Section: Arts

T-shirt design: The “Jurney” from sketchbook to sweater

T-shirt design: The “Jurney” from sketchbook to sweater

Courtesy of Tim Jurney

Elana Spivack, Staff Writer

Students need not be art majors or permanent residents of Horvitz Hall to be artists. T-shirt design is prevalent on campus, with many clubs and organizations, such as ECO/PEAS, Kenyon College Outdoors Club (KCOC), Relay for Life and the women’s ultimate frisbee team often calling for students to design their T-shirts.

Tim Jurney ’15, a Spanish area studies major, makes art in his spare time and has designed many different T-shirts at Kenyon for various organizations, most recently the Peer Counselors and the 5K run KCOC sponsored. Jurney is not an art major, but T-shirt designing shirts is just one of his creative outlets. He has created about 10 designs for various Kenyon T-shirts, and has been designing since high school.

“In high school I just wasn’t taking any art classes, but I was doodling a lot,” he said. “If people know that you doodle and they’re also in charge of an organization they’re going to ask you to do stuff.”

Designing a T-shirt for a club sometimes requires working with another person, which can limit their creativity.

“There’s the whole working-with-somebody-else aspect of it,” Jurney said. “You don’t get quite as much of your own art all the time. You have to do usually a couple of designs and send them in to people and see what they like instead of … doing the one you like the most and finishing it.”

T-shirt design can also require the artist to marry their own personal style with the needs of the organization that requested the design. “I sort of have two styles, which is my ‘cute fun T-shirt’ style and my other art style,” Jurney said. “They’re both me, you just have to … continually decide how much of one or the other you want to go into a certain design.”

He then explained how he toggles between his graphic style and his “other art” style, which he calls “very expressive and very material-based.”

Simplicity, he said, is integral to graphic shirt design. “A T-shirt design needs to be clean and simple and a lot more lighthearted,” Jurney said. The artist needs to know their market and what looks aesthetially pleasing on a piece of clothing.

Jurney discussed his respective approaches to his own art style and T-shirt design.

“When I do art, I always think about … what I want to say and how I want my art to make people feel,” he said. “When you’re designing a T-shirt you’re like, ‘What do they want to see and what’s fun and silly and interesting?’”

There are perks to sticking to the quirky side, however.

“Trying to insert as much of yourself into something that’s a little bit more commercial or just something a little bit less fine arts-y, … it’s a fun challenge,” Jurney said. “The more people see your work, the more people care about your work.” But “cute” isn’t always the most fun for the artist.

“The other really difficult part is finding a balance between finding something you like and doing something that is cute and fun,” Jurney said. “It’s too easy to hate the cute and fun.”

But because of the fun he’s had designing at Kenyon, Jurney is considering a professional career in graphic design.

“I’d probably have to go to … graduate school for that,” he said. “

Jurney is not the only Kenyon student interested in T-shirt design. A myriad of students are designing T-shirts at Kenyon, and perhaps the best part for both student artists and the community alike is to see their art worn.


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