Category Archives: Interviews

DIY Bookbag Design à la Sharpie

Sharpie fanatics would agree: give someone a Sharpie and expect  INKspiration! Read how Miriah Garnett created a stylish design on her sister’s bookbag (that got the sister seal of approval), her other Sharpie uses, and her advice to other young artists…

Tell me about yourself:

I’m Miriah Garnett, an International Baccalaureate student at North Hagerstown High School. I love to listen to music. It’s a big part of my life. Along with music, I enjoy painting, decorating, doing my nails, scrap booking, reading, texting, and of course shopping.  I am a big fan of R&B, hip-hop, pop, and old school music. I’m a fan of M&Ms, especially the new pretzel kind. I’m a huge Twilight fan. I have read all the books and I am anxiously awaiting the premier of the 4th movie, Breaking Dawn. Some things I don’t like are: stinkbugs (they’re really gross), country music and gory horror movies.

What year in school are you?  Any favorite classes?  Extra-curriculars?

I am in the Eleventh grade. My favorite class is Biology, because I really enjoy sciences and plan to go into the medical field when I’m older. I am involved in the art and scrap-booking clubs at my school.

What inspired you to design a book bag for your sister?

In Kindergarten, it has been a sort of tradition to decorate your tote bag for school, which is something I even did as a kid. So, my little sister Armani (being the girlie girl that she is) wanted a cute design for her book bag. To get some ideas, we went to our local fabric store to look for some pretty prints or designs for some inspiration. We found one that was pink with doodles. Using this design, I incorporated my own twist to it and went all out decorating the whole book bag in this manner.

Of all art supplies, why Sharpie?  What made you choose to customize the backpack with Sharpie markers?

I chose Sharpie because, since my mom is an art teacher, we have always trusted Sharpies to have precise lines and long lasting effects. Sharpies have also always had bright and vibrant colors that I love.

Miriah's finished bookbag design for Armani

Have you customized any other school supplies or accessories?

I use Sharpies to label school supplies and clothes, make card designs, when organizing, to color Shrinky Dinks, to sign t-shirts, and to draw temporary tattoos.

What goes into designing a backpack? How long does it take?

Designing a book bag is actually a very simple, easy, and creative way to design something by adding your own unique touch. In order to design one, all you need to know is what you want to create on your book bag and what Sharpie colors you would like to use. Depending on how intricate the design is will determine how long it will take to finish the book bag. The designs could range from flower patterns, to a drawing of your favorite sports team’s logo. The possibilities are limitless.

How did your sister react to your Sharpie masterpiece?

My sister absolutely ♥loved the book bag. It was cute and girlie and was everything she was hoping for. It was definitely something we would not have found in the store.

Dad, Mom, and Armani show off her new, stylish bookbag

Top 5 essenti al items that are always in your book bag:

  1. Books (I’ve never gone home from school without books—ever!)
  2. My huge, graphing display calculator
  3. Different colored pens and pencils, including my Sharpies
  4. Portable hole punch
  5. USB flash drive

Aside from customizing some really cool backpacks, what else do you enjoying doing on your down time?

As I said before , I love listening to music. I am also a big fan of shopping for shoes. Even just shopping in general “floats my boat.” I also love to design and paint my own nails. It’s something I have started doing for a year or two and really enjoy. It’s a different way of expressing yourself.

Are you a fan of Glee or High School Musical? What character do you relate to the most & of all the cast members, who would you most want to design a backpack for?!

a fan of High School Musical! My obsession phase is very much over, but I can still sing any song by heart :D. I would have to say that of all the characters, I relate to Gabriella Montez the most because of having to transfer to a new school and meet different people. I can also relate to her “nerdy” side because of being part of the IB program. If I could design a backpack for someone, it would have to Sharpay Evans because of her bold and unique style—it is a style within itself.

Classic soda or pop question here… Do you say “backpack” or “book bag” ?

In general, I think I use both interchangeably, but say “book bag” the most. I think I say this because my book bag is a messenger bag, therefore, a bag that carries books. Whereas, most backpacks are actually a bag you carry on your back.

Motto to live by:

You were born a work of art, don’t die a copy.

Got any advice for other young artists like yourself?

My advice is to express yourself, be creative, and set no limits. With this mindset, you will be able to do anything you set your mind to. As cliché as it sounds, it’s a realization you have to come to, eventually.

Sharpies are great for any kind of project, except for when your little sister uses them to express her creativity on the walls!

Armani and Miriah enjoy some "girl time"

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Chris Spencer Interview

 Chris Spencer, an artist who relishes in exploring new techniques as well as bringing pop culture into some of his works.  His love for the San Diego Chargers, surfing, and Mix Martial Arts (MMA) can be seen in some of his works.  He is not afraid to draw anything that comes to mind.

First off, tell me about yourself! 

I am 27 years old, born and raised on the small Island of Guam. I grew up with a deep connection to the ocean and this passion is reflected in my art. I moved to San Diego in high school and fell in love with surfing. When I am not drawing, I enjoy going to the beach, watching Charger games, or exploring the zoo with my family.

What kind of artist do you consider yourself?

I am most recognized for my use of black ink and intricate patterns, however I feel like claiming a certain style or medium places a limitation on my art. I prefer to keep myself open and not box myself in to being one kind of artist.

How did you get started as an artist?  Are you professionally trained or did this develop as more of a hobby?

I guess it all started in high school; I would use a sharpie and would sketch and draw while in class. It started with simple patterns and quickly turned into full pages of art. I have a BA in history but spent many hours drawing. I have not had any professional training.

Your work is extremely detailed!  You obviously put a lot of time and effort in each piece.  How much patience do you need to complete one project?

I do put a lot of time and effort into each piece. Unless I have a deadline, I usually do my art at night and stretch it out over a week. Sometimes I get hyped about a certain piece or idea and I will not stop until I finish the whole piece. I only work when I am in the mood. I try not to force it, but it seems like I’m always in the mood for art.

Your work is unlike others that I’ve seen.  The detailing is incredible and I often find myself looking deeper, almost searching for a hidden meaning… How would you describe your personal style? Where do you draw inspiration from?

            I mostly work with black ink on a white surface in intricate patterns, with some glimpses of bright colors. I weave in ocean themes and my inspiration comes from my love of the ocean, but my main approach starts with one simple concept and I construct the rest of the piece around that main idea. I just keep adding on, I never get the full picture of what I want to draw it always comes to me while I’m working.

What audience are you trying to reach with your art?

I am not trying to reach a certain type of audience when it comes to my art. I love to make art and if it connects with others, it’s a great thing.  One lesson I have learned is that for myself there is no such thing as good art or bad art, there is only art!

Your choice of canvas varies incredibly!  From paddles to large murals, t-shirts to masks… what makes you venture out from the traditional?

             I am constantly looking for new things to draw on. I try and push myself. Just recently, I drew on some Stand Up Surfing Paddles as an award for the C4 waterman surf contest for Duke Kahanamoku Oceanfest In Hawaii, with paddles it really pushes my art there are no second chances if I make a mistake on paper I can start over, but when someone hands you a paddle and says do your work I get pumped up. I really have to step my game up and let my pen flow.  Some of my favorite pieces are framed and backlit, highlighting specific details.

With all of these different platforms & canvases, is there any one in particular that would you like to concentrate on if you could?  Clothing line? Murals?

            I am passionate about creating one-of-a-kind pieces that are special and made specifically for the client. Recently, I have been exploring clothing design. I am currently designing some great pieces for a clothing line, and would like to start making hats and shirts of my own.

I see that you tend to incorporate pop culture images into your drawings.  Is there a hidden message behind this?

No hidden messages. I am intrigued by the blend of pop-culture images with my personal, more organic, style.

Why do you incorporate athletes, especially San Diego Chargers, into some of your work?

Well I love football and MMA (mixed martial arts) so I guess it was a natural fit that I worked those elements into my art. I was able to get in touch with one of my all-time favorite  NFL players, Kassim Osgood. I created a piece for him, he loved it, so it led me to more and more  pieces of art with the Chargers in it. I also did a piece for UFC president Dana White, and I did a drawing of Lil Wayne and sent it to him in Jail.

Favorite Sharpie?  Why?

            I would have to say Extra Fine Black Sharpies are my favorite. I love that the tip is fine enough that I can draw intricate patterns in small spaces and it still be detailed enough to look good.

You obviously love the black and white combination.  What do you find most appealing about this pairing?  In some pieces though, you add pops of color, what is it about this method that intrigues you?

I think black and white looks very elegant, but there are instances where I want to give special attention to something and I will add a little color to make it stand out a little more.

What is your next project and can you tell us about it?

I am currently working with a company on some art work for their clothing line, and I am really excited to do a piece on a big sheet of glass that I bought for myself.

Do you have any advice for other artists like yourself?

I would say stick with it, and understand that with art some people are not going to enjoy your work where other people may love it.  As long as you enjoy what you’re making then you should be fine. Be open to trying new things.

What do you hope for in the future?

I hope that in the future art classes in schools would be a little more prevalent than they are now. And I hope that people keep enjoying my art, it’s a great feeling when I make a piece for someone and they really enjoy all the time and effort I put in my work.

Thank you to Chris Spencer for taking the time to be interviewed.  Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisLspencer.  And as always, Uncap What’s Inside!