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If you don’t know who Cedric Cha is, take the chance now to familiarize yourself with his name. The minds that make up The Governor’s Ball Music Festival, Our Lady Peace, and Switchfoot certainly have. As a three-time Host’s Choice Winner (a Talenthouse record, by the way!), it’s safe to say that this young artist and designer is on his way to great things. Following up on our earlier interview with him, we took this opportunity to ask Cedric about his love of music, his design methodology, and just how he manages to combine his artistic personality with a host’s requirements so successfully.
TH: What’s the story behind your “Nutty Rockstar” design for the Governor’s Ball Music Festival Invite?
Cedric: Good story (haha). I was on one of my browsing rounds through the many Talenthouse invites (it’s becoming a staple diet for me to do so) when I stumbled upon the Governors Ball. After a quick browse through the invite details, I added it to a “tentative” list of invites I would be interested in joining.
Art and music are the highest forms of expression that could ever exist for me.
The “funny” thing about this design was that I did it purely for the inherent fun of creating art. I found I had some days free of work and events and decided to set them aside to get down to some personal work (some of which were Talenthouse invites, including this one). I did my necessary “research”- checked their website out, skimmed a few write-ups, etc.- and got going.
I liked the simple-yet-fun vibe I collected from my research and decided that that was “it”- I needed to create a simple t-shirt. A funny t-shirt.
Everything else that followed was pretty random. Random because it all began with a thought, “What could be funnier than an animal wearing human clothes?” (I’ll bet you were smiling or laughing when you read that sentence – case in point) Random because I picked a squirrel from a list of rodents off the web (thank you Google) and decided to fit him into a rockstar outfit.
Like I said, I wanted to have fun with this invite. And I did! I didn’t want to let logic limit my work (PETA would argue that squirrels look best without any clothes on). I dressed the squirrel up the way I liked it – sunglasses, a t-shirt, and a guitar (no eyeliner or leather vests for me). I wasn’t looking at winning anything out of this, and didn’t put any (unnecessary) pressure on myself to do so. Funny how things work out. Haha.
TH: Are there any unique challenges about designing for clothing as opposed to other types of design work?
Cedric: Of course (just like every other medium of design). I try my very best to familiarize myself and be aware of the nature, function, and purpose of a t-shirt or hoodie. Essentially, (good) clothing is art (an artist/designer’s work) and advertising (promoting an identity) that everyone wants to wear.
Apparel and clothing have always been one of my favorite design mediums. From redesigning the jerseys of my favorite sports teams as a kid, to entering a fair share of t-shirt design competitions as a teenager, to working with t-shirt makers as a job for the past year or so, I’ve learned and loved clothing design (and will probably continue to for the rest of my life).
Clients, don’t step on the designers, you hired them for a reason. Designers, don’t overpower the clients, there’s a reason they’re the ones hiring you.
TH: As it turns out, all three Talenthouse creative invites you’ve won have been related to both design and music, and you’ve stated before that you get a lot of inspiration from the music world. Is there a musical artist or group out there you’d really love to work with?
Cedric: Art and music are the highest forms of expression that could ever exist for me (let the businessmen and scientists argue otherwise).
It would be a dream to work with Switchfoot (undoubtedly at the top of my list), Coldplay, Anberlin, Mute Math, Death Cab For Cutie, Linkin Park, Incubus, Muse, Copeland, and Mumford And Sons, to only name a few. They’re some of my very favorites – I love their music and the way they sound, I admire their beliefs and what they stand for in the songs that they sing, and I can always find inspiration in their passion for what they do. Without a doubt, they have inspired me and made me who I am today (pardon the cliché).
PLEASE OH PLEASE LET THEM BE READING THIS.
TH: Some clients are easier to work with than others. What’s your approach when working with a difficult client? Specific examples (no names necessary, of course!) are welcome!
Cedric: Darn it. I was so ready to give you names. Haha. It’s always a pity to see a client hire a designer for his/her creativity then completely overrule it in the end. I guess the client makes the call because he/she’s the one on the paying end of the project, but a good designer should believe in his/her work enough to stand for it and not sell out.
I always let the clients talk first. That way they can tell me what it is they want from me - whether just a minor logo tweak or a full-on major brand revamp – so no one gets confused along the way.
As long as I’m producing work that I have fun with and am proud of, I’m doing it right.
After that, I throw my creativity into the conversation, giving the clients advice and suggestions on how to achieve what they want. I find that practical, “non-designer” (I try to refrain from using terms like “kerning” and “300 dpi”) tips are the ones best received by clients.
The majority of working with a client involves discussion and conceptualization of each design (achieved by close and personal communication with the client). The actual execution of the design is only the tip of the iceberg that everyone else sees.
As a result, I aim to produce a design that is 60% me, 40% client (I don’t actually calculate my work). As much as I believe strongly in working on a collaborative level with clients, I’m also very particular about “correct contribution” to a design. In a nutshell: Clients, don’t step on the designers, you hired them for a reason. Designers, don’t overpower the clients, there’s a reason they’re the ones hiring you.
TH: Having won three host’s choice invites, we’ve got to ask—how do you go about combining the host’s requirements with your own artistic impulses so successfully? Is there a particular strategy or process you go through?
Cedric: Well, to every artist the process that works best for him/her. For me, it’s not rocket science at all. Haha. I usually do some (brief) research to familiarize myself with the host and their art/design style. Then it’s a matter of identifying an element or theme from the research I’ve collected- it could be art direction, music and lyrics (for bands), or even key images/graphics- and giving it my own creative twist.
I try my best to produce work that’s somewhere around 70% me, 30% host-derived. It really isn’t that complex or technical though. As long as I’m producing work that I have fun with and am proud of, I’m doing it right.
Congratulations on your third win, Cedric—we can’t wait to see the pieces you’ve got lined up next!
- Take a look at Cedric’s Talenthouse portfolio here!