The Rise of 5 Questions with Rob Dobi

With the help of ATK Enterprises, was born. You have to give Rob credit for the undertaking, which was not insignificant by any means. Emptees members where able to migrate their accounts over to Mintees and site has reached over a thousand members and still growing. Taking everything that was learned from Emptees, Rob has been busting ass to make Mintees better than ever. And he has a lot of mouths to feed. The members are extremely critical of what is posted on the site. To a new visitor, this may appear intimidating and potentially negative; but its more about keeping the content from becoming watered down and keeping the designs on a premium level. The amount of knowledge and resources (just like Emptees) is extreme. The members take a no bullshit approach with their community to keep it the best it can be, and are cool to help out aspiring designers. For anyone new to the site, I invite you to take in all that has to offer.

You were the 14th member of Emptees and a moderator on the site for 2 years. Plus you have a lot of experience in the music industry and own your own line of t-shirts. Having that much insight into t-shirt design as a whole – what are the overall goals for Mintees? What is different about the site compared to Emptees?

First off, Emptees was an amazing site. All the groundwork was there, but overtime things just got out of control. With Mintees we are hoping to carry on what Emptees had potential to become and showcase only the best t-shirts available with a strong sense of community backing it. I want the site to be known for displaying great art, band merch, and potential contest winners. Mintees should be a place that art directors, brand owners and bands can rely on to find real artists, rather than just a place where doodlers attempt to pawn off their leftovers.

How has the response been since the launch of the Mintees and the migration from Emptees?

The response has been great so far and everyone agrees that the tees section looks the best it ever has. The migration has been key, we already have a built in user base with almost 2000 members / 3500 shirt designs in the first week of the site opening. Every users t-shirts, comments and previous “likes” have been carried over, and those who chose not to migrate have had their information flushed from the site. The site isn’t without its bugs but they are getting taken care of on a daily basis by the guys at studio AKT.

Just like Emptees, Mintees has some of the most bad-ass apparel designers in the world. And just like Matt mentioned in his interview, the bar has been set. What should designers new to apparel design expect when joining the site?

New designers should expect a ton of inspiration and a community with lots of knowledge on the world of t-shirt design. Not every new user will have their artwork greeted with open arms in the tees section as the site is catering to more finished / professional work. Luckily the forums are filled with people ready to give criticism on tees that don’t make it to the front page. The resources section is also loaded with helpful articles, downloads and links to help newcomers.

What are the key things (or rules) that people should know before submitting designs to the site? Can you give some insight into the discussion of what should be allowed on the site? For example: Another should this be allowed thread

There are no rules set in stone at the moment. As of right now, i am the only one really curating what gets through to the tees page which will eventually change. Right now I’m really looking for well-designed shirts, not just doodles that people throw on the site in an attempt to make a quick buck. For the record, I wouldn’t wear about 98% of what is posted, but i can appreciate good work when i see it.

Referring to the link in question, there is a huge debate right now about what is acceptable as a t-shirt design vs. what is a good illustration, and both sides have their points. It is hard to determine whether or not something makes a good t-shirt just because it is a good illustration because everything is so gosh darn subjective, but that is something I’ll have to talk to the community about more. There is no real answer I’m afraid. I know what makes a great illustrated t-shirt, I’m on the fence as to what makes a mediocre one.

Much respect for taking on this project and keeping this alive. Is there anything you would like people to know about the site or anything in general, shout outs?

Many thanks to Matt and company at BigCartel for letting me take the reins of Emptees the past few years; I really learned a whole lot and hope to apply it to Mintees. Since they put such a great API in place over there we were able to migrate over so much existing content that had been built up over the past few years. I also think people are giving me more credit than I deserve for this project, while I am certainly the hype man and gatekeeper, none of this would be possible without the guys from Studio AKT.
Jared, Kevin, Cory, Rob and Terrence are all doing a phenomenal job.

Links you should check out: Portfolio of Rob Dobi Rob’s personal line


What are your thoughts?