Commercialization Without Compensation.

Four years ago, former UNC basketballer John Henson Instagrammed himself in a shirt I made, and an item that had literally sat on the shelves unnoticed at Thrill City for the store's first two months suddenly started making national headlines.

 RUNAWAY x Youaintryan, "SCAM 2.0"

RUNAWAY x Youaintryan, "SCAM 2.0"

Though it slotted nicely into an existing narrative in Chapel Hill at the time (comprised of some pretty bogus concerns around Leslie McDonald and some not-as-bogus concerns around PJ Hairston), the SCAM design was about money and the "scam" of the amateur athlete. It was about the term "student-athlete," which was invented by the early NCAA specifically to exclude athletes from the status of employees, shielding the organization and member schools from the responsibilities that employers have in the interest of employees. 

For me personally, I had sold many a shirt completely marketed off the backs of these athletes. Not just in an abstract sense — literally referencing them. When we worked with professional athletes, we paid royalties. When we collaborated with other brands and designers from around the Triangle, they were compensated. But if I split profits with a guy because I made a shirt about him and it sold well? He would be ruled ineligible from doing the extracurricular activity he was recruited to school to do. As historian Taylor Branch, and many far more knowledgeable people than me, have already argued, "student-athletes" are the only group of people who garner this treatment. We don't bar students who are on academic scholarships from writing books or YouTube vlogging, so why do it for sports? The answer is a system intentionally and maliciously designed to extract value from the many, for the few. No college football player can take a dime home for playing in actual games, but the CEO of the Orange Bowl, Eric Poms, can take home a tidy $500,000+ salary for coordinating one. You wonder what that salary would be if the performers at his event had to be paid?

I've been selling the original "SCAM" design ever since John first got it on Deadspin — on tees, tanktops and longsleeves — without making any changes to the graphic. As a flip on the official NCAA logo, it'll always be a widely understandable, concise anti-NCAA design. But after four years (that's an entire NCAA career, for you amateur sports enthusiasts) and innumerable scandals, absurd sanctions and soulless disqualifications, it was badly in need of a re-design. Enter SCAM 2.0. 

scam_basketball_final.jpg

With the blessing and aid of my friends at RUNAWAYthe SCAM 2.0 design is coming to a long-sleeve near you. It's not as sporty of an item as I've typically done, nor is it in pretty UNC colors. It's actually quite loud, even abrasive, and I think that fits the message rather nicely. You can order yours here.

If you're so inclined, we're throwing it back to the old Thrill City/Franklin Street days with a block party at RUNAWAY to celebrate the release this weekend. The new tees will be on hand, old tees will be in stock, and likely a drink or two will be shared. If a second-round UNC game conflicts, we may just shift around the time a little bit. Thanks for supporting four years later, and look out for SCAM 3.0 in 2022.

 
scam_poster_party.jpg
 

Duke Hangs Another Banner.

In honor of Zion Williamson's surprising decision to attend Duke University for a semester later this year before preparing for the NBA Draft (no shade, I would have happily accepted him as part of UNC's minor league basketball franchise), I cobbled this together using part of a "Ceiling Is The Roof" design from UNC's 2017 championship.

 Not wasting time in Cameron Indoor.

Not wasting time in Cameron Indoor.

The 2018 Carolina Basketball Illustration Challenge, No. 1-5

In the lull of the holiday period that closed out 2017, I resolved to a few new things in the year(s) to come. One of those things was to become a better designer/illustrator. And as a UNC basketball fan who would be parked in front of the TV for most Heels games anyway, an easy way of doing get more hours in was to commit to a new UNC-related illustration every single game day. 

Just over two weeks in, the streak is alive and well. 

 Pictured: Roy Will.i.Ams on stage at Hall of Fame Coachella.

Pictured: Roy Will.i.Ams on stage at Hall of Fame Coachella.

It kicked off with the mashup of Roy Williams and Black Eyed Peas member (and noted serial plagiarizer) Will.i.Am that you see above, based purely off of the simple similarity in names. It is without a doubt one of the dumbest designs I've ever made, and simultaneously one of my favorites. Both qualities made it a perfect first stab at this ongoing design challenge.

Personal growth/skill practiced: While this one isn't the most detailed of faces, any drawing of a human expression (even if a re-interpretation from a photo) is good practice for me, having never learned or done it much as an illustrator. 

 

No. 2: Vince Cardi 

vince_cardi2.jpg

A few days later, it was another name-inspired people mashup, this time imagining Cardi B (who was flying high off the release of the "Finesse (Remix)" video with Bruno Mars) flying through the air like UNC legend Vince Carter. Alternate title: "You can't dunk with me, if you wanted to." And if I may: the duo shares a lot more similarities than may initially meet the eye.

Personal growth/skill practiced: Because the body pose I was going off of was Vince's, the proportioning/shaping of Cardi's body — i.e. how to take Vince's physique and make it look like Cardi's — is completely freestyle. Drawing the human form is a huge hole in my repertoire so it was great to be forced to do that.

 

No. 2.5: Dilbert Davis

 Poor Hubert is just trying to save up his vacation days.

Poor Hubert is just trying to save up his vacation days.

Two games in on the design challenge and the Heels were 0-2. Morale was running low. I was running to do a recording of a trailer for the Super Empty podcast (shameless plug) and only managed to get this off, while also catching a few minutes of the Boston College game (in which BC wore quite possibly the ugliest uniforms I've ever seen).

Also, all of these are plays on words. I'm not sure why I even bother describing them that way. I did really like the idea of giving 2D Hubert a full-on comic, including casting Roy as the bumbling, empty platitude-bellowing boss from the original Dilbert strips. Alas, I ran out of time, so I didn't call this one my true #3. It was merely to be a demo. The Heels (now .500 in conference play) and I (now three designs straight) pushed deeper into the ACC slate with our dignity intact. 

Personal growth/skill practiced: How to get something turned in and live to draw another day. 

 

No. 3: Neo Pinson (The One) 

 The world you know is simply a simulation, written in code that looks oddly like argyle. 

The world you know is simply a simulation, written in code that looks oddly like argyle. 

Neo Pinson is a good pun. It's fine. It's no better or worse than Vince Cardi, or Roy Will.i.Ams, or anything else that you could probably come up with in five minutes of thinking. But Theo Pinson is no ordinary pun. As it so happens, not only does Theo Pinson have a name that rhymes with the protagonist in The Matrix's name (Neo) — but Theo Pinson WEARS NUMBER 1 and said character is referred to in the movie (and sequels) as "The One"!!! WHAT! I'll give you a few moments to unpack all that. 

Not only did Theo have a solid game on the day this was released (13 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast, 57% FG) including some clutch plays late, but UNC benefitted from an almost divinely fortuitous bounce on the game's final possession, almost as if someone, someone of a higher plane of consciousness, was manipulating reality from the inside. 

the one.gif

Personal growth/skill practiced: Good practice in accepting what the Oracle has told me.

 

No. 4: The GOATs

 "Mmm. This grass tastes like championships."

"Mmm. This grass tastes like championships."

This was a notable entry — the first to not involve a pun! It seemed to go over well with folks nonetheless, but that just might be because of the big "23" that is the focal point of the design. 

The point here, if you don't mind me beating you over the head with it, is that UNC's mascot is a ram, and a popular acronym for legendary players is "GOAT," standing for Greatest Of All-Time. Goats and rams are both four-legged grazing animals with horns. There are many former UNC players widely accepted as the "GOATs" of Carolina basketball, including Tyler Hansbrough (#50), Antawn Jamison (#33), and Michael Jordan (#23). If brings me peace of mind to know that at this point, whether you are a dedicated UNC fan or a Russian diplomat with zero understanding of what basketball is, you can grasp at least generally what I was going for here. Painting the horns blue just as the horns of Rameses are painted, plus adding rings for the national champion goats (sorry, Antawn), hopefully drove the point home further. 

Personal growth/skill practiced: I'm bad at sneakers. Any illo that forces me to draw shoes (even if I then copy/paste that shoe 8 times, as I did here) is good practice for me. This is the Air Jordan I I was going for

 

No. 5: Keeping Up With The Feltons

 "Oh my god! Did you see Raymond changed teams again!??" 

"Oh my god! Did you see Raymond changed teams again!??" 

It's 2018 in America, and we can't stop talking about the Feltons. Like, is there a team Raymond hasn't played for in the NBA at this point? And what's up with Jalek — where did his minutes go? Did Roy like, totally forget about that dunk against Stanford? Ray and J may not always see eye to eye, but one thing's for sure: family comes first. New episodes streaming now. Season 2 already in production. 

Personal growth/skill practiced: Human faces, in this case x2. I'm amazed at how Ray came out, but 1) I think he has a very distinct look, and 2) the angle of his head helps. I don't think Jalek was quite ready to leave my hard drive, but such is the nature of the 2018 Carolina Basketball Illustration Challenge 2018. Gotta get your shot up before the buzzer.

So far, six designs in, I have. We'll see how long I can keep it up.

 

Final Four tees on the way... next week.

I really hate making people wait longer than they should have to for things they've already paid for, so I'm more than a bit anxious to update everyone by saying that printing is happening next week, considering it's already been a couple weeks since the Big Game in the first place. I realize this is not the window I advertised nor that people would have expected, and I apologize for that.

Thankfully everyone has been super, super accommodating of the less-than-ideal delivery speed. I have not gotten one angry email out of more than 100 orders, which in this day and age is, frankly, insane. Conversely, within a few days of the DJ Khaled preorders going up in December, I had people emailing and asking "Where's my stuff?," already up in arms, because they didn't know me from a hole in the ground, and were concerned about being scammed. With TC, thankfully we got to establish more of a long-term connection with customers over the years and repeatedly prove that we were in this to make ourselves and others happy, not rip people off, and that built trust. In this case, as with those former TC sales, that trust is felt, and I really appreciate it. 

At this point, all I can do is wait on the printing to be completed, but as soon as I have the shirts in my hands (and former TC store manager Carlos Tovar's hands) they'll be folded and shipped out to their new homes. My goal is to get orders shipped by next Friday (a week from tomorrow) or that weekend (4/30, 5/1) at the absolute latest.

If you're moving between places (like leaving campus or moving to a new area) in the next couple of weeks and planned to have gotten stuff before now, please shoot me an email at youaintryan@gmail.com to update your shipping address to whatever it needs to be. 

Once again, thanks for the patience and my apologies for the delay. Peace peace.

Making Monsters.

 Sharing is a difficult concept to master when you're huge and green.

Sharing is a difficult concept to master when you're huge and green.

Working at Nugget affords me the opportunity to do a lot of cool things, and among those things is overseeing the illustrations for our website, packaging, social media... alla that good stuff. 

Unfortunately, I'd recently found myself in a rut trying to find a style that worked for Nugget. I scoured Instagram and the web for inspiration, and although I found a couple artists I really liked, my subsequent work only succeeded in making me feel like I was copying those artists.

Times were dark. Morale was low. 

But then, like a beacon of pure, heavenly light, these monsters came into my life today. I can't say these are finished by any stretch, I can't say that mini monsters are even the answer for what Nugget needs, all I can say is that these guys feel like the start of something good, something actually creative and not heavily derivative — in other words, a breath of fresh air. If you have any feedback on these little creatures or thoughts on what I should keep in mind as I make more, please let me know! Whatever characters I land on, Nugget is really going to lean on them, so they need to be good. 

If you're interested in what/how/why we're shipping foam couches in a single box all over the world, follow @nuggetcomfort on Instagram and Twitter! The accounts aren't particularly active right now since most of my time is going to building out our full site, but pretty soon they'll be filled with foam forts, creative videos and mischievous monsters (if I end up actually liking these guys).