Threadless Abmassador Tom interviews the humorous Paul Berthelot aka thedeetzes (named after the family in Beetlejuice).
First of all hi and welcome!
Thanks! I'm so flattered and excited you like me enough to do an interview!
You seem to be quite a fan of the horror genre, what is it that you like about these films?
I love horror movies, but really I'm inspired by all film genres. It's definitely the medium that most stimulates my creativity. My horror designs seem to get more attention with the Threadless crowd. I think this may be because horror is polarizing. You usually love it or hate it. That creates a sort of cult like following that can be really fun to tap into for designs. A good horror sticks with you and using those references creatively in a design is a lot of fun.
Old farm houses appear in a few of your subs, could you tell us what appeals to you about drawing houses?
I love architecture. The way a structures takes on it's own personality is fascinating to me. I love when a movie uses a house almost like a character. I think that's why I like haunted house films so much. The best example of this is Beetlejuice. The way the house is coveted and goes through this drastic change instrumental to the plot is just so interesting.
Many of your submissions have a hand drawn pencil-like quality to them, do you scan your pencil drawings in or do you prefer to work digitally?
I'm still a die hard hand drawing fan. I usually do as much as I can off the computer just like when I was a kid (in front of the TV, of course). I typically add colour and texture on the computer. I do some designs completely in Photoshop but only one of those has ever been printed and that's my Beetlejuice inspired "Recently Deceased" design.
“Recently Deceased" is available as a tee!
How do you usually make a Threadless design?
It usually starts with a concept that pops up in my mind out of nowhere. If there is a pen and paper around I'll jot down the name or a quick sketch (one I'm sure only I could ever decipher). Once I get the chance I either sit down with a pencil and paper or jump on the computer to put it all together. I almost always use reference photos as I feel it gives things a more realistic look I could never make up. I almost never stop once I start. Once I've begun I don't quit till I've submitted the final file. I don't know why. I just feel inspired and have to finish!
How did you celebrate your first print?
I WANTED IT SOOOO BAD! I had submitted so many designs and was, of course, doubting myself thinking "Is getting printed just a completely unrealistic goal?" and "What are the odds of getting noticed when I see AMAZING work get passed over all the time?!" When I got printed I couldn't believe what I was reading. I screamed out loud and wrote a mass e-mail to people who knew how much I'd worked and wanted a print. I also went off my diet and ate a celebratory cheesecake (yes, the entire cake)
Which artists inspire you?
The Threadless community inspires me. The endless amount of fresh ideas being submitted after this many years is incredible. That's why being a printed designer is such an honor and a privilege I never take for granted.
What projects are you currently working on?
No Joke, the main project I'm excited for right now is sculpting a small scale version of a piece made by the Delia character from Beetlejuice. I'm obsessed, I know, but Beetlejuice is to me what Star Wars is to so many.
The director and film-maker Tim Burton seems to be a constant source of inspiration, could you tell us more about this?
I think Tim Burton's perfectly twisted point of view is an inspiration to a lot of people. I love that his style is so unique that you would know he directed a movie without ever being told. I'm a huge fan of all his work but my main inspiration is, and always has been, Beetlejuice (which, as we all know, he directed). I was born in 1987 and the movie came out in 1988. I don't remember the first time I saw it. I just remember I've always known it by heart and been endlessly enthralled by it. My parents have a VHS of me singing "Day-O" to them and I'm not even sure I was three years old yet.
What did you think of the animated version of Beetlejuice?
I definitely watched it and enjoyed it. I was always too loyal to the film though. I'd watch and say things like "...but Lydia hates Beetlejuice! How are they now friends!?" or "Delia isn't girly! She's modern and artistic!" It also bothered me to no end that the Maitlands were completely cut from the cartoon. WHY?!
Would you have liked to have seen the scripted but never produced 'Beetlejuice goes Hawaiian'?
I've known about the idea since I was first introduced to the internet. Honestly, it sounds terrible. I'm not against a sequel at all but going into it I would know it could never measure up the the original. Part of what makes the original so good are the in-camera on set effects which would never happen now. As weird as it sounds Beetlejuice himself was never my favorite character. I love the Deetzes and the Maitlands most so to do a story without them (as it was proposed in Beetlejuice goes Hawaiian) would be a huge loss. They are actually looking into making a sequel now. New scripts have been commissioned and Tim Burton and Michael Keaton have both said they'd be on board. The best way to do it would be to do a where-are-they-now type story line where they are desperate enough to enlist Beetljuice's help again. If they do do it hopefully they'll enlist me as an expert or let me be an extra!
How was your recent trip to east coast Vermont?
This, again, ties into Beetlejuice. I sound like such a one note! I've always wanted to go there because it was the location for all the outdoor shots in Beetlejuice. My sister took me as a birthday gift and we had a blast! We saw what was left of "Maitland Hardware", the bridge where they crashed, Lydia's school etc. I also made my sister climb the hill, where the original house had been, with me. The house was built for the film and torn down at the end of production but the view hadn't changed. Standing there looking over the town was an amazing moment and I'd do it again in a heart beat.
'Monarch' and 'The Original General Lee' both have black linework and splashes of orange. Would you consider doing a series in this style?
I've done a few designs in that old-world-pen-drawing-with splashes-of-colour series. Monarch was the first and after that came Don't Mess with Goldilocks, The Evolution of Womenswear, The Original General Lee and, most recently, Courtyard Sale. It just so happens Threadless chose the two designs that only used orange. I would definitely do a series like that if Threadless asked me to. I'd do anything they asked me to! (accept kill....well, maybe kill.)
As well as being a graphic designer you also work as a model, could you tell us about some of your experiences modelling? Who have you worked with?
Modeling is something I really love. I feel knowing what goes on in post production gives me a bit of an advantage as well. I few modeling experiences stand out for sure. I was in an ad that ran in both Flare and Lou Lou magazine which was exciting. I was also sent to Paris by my first agency which was amazing. I'd never been on a plane before let alone to France. I interviewed at some legendary agencies like Ford Europe and worked with a contributing photographer for Vogue Japan. I also did a shoot in the courtyard of the Louvre which felt surreal. Fashion and modeling is something I love and will be a part of for as long as they'll have me.
What would be your dream modelling job?
Well, my biggest dream would be to work for American Vogue and Vanity Fair. I'd love to book a job modeling for Threadless too! I love what they're doing for the Select campaign. If ever you need me, I'm available! ha ha
Were you named after a famous champagne?
Ha ha ha no. My family and I never even heard about it until a relative from L.A. sent us an e-mail with a photo of the bottle. It's pretty cool. When I get some money I'll have to order myself a case!
What kind of people do you dislike?
People who never create yet always criticize. People who complain ALL THE TIME. Strangers you hold the the door for that don't say "thank you". People who wear pajamas in public. Close talkers...Get out of my personal space! People who are mean to servers and retail staff. Pretty sure the guy working the register at the KFC in the food-court is having a rough enough day without you being rude. This list could go on and on with my petty observations. For the record, I like most people!
Of course we like you, thedeetzes! Many thanks for the interview and good luck with your intelligently gothic works and also your modelling career!
Interview by Ambassador Tom Bryce