Undeniably, a cool thing about blogging is that sometimes a blogger catches on to something local that she may have missed without her blog presence. My teen daughter had seen a really cool t-shirt—but, it had been in passing and she was not able to ask the wearer any questions. It turns out the t-shirt was designed by a local, Central Ohio artist for an Ohio based company and is part of an entire product line called Ohiya. We were recently offered to interview Jason Tharp, the creative designer behind Ohiya: The Art of Making Friends.
MCOTW: Tell us what the term Ohiya means to you.
JT: Ohiya is a call out to my home state as well as a friendly greeting. It is the perfect vehicle to get our brand message out saying "hi" can open up new friendships.
MCOTW: Who is Jason Tharp? (How long have you lived in Central Ohio, where are some
of your favorite activities in the city, non-artistic hobbies, etc)
JT: I have lived in Central Ohio my whole life. Hitting up Gallery Hop or a Clippers game is always fun to do. We have a great Zoo as well. I'll admit I don't get out in the city as much as I would like. I'm a big fan of running and hiking.
MCOTW: Are you a self taught artist—or would you tell us where you studied art and
design? When did you begin drawing and designing?
JT: I graduated from CCAD with a BA in Illustration. I remember being about 6 when I knew I wanted to be a artist. Even more so when I got to high school and found out people get paid to make cartoons.
MCOTW: Who/What are your artistic inspirations for your Ohiya designs?
JT: I am huge fan of old Hanna Barbera and Tex Avery cartoons- Woody Woodpecker, Flintstones, Jetsons, etc.
MCOTW: Do you have a favorite Ohiya character or design? Why?
JT: My favorite character changes all the time. I think it is because sometimes I feel like the personality of one character then another character at other times. Each character in Ohiya have their own unique personalities like us. Right now I am on a Koki kick he is from our Zombuddiez line. Probably because I've been working so many hours I feel like a Zombie.
MCOTW: Where can we find other art and design work from you locally in Columbus, Ohio?
JT: I don't have anything locally. Ohiya can be found at Hastings, Against All Odds, and many specialty stores and sites across the country.
MCOTW: What is the most rewarding aspect of Ohiya for you?
JT: Seeing someone smile or hearing how much they like the work. We just ran a fan art contest and it was awesome that Ohiya inspired them enough to break out some art supplies and make something. Ohiya makes my day everyday.
MCOTW: What is (or has been) the most difficult or frustrating aspect of Ohiya for you?
JT: There aren't many frustrating things that don't happen in any job. Most frustrating would be the amount of time it takes to build up the become that "overnight success" but that is also the fun part too.
MCOTW: What advice do you have for other artists and designers just starting out in the
field—or dreaming about the field?
JT: Prepare to work harder than you can imagine. Get a thick skin quick! I think the great Rocky Balboa sums it up best "You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!" :)
MCOTW: What is the one thing that you want my readers to know about Jason Tharp and
JT: I like cheese. Seriously I hope that the art of Ohiya will make you smile and encourage you to take a second and say "hi" to someone new. It is really fun to see those magical moments of life unfold in front of you.
MCOTW: Where can fans find you and Ohiya? FB, Twitter, Website, etc.
Fans can visit and learn all about Ohiya and the characters on http://www.ohiyafriends.com/.
Disclosure: I was not paid or compensated for this post--I simply thought my readers may be interested in learning more about Ohiya and its designer!