Threadless Ambassador Tom interviews the the incredibly talented and amazing Anthony Sekyere aka citizen rifferson!
First of all hello and welcome! You have impressed everybody with your design skills and style, is there anything that you can't draw?
Glad to be here! I've only been on Threadless for about a year so I'm flattered that people have been noticing my work when there's so much amazing stuff on this site.
Anyway back to the question, hmm... I guess I've always been pretty bad at drawing cars (unless they're really simplistic cartoony cars or something) luckily I'm pretty stubborn when it comes to getting things right, so if I have trouble drawing something I tend to sketch it over and over again until it's at least half decent to look at.
How would you describe your personality to somebody who has never met you before?
There's no way I can do this without it sounding like someone's profile from a dating site, but I'd describe myself as being a pretty easy going type of guy. I have a pretty weird sense of humour, but I usually hide the crazy side of me when meeting people for the first time, I live for those moments where I meet someone that's as weird as I am.
If somebody wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
My Biography would have exactly the same title as Barack Obama's biography, but his name would be crossed out with mine written over it. I reckon he would be cool with that.
What techniques and materials do you use to make your designs?
Whatever leaves a mark I'll use, I love using Biro pens for quick drawings, for more detailed stuff I use dip pens. All the work I do is hand drawn, but sometimes I'll edit the line work in Illustrator..truth be told I'm pretty old school at heart, drawing and painting is what I like doing the most compared to all the computer stuff.
Should art carry a message?
I don't think there's a rulebook when it comes to art, so I definitely don't look down on art that doesn't carry a message, as long as it's done well I can appreciate it.
Do you see your art as expressing something new?
To be honest I haven't given it that much thought, I don't draw to shake up the art world or whatever, there's no motive behind it. It's just something I love doing and if other people love looking at it then I'm happy.
What was your first piece of professional work?
The first big job I did was some ad work for Nokia about 4 years ago, it was a big deal for me at the time because it involved me drawing with a big group of other illustrators who mostly had way more experience than I had at the time, after doing that job I definitely felt more confident in my work, because at that time I was still at University and most of the work I was doing outside of that were pretty standard things like club flyers and stuff like that, so that job was a huge step up for me.
How would you describe your artwork?
I have a really hard time describing my artwork to people. I guess my work is just a hybrid of everything that influenced me in the past, either that or some crazy cartoon nonsense.
Is there a thriving art scene in London?
Oh yeah, there's always something going on here, nearly everyone in my neck of the woods is a budding illustrator/designer/artist these days.
Is the bird in your design 'Fight or Flight' a particular species of bird?
He's a pigeon, at first he was going to be an eagle, but I thought that if any animal was going to be a dirty street punk it would be a pigeon. I don't know about you but I've never seen two bald eagles fighting over a piece of month-old pizza crust in the middle of the street before.
"Fight or Flight" is available as a tee!
Which artist do you admire most?
That's a tough one because it's always changing, but Robert Crumb left a huge impression on me when I saw his work for the first time. Ask me tomorrow and I'll probably give you a different name.
Do you read comic books?
Surprisingly I've never really read any comics, when I was a kid all my money went towards buying computer games, and when I wasn't doing that I was watching cartoons .Then again, I guess it's never too late to get into comics so maybe I should grab some next time..wouldn't have a clue where to start though!
Do you collect anything?
I used to collect all sort of things as a kid, these days the closest thing I come to collecting are T-shirts, that's the only item I can think of that I have an unhealthy amount of.
Do you have any tips for budding new designers?
Focus on improving yourself based on your own work, rather than trying to be better than the next guy, its easy to look at other peoples work and start comparing yourself to them too much. I've always tried to set my own standards for myself instead of trying to out-draw everyone else, the most important thing is to come up with work that is unique to you, it takes a long time to develop but it's worth it in the long run. I'm personally still learning and developing my way of working all the time, so never stop trying to challenge yourself and improve on what you're already good at as well as trying new things.
Interview by Ambassador Tom Bryce