Designer’s Sketchbook: Emily from mchen wears


You guys really seem to be enjoying the Designer’s Sketchbook feature and I’m glad, it’s some real fun for me as well! For today’s edition, Emily Chen of Mchen Wears, a fun & quirky screenprinted tee shirt line, shares some pages from her sketchbook. Emily also shares some of her inspirations and what her creative process is like.


1. Can you share what inspires you in your design creation?

Many of my designs come from wordplay and coming up with different ways of looking at words. I over think just about everything, so I feed off anything from everyday life to dreams, from what I hear on the news to other people’s art.

2. What’s your creative process like?

Endless list-making and doodling, with a lot of my best ideas occurring to me just before I fall asleep or wake up. Almost all the brainstorming is done with paper and pen, but all the final artwork is done on my computer.

3. How long from from an idea to finished tee?

Some designs are spontaneous and occur right as I’m working on my computer (I love my Wacom Cintiq 21UX 🙂 Others brew for months in my sketchbook and brain. I tend to work on the tees in fits and starts, since my day job (I’m a freelance designer/illustrator) and life can sometimes take over; as a result, my creative process is interrupted frequently.

4. Do you use all the ideas & sketches you come up with or do you or weed your ideas before bringing them to fruition?

I have pages of ideas that haven’t seen the light of day – some will never make it onto a tee, but many are just waiting for me to get around to them. I edit myself a lot; because silkscreening is such an involved and long process, I have to really love and believe in a design to carry it out all the way.

5. What’s been your favorite design that you’ve created so far?

That’s a tough one, since many are meaningful in their own way. The re[CAP] design is especially close to my heart because I absolutely adore chickadees. The first song my husband John and I danced to at our wedding was “Chickadee” by Meredith Luce, and we love going out to feed them at a local park (they come sit on our heads!). On top of that, John was the one who actually came up with the concept for the illustration, so it’s just a very mooshy feel-good design for me.



  1. Thanks so much for this feature, Jen, and for being such a generous host here! You just made my week. Merci merci!

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