The Art of Optimism

By: Life is Good

At Life is Good, art and message are at the core of everything that we do. We see our graphic tees as vehicles to inspire change, encourage hope, and uplift those around us.

Each tee starts as a simple sketch on paper and evolves into a wearable work of art. We talked to Bill Whitehill, Senior Graphic Artist at Life is Good, about his experience designing tees, and about the connection between art and optimism.

Dog and Woman Sketch

Dog and girl, pen and pencil rough sketch, Bill Whitehill

The Universe is Over My Head, Life is Good Tee

Meet the Artist: Bill Whitehill

When did you first discover your passion for art and design?

As far back as I can remember. It became clear to me in elementary school that drawing weird stuff was fun came naturally to me. My entire family, my dad especially, were creative too, and I was encouraged to explore art from a very young age. I think I got my first oil paints when I was around 7 years old. 

Funky worm sketch
Bill painting near water

Funky worm, pencil sketch, Bill Whitehill

Painting in nature, Bill Whitehill

How does creativity play a role in Life is Good’s company culture?

For me, it plays a central and essential role. It’s very difficult for me to separate creativity from any aspect of life, and why would I want to? LIG culture is very unique and there are many artists beyond the design team that I work with. Most creative departments at typical companies are somewhat isolated, but LIG has made creativity a central tenet. Surrounded by artists, creative business types, free beer, and a place to make art and music.. hell yeah.  Of course, at the moment, we are enjoying these things remotely.

Life is Good Art Form

Signature cyclops, permanent marker, Bill Whitehill

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

From everything and everyone that I can.   

Tell us about the process behind designing a Life is Good tee.

My process always begins with an image, idea, or phrase. Typically, I will doodle a general composition in pencil, and then do a more detailed sketch to review and get approval to move forward. The illustration style is a big factor in how a design is realized. Most of my work starts with hand drawn techniques which are eventually scanned into a digital format that we can send to the production art team to prepare for the printing and manufacturing process.

Tee Artwork, digital iterations, Bill Whitehill

What’s the difference between starting a design with pen and paper and starting on the computer?

For me, I prefer pen and paper, or pencil and paper, or brush and paper. When I use actual paper, I have a physical drawing, sketch, or painting, and I won’t require a computer to view it now or in the future. Of course, plenty of my designs are created digitally, but don’t ask to see those 25 years from now.

Sketch of cabin

Log cabin, pencil sketch, Bill Whitehill

How does art and message help spread the power of optimism?

Although many of our graphics are strictly typography, a great many more contain images and illustrations. The goal is always to make the viewer FEEL something and that’s exactly what art should do. There are certain expressions that have no words, and we strive to employ those images through the filter of practical optimism.

What are some of your favorite Life is Good tee designs?

There are some super simple versions of the original Life is Good dog, Rocket. There are also some of Rocket and Jake where the expression on Rocket’s face and his body language is just perfect. So simple, and yet completely relatable. I get to work on a team with 5 other super talented artists and believe me, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just a few favorite designs, but those are the ones that came to mind first.

traffic jam tee
be the person tee
Rocket dream big tee

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m not a very fast typer.

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