Posted Mar 16th 2009 by

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An interview with
BUDI KWANwords by , March 2009

Back in January we were very happy to launch a competition in association with the ever-awesome tee community site LaFraise. We had a stack of great submissions and it was tough to single out one design to be the winner. But we got there in the end, and the winner was talented tee design maestro Budi Kwan, aka Radiomode. We felt it only polite and proper to catch up for with him for a chat!

Hi Budi! Congratulations on winning the first ever Thunder Chunky X laFraise Contest! How is life in Sunny Singapore?

Thanks again for choosing my design! It is burning hot (as usual) in Singapore.

Let’s jump right in, what were your inspirations / ideas behind the final design?

It was about peeling a sticker, and finding a completely different world underneath it. Fortunately, the newly found universe was inhibited by a bunch of cute characters instead of scary aliens.

When I found out about the theme, I was immediately thinking about a big “T” letter on the t-shirt. Off course, just a “T” letter wouldn’t be so interesting, so I decided to sketch up a group of characters, and turned the “T” letter into a sort of sticker (image attached). Originally I used a lot of gradients to finalise the design, but it did not work, so I had to rework the character in clean vectors.

In short, this bunch of characters have found a way to our world thru a magical “T” shaped door. I am just happy that they are not some sort of human eating creatures.

Budi Kwan winning tee design

Budi’s early sketches of his winning tee and the finished illustration

You seem to be a real specialist in stunning tee shirt design and have many interesting styles, and submit to many places. Do you always have the same approach for designing tee shirts? Talk us through your method / process.

Usually I come up with an idea, then try to find the best way to convey the idea. I find it difficult to limit myself to a particular kind of style right now, since I am so comfortable with so many styles.

Solitary Dream tee

‘Solitary Dream’ tee for Threadless

What has been your favourite design you have designed so far and why?

I can name a lot, but if I have to pick one, it would be this one:

I was thinking one day about how strange it was to see so many cctv cameras around, and this idea of a god-seeing-it-all guy came to my mind. The design process was effortless. Everything just fell into place, and I’m really happy with the outcome. The design had been sitting on my computer for months before I decided to apply it on t-shirt.

CCTV tee

The CCTV tee design

You’ve submitted a few designs to What do you think of the laFraise community?

I consider myself new to Lafraise. My submissions were rejected so many times by LaFraise! I realized that LaFraise (Europe) community is a unique, one of a kind community that is 100% different as compared to other design communities. I believe this is possible because LaFraise is catered to a particular audience.

If you could choose one person in the world to design a tee shirt for who would it be and what would be the design?

Maybe the Dalai Lama, and it would contain big typography that said: Peace. Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama does not wear t-shirts.

What advice would you give to others when designing a shirt for the first time?

Be as innovative as possible. Try to avoid such clichés as the swirl, a random face or an odd mix between 3d and 2d images.

Just your other skull

‘Just your other skull’ tee design

Which illustrators/designers do you admire and study?

I am easily amused, and to mention all of them would be impossible. But to name a few: Heiko Windisch, Ghostpatrol and Little Friend of Printmaking

What other exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

Currently I am working on The Yahoo Purplescape project, which is a showcase of designers from South East Asia.

Do you have any childhood memories of your design skills?

Stick figures and abstract murals!

Finally, what’s the one thing everyone should do today?

Go buy some chocolate ice cream

If you want to check out more of Budi’s work all you have to do is browse to any of the big t-shirt competition sites out there, but for an overview of it all then the absolute best place to go is Budi’s own site. Check it out and enjoy the tees! And of course, keep an eye on LaFraise, where Budi’s tee will be available soon.


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(3 Comments) - click to comment/read
  • […] Remember the ThunderChunky contest? Well our first place winner for that contest was Radiomode. ThunderChunky just notified me that their full interview and feature is now up and ready for your reading pleasure. You can check it out here. […]

    • Jim

      These designs are freaking awesome!!

    • Pingback: Radiomode Interview at ThunderChunky | LaFraise Blog()

    • TO DESIGNER OF THE T SHIRT GRAFX. where did you have your design print on tshirt? because they look great. i would like to find out where did you get it print? please contact me thanks ethan

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