• Kk_graniph_front
  • Kk_graniph_frontroom
  • Kk_graniph
  • Pink_close
  • Kk_graniph2
  • Original_close
  • A_close
  • Kk_stripes_close
  • Blank_shirts
  • Kk_graniph_outside
Graphic Design

Graniph T-Shirt Design Award

Posted by Alex Bec,

Not a day goes past when you don’t walk around and see some kind of graphic blazoned on the front of a t-shirt. What is a little harder to find is something adorning the front of a garment that you’d actually want there, but graniph buck that trend. One of the original graphic t-shirt facilitators who have a healthy appetite for uncovering and supporting new artists. This month at KK OUTLET they are exhibiting all the winning designs from this year’s installment of their annual design competition and to learn a little more we chatted to one of the team out in Japan, David Smyth.

Hi David, could you tell us a little bit about graniph and why you’ve decided to show at KK Oulet?

graniph is a Japanese brand which is enamored with color, design and enthusiasm. We keep things moving quickly, releasing up to 130 new products a month, a production process which is fueled by collaborations with up and coming designers, musicians and cultural events. We’ve collaborated with loads of British artists in the past and always get a great response to our annual award from British designers, so when KK Outlet touched base with us we we thought it was a perfect way to physically connect with people on the other side of the world.

130 products a month sounds like a huge amount! How is it all produced? How many of you are there?

We have a team of 5 in-house designers as well as a separate team which looks after designing non-tee items. We also get a lot of ideas and input from the shop staff as they deal with the customers and see how people react to certain designs on a daily basis, so their feedback really helps.

Did it all start out in Tokyo?

Yes, in a place called Shimokitazawa. At the time Japan was economically struggling but apart from second hand stuff most brands seemed way out of reach to students and the emerging classes of “neets” and “freeters”, people who chose not to conform to the typical salary man lifestyle so prevalent here. The three founders of graniph met each other in art school and decided to put their passion for art into creating high quality tees which their peers could afford. It started out very small scale, just selling tees to friends and then grew to selling tees on the street. The latter didn’t go down well with the local authorities or the local Yakuza, so the decision was made to set up a legit store which didn’t involve getting arrested or chased!

How do you choose the designers on the site (aside from the competitions)?

We encourage applications through the Design Wanted section on our website and also actively search for new and interesting designs which we think would work well in our stores. This means spending hours going through design blogs, magazines and books – a nice way to spend each morning actually!

Are there any blog, books or magazines that you always seem to call on and like the most?

When looking for new artists I’d often hit up blogs like booooooom, FFFound , The Strange Attractor, as well as going through Myspace pages/ Flickr accounts etc. It’s always nice to stumble upon college students online portfolios which have really original, experimental ideas. Also our founders really love Swiss designers, such as Emil Ruder and Josef Muller Brockmann (who we have a collaboration series based on), so the office is always full of old European graphic design books.

Have you branched out into anything aside from T-Shirts?

Initially we just produced tees but gradually developed seasonal products which fitted in with the color and feel of our stores. This started with the introduction of long sleeve tees during the winter months but now we have expanded seasonal ranges so we do items such as jackets and parkas in the winter and skirts and straw hats in the summer. Everything shares a common theme of color and energy, and of course everything is produced in limited quantities to preserve a sense of uniqueness.

What’s your favourite t-shirt in your wardrobe that isn’t made by Graniph?

Has the be my Guinness tee… I can represent my homeland and show off my hobby at the same time.

Ahhh so you’re from Ireland — what’s the biggest shock you had culture-wise on moving to Japan?

When I first came here I couldn’t read much Japanese so being illiterate was a pretty humbling, and at times hilarious, experience – a lot of strange purchases were made on early shopping trips!

The show runs from Thursday 6 August — Friday 28 August
Private View, Thursday 6 August 19:00-21:00

Flickr Set

Ab-300

Posted by Alex Bec

Alex is one of the directors of It’s Nice That who now oversees our sister creative agency INT Works. For several years he oversaw the Monday Morning Music Video feature until it came to an end in 2014.

Most Recent: Events View Archive

  1. List

    When we post work on It’s Nice That we don’t really know what that can lead to, but it’s always terrific to hear that creative collaborations have sprung from an article on the site. It’s even more terrific to hear of a coming together like this between Wild Beasts and animator and illustrator Mattis Dovier as part of The Jameson Works.

  2. List

    Last month we held an evening of talks at Mother London to showcase some of our favourite creative projects made possible through crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Since it launched in 2009, it’s no exaggeration to say the organisation has changed the way the creative world works and it was great to hear from some of those who had made the most of the new opportunities Kickstarter offers.

  3. Main1

    Just over a week ago It’s Nice That’s Jamie McIntyre and I took a train from London to Glasgow to the much-antiticipated Graphic Design Festival Scotland. We had been invited by Beth Wilson and James Gilchrist, two students who had recently graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. During their degree the two had found themselves working best when together, and decided to form Warriors Studio as a duo. They began thinking about the climate of graphic design in Scotland, the need for something new and exciting and – most importantly – what the hell they were going to do when term ends and they were turfed out to fend for themselves.

  4. List

    The House of Peroni is back and as bold as ever, this time celebrating the dizzying cultural diversity of Rome, the birth place of Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Combining the worlds of food, drink, design and film, contemporary Rome has been brought to London for one month only via a transformed townhouse; a four-storey exploration of how Rome’s rich heritage is being interpreted by a new wave of creative talent in Italy.

  5. Kickstarter_list_image

    Few things fundamentally change the way the creative world works, which makes the rise and rise of crowdfunding site Kickstarter all the more remarkable. Now five years in, it’s one of those brands that’s become a verb and “to Kickstarter” is an increasingly common way of launching a project.

  6. List

    Back in the spring, The House of Peroni took over a central London townhouse with a celebration of the retro 1960s inspired creativity which so influenced Peroni’s founders. Next month it’s back and this time around it will be a feast of food, drink, art, design and fashion that reflects the cultural diversity of Rome.

  7. List

    As one of the most fundamental visual tools, creatives use colour in a multitude of ways. It’s Nice That is excited to be partnering with G . F Smith for three evenings exploring how an eclectic mix of visual practitioners think about colour and harness its power. They will take place across the UK and each evening will also feature an exclusive screening of the Colorplan film Bright Red. The exciting line-ups we have helped curate for the events are:

  8. List

    An elegant townhouse in central London has been transformed into a multi-storey, multi-sensory celebration of Italian style and culture. The House of Peroni, which opened last night, boasts a host of retro-inspired creativity – inspired by 1963, the year Peroni Nastro Azzurro was launched – and it brings to life a stylised version of la dolce vita.

  9. Main

    I love Pick Me Up, especially the private view. Fine cheese, meats, booze and the best illustration and graphic arts you can hope for under one roof. In its fifth year the festival seems to have graduated from being a trade fair at which members of the public could by prints and knick knacks they wanted to hang in their kitchen, to being a place that celebrates the true craft of the world’s youngest and most talented artists.

  10. List

    We’ve featured Brinkworth’s beautifully designed skate parks on the site before when they launched Nike’s BaySixty6, a community project under London’s Westway that invited people of all ages to pick up a deck and try their hand on the ramps. The initiative was such a success that Brinkworth have become something of an authority on skate park construction and have since been invited to create a temporary set-up at the Old Selfridges Hotel, located inside Selfridges department store.

  11. Main

    A lot of websites and magazines have technology and creative digital media as the forefront of their coverage. I never really got it before, until visiting Resonate festival in Belgrade last week when suddenly it dawned on me: turns out technology really is the future. Whoops!

  12. List

    It’s that time of the year – the YCN Professional Awards are now open for entries and once again competition is sure to be fierce as the freshest creative talent at work around the world battle it out for the prestigious prizes.

  13. Virginatlantic1

    Somewhere in the financial district of Manhattan, Virgin Atlantic are quite literally flying the flag for Britain with Fabergé’s second Big Egg Hunt, which follows the resounding success of the inaugural event in London two years ago. Over 250 eggs have taken residency across New York for the month of April, with familiar creative names such as Tracey Emin, Oliver Jeffers and Shantell Martin have all transformed the blank canvas of a shell provided.