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  • Intro

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Players with Layers

Seeing as how Layer Tennis has already had a fight break out over the exact borders of “the Midwest,” let’s say today’s contenders both hail from the “Great Lakes” region.

Jeremy Botts (serving today) grew up in the Chicago ‘burbs, learning calligraphy from his father before setting off to undergrad at RISD and spending some time in Rome carving letters into stone. After picking up an MFA in Maryland, and teaching and freelancing in Pennsylvania, he came back to Wheaton, Illinois* in 2009 to teach design at Wheaton College. He possibly taught you design, he’s collaborated with Ellen Lupton, with some work in the great textbook Graphic Design: The New Basics. Jeremy brings typical design skills to the table, but also an organic earthiness and a willingness to dig in and work with his hands.

Simon Birky Hartmann is a bit more of a traditional graphic designer, perhaps a little more digital-oriented. Simon got his start in product design, then answered the call of branding, print design, and illustration at Studio Ace of Spade in Goshen, Indiana**. He’s recently gone solo and set up “The Shop” in Cleveland, Ohio, focusing largely on photographic backgrounds and textures, building up a large library that would certainly come in handy if he ever found himself in some sort of bizarre situation where he needed to whip up a series of designs in 15-minute bursts in a high-pressure environment. Like that would ever happen. Simon tells us he’s most likely to stick to Photoshop and Illustrator but he doesn’t mind getting messy and writing or drawing by hand if it comes up. (Also, it somehow slipped by me until just before the match that he’s born and raised in France, and moved to the US in 2008. There are probably some great lakes in France.)

So who will school who? Backstage, there seems to be a lot of polite handshaking and admiration going on as the contenders size each other up. On the surface, the two are pretty different, but both seem to focus on strong textures, smartly limited color palettes, and the sort of layering that makes me suspect they’re both Layer Tennis naturals. They seem eager to get started and work together, so let’s step out of their way and see what they come up with. Game on, at 11:00 Central!

* a town where your humble referee was once accosted by police for the simple crime of aimlessly walking the streets in a leather biker jacket waiting for the next Metra train while his brother spent two hours shopping for Christian industrial music CDs.

** a town your Ref has also visited, but honestly doesn’t remember too well. He is willing to bet there’s an RV factory there, though.

Are You Ready for Everlasting Glory?

Wanna play? We still have some Qualifying Match openings throughout the rest of Season Four. There’s a spot next week, or get spooky and play on Halloween! Email us or tag your work on Behance with “LayerTennisQualifier.” We’ll be in touch. A couple fan-favorite qualifiers will proceed to the end-of-season Tournament, and perhaps the Season Four Final! Some of Layer Tennis’ biggest stars got their start right here in the Qualifiers, you could be next!