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Will Heron

See Heron's fabulous design on t-shirts and more here!

T-shirt designer Will Heron is known for his simple designs with a touch of whimsy.

So, creating a design that exemplified the beauty of curls for International Curly Day was a natural.

"I think of kids when I think of curly hair," says Heron, who grew up with a head of blond curls. "It's a good match for my drawings."

Artist Will Heron

El Valiente — "The Brave One"

Although the Kentucky native always loved to draw — and was a professional illustrator — his evolution into a t-shirt designer was born out of frustration. It was Christmas 2001 and he was out of work, with a lot of free time on his hands and not much cash. He had six nieces and nephews and was tired of them complaining about who got what for Christmas.

"I decided they would all get the same thing. I created a fairy t-shirt for the girls and a dog t-shirt for the boys," Heron says. "After that, I made them for friends, not thinking the designs would go anywhere. People told me I should sell them."

Artist Will Heron

A sweet witch

But the real catalyst came from a fashion-writer friend who told a boutique owner about his tees, giving him the "kick in the butt" he needed to get them out there. The store has been selling them ever since. They now are sold at a handful of boutiques across the country, as well as on his web site.

Artist Will Heron

Of the three Heron siblings, Will, center, is the lucky one who got curls!

Since then, Heron's designs has been commissioned to make t-shirts for Levi's and Target as well as for bands, family reunions and other special events. He's come up with more than 70 designs, many of them inspired by his 4-year-old son.

"He'll say he wants a shirt with a tiger or a dog or a rocket ship, and I create it," Heron says.

He says he also owes a creative debt to such children's book artists as Leo Lionni, Eric Carle and Tomie dePaola, who continue to inspire him.

He'll take an idea, sketch it out and scan it onto his computer, where he'll refine and reduce it. Then he'll make a transparency of the image and place it onto a screen. The process is actually much more complicated. To find out more about it, click here.

"I love to draw," Heron says. "The shirt is really just the medium through which I can sell my doodles. I feel very lucky that it found me."

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