Posted Jul 27th 2009 by

Lead image

An interview with
Jared Nickerson (aka J3Concepts)words by , July 2009

Jared Nickerson is a busy man to track down. When he’s not creating bright bold character driven vector work for clients such as Activision, Nintendo, Microsoft, Ryzwear and Vice he’s creating tees for laFraise – where he is also the Community Director. His work has been applied onto tees, prints, sneakers, iphone apps and even skis! After all this, he is also one of the founders of renowned vector community site BloodSweatVector. We caught up with him after he returned from his much deserved break in Tahiti, to ask a few questions…

For those who aren’t down with Jared Nickerson, tell us what you’re about in a few simple sentances.

  1. Well I’m a 26 year old illustrator based out of Seattle, WA. I’ve been in the industry 5+ years.
  2. I specialize in character design and videogame development.
  3. Pretty standard stuff, I’m married, enjoy long walks on the beach and candle light dinners.

Tee shirts, you seem to love em! Tell us how you got on board with!

Well I’d won over at laFraise a few times and ended up getting into a discussion with the current operator/manager. He mentioned he was looking for someone to handle the more artist aspect of laFraise including artist recruitment etc. and I signed up. That was about a year and a half ago, and things have been going pretty smooth since. This has in turn opened up a lot of other avenues for me with fellow artists and even communities such as this wonderful one called ThunderChunky


These Diamond Days Of Oblivion

Considering how many tees you’ve done in the past yourself and witness so many at, how do you approach a new design? What do you think works / doesn’t?

Honestly you’d think there would be a science to it, but essentially there isn’t. Depending on the community and area of the world, certain things work and don’t work. Some communities love their character designs, others like their big abstract prints, while others even like their tshirts with a “punchline”. What I find works best for me though is an assortment of elements mixed together. Those seem to be my most popular designs such as “Country Club Nouveau” (DesignByHumans) or the newly printed “Super Mega Fun” (Threadless).


Super Mega Fun


Country Club Nouveau

As well as tees, you’ve got your work plastered all over Ryzwear sneakers, hoodies, websites and even ski’s. Would you recommend up and coming illustrators to stretch their design skills and work to these different canvases?

Essentially in any design industry it’s great seeing your work on any medium. I definitely suggest experimenting with different companies. It really helps reach new audiences as well. People that might be avid skiers would have never seen my work if it wasn’t for their favourite skier using a pair of my skis, the examples can go on. Essentially the more platforms and mediums you use, the better coverage you get.


Ryzwear Sneakers


Danger Skis for TJ Schiller

You’re also one of the founders of BloodSweatVector, a thriving illustration network showcasing some top notch work. What was the idea of that, and where do you see it going?

There was no real community setup just for vector artists to show off their work. It’s an invite only system so we try and have the best of the best in the realm of vector artists, including 123Klan, Charuca, Niark1, Cuypi and others. We have really ran out of time to work more with it since the initial realisation, but I could see it turning into a book and an eventual show one day ;)

You’ve also done a few collaborations. Do you prefer to work alone or with others on collaboration.

It’s always good to see other artists angles on certain themes or even on your own work. You can learn a lot from fellow artists and in a lot of ways it’s very eye opening. Myself, I prefer working alone, but it’s always good to mix it up. I have though learned a lot from doing colabs with fellow artists. I suggest it.

Your logo work is excellent too, the majority of your approach to logo design goes against the grain of standard identity design, being quite detailed, intricate but yet quite beautiful. What do you consider your favourite logos, and do they influence your logomarks?

Logos are one of my least favorite things to design/illustrate. I always find it’s too much pressure to sum up a whole company or organization in one simple graphic. I think my favorite logos though are the ones that are a small artwork in themseles. Ones that tell a short story, instead of just a letter in a box. Mind you, the logos that seem to work the best are the ones that are the simplest. Someone mentioned to me that the best logos, are the ones that anyone could recreate on a napkin. That shows true branding.


Logo sheet 1


Logo sheet 2

What percentage of your work consists of personal designs, as opposed to client work? It seems that your designs evolve quite a bit. Do clients see something in your portfolio and just say “I’ll have that but with a few more gloves or moustaches”?

Ha ha, yeah I’m always trying something new with each piece, “trying” be the key word. As for actual % of work that is client based as opposed to personal, I’d say about 90% of my work now is commercial.

You’ll find it changes as time goes on, you find your personal work being snuffed out. What is nice though is that when I do produce something for myself, most of the times I can turn around and sell the design or use it in a design contest. Really it works both ways.

Whose work are you loving at the moment?

Almost everything on BloodSweatVector for sure. A few names that stand out to me right now are McBess, Arbito and Oliver Hubert. I actually just met Arbito the other day, I’m a closet fan of his for sure.

What else are you loving at the moment?

Thats a loaded question. Vacations are good, just got back from Tahiti, loved that of course. I’ve been listening to “The Temper Trap” a lot lately as well as the usual 80s electro and new wave that I normally delve into. Just saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (19% on RottenTomatoes), and as you know I hated it to death. I hate when these directors and executive producers have all of these resources and talented people at their disposal, and squander it on explosions, explosions, explosions and about 5% plot/story. So that would go under the “hate at the moment” list. Other loves right now include Kashi Rice with chicken and Coke, the bottled kind from Mexico with real sugar.

What’s the most interesting thing you have bought recently?

Ha ha ha, well I bought a souvenir while I was in Tahiti for a buddy of mine, and it’s a wooden penis, with a bottle opener on the end. Besides that though I grabbed a smaller laptop for travel, an Asus Eee 1008 Seashell, and I have to say it’s a handy little gadget to have for checking email and watching movies on the go. Can’t design anything on it, but it gets everything else done.

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

Breathe, I find you need to do that every once and awhile.

You can keep up with all of Jared’s work on the J3Concepts. Don’t forget to checkout all that’s going on at and grab your vector fix from BloodSweatVector!


Share on Pinterest
(8 Comments) - click to comment/read
  • Wow, Jared’s work is awesome! Im now a big fan, another great TC interview!

  • Jon

    Totally agree! Love the clean vector style of it all!

  • Totally! Jared’s such a good all rounder!
    Amazes me that logos are his least fave to design – he’s bloody brilliant at them!

  • Mike H.

    I see Jared everywhere now. Each interview he does you always find out something new. Great work guys!

  • Always love your work! Looking at your work wants to increase its level of operations, always looking forward to the new!

    Cheers from Russia!

  • All agreed then? Jared kicks! He did a couple of killer Speakerdog paper toys a year or two back too, it’s been a blast watching his work get better and better and more and more widespread.

  • awesome stuff as always with you. i’m waiting for the oblivio’n tee

  • you really make a great job with lafraise. karma as good plan for you dude

Featured book

Jimmy Corrigan

Media Temple

TC Contributors

Here we are... all the people who make TC tick! Browse all the articles we've written, or find out more.