Mighty Fine: Hi Dean! Tell our WeLoveFine.com community a little about yourself - where are you from, how long have you been a designer, etc.
Dean Trippe: I’m a writer and illustrator from North Georgia, specializing in comics and children’s books. I’ve been drawing and designing almost as far back as I can remember. Really, it seems to me like everyone was drawing back in kindergarten. Anyway, I kept at it. I’m probably best known for my super hero webcomic, Butterfly [iheartbutterfly.com], and as the co-founder and co-editor of the super hero redesign blog, Project: Rooftop [projectrooftop.com], and other internet shenanigans (Barack Obama Looking at Awesome Things, the Draw Batgirl Meme, etc.).
Mighty Fine: Is drawing something you've always been interested in? And are your awesome skills self-taught or did you study design?
Dean Trippe: Yeah, I’ve always loved drawing. I guess it became a big part of my life when my friend Cedric showed me how to draw the Ninja Turtles in third grade. That was the biggest game changer. I moved schools the next year and instantly became the Kid Who Draws. I later graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Sequential Art (AKA comics). I’ve taken a lot of design-oriented classes, but to be honest, I have almost no understanding of the mechanical rules of composition, color theory, or design, despite the efforts of my professors. I don’t know why something looks right or not, they just do--or more often, don’t, and need to be fixed so they don’t look so weird.
Mighty Fine: As your style developed, who did you look to for influences and inspiration?
Dean Trippe: I think the thing I’m trying to achieve is a kind of unpretentious, visual sincerity? It might sound dumb, but I think that covers a multitude of my artistic limitations. A lot of my stylistic influences are visual, but not all of them. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series had the most profound impact on my storytelling and visual tendencies; Mike Wieringo (the best Spider-Man artist of all time, for my money) and Mike Mignola were my favorite contemporary comic book artists; Kurt Busiek, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison wrote pretty much all of my favorite stories, which all deeply affected the way I understand the characters I attempt to depict visually. After college, I got into the decades-spanning brilliance of Jack Kirby and also Wayne Boring, who drew amazing Superman comics in the Silver Age, but often gets overshadowed by (the also incredible) Curt Swan. Wayne Boring has a special place in my heart, though. His lines were so clean and confident. I also think some basic late 80s, early 90s entertainment thinking affects my work. It’s not super obvious or anything, but years spent thinking about "Transformers," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and "Back to the Future" will definitely have an effect on your creative process.
Dean Trippe: I struggled with coming up with any kind of idea for weeks. I knew I wanted to use all the characters from the movie and something to do with the “Avengers Assemble” slogan. “Assembled” popped into my head, and I thought about doing some kind of Voltron-like assemblage of the main characters, and I settled on a playful kind of scene of the team climbing all over Hulk. The scene lent itself to simpler shapes and classic uniforms, so I went with those. I don’t think I’d drawn Thor in his original costume before, but man, I’m never not doing that again. It’s perfect.
Mighty Fine: Describe an element of "Avengers Assembled" that you are really pleased with how it turned out.
Dean Trippe: The smiles. Super heroes need to smile more. Cheer up, guys, you’re saving the world. I mean seriously, why wouldn’t Tony Stark custom weld a fixed smile into the Iron Man helmet? I almost always draw super heroes smiling and floating around clouds. I always think, “Maybe I should just draw a serious face this time,” but then, “Nah.” I guess it’s just my Silver Age fixation, but I liked it when most of the super heroes were pals and fought crime more frequently than each other. (That said, I’m a solid X in the AVX throwdown. Avengers rule, but MUTANT RIGHTS NOW.)
Mighty Fine: In your opinion, what design elements are best to keep in mind when you are working on a piece of art for a t-shirt, hoodie or other apparel?
Dean Trippe: Well, there are a lot of folks who have designed more shirts than I have, but I guess I always aim for simplicity, color choices that would work with other garments, and clear visual iconography. If you’re designing an item so folks will see it and share some sort of connective experience with it and its wearer, the design should be as clear and easy to understand as possible.
Mighty Fine: Are there any styles of art that you haven't really worked in before that you would like to try your hand at in the future?
Dean Trippe: I’d really like to get back to traditional media more, especially painting, which I’ve neglected for years since going digital, but right now I can’t foresee ever having the time.
Mighty Fine: What are some of your other favorite pop culture characters to draw, either other Marvel characters or entirely other properties?
Dean Trippe: I really like drawing super heroes. I’ve spent so long working on it, and regular clothes and actors’ likenesses are harder and less exciting to draw. Doctor Who is good, but I most enjoy drawing my son’s favorite super heroes: Batman, Superman, Robin, and Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Though we just finished the first season of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," so I expect Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are going to make the list pretty soon.
Marvel.com: Who is your favorite Avengers character and why?
Dean Trippe: It’s tough, because it’s a great team with an enormous past roster. I want to say Captain America, because he’s easily the best dude in the whole universe. But Black Panther’s like Batman but is also the king of the most advanced nation on Earth...and he doesn’t have his own movie yet? Put me down for Team Panther. Wolverine’s an Avenger, though, right? Still, T’Challa always wins. Then Cap, then Wolverine.
Marvel.com: Which Avengers character would you consider the most stylish and why?
Dean Trippe: That is a nightmare question. Dude, Jack Kirby designed most of these guys. They all look incredible. I guess I’d have to say Iron Man, since he can always update his look to the modern era without feeling too gimmicky when it happens. Upgrades are built into the character.
Marvel.com: What made you want to do this contest?
Dean Trippe: Somebody sent me a link. I’ve seen Mighty Fine contests before, but since they haven’t been super hero specific, I haven’t really thought I’d have much of a shot. People who want to help everyone they can and wear bright colors while doing it? It’s pretty much all I’m into.
To check out Dean's t-shirt design and the other "Avengers Assemble" contest winners, visit the WeLoveFine.com store.