JP Perez moved from the Philippines to the US when he was just 10 years old with a pencil gripped firmly in his fingers. He didn’t let go of the pencil until his parents gave him a copy of A Child’s First Adobe PhotoShop for Christmas. OK, I made some of that up. I am just trying to figure out how he got so good at art. It’s probably just a healthy combination of hard work and talent. Or making a deal with a crossroads demon.
JP Perez is a prolific and talented artist and recently his art has been recognized by celebrities such as Gal Gadot and Chris Hemsworth. How cool is that! On the web, he is known as ArybyJP, and jpzilla as well as JP Perez. To learn more about the man behind the art, read on:
JP Perez Interview
Jpzilla could easily be an abbreviation of Japan Godzilla but as your initials are JP I assume that jpzilla is to Mr. Hyde as JP Perez is to Dr. Jekyll. OK, that’s a stretch. Tell us about your nickname and also what JP stands for.
That’s pretty close actually! It was my alter ego whenever I’d transform into a monster at the beach and destroy sand castles (that I made) in monster lizard fashion.
In the Barrett Biggers interview, I found out that you are also based in Florida. Born and raised?
I was actually born in the Philippines and didn’t move to the States until I was 10. I moved to stormy Florida in my 20s in search of the meaning of life.
What do you like most about where you live?
The winters are amazing!
Do you work full-time in art and design? Do you have a 9 to 5 or are you a freelancer?
I’ve been doing art full-time for a couple of years now.
About the Artist
When did you start creating art?
I remember loving to draw in my early childhood… As far back as I can remember.
Do you have a formal art education or are you self-taught?
I’m pretty much self-taught, though I did take drawing and design classes in college, which probably helped.
I see you had a successful Kickstarter campaign for Ronin of the Mushari Kingdom. Could you tell us about that? Is the comic still available? Did you create more than one issue?
That started off as just a parody painting of the Super Mario universe reimagined in a Samurai Fantasy world. I got a lot of positive feedback for the image along with the synopsis that I created to explain the image. A very talented friend named Jarvis Hough worked extremely hard in helping me develop this world and we created a 9 issue comic arc, which the first was successfully launched via Kickstarter. Unfortunately, being a new freelance artist makes it difficult to devote the amount of time needed to work on the remaining books, so right now it’s on the back burner. I currently have the 1st issue on my website if you’re interested in checking it out!
What other art/design projects are you involved in?
I recently worked on two different Star Wars sketch card projects for Topps, which was a cool experience! I’m also constantly working on digital and traditional art commissions, which I’m very fortunate to do.
Could you describe your typical design process from concept to completion?
It usually starts with finding inspiration in a show, movie, song, or conversation. I’ll then sketch out my ideas and then paint the artwork in Photoshop. That’s pretty much the gist of it.
About the T-Shirts
How did you first hear about daily t-shirt sites like TeeFury and RIPT?
I have a few artist friends that urged me to try doing shirt designs a couple of years ago. Barrett Biggers actually helped me get to know the ropes in what sites are legit and how to approach designing a shirt. We worked on a bunch of collaborations together and I really love the stuff we came up with! I hope we can do more soon.
Do you remember your first print? If so, what was it and how did you feel?
I remember my first major one, which was actually a collaboration with Barrett. It was a Spider-Gwen inspired piece on TeeFury and we got pancakes, which was a big deal to me! Getting pancakes means your design sold well.
You have had t-shirts printed by TeeFury, RIPT, and ShirtPunch. Who do you usually submit to first? Why?
Are you trying to get me blacklisted?!?! For real though, I’ve submitted to them first individually whenever I had multiple designs that I wanted to get out there, and I’ve submitted to each of them first for experimentation. I’ve had some good and bad experiences with all the sites, things that most artists have faced working with shirt sites.
You sell your designs on TeePublic, RedBubble, Design by Humans, NeatoShop and Society6.
Which performs best for you?
Things have been going well over at TeePublic. I’ve recently been given Virtuoso status, which means I’m in the top 10% of sellers! I also got a similar status on Design by Humans.
Which is easiest to work with?
My experience with Neatoshop and TeePublic have been excellent.
Of the t-shirts that you designed, which one is your favorite?
I like the parody mash-ups like my Nostalgiaz and “I’m a Star Lord” because they always get a lot of positive reactions whenever I wear them.
Do you wear the t-shirts that you have designed?
I do! It’s a form of advertising. There have been a lot of times where people comment on my shirt, and so I take that opportunity to give them a business card and share my art with potential clients. Artists have to find creative ways of getting your work out there.
Have you seen somebody wearing one of your t-shirts in the real world?
Yes! It’s super surreal. It has happened the most at comic conventions. There’s also that one time that Barrett saw someone wearing our design when he was visiting Japan!
How awesome was it to have Gal Gadot tweet your Wonder Riveter design? Has something like this happened before?
It was mind blowing!!!! I’m extremely pumped for Wonder Woman, so this was just awesome.
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) February 22, 2017
The director of Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins, actually liked my Wonder Riveter piece a few weeks beforehand, which was already more than I could ask for. I’ve been so lucky to have had my art interact with industry celebrities like Will Wheaton and Stan Lee.
The most recent one was with Taika Waititi, who’s the director of Thor: Ragnarok. He said on Twitter that he’d wear my Ragna-Rock parody design, and when I offered to send him some we DM’ed each other to make it happen! I don’t mean to name drop, I’m just fanboy a bit when creators and talent that I admire appreciate my art.
Photoshop or Illustrator?
Photoshop. Raster is much more friendly to my painterly style.
About the World
What is the most exotic location you have been to?
My wife and I climbed Mayan pyramids on one of our cruise expeditions. We saw monkeys!
Where would you most like to visit? Why?
The Shire, but only when the LOTR soundtrack is playing, because it would be amazing.
About Other Designers
Which t-shirt designer(s) do you admire the most?
I’m so blown away by the artists that do really good illustration-based designs like Megan Lara, Émilie Boisvert, and Medusa Dollmaker. You can tell that so much care, talent, and time go into their work.
Barrett Biggers talked about how you met and your collaborations. Have you collaborated with other artists?
No, not really. Barrett holds a special place in my he-ART. Man, I’m getting solid at dad jokes!
For you, what are the advantages and disadvantages of collaboration?
I don’t really see a disadvantage as long as we are all on the same page. Barrett and I have successfully done a lot of pieces together and it’s been great working with him. The advantage is that each artist can bring their own flavor or specialty, and that can end in some really cool art.
Who would you like to see interviewed on the Shirt List next?
Émilie Boisvert! She’s uber talented and has been very helpful in my shirt designing venture.
Any advice for new designers/artists?
Don’t take criticism the wrong way! Use it as a tool to grow. Also, learn to know which ones to listen to. There are sometimes a lot of worthless noise out there.
What are you watching on TV at the moment?
Legion. It’s so trippy.
What’s the last movie you saw in the cinema/movie theater?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It was fun!