Interview – The Shirtlist

Interview with
Vincent Carrozza (6AMCRISIS)

by The ShirtList

Vincent Carrozza is an Aussie with a healthy disrespect for the people in power. He loves to drink wine and go on rampages in GTA V which is slightly disturbing but something that I like to do myself. Well, if I had the time and if my PS3 weren’t broken.

Vincent is definitely an interesting character. His biggest regret is not witnessing the launch of the space shuttle. He learns about culture from 9gag. He has an unreliable memory and a fear that even if he survives the hostile environment he lives in that his life might be taken over by the automobile industry. Oh yeah, he’s a pretty talented artist and quite the humorist. Read the interview and be entertained. One warning though, you may need a grain of salt where you are going.

I believe you are an Aussie. Tell us a little about where you grew up?
Australia is much like it is presented accurately in reputable places such as 9GAG.

Originally home to the ancient indigenous Aboriginal people, then settled by drunken English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish criminals, today’s modern Australian society is a rich multicultural melting pot composed of endlessly diverse ethnicities, all of whom have a burning hatred of each other and a fear that “they” – whoever the hell “they” are – are slowly taking over, ruining the street and taking all the parking spots.

Our Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a man mired in the 50’s, who awarded a Knighthood to Prince Philip of the British Royal Family on Australia Day…yes, Australia Day, and declared himself the Minister for Women instead of selecting, say.. an actual women for the role. Let us digest that for a moment…

Also, it’s true that every animal and insect in the country was designed by the All-Powerful Universal Jester with the singular purpose of killing humans. Each summer we do battle with hordes of rampaging poisonous spiders and snakes for control of the BBQ and Mother Nature has populated our forests with highly combustible suicidal trees determined to burn the whole country to the ground on a regular basis.

Other than that, it’s ok.

Is Carrozza an Italian name?
It is. It basically translates as ‘horse drawn carriage’ or ‘car’ in modern parlance. The name has oddly influenced the life of my family to a degree, which amuses me. My father worked most of his career for Ford. I have a brother who worked for Ford as well and another who is a specialist in automotive paint. My brother in law is a Union rep for the car industry, and my first design job was as a Graphic Designer for an automotive marketing company. It won’t surprise me if I’m creating car themed t-shirts in the future. Or die in a horrible car accident.

I love your nickname. It creates a sense of urgency. How did 6AMCRISIS come about?
By bad memory! An old Def Leppard music video for their song Rocket would flash all sorts of historical newspaper headlines on screen, and one said “6AM: CRISIS FOR APOLLO SPACEMEN”. I always thought that sounded cool, and wanted to use it for something one day. Well, that day came when I wanted a short alias because is too long to remember, so I registered 6AMCRISIS. A little while later I discovered the headline actually said “2AM CRISIS” but 6AM had already stuck. The more you know!

What do you like to do in your free time?
When my jailers give me time off for good behaviour, I try to watch a movie or catch up on shows I like. If I can kick my kids off the Xbox, I’ll spend an hour or two going on rampages in GTA V to see how long I’ll last and how many people I can take down with me. There’s probably a warning sign buried in that, but I’m too tired to care anymore.

Do you work full-time in art and design?
I do, in design, it’s my main business stream. I’m probably far less productive in my personal work/tee stuff because of it, but the addictions and crippling gambling debts don’t pay for themselves.

About the Artist

When did you start creating art?
It’s one of the earliest things I can remember, so let’s say “A long time ago”. I was always drawing as a child, emulating my father who was artistic and my earliest influence. We had a lot of art books, and art on the walls, some created by my insanely talented older cousins in Italy who were, at the time, Art students. I spent years studying painting in the style of the Old Masters with a professional artist in my early teens and went on to study Fine Art at Uni. Now I draw things that go on t-shirts. Aaaand suddenly I think I see why my parents always look disappointed when they see me.

Apart from t-shirts, are you involved in other art/design projects?
Nothing structured or formally organised, however, I recently bought a laser cutter/engraver. I’m still learning the ropes with it and working on a few new product ideas for my designs, but it’s a nice distraction from sitting at a desk for endless hours being asked to make type 1pt larger, now 1pt smaller, now larger again, now how about a slightly bluer shade of blue? Plus, lasers.

Where do you usually get your inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere. Inspiration is where you find it. It’s easier if you don’t try to force yourself to ‘be inspired’ as I think it’s a process that works best organically. Want inspiration? Don’t look for it. Let it find you.

Could you describe your typical design process from concept to completion?
I break concepts down into two categories: Ideas I like enough to write on a piece of paper but will probably never do and Ideas I will do immediately even if I’m already doing something else.

Most designs will start in Photoshop as a loose drawing, even if it will become a vector piece. This way I can quickly sketch it out, easily repeat elements, move things around, use bits of older work, etc., till I feel I have something that resembles my vague mental picture. Then I move right on to the final art. Basically, two months of drawing and erasing, drawing and erasing, until it either looks “ok” or I abandon it completely. It’s a deeply flawed process, and I should feel bad.

Do you have any WIP I can include in the post?
Unfortunately, I’m currently in between new ideas. Check back in around 6-9 months and I might have something new.

What is your favorite non-digital medium?
Acrylic paint. I used to paint in oils but got sick of the lingering smell of the paint on my skin and clothing over the years so moved to acrylic. It was a whole new way of painting at first, as it works very differently to oils, but it can be rewarding. Even though it’s very adaptable with various additives to modify its behaviour I find that it’s best when treated like either watercolour or quick drying cement.

About the Tees

How did you first hear about daily t-shirt sites like TeeFury and RIPT?
I was looking into starting a t-shirt brand with my brother and was doing research online when I discovered the Teefury forums. I didn’t have any interest in the daily print business at that time as I didn’t know anything about it. After reading through their forums and participating a little, I thought “I can do this while getting my own thing up and running”, so I gave it a shot and got my first print shortly after.

Do you remember your first print? If so, what was it and how did you feel?
My first print was a Darth Vader/Big Lebowski mashup called “Darth Lebowski” with Teefury. Getting the approval was a great buzz because the whole field was new to me and looked fun to be part of. Granted it wasn’t exactly the sort of style I was aiming at in my own work at the time, but the prospect of a payday and the validation of a large website being interested in my design was gratifying, so I continued at it.

You have had t-shirts printed by TeeFury, RIPT and ShirtPunch. Who do you usually submit to first? Why?
Teefury was the first website I knew of, then shortly after followed by Ript and Qwertee, so I think that just became the default subbing order for me at the time. Eventually others like Woot, Shirtpunch, etc., joined the queue. It’s changed over time as I’ve focussed on different work that would suit different sites. I enjoyed focussing my attention on Woot for a while because you could have some fun with their weekly derby that keeps you sharp and on your toes and I liked to submit things that were a little different from anthropomorphic fruit.

Of the t-shirts that you designed which is your favorite?
Probably Viva la Empire”, my Darth Vader/Che Guevara design. Stupid designs make me laugh, so it just seems right to me.

Do you wear the t-shirts that you have designed?
Sure, some I designed for myself so I wear them often. If you’re a tee designer, it also serves as a good self-promotion tool. I’ve met some nice people because they’d point at my tee and say “I like your t-shirt”.

Have you seen somebody wearing one of your t-shirts in the real world?
On people that I know, yes. On strangers, they could be standing directly in front of me, and I probably wouldn’t be paying attention to be honest.

Tell us a little about how the Victoriana designs came about.
The Victoriana designs are inspired by elaborate engravings found in old books. The title plates of classic books from the 1900’s, or illustrated art catalogues from the mid-1800’s feature these intricate illustrations with this amazing beauty created by repeated patterns and long sinuous flowing lines.

The idea of melding modern pop culture icons with this vintage style occurred while buying some old books and thinking I could mimic the look to create a damask pattern. I started the first attempt with a Doctor Who design featuring really over-the-top Sonic Screwdrivers that I was CERTAIN everyone would hate, but as they were so relaxing and enjoyable to draw I didn’t care. To my surprise, people actually liked them!

About the World

Do you have any role models?
My parents. They worked hard to give us everything we had, and they encouraged my love of art. They always had a lot of books in the house and believed in being well read, interested in the world/universe around us and to question how and why things are. I’ve applied that to my own kids – who rarely don’t have a book in their hands – and strongly encourage them to be creators, not just consumers.

What is the most exotic location you have been to?
I don’t know if you’d call it exotic, but once or twice a year we hire this amazing 80 acre property (that’s around 30 hectares US, I think?) a few hours out of the city and just unwind and detach from the world for a week. The nearest neighbour is a few miles away, there’s no noise other than birds and the wind, and you can watch kangaroos grazing. At night the sky is so clear and free from light pollution that you can sit in the outdoor spa in total darkness and just stare at the sea of stars for hours, pondering your increasingly insignificant place in the universe. It’s where most of these answers were written in fact.

Where would you most like to visit? Why?
Italy, because it’s where my family is from, and the US to see a rocket launch. Witnessing the launch of a Space Shuttle is one thing that I’ll always regret not experiencing.

About Other Designers

Which tee designer(s) do you admire the most?
I admire people that put their own stamp on their work, rather than follow the crowd. It’s such a crowded market that it can be hard for a designer to separate themselves from the masses and show their real potential, so anyone that breaks out on the strength of their unique perspective and skill with a pencil/mouse gets my admiration.

Have you done any collaborations for t-shirts? If so, who and what did you design? If not, who would you like to collaborate with?
I’ve been lucky to do a few quick turnaround Woot Derby collabs with Kevlar51 aka Kevin Phelps aka The Attorney at Draw. They’ve been theme driven based on a Derby topic, but hopefully one day we can collab on a piece of our own design that doesn’t have to be completed in 5 hours, because I don’t work fast and the time zone differences between Australia and the US is a pain.
There are a few other artists I’d love to collab with though because I like their style. If they were up for doing work for the sake of art, not because it was commercially sensible, I think it would be great fun.

Who would you like to see featured on the Shirt List next?
Have you interviewed Hillary White? I love her work. It just has a great sense of fun about it.

About Tee Design

What design trends have made you go WTF?
None. I just can’t be bothered hating on something when it has so little importance and there’s so much amazing work out there I’d rather use my limited time and energy to discover.

Any advice for other designers/artists?
You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk. I find that covers everything neatly.

Photoshop or Illustrator?
I use Photoshop and Coreldraw/Illustrator in equal measure. They’re just tools after all. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. You get much better mileage by taking the time to learn how to draw with both as it can expand your range of skills and styles significantly.


VB or Tooheys?
Neither, both are rubbish and I prefer wine. Most beers make me feel sleepy and bloated. Give me a big steak and a Shiraz though and I’m happy. And drunk.