July 25, 2013

Hands held high if you love a good letter tee. Damn straight! Well turns out our very own District Display Manager, Jonathan Currie, has been secretly crafting his very own range (with a little help from our renewal buyers too).

Click the image below to check out the range, and scroll down a little further to meet the maker and his desk sized studio.


UO: Hello John! Where are you right about now?

JC: Just back from a quick trip to Oxford Street to chat to our creative team about some of the up coming projects we’re going to be working on.

UO: So you’re a district display manager for Urban Outfitters – what does this involve?

JC: The job roll involves balancing people management, design, practical application and consistent communication on a daily basis. My job can look very different on a week-to-week basis. I try to spend no longer than two days in the office per week as visiting and working alongside my team is the primary motivation within my job roll.


UO: Your collection of illustrated letter tees look awesome. Tell us a little about how this project first began?

JC: The tees began after Sarah, our Renewal Buyer, took a shine to a few letter characters that I had hand drawn to pin up next to my desk at home. Sarah thought they would look strong as tees and asked what other letters I had. That was pretty much the beginning, then I spent time teaching myself illustrator as I thought the character would look better for print if they were drawn digitally.

UO: Is there a story behind the characters you’ve used on the tees?

JC: The Characters began after I spent a few months photographing and drawing graffiti from my local area, plus a few bits from the Internet.

Characters are used a lot in graffiti and day-to-day signage. You know, like when your local fish n’ chip shop has an image of a fish holding a knife and fork, wearing sunglasses, that sort of thing. I decided to combine a few of these elements and see what I came up with.


UO: You didn’t knock out the whole alphabet (booo) so what’s so special about the letters you did choose?

JC: The letters I have designed so far were chosen as they offer easier adaptation. I did make a few attempts at other letters such as M and S directly onto a computer, but feel hand drawing them first is defiantly the best way – they basically looked crap.

UO: Talk us through the process of getting your designs on a tee…

JC: As well as designs I already had drawn up, Sarah requested a few letters that had been selling well in other line of garments they were stocking. I selected the ones I thought worked best and got on with designing them.

Once I had completed the designs we discussed t-shirt quality and size of print, then I left the rest to the renewal team.


UO: Tell us the story of how you started working at Urban. Did you go to Uni or involve yourself in any other projects before your time here?

JC: I started at Urban coming up to 8 years ago now, I saw a job advertised on the soon to be Birmingham store. I was still at University at the time completing my final project in my third year.

I liked the sound of the job and asked around to see what the companY was about. I liked what people told me and felt my skills were suited to the role.

Soon after the interview I received a phone call saying I had the job. Everything snowballed from there really, I think in total I have been involved in the opening of 26 out of 38 stores we now have in Europe.


UO: Your job demands a whole load of creative thinking. How do you keep the inspiration juices flowing?

JC: I spend a lot of time taking in my surroundings, listening to people, and reading different magazines. DAMn is a favourite of mine.

I do use social media (Instagram) and blogs to a degree, however sometimes you can get bogged down with thousands of images appearing online; it can cloud your thought process. Sometimes I feel it’s better to know what you’re looking for before you start looking.


UO: What’s been your favourite project so far?

JC: My favourite project so far has to be my most recent store opening in Nuremberg; it was great to work with the artist Ricardo Cavolo who painted a mural on our menswear ceiling.

We used the imagery he created to tie in our marketing and store opening event. We also developed the new record shop concept that was expanded upon for our Marble Arch store, and is now being rolled out to all stores where we stock a large selection of vintage vinyl titles.

UO: What other artists would you recommend taking a peek at?

JC: Ornamental Conifer
Barry Mcgee
Richardo Cavolo
Agostino Lucurci
Esther Mahlangu


UO: You get to collab with ANYONE in the world to start your own clothing range. Who’s your partner of choice?

JC: Not Sure! If I was going to do other Graphic tees it would need to be a brand that was synonymous with producing well fitting quality plain t-shirts – good t-shirts are all in the fit.

UO: Where do you hang when the working day is done?

JC: Depends which city I’m in, but generally in pubs that serve cold beer with friends! Elderfield is my local!

UO: Tell us something that will cause a chuckle?

JC: Newspaperdicks.tumblr.com