Interview for KZ Graphics | The Irish Duelist

Interview for KZ Graphics

Kleovoulos Zissimopoulos is a freelancer like myself and asked me to do an interview for his design blog last week, which I was more than happy to do. You can find the interview on his blog at this link, or read it below!

The Work of PJTierney

PJ Tierney’s a talented artist, writer and designer living in Limerick, Ireland.

He studied Sculpture & Combined Media at Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD) but in the meantime he started learning more and more about applications like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator etc.

His reputation started rising late at 2008 after releasing the blog Irish Duelist which practically became popular in no time. He’s a big fan of Manchester United, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Formula 1 and the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.

He has expressed his passion for Yu-Gi-Oh! by creating The Irish Duelist, playing in major tournaments around Europe and America, eventually working for clients like Konami (who distribute the game worldwide).

As for Formula 1, he has recently published a series of posters for every race for 2011 which have exploded in popularity and can be seen all over the web.

Below are some pieces of his work and a short interview also you can find various related links below.


When did you realise that you wanted to be a designer? What did you know about Graphic Design at that time?

Like most people I did Art in school and decided to follow it on for University. In between the end of secondary school and college I took a year out to do a portfolio course; partly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college (I had an offer to do Industrial Design but wanted something more “arty”) and partly because I wanted to give the Art College thing a shot and see what would happen.

Anyways, during this portfolio course we did various modules, like Ceramics, Painting etc. and one of those was Graphic Design. We did that for 2-3 weeks and it was the most enjoyable part of the year for me, and after that all I wanted to do was Graphic Design.

Your work nowadays is famous and admirable. How easy or difficult was it for you to achieve such a thing?

To be honest I’ve only had a few of my projects hit that sort of “fame level” you’re referring to. The first is my blogging and writing for Konami, which is quite well-known amongst the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG community. That all started with my blog The Irish Duelist, which was initially a college project that I just stuck with before working my way into the Konami thing. I still do various writing jobs for Konami’s YGO site(s) and it’s something I really enjoy doing, writing about a game I’m passionate about.

In terms of Graphic Design most people these days know me for the Formula 1 posters I created recently. That was just a personal project I set up to learn more about using Illustrator as well as an attempt at making something that I’d like to see exist in the real world. As for those becoming so popular I guess it was just a case of finding a “gap in the market” as there were no official Formula 1 posters available online for the 2011 season. I spotted that (and their previous posters) and basically went “I’m going to make these posters as if I was hired to do them”. Fortunately the posters came out well and once I sent the links to a few sites and got some features, things began to snowball! I can’t believe how popular they’ve become with both motorsport and design fans, the support has been amazing.

Among your creations, which one is the most important one for you? What makes it so important?

For me the most “important” piece of work I’ve done is the strategy writing for Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh! website. It was my first client work/contract and really gave me the confidence to go ahead with the whole freelancing thing in general. Graphics-wise the nexTab logo’s something I’m quite proud of. It was a favour for a friend, but I feel that I nailed it, and that logo’s gotten me work with clients after it went online.

What advice would you give to designers that have just started getting into the “industry”?

To be honest I’m still learning a lot myself! That being said there’s a few things that I’ve learned that I think people should try out. First up is personal projects. If you’re only starting out and your client list is small set up your own projects. Make a poster on something you’re interested in, do some photo manipulation etc. When it’s done stick it in the portfolio and spread it around, which leads me on to the second tip; networking. The Internet’s a vast, exciting world full of opportunities. I tend to spend a lot of time on Twitter talking to creative people and checking up on cool design links that people send on. Also there’s a few broadcasts that people should look at; I learned a lot from watching Signalnoise and Greyscale Gorilla, not only the nuts and bolts of making stuff but also the whole business side of freelancing as well like getting clients and so-on.

And one last question, can you describe your experience about graphics design up until now? How is it to be a Graphic Designer after all?

It’s been a weird route for me so far. After making it into Art College I was unable to get a seat in the Graphic Design course in 2nd year (very competitive group, all outstanding people at LSAD) so for the next 3 years I earned my Degree in Sculpture and Combined Media. While doing this course I spent my lunchtimes in the Multimedia Room teaching myself in the Photoshop through Internet tutorials and general experimentation. During the final 2 years I used what I learned to do lots of tiny jobs for friends and fans of The Irish Duelist and after I graduated I decided to do the freelancing thing full-time from home. It’s taken me a good few months to figure out exactly what I want to do in Graphic Design but I think I’ve got it now; I want to end up with my own studio and having work that people will recognize, similar to what James White and Chuck Anderson are doing right now.

As for how it is, when you’re doing something you love every day it’s a wonderful thing. Yes there are a lot of stumbling blocks and things to learn (I’m still falling over myself and picking up new things every day!) but I enjoy every minute of it.

Many thanks to 'Kleon' once again for the interview, you can find him on the web at KZ Graphics (portfolio here) and also on Twitter!