Deanna Sheehan aka DoodleHeadDee lives in Warren, Michigan, a place she describes as just a quiet little suburb. Good neighbors. I know. The brevity is very suspicious. She’s got to be hiding something. And while I would love to know what’s really going on in Warren, Michigan, there is not much I can do about it from here. Anyway, Deanna seems to be a little bit of a workaholic but, as they say, if you love your job, you’ll never have to work another day in your life. Well, she seems to enjoy what she does.
Deanna is not much of a traveler, Canada is about as far as she has ventured but luckily for us she’s a bit of a pop culture nerd. She likes to spend her time at home with her accomplices (husband and daughter) planning and creating awesome designs for the t-shirts you can see here. The lady loves art and design and has been creating it since she was 6 years old. Read more about what makes Deanna Sheehan tick in the interview below.
I’m guessing you chose the nickname DoodleHeadDee because you are a bit of a doodlehead. And your husband is too. Together you are Doodle-Heads. They don’t call me Sherlock…but I do have some powers of deduction. Tell me I am right.
You are 100% Correct
Are you Warren, Michigan born and raised?
Yes, I am; I was born here and still live in Warren today.
Tell us something fun about Warren.
To be honest, it’s just a quiet little suburb. Good neighbors.
I see you teach digital art and motion graphics at Macomb Community College. What’s your typical day like?
Teaching at the college is my second job. I spend my days as a designer/motion designer at the Quintek Group. I spend my days designing and animating. A couple of nights a week I teach Motion Graphics at the local college, which means leaving one job, going home to make dinner and hang out with my family then leaving for an 8pm – 11pm class. A busy day, but rewarding in the end.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m sure most artists say this, but I like designing t-shirts, watching movies and tv, and playing video games.
About the Artist
When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
Since my cousin Lori showed me her sketchbook from art class when I was about 6 years old.
I’m guessing you have had formal art training. Has this helped with your t-shirt design?
Absolutely! There are so many aspects to art: Design, Form, Creativity, Color Theory, Perspective, etc. One of the main things I tell my students is that they need traditional skills as well. If you can’t draw on paper, then you can’t draw on the computer—it is not a magic box that is going to do the work for you. Learn as much as you can. Become an expert at what you love, but make sure you are proficient in everything else.
Apart from t-shirts, are you involved in other art/design projects?
Every day I’m working on something new for the studio.
Were you influenced by any particular artist or style?
Since I was a kid, Chuck Jones has been such a great inspiration for design style and animation.
Where do you usually get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from what I love: TV, books, and movies. Most of my inspiration is shared with my daughter. I will usually design something for whatever we end up loving together.
Could you describe your typical design process from concept to completion?
As all good concepts do, it starts with an idea. Once I get the idea stuck in my head (yes, it is usually in my head for awhile, and yes I usually draw it out in my head first) I will sketch it out first, usually a couple of times, refining the design as I go. Then I scan the design and do most of the rest in Illustrator. If the design needs halftoning, I usually do that in PhotoShop.
About the Tees
How did you first hear about daily t-shirt sites like TeeFury and RIPT?
By accident. I love t-shirts, love to wear them and buy them for my daughter. I saw that you could submit designs on Ript Apparel and thought “Hey… I can do that!”
Do you remember your first print? If so, what was it and how did you feel?
My first print was “Bending the Fourth Wall,” and I was shocked, to be honest. It was rewarding; confirming.
Which daily sites have your t-shirts been sold at?
Of the t-shirts that you designed which is your favorite?
My absolute favorite is JJ’s Diner.
Do you wear the t-shirts that you have designed?
Absolutely! I wouldn’t design something that I wouldn’t want to wear myself.
Have you seen your students wearing one of your t-shirts?
Yes! It was so exciting to see one of them walk in sporting my Galaxy of Guardians shirt.
What’s next from DoodleHeadDee?
I am currently working on an Agent Carter/Quaker Oats parody.
About the World
Do you have any role models?
I do. My husband Shawn is a great role model. He is an amazing artist, and going through college sitting next to him pushed me to be a better artist.
What is the most exotic location you have been to?
Where would you most like to visit? Why?
I would love to go to Ireland. Not exactly sure why…maybe it’s because green is my favorite color.
About Other Designers
Have you done any collaborations for t-shirts? If so, who and what did you design? If not, who would you like to collaborate with?
I have. My Mangled, Galaxy of Guardians, and Bending the Fourth Wall tees were collaborations with a great friend and fellow tee artist Gunther Tee.
Who would you like to see featured on the Shirt List next?
Anna-Maria Jung or my husband.
Read the Anna-Maria Jung interview.
About Tee Design
Any advice for other designers/artists?
Don’t give up; keep at it. Every decline you will get (I’ve had tons), will only make you better. You can never get worse, and if you’re making something you like, it shouldn’t matter. For the love of art, just keep drawing.
Photoshop or Illustrator?
Illustrator is my fav.
What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?
Age of Ultron! Long live James Spader!