quark Express and drew the whole design by hand using the Beziér pen tool to create the lines and shapes. Her attention to detail at this stage has to be seen to be believed. I thought I was a perfectionist until I saw her work. When you see the design on your own shirt you will certainly come to appreciate her skills, too.

During this stage, we continued to discuss the design and develop the idea. As you can see from the final design here, we removed the whole base. Is the bird operating the machine, or the machine operating the bird? We like the ambiguity introduced by removing the base. We also changed the attitude of the bird after looking at many photo references.

The final colour choice was made at this stage, too. This design is a two-colour design and is printed that way. (In some cases, such as “The Last Supper,” Marie used the shirt colour as a third colour in the design). Finally the design is sent to Adobe Acrobat for conversion to the file format required by our screen printer.

Our process is an interesting mix of traditional fine art skills and contemporary computer-based graphic design. I hope that you have found this insight into our method interesting and that it will add a little to your enjoyment of any shirt, bag, or art card that you may purchase from us at “odd guy art.”


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Copyright © 2010 by Hetzel and McAllister. All rights reserved.


open for business

Ok, we know you don’t want to hear any more about us, you want to hear about our shirts. But first, as we are only just coming down from Planet Seven (that’s like cloud nine only much farther out; and capitalised), I need to mention the “odd guy art” launch on Friday night. There were two parts to the launch, a virtual party online at our Facebook page (see link to the right) and a real
life party at a rather classy wine bar called “The Grotto” in Sheboygan. “The Grotto” looked after us extremely well (with our own room, no less) and provided a delightful waitress to look after our culinery and vitualery needs. Shiraz flowed and sushi was consumed and during the celebration “odd guy art” was launched as all good businesses should be: among friends.

Online, a competition was held to win a T-shirt. This was won by Joe from Great Falls, Montana. His prize is on its way today and we hope he greatly enjoys wearing his “Bird Mechanics” shirt.  Thanks for taking part, Joe.

So now our attention is turning to marketing, marketing, and erm, marketing. We know that you, our delightful customers, are out there somewhere. We just need to find you. Sounds easy, but we know it isn’t easy at all, really. So we should like to ask you all to help. Firstly, if you like our designs, tell your friends. Either for real (it’s good to spend a little time in the real world daily, we find), or online. We have our Facebook presence, which is expanding and is a fun way to talk with our “odd guy art” fans. To get there, try that link on the right hand column again. On our “home” page at you will even find some downloadable posters for you to print and distribute if you are feeling really dedicated! Thank you so much if you do. Oh, and above all, buy a shirt, a cap, or a bag. (Or a pack of “odd guy art” oversize postcards so that you can write to your friends and tell them about the amazing matching shirt you bought!).

Ok, so, T-shirts. Now that the web site is open, we would like to tell you a bit about how our designs were developed. But how about we tackle that next time, Marie? It’s getting late and the heating in the old studio went off ages ago. I’m freezing.


let’s do launch

Tonight at 7:10 p.m. Central Time, “odd guy art” will launch its website and open for business. We are nearly delirious with excitement (or at least caffeine), and cannot wait to help you find just the artful T-shirt statement you are looking for. Dress yourself this summer in “odd guy art,” from head to, uh… waist; in caps, bags, and T-shirts. You’re going to look great:).

Once we open, visit our website often. We’ll be creating new designs, adding content to the “What’s New” page, building on our product line, and responding to your needs. Our goal at “odd guy art” is to make you happy.

See you tonight!


four days and counting…

Today is Monday.

That doesn’t seem like the most earth shattering news, I know, but in only four short days it will be Friday. And eventually on Friday it will be 7 p.m.: The official launch time of “odd guy art.”  At that time our web site will go fully live and our doors will open for business.

The web site has been a labour of love (did you spot that “u,” Marie?). We’re hoping that we have met our goals of making it easy to use, yet at the same time, entertaining. We would love you all to take a look and view our T-shirts, caps, canvas bags, and art cards at your earliest convienience. Buy something you need, too. It’s fun!

We have just opened up our Facebook presence, too. There is a link on the right side of this page. Please come visit and hit the ‘Like’ button to join the “odd guy art” community there. Join us on the Facebook page on Friday evening and be a part of our launch party. We will be posting live and probably uploading photos, too, as the evening develops. Marie is planning something special to view which I can’t wait to see. For now, though, that is a big secret. Every time I wander over there, the MacBook lid snaps shut. Hmmm. I guess I’ll have to turn up with the Facebook crowd on Friday to see what that is all about.

Hope to see you there (in a virtual way).