4 Sep 2011
Here's a challenge every designer and illustrator loves - take a well known character or real life subject matter and re-interpret it by twisting convention on its head. When American grappler David 'Koala Bear' Garmo approached me requesting a gi patch mascot for himself, my only question was - how evil do you want your koala bear to be? When he answered 'very evil' I knew it was game on!
Little did David know how popular his new fleshed out mascot would be among his friends, team mates and followers...
So what do we know about koala bears? Let me see, they eat leaves, sleep a lot, hug stuff, climb trees and clearly evolved with a dominant 'let's make it look like a Teddy Bear' gene. But first, I wanted to know more about David, who is this person they call the 'Koala Bear' in BJJ circles?
David is a purple belt under Carlos "Caique" Elias (red and black belt under Rickson Gracie) and is known as a bit of a local grappling talent. In 37 tournaments he has accrued 100 wins with a staggering 83 by submission!!
So I asked David, if he is not an Aussie, why the Koala Bear nickname? He replied: They say I looks like one and supposedly I am cute and cuddly. I would have to agree with at least one of those statements. You pick which one :)
It's a tough choice David lol!
So as per usual with all my assignments, I start off with some very rough pencil sketches to bring my ideas to life.
Neither sketch really moved me but by combining elements from both, I felt there was something lurking, and here he is (with friend!):
David loved it and then asked if I could place it on a t-shirt with a cool slogan he invented:
He placed it on Facebook and it went a bit mental, as they say. And so what started off as a little idea for a patch on his gi transformed into a run of printed t-shirts for many of his followers and friends!
If you wanna catch up with David's grappling career or in fact order this t-shirt, then join his Facebook page and drop him a line.
I would like to thank the Koala Bear for commissioning me.