CJ Boucher is a Brit with an American accent and ninja skills. (Ninjas know Jiu Jitsu, right?) He is an artist of many talents, designing t-shirts is just one of them. He lived in Gabon (Central Africa on the west coast. I Googled it.) with giant insects and this family for a while.
CJ is a self-taught artist and it took him a while to break into the t-shirt market. Luckily, he wasn’t short of persistence and it is paying off. Read more about the man in this interview:
CJ Boucher Interview
I see on Ript that you are based in the London. Born and raised?
I was actually born in Oxford, England. I moved to Gabon for a few years then the U.S during my formative years. I came back to the UK in 2003 where I have lived since with a fully retained American accent. I have lived in London for about 9 years.
What do you like most about where you live?
There are a lot of major companies in my industry in Central London, I like being close to the industry and those opportunities.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to draw and watch cartoons. I also enjoy martial arts which I have been doing for a few years; I’m currently a green belt in Jiu Jitsu.
You seem to have your finger in a lot of pies. What do you say when someone asks what you do for a living?
Most artists have day jobs far removed from creativity because they need to survive but I don’t define myself by those jobs, as they’re only a means to an end. So I say what I am: a freelance illustrator, animator and voice actor and I have day jobs to survive, for now.
About the Artist
When did you start creating art?
I started drawing when I was around 9 years old; at least that’s when I remember falling in love with it.
Do you have a formal art education or are you self-taught?
I am self-taught; I have no formal education in art.
Apart from t-shirts, are you involved in other art/design projects?
I regularly create online comics which I post on my Instagram and when time allows I make cartoons which I get friends to do voices for, I’ve also done voices for other peoples’ animations.
I recently collaborated with my bro Lucas Leao to create an album cover for his debut album ‘NOS’. I have been making short music videos on my YouTube channel with my friends’ music and my own which is something I want to do more of.
Could you describe your typical design process from concept to completion?
When I get an idea I write it down immediately and add it to the list, then I pick the one I’m most interested in at the time. I then create a project folder for that design; I sketch out the design on paper then scan it, I Google reference material at all stages of the design.
I then use Illustrator and/or Photoshop to bring it to life, I create a crude sketch layer in light blue then go over that with a more detailed version in darker blue. I then ink the artwork and colour.
About the T-Shirts
I forget who the artist is but it struck my attention as a pun addict and Futurama fan, it inspired me to do mashups as I didn’t even know that was a thing beforehand.
Do you remember your first print? If so, what was it and how did you feel?
Yes, I had been designing shirts for 3 years or so, never getting anywhere with it so I had given up on the idea of making a living out of it. A couple years ago, The Yetee sent me an email saying they want to print my Saria design. I couldn’t believe it, I was over the moon! All I needed was one design to kick off; I’ve had a few daily prints since.
You have had t-shirts printed by TeeFury and RIPT. Who do you usually submit to first? Why?
I always submit to RIPT first because they’re more about limited edition shirts and they’re very selective about what they want, for good reason. They’re really involved with their artists and always let us know what they’re looking for which is useful in choosing which designs to focus on.
Which is easiest to work with?
Neatoshop’s uploading process is by far the most simple and straightforward.
Of the t-shirts that you designed, which one is your favorite?
Cloud Pilgrim, it’s one of the first designs I was really proud of, I might update it in the future.
Do you wear the t-shirts that you have designed?
Yes, I usually wear my designs in social situations, it’s good self-advertisement. I’ve actually made a few connections and met some new fans that way.
Have you seen somebody wearing one of your t-shirts in the real world?
I haven’t randomly run into anyone wearing my designs yet but I do have friends who have bought some of my shirts and worn them when I am around.
Photoshop or Illustrator?
They both have their merits; I used to be strictly Illustrator until I started getting into digital painting when I applied for a position at a games company a few months ago. I prefer Photoshop now; I just wish it was more vector friendly like Illustrator.
About the World
What is the most exotic location you have been to?
When I lived in Gabon I visited some jungles with my family, I don’t remember the name of the areas but that was as exotic as it’s gotten for now. Plenty of bugs as you can imagine but beautiful nonetheless.
Where would you most like to visit? Why?
Japan, I love manga and anime and I’d like to learn more about the culture. As much as I’ve read, I think living there for awhile would be a valuable experience.
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?
Yes, I collaborated with Chris Mills aka DauntlessDS on #CoinBae which was exciting for me as I’m a huge fan of his work. He really took my idea to the next level and I’d like to collaborate with him again, he actually did the title card for one of my animations.
Who would you like to see interviewed on the Shirt List next?
Any advice for new designers/artists?
Draw as much as possible every day. During your lunch break, on the bus, get a quick sketch in, get obsessed! Don’t wait for inspiration; even if you don’t have any ideas just get something on paper. Also if your work gets pulled down by the big dogs, don’t sweat it; I would actually encourage mashup designers to focus more of their original stuff.
What are you watching on TV at the moment?
I watch everything online, I just got done watching the latest season of Bojack Horseman and I’m slowly going through the Marvel series, right now I’m halfway through Luke Cage.
What’s the last movie you saw in the cinema/movie theater?
The last movie I saw was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, for the 2nd time.