Meet the Designer: Skilar J

Posted by Bob Namar on

Yestercool: Today, I'm joined by Skilar J, a graphic designer with Yestercool and someone with a unique perspective on design. Skilar, thank you for joining us.
Skilar J: Thank you for having me. This is cool.
Yestercool: So, Skilar, what makes for an impactful design in your opinion?
Skilar J: For me, an impactful design is something that speaks to people on an emotional level. It needs to be able to evoke a feeling, whether that's nostalgia, excitement, or inspiration. There’s a lot of stuff on Yestercool that inspires me. So I find it a stimulating pace to work.
Yestercool: Interesting. How do you go about achieving that in your designs?
Skilar J: I try to understand the audience that I'm designing for, and I often draw inspiration from things that I love, like music, movies, and pop culture. By tapping into those emotional connections, I can create designs that resonate with people.
Yestercool: That's a great approach. What are some of your favorite movies?
Skilar J: It’s an ever-evolving list of course. But it would have to include Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Little Fugitive, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, Dr. Strangelove…uhm, Raiders of the Lost Ark, King Rat….Oh, I could go on.

Little Fugitive (1953) - Turner Classic Movies

The Little Fugitive was not outfitted with a graphic tee.

Yestercool: OK, yeh, we’ll have to discuss those later sometime. Now, your designs are often featured on our t-shirts here at Yestercool. Why do you think wearing a cool design on a t-shirt is inspiring and motivating to many wearers?
Skilar J: I think it's because t-shirts are such a ubiquitous and personal item of clothing. When you wear a t-shirt, you're making a statement about who you are and what you believe in. So, when you wear a t-shirt with a cool design, it's like you're carrying around a little piece of inspiration with you everywhere you go.
Yestercool: That's a great point. Your designs often feature vintage and retro elements, why do you think those designs are so attractive to generations of people today?
Skilar J: I think vintage and retro designs are appealing because they remind people of a simpler time, a time before the world got so complicated. There's a sense of nostalgia that comes with those designs that people are drawn to. Fashion is for the young, but nostalgia draws inspiration from the best of the past.

Nostalgia Coffee Roasters
Yestercool: You have to be careful with nostalgia, though, don’t you?
Skilar J: Oh, for sure. It can be a seductive liar. It is not a place to live. You just visit there for a short break from time to time. You have to live in the moment
Yestercool: Yeh, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be (laughs). Can you tell us a little bit about your personal history and how that has influenced your design aesthetic?
Skilar J: Sure. I grew up in a small town in the Midwest, and my parents were both artists. Music, graphics, sculpture. They even made some short films together that they showed privately. I was surrounded by creativity. They were always encouraging me to explore my creativity, so I started drawing and painting from a young age. It got me in trouble in school. Like, one time I was making a cartoon in class in the teacher spotted me and grabbed my drawing. It was of him and not at all flattering. I thought I would be expelled, but he just admonished me and then then let it go. He kept the cartoon though. Maybe he was flattered.

As I got older, I became really interested in music and pop culture, and I started incorporating those influences into my art every way I could.
Yestercool: That's really cool. Can you give us an example of how your love of music has influenced your designs?

The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico 50th Anniversary LP
Skilar J: Absolutely. I created a t-shirt design a few years ago that was inspired by one of my favorite albums, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The design featured a banana with a peel that you could actually peel off, just like the album cover. It was a fun way to pay tribute to something that I love, and I think it resonated with other fans of the album. Unfortunately, it was just too expensive to produce and we had to discontinue it
Yestercool: That sounds like a really unique and fun design. Have you ever had any funny experiences related to your designs?
Skilar J: Oh, definitely. One time, I created a t-shirt design that featured this cartoon bear holding this oversized boombox. I thought it was a really fun and whimsical design, but I never could have predicted what happened next. I started getting these messages from people I knew saying that the bear looked just like our friend, who was also a big fan of music. I took another look and darned it if wasn’t a strong resemblance to him, down to the style of the boombox he always carried around. I thought it was hilarious that I subconsciously made that connection, and it just goes to show that sometimes the most unexpected things can happen with your designs.
Yestercool: That's a great story. Thanks so much for joining us today, Skilar. We look forward to more of your designs on Yestercool. It was fascinating to hear your insights on design.
Skilar J: My pleasure. La revedere