If you’re a Roadkill fan, you’ve seen Freiburger, Finnegan, even other MTOD show hosts like Carlos and Lucky wearing sweet Roadkill t-shirts featuring General Mayhem, Stubby Bob, and other vehicles from the videos. Maybe you own one—or all, of the limited edition RK shirts yourself. We sat down with designer Jeff Dokken, who besides having a totally metal-sounding name, has killer skills with pen and ink and Adobe Illustrator. Jeff is personally responsible for all the best Roadkill t-shirt designs, and he told us how your favorite Roadkill cars go from drivable to wearable.
RK: Jeff, where did you learn graphic design?
JD: I guess it all started while working odd jobs in print shops over the years. I eventually moved to designing because I wanted to understand more of the process and how things were being made behind the scenes. Plus I saw all the work coming through the shop and thought that I could do a better job, so that really pushed me into the career path I’ve been on. I did freelance for years when I first started and taught myself the programs with online tutorials, and when I wanted to incorporate my drawing into design, I went got my bachelor’s degree in illustration. I’ve always been interested in printmaking, design and illustration so it was a natural progression for me in my career to do this for a living. And when you enjoy what you do it really doesn’t feel like work, so I’ve been having a great time everyday here at TEN.
RK: What is your official title at TEN, and what else do you do along with shirt design?
JD: My official title is Graphic Designer & Illustrator for Creative Services. It’s really a mixed bag though, I’ve got to work on so many different projects across all of our TEN brands and mediums, from video production to print to digital and social campaigns for publications like Super Street, Roadkill, Motor Trend, HOT ROD, Recoil and more. It’s been a real pleasure to be able to work on such varied and interesting content, and it’s always something new everyday.
RK: What program do you use for designing the shirts?
JD: I primarily work with Adobe Illustrator to draw out all of the final designs. But for me, everything starts with paper and pencil. I’m a bit of an old fart when it comes to planning my layouts and design, so I begin every project with small thumbnail sketches to identify placement and plan out what I want to accomplish, then schedule a photoshoot with the car to get the ideal reference I need, and refine the design from there on out digitally on the computer.
RK: Do you start with one photo or several?
JD: Sometimes it’s one photo, sometimes there’s too many to choose from; It’s all about the timing. It’s tough to track down these cars with so many great events and constant filming going on with the Roadkill crew all over the country. But when I get the chance, I take the car in question into our HOT ROD studio here in El Segundo, light it in the box and do a full photo shoot to try and get the best angle and capture the details that show off what the vehicle is all about. After a photoshoot, I’ll end up with about 100+ photos, I narrow it down to the best few and start drawing.
RK: How long does it take from start to finish to design a shirt?
JD: It depends on how much coffee I’ve had that morning. It’s different for each design. If I had to guess, on average it would be about 15-20 hours of work to hand draw each car in vector.
RK: Which t-shirt design so far is your favorite?
JD: To date my favorite Roadkill design that I’ve worked on has to be the Rotsun T. I’ve always been a huge fan of the 240z, so when this project came up I was pretty excited to see it completed. From the junkyard to 24 hours of LeMons, that car has really been through hell and back, and its journey has left quite a mark on the car itself. All the dents and rust and Sawzall love it’s seen over the years really makes it a unique car and image. The devil is really in the details for that one.
RK: What Roadkill shirt do you want to do next if it was all up to you?
JD: If it were up to me, I would draw Mike, Dave, Lucky, and Tony in an Ed Roth monster style, joyriding in a tricked out Broughammer. Or a Roadkilled version of the old Dodge Super Bee logo, I think that would be a fun design to draw up.
RK: Do you have an Instagram account where you showcase your work?
JD: Sure, You can follow me on Instagram @Mr_dokken
Now you know how they are made, so go pick one up in the Roadkill store. We’ve got free shipping in the U.S. for orders over $49, and there are kids sizes and stickers available too! SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY RIGHT HERE!