An interview with Glenn Jones - Legendary T-shirt designer

Glenn Jones, legendary T-shirt designer, illustrator and artist from Auckland gives us an insight into his workday, his journey and lessons learnt.

So tell us a bit about Glenn pre-Threadless fame:
I was doing a design course at AIT (now AUT) in 1993 when I got a job as an illustrator for a newspaper. The production studio there was transitioning from old school lay ups, using markers, letraset and bromide cameras to Macs, so I taught myself illustrator and photoshop etc on the job. I then worked in a design studio in Auckland for about 5 years before spending 3 years in London, working as a designer. When I returned to Auckland in 2003 I got a three day freelance job at Dashwood Design but ended up staying for 5 years, the last two as creative director. There I worked on packaging and identity design for brands like Frucor, Tip Top and NZ Lotteries. After having some success on an online Tshirt competition site Threadless, I was offered a chance to start my own brand GLENNZ TEES in a partnership based in Texas in 2008. So I quit my day job and since then Ive been focussing on Tshirt design, other freelance design and illustration work and now my NZ based art print business 'Glenn Jones Art' which I run with my partner Julia.

What has been your highlight since you started out?
Working for myself, nothing better than having total creative freedom.

What does a typical work day look like?
Coffee! Spend some time with my kids in the morning, then often work on some background stuff for the Tshirts and Art prints, and then draw as soon as possible.

Was there a lot of long term planning involved in becoming self-employed full time?
Not really. When I was offered a chance to create my own Tshirt brand, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to let pass by. I flew up to Austin and was really excited about the potential to work with my partners up there, so I thought I’d give it a try and see what happens.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
- Try something and if it fails, it’s sometimes not a bad thing because then you can see a better way to do things.
- Don’t feel like you have to take on every job that comes your way
- It’s often the little jobs that become the hardest and least productive
- Get a good brief, if the brief is loose the job often becomes loose
- If creativity isn’t flowing, go do something else

Any specific tips/advice would you give students/juniors starting out, especially here in New Zealand?
Geography isn’t a barrier with the internet, get your portfolios online and keep adding to them. Never know who's looking.

Check out Glenn's Profile and work right here on Creative Connect