Loren Fisher from P3 Printing was crowned the winner of the FESPA Africa and Sign Africa T-shirt 2018 Design Competition, which was sponsored by Midcomp/Direct Color Systems. Entrants were required to submit a design for a printed T-shirt, inspired by the ‘Where T-shirt Printing Takes Off’ theme of the expo. The top 15 entrants’ designs were then printed and showcased at the event’s registration area, where Fisher’s design was voted the favourite.
Fisher is a self-taught designer who started designing at the age of 15 on CorelDRAW X3. She obtained her MSc in Biochemistry and LLB and then decided to open her own printing company 10 years ago. ‘I was thrown into the deep end and had to learn how to design all over again. CorelDRAW is a fantastic programme as the basic buttons haven’t changed much in 22 years, so it was the easiest programme to teach myself. Over the years of running my own business, I have developed as a designer and improved my skill set. And for every question, there is a YouTube video to tell me what to do. 10 years later I am running my printing company on my own, doing all the designing, printing and finishing/installations.’
Fisher was a runner-up in last year’s T-shirt design competition and was excited to learn that Sign Africa was running the competition this year. ‘I am glad to see that my skills have improved. It’s a great opportunity for local designers to showcase their skill and compete against their peers in the industry,’ she said.
Advice to designers
Have confidence in your design skills. I like to spend a lot of time thinking about designs while I do other stuff. Those who procrastinate are sometimes just waiting for their creativity to hit. They can’t force the ideas to come, but when it does, it can be magical. There are many times where I’m just sitting around waiting for ideas to materialise. I then walk away or procrastinate, and it can be an hour, a day, or even a week later before the idea hits me. So, the next time you are struggling, walk away. A change of scenery can produce ideas when you aren’t trying to be creative. It’s your subconscious that produces this creativity.
Inspiration behind the design
I thought about my design for two weeks before I started working on it. And the idea I started with is nothing like the idea I ended with. As I played around with images and layouts it slowly came together. Because I had spent time thinking about the design, by the time I was done I was 100% happy with the end result, which probably only took half an hour to put together.
Initially I got stuck with the whole ‘taking off’ idea, and thought about rockets and planes that ‘take off’ but slowly expanded my idea pool to include other ideas that were indicative of taking off and flight. My first few designs were of a rocket with a cloud of smoke, which I felt was a little too literal. The phoenix rising then came to mind. It’s such a powerful image and to me, it indicated taking off, rising above and reaching new heights. I played around with different ‘smoke’ effects to show movement in the image and then tried a few different colour combinations. Sometimes less is more and I saw that too much colour was confusing the design. I also played around with different infills for the Phoenix until I found the one that worked the best with the smoke I had chosen.
I hope more people enter the competition next year. It’s great to see how creative South Africans can be. Don’t be scared by the fact that you don’t have a formal design background – I am proof that creativity comes from within.
Fisher’s long-term career goals include improving her design skills as ‘learning never stops’ as well as business growth. She believes there are many new avenues in the print industry to explore and there will always be a need for small businesses like hers to fill the gaps created by the bigger companies. ‘If small businesses continue to support other small businesses then we will all achieve our goals,’ Fisher concluded.