Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chinese Lions

I have long had a strong personal love for Chinese lions (aka Foo dogs). Stone statue lions stood guard at the Chinese restaurant my parents owned and were the mascot our establishment used on all our branded tableware and printed material. My sister and I loved them. So it's no surprise that I still like to include my interpretations of Chinese Guardian lions whenever I can. The ink drawing I am holding above for example was drawn for my own branded clothing range - a grey hooded top:-

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

24 hour grapplethon charity tee and poster

I was asked to provide some support for a charity event - the 24 hour Grapplethon in aid of Meningitis UK. The above poster features my design; female kabuki character choking out a Japanese demon using a rear naked choke. The concept continues the theme I used on my previous charity design for Tap Cancer Out.

I first formed the idea in my head and then sketched it down in my notebook. I don't bother carrying around a full sketchpad anymore when I am commuting to work, I find a small lined notebook cheaper and easier to pack into my day bag.

As you can see, it is a little crude but was enough to show to the organiser of the event to win his approval. I then began to research Japanese kabuki mask characters in more detail. It's a fascinating art form not too dissimilar to Chinese opera, which I am a little more familiar with, having attended several operas when in China.

Once I had established certain details I wanted included in my final mask designs, I set to work on Illustrator. I drew each mask separately and then combined them on a new worksheet. The flowers are significant as they are Forget-me-nots, the chosen flower of the charity itself.

The images above are close-ups of the t-shirt we had printed. As you can see, I reprised the front design by rejigging the faces so they are looking sideways at one another. I was in a dilemma whether the outline the whole of the back design with a box, but in the end I left it borderless.

If you wish to donate to the event (which I will be taking part in as well), then please visit the sponsor page here:


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Event posters

Creating designs for t-shirts is one thing, but event posters are a trickier business I find. Here, I'm not expected to create a work of art, but instead communicating information is the most important aspect. But without designing something attractive to the eye, that information is wasted. So it's a tricky balance. I'm no graphic designer, but recently, I was asked to design event posters for the Premier BJJ Championships - a series of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments in the UK staged at various cities throughout the year.

The first tournament is for Ireland - Saturday June 23rd in Cork, if you fancy visiting. Here's my poster design:

Here is a breakdown of my thought processes on the design...

Friday, 18 May 2012

Sticker Design, Diginate review

I love stickers - especially BJJ ones, so I decided to make my own. I drew up three new designs specifically to test how good the sticker printing service would be and for something I could use for self promotional marketing. For this initial sample, I used the online service from. Here's how they turned out:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Morcegão Rashguard

Masaru Fight Co. are a UK based fightwear company that make fightwear and leisure wear for the grappling community. They recently began a custom rashguard design service and asked if I could test it out. I drew an evil looking vampire bat and tried various Illustrator elements, eg gradients and masking, to see if the printed version would stay faithful to my digital original.

Here's how I designed the bat artwork:

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Monkey Style T-shirt

I've mentioned before that I regularly contribute to a BJJ magazine called Jiu Jitsu Style. In addition to this, I have designed a rashguard for them, and a t-shirt. This new creation is based firmly on my love of the old Chinese fable Journey to the West and the character Monkey King, or Sun Wu Kong, to give him his proper name.

Read on to see how I took the core sketch and built it up over a period of many steps to create the final product...

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: Fineliner Pens

I review a wide range of differently branded fineliner pens and examine their useability, smoothness of ink flow, nib quality, ink quality and overall handling.

Caveat: This review represents my own personal opinion. I am not sponsored by any company. The comments I make relate directly to me own personal style of inking, yours might be different so I advise purchasing a couple of brands of pens and trying them out yourself to find the best one for you.

Fineliner pens are typically identified as tiny width, fibre-tipped, technical drawing or sketching pens. The ink is invariably pigment based, lightfast and permanent. They are best used on smooth paper with little grain. There are dozens of brands each varying considerably in price and each with their own handling quirks. I decided to buy a whole bunch of these and test them out over a number of drawing projects.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Dragon Fly

I often write and shoot photos for a UK based magazine called Jiu Jitsu Style. I was also asked by them to create art for a rashguard that will be made by Tatami Fightwear and bear the Jiu Jitsu Style branding. The result is my 'Dragon Fly' creation: half dragon, half dragonfly!

Here's how this crazy chimera came about...

Friday, 16 March 2012

Tap Cancer Out T-shirt Design

Tap Cancer Out is a charity non-profit that is run by members of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Community. The charity raises funds through the sale of merchandise and events for various established cancer charities. I designed this t-shirt alongside fightwear brand Scramble and proceeds from the sale of this tee will go towards Tap Cancer Out.

Here's how I put it together...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kappa v Dragon Cover Art for Fight Soap

This was a very cool project that I had a lot of fun creating. Fight Soap are a US based soap brand that markets their products to the MMA and BJJ community. They have a huge following online and are very popular with a large group of grapplers and combat sports athletes. It was a no brainer to me when they asked me to design some new cover art for them. Here's how I put it all together...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Meerkatsu interviewed by The Shirt List

Top t-shirt art website The Shirt List agreed to write up a little interview with me and showcase some of my designs. The interview gave me a chance to present my designs and also discuss Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to a whole new audience. It's a light hearted read which I hope you'll find entertaining and enjoyable. Go check it out!

My thanks to Alan for taking the time to ask some very interesting questions and delving into the world of BJJ fightwear design.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

OctJitsu Man and OctoDragon

I designed these for Guam-based fightwear company Competidor Brand. OctJitsu Man is a t-shirt on either white or black and OctoDragon is a desktop wallpaper.

3200x2400 size version here:

They were both really fun projects to work on. Read on for more details on how I produced these...

Monday, 16 January 2012

T-shirt: Skullorantula

Let me introduce my hairy little friend 'Skullorantula'. I designed him for t-shirts and the base of the design carries the Portuguese words: Guarda Aranha, which translates to 'spider guard' a popular techniques used in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

Skullorantula never nearly made it to real life status. Originally, I drew him as one of a series of tee concepts for a BJJ instructor in Japan - but he chose something else instead. Below is my original sketch:

And as is evident from the final image below, I kept pretty faithful when tracing over my original pencil sketch using Illustrator:

For the final image, I used a cross hatching technique I saw somewhere else and I've been dying for an excuse to try it on a project myself. I tend to use cross hatching a lot with pen and ink artwork, but have never tried it with vector drawn work before. I think it came out ok.

For colours, I tried out a number of combinations, eventually sticking to a fairly primary range of colours plus the base t-shirt - which came in either navy, brown, maroon or black - colour that reflect (not accurately mind) the belt colours of BJJ.

For the back of the t-shirt, I always like to add a little reprise of the front design:

Possibly not one for the arachnophobes!


Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who enjoyed my artwork and bought apparel featuring my designs. It really is a massive thrill when you have folk saying how much they like your work and even parting with their hard earned money to hire me as an illustrator. I know I'm very fortunate. Lots of good things to come in 2012 and I'll update on here with all the latest Meerkatsu art, design and illustration. Cheers y'all!