The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collection came out today! 15 designs were printed from 15 designers around the world. Congrats to Australian designer Michael Bancroft for snagging Grand Prize with his submission The Four Ronin. We’re super happy for him not only because he won but because this is his first Threadless print! Check out what Michael had to say.
Congrats on your win! What inspired you to submit to this challenge? Thank you. I'm truly humbled. To have won this challenge is so far beyond anything I ever thought would happen. The sheer calibre of talent across the competition and the high number of submissions make it doubly astounding. That I gave out 36 fives and 99 fours to my peers is testament to that. So again, a huge thanks to Threadless and the judges.
Oh, and nothing short of a severe nunchuk blow to the head could have stopped me from submitting to this challenge.
Are you a TMNT fan? Do you prefer the cartoons, movies, or comics? I couldn't have been a bigger Ninja Turtles fan as a kid. I had all the figures, trading cards, board games, video games, you name it. I was obsessed. I watched taped episodes to death, the movie a hundred times, and of course knew all the lyrics to Partners in Kryme's “Turtle Power.” I also drew them obsessively too, which I guess paid off in the end. Only when I got a bit older and got into comic books did I have the pleasure of re-discovering them in their original format, which I also got a kick out of. If I had to choose though, I'd say that, out of everything, the original movie stuck with me the most.
designer Michael Bancroft
Who is your favorite Turtle and why? Donatello of course! We share similar interests in science, and he's kind of chilled out like I am. I actually like his expression best in my design too, so that worked out nicely.
Tell us a little bit about the design style you used in this submission. What inspired you? There was this group of Japanese artists in the 19th century called the Utagawa school, who pretty much epitomise samurai art, at least in the traditional sense. I knew right from the start that I wanted to reference their woodblock prints for this design. In my mind, I saw the Turtles as four “ronin,” masterless samurai fighting their way across feudal Japan, perhaps to avenge their fallen sensei. I sourced dozens of prints as reference for my composition, taking care to ensure the weapons, fabrics, and armour details were just right. Studying them as closely as I did, I began to develop a real appreciation of the way inks they used bled into each other and interacted with the paper. It reminded me of old comic books, when registration would often misalign during printing, and from that point on everything just started to make sense. I sketched out the composition in pencil, went over that with an ink pen, then digitally applied colouring and patterns. To achieve the final texture, I separated the design into four colours and overlaid those layers in a slightly off-kilter arrangement. When I first saw the final result I was thrilled because, to me, it represented a perfect bridge between the historic woodblock style I was emulating and the modern comic book printing process.
This is your first print! Nice work. Any advice to others on how to get printed? To win a challenge with your first print is any budding Threadless designer's dream come true. My advice to anyone looking to replicate my success is to keep their mind open and their skills honed. You also need to lay the groundwork before you can start submitting designs that resonate with the community. Browse Threadless daily, not only to vote on designs, but to introduce yourself to new styles and to get a handle on what's popular. This shouldn't be an exercise, but rather something fun, something that you want to do, which will keep your creative juices flowing and your determination to be printed front of mind.
You won lots of radical prizes in this challenge. Who will you be inviting to your pizza party? I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty damn psyched over these prizes, and I've already had plenty of requests to come to my pizza party. I'd love to invite everyone who gave me a 5, but in lieu of that, I'll just have to keep it down to all my friends who helped spread the word on this one.
Excellent work and Congrats to Michael and the 14 other designers printed! To pick up a TMNT tee, visit the collection.