AMA: Super Team Deluxe, a collaborative funhouse born out of a desire to make cool sh*t

👉 This is the short and sweet version of their full AMA 👈

Hey all!

We’re Super Team Deluxe, a collaborative funhouse helmed by friends and co-humans Rogie King, Justin Mezzell, Hannah Mezzell, Drew Melton, & Alicja Colon.

For years — literally years — Rogie King & I (Justin Mezzell) have been kicking the tires on a number of collaborative projects that we never really got off the ground, largely due to disorganization, motivation and/or general lack of prioritization. This April, we decided to put a hard deadline on a project launch wherein if we hadn’t launched by Summer, we’d stop pretending like we were going to launch anything at all. Turns out, that’s exactly what we needed. So we rounded up some folks we’ve always wanted to collaborate with, tightened the velcro on our runnings shoes, and barreled blindly down the road like a clumsy bat with misshapen wings out of hell.

The idea was simple: Most of us have been working the web for quite a while, so it seemed like a nice departure to work in the world of physical goods, since we so rarely get to hold anything we’ve made physically in our sweaty palms. After scrapping a few dead-ends, we ultimately decided to leave room for these ideas to evolve and take shape under the moniker “Super Team Deluxe”. The idea has been to simply create products that we’d like for other humans that might like them too. As of now, we’ve launched with a limited edition run of lapel pins and a couple patches, but we’re trying to leave the road open for exploration. After all, we’re still learning a lot and we’d love to invite you in on the journey.

We’re here to answer your questions on design, competitive snacking, the human struggle for significance, and whatever else.

Should designers code? (Daryl Ginn)

It’s a scientific fact that designers should code, break dance with broken legs, be able to recite every lyrics of Barenaked Ladies’ 1998 breakout hit “One Week”, divide by zero, complete at least one Olympic feat better than an Olympian, and/or hold a public office for no less than 17 years. These aren’t our standards by which to measure your candidacy as a designer, merely the universe’s.

It’s just science and you can’t argue that. (Justin Mezzell)

It depends on what kind of designer you are. I started out by learning HTML and building websites. In high school I got an internship at a local web design and development company where I learned to program in ASP/Access/Flash/PHP/etc. I can definitely hack my way through a Shopify theme tweak if I need. However, I don’t consider this a necessity to being a good designer to be honest. I removes a barrier for certain personal projects (launching a small product line/etc) but otherwise it doesn’t contribute to my design directly.

In short — If you’re really passionate about something don’t let other people’s requirements hold you back. Be curious, be passionate and go. (Drew Melton)

document.getElementById(‘daryl-ginn’).style.perspective = ‘inherit’; (Rogie King)

Do any of you have children, if so how do you find time to to work on side projects like this, and still find time to be a parent and support a family financially? (Bevan Stephens)

Rogie, Justin & Hannah, and I all have kids — 8 all together. That’s a lot of poop.

For me, with 3, I tend to only work on side gigs after they go to bed. My husband and I have a pattern on certain days we have “alone” time — pursuing individually what we are passionate about. Setting those family priorities and expectations help us more forward smoothly.

In a collaboration like this, it’s important for us to keep in mind of each other’s family needs. Meaning, when it was time for me to craft the photos, the crew looked to ME to set that timeline — then they respected that decision and set it up in the grand timeline. (Alicja Colon)

I have 3 spawn and a lady-unit that’s chosen to reside with me for all eternity…or until I die, whatever may come sooner.

Bevan, really for me it comes to choice. I made the choice to turn down other opportunities, be it being a regional foosball champ, or even reading a cool book, or seriously working on other pieces of art in my spare time. The team did the same. We chose to fire all of our ammo at this, and like Alicja said. In our spare time. In the off hours of the evening after the kids goto bed. Or at 6am. It’s a bit like a workout routine. It’s hard to keep but if you schedule it and are serious about it, even with a family its attainable. (Rogie King)

Selection of Super Team Deluxe label pins

The product photography on the site is pretty great. Could give some background on the process in its creation?

Also I almost used the abbreviation “your STD photography” but chose the high road instead. (Heath V.)

Well, Heath, this is my fav question yet asked. It could be that it’s directly related at me, or your moral high role abstaining from “STD photography” — but more likely the former.

First is concept… it needed to be simple enough to further the idea of the product, but also be unique in that it didn’t step on another product photo’s toes. I reach out to others for concepts, but ultimately the designer of the pin is the Creative Director of the shoot.

Second is production of sets… props, backgrounds, colors, it’s all considered. Some propers are made out of fake blood, others out of paper. Many times the concept is figured out but it takes lots of iterations on executing with with set to find a solid direction.

Third is lighting …. light is part of the story. The angle, the modifiers — again this is iteration.

Lastly — post production. Few of the product shots were simple edits and retouching, while others are composites.

I’ve broadcasted the production of on Twitch, if you’re interested: (Alicja Colon)

“They say that diet is the most important component to a healthy life — and I doubt that they’re wrong, but I also don’t know the hell “they” are.” — STD

Hey Guys! — thanks for joining us…

  • How does the process for designing, prepping, and approving designs for pins or patches differ from something like a simple print job?
  • What’s the best way for someone to keep tabs on when new items hit the store?
  • You mention the possibility of collaborations in your W(ho)TF page :) …are you thinking these products could eventually be sold on the site?…or more so meant for the collaborator’s use only?
  • What’s the coolest and/or most random thing on the internet you keep coming back to as of late? (could be a website, service, album on Spotify, etc) (maxlind)
  • I haven’t been in the Print Kingdom for some time, but I used to work on magazines. That was definitely a tougher world to work in as print weeks were essentially spent sleeping in the office on a copier or under a desk. So far, we haven’t pulled those hours, but I’ve also noticed that while these are much smaller pieces to work, the time we have to spend concepting is so much longer. Getting the sizes just right for this medium has been one of the more fuzzy areas as designs that are too complex get muddied and also start to resonate less with folks. This first batch was definitely a bit of a wide swath in terms of complexity and style since we really wanted to pressure test the canvas in what this medium was capable of.
  • As for updates, we’ve got a newsletter that you can sign up for on the site as well as our various social accounts on this here internet viaTwitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Collaborations! Right now, we’re just getting things going and figuring out just what our current bandwidth allows for. In the future, we’d love to be able to bring in other artists on goods!
  • Regretfully, I’m a voracious consumer of Imgur and dank memes. That includes but isn’t limited to cool/random. (Justin Mezzell)

What designers are your inspiration at the present time? (Angel Vasquez)

Justin, Alicja and Drew. (Rogie King)

Tony Dispigna, Ken Barber (forever), Herb Lubalin, Erik Marinovich, Neil Hubert, Tattoo artists, Simon Walker, Steve Powers, the Hoodzpa Twins, and I could go on and on… (Drew Melton)

Oh, great question! Loving the work of James Gilleard right now. Such stunning work with geometry and creating depth. Also, huge fan of MUTI as their work is so diverse it’s overwhelming. Also, these folks at Super Team Deluxe. It’s why we’re working together :) (Justin Mezzell)

I think for me it’s both the caliber of work, but also the heart behind it. Frankly I’m always smitten by the work of the Focus Lab team and Super Team — as each designer I’ve worked alongside are humble, about collaboration, and highly skilled. (Alicja Colon)

This is just a taste of Super Team Deluxe’s AMA. Check out the full conversation✨ here!✨

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