It's tuff forming an auto enthusiasm in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, but living close to the Lithuanian "Nemunas Ring" and an early exposure to vintage Ferraris soon unearthed the passion in Algirdas. Rockin' a 5-cylinder Volvo, he loves spending time outdoors as a Geologist or while rolling around on his bicycles. Algirdas appreciates a solid joke, and enjoys using comedy in his design gems such as "Revolutionary", "The Better Deal", and "Diff'rent Strokes".
Algirdas was gneiss enough to answer a few questions:
How did your interest in cars start?
It all relates to my first car memories from my childhood. I grew up in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, primarily among old soviet cars. My first memory in a car was riding in my father's Moskvitch 412. For some reason, I also remember my father constantly draining water from one of the taillights. My father's ran-when-parked Moskvitch 403 was parked in our backyard around which we played. Around the late 90s, my father bought our first western car, a '89 Opel Kadett 1.3 Kombi. Around the same time I also went on some trips to Italy, where I got to sit in a Ferarri GTB Turbo (no, the 488 is not the first entry-level turbocharged Ferrari) and to see some other cool cars. I still have a Ferrari cup on my desk from those days.
When I was around 14, my father and I repaired an old moped of his that I then used to ride, which was a huge improvement over cycling. Not so much in terms of speed, but more for the cool factor. My family lives just a couple of minutes away from the only racetrack in the country, so my friends and I would quite often sneak into the track to watch races without having to pay the entrance fee.
I’ve also got a small notebook full of car drawings I did when I was younger, so maybe that’s where my designs hail from.
How does your interest show itself?
I do most of the wrenching for our family's cars. Contrary to what most people would prefer to drive in my country (a 10 year old diesel Audi or Volkswagen estate), I drive a car that is nowhere near as practical or fuel efficient, but way more fun. In my opinion it also looks much better. I think it's absolutely worth the extra cost in fuel and front tires (those go really quick on a 240HP FWD Volvo). Like most of us, I post a lot of car photos on Instagram.
What is at the top of your automotive bucket list?
To have a go at the racetrack that I grew up near in Lithuania, The Nemunas Ring. Even though I've been around here for 24 years I've never driven it in a car, just rode a bicycle around it in my childhood. Other than that, I'd like to do a cross-country trip across the United States.
I visited the midwest last summer, but I never got to drive there and I can't get it out of my head since. This would have to include seeing some Nascar races, doing some four-wheeling in the desert, and obviously some canyon carving. It isn't really a thing where I live, simply because there are no canyons around here.
What's in your driveway, and what makes it special?
My first and current car is a 2001 Volvo C70 T5, which I got in late 2013. I looked for this particular car for almost a year and the reason why I decided to get it is because I wanted an inline-5 turbo engine. I considered an Audi engine, but those with a turbo come only in the Audi 200 (5000 in the US) which are somewhat old, rare, and not that fast. After that, I was considering a Fiat Coupe 20V turbo, which are also quite rare. I finally found out about Volvo T5 engines and how they sound, and I was sold on the idea. Since then, I really appreciate what Volvo does; design and engineering included.
What is your dream car?
Realistically speaking (though it might get less and less realistic in the future), I really like the Porsche 964 Carrera. In my eyes, it's the definitive 911 shape: modern enough exterior, but it still has the classic Porsche dashboard and interior layout. I also would not say no to a Volvo 850R in good stock condition, but their price keeps increasing at a pace that is only surpassed by air-cooled 911s.
Otherwise, my all-time favorite has to be the Ferrari 288 GTO, which in my opinion is the most beautiful Ferrari because it is so minimal and raw. In other words, function comes before form, somewhat like the 911.
What do you do besides designing awesome shirts?
I recently graduated from university and currently work as a geologist in an engineering consultancy company. We’re based in Kaunas, but do work across the whole country. What we do is evaluate soils prior to construction and also some environmental research. Why I like my job is that it has a good balance of indoor and outdoor work, and we also travel around the country quite a lot, which always is a nice break from the office routine.
What are some of your non-car hobbies?
Most of my hobbies are related to outdoor sports: primarily I do a lot of bike riding, especially mountain biking, but I also like to commute by bike as well. The bikes that I own are Canyon Grand Canyon 7.9 and Fuji Absolute 3.0. During the summer, I also ride longboards around town.
What have the funds from blipshift helped you accomplish?
After my first three designs, I built a new PC so I could create new designs more efficiently, but Forza Horizon 3 just came out. As a result, new art might get delayed a little bit… I try to spend these funds on car-related purchases, such as tires and fuel, so that I can simply go for a drive and have fun, regardless of what I'm bringing in from my day job.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that I have spent some of my blipshift money on bike parts, which, unlike fuel, don't make you go faster. I suggest anyone reading this to stay away from bicycles. There is no way to go back now, but I could have gotten a cool second car for the money that I have spent so far on bikes.
What influences you as a designer?
I appreciate good car designs, but I feel that in my designs I am influenced the most by good comedy. Whatever emotion comes up when first looking at the design is what makes it work. The message can be political, cultural, patriotic or anything else. Most importantly it has to be sophisticated enough, yet hit fast and hard (though it might take a second for you to realize what hit you - just like good comedy). Maybe I'm pointing out the obvious? I feel that if I made a design that simply had a car in it, without anything else, I would be abusing the original designer's work. This is both my inspiration and my advice to others.
What's your favorite blipshift shirt?
When it comes to t-shirts, I love all Porsche-related designs, but my favorite has to be "First Responder". A close second would be the "All Charged Up" Dodge. I also absolutely love how the "AM Centennial" design turned out. When I made it I would have never thought it would be the favorite of my own designs.
Any advice for fellow artists? How did you find the process overall?
Don't expect that the design that you personally love will get accepted - it might be that only you like it. Keep doing good work and it will reward you in ways you might not even think of. Working with the blipshift team is a treat - I think with the right guidance my designs were taken to the next level. If some of you are hesitating to submit a design, just go ahead - the whole design might even go through a complete overhaul to suit the idea and the audience better, but that's where the guys at blipshift come in.
Thanks for your time Algirdas. Apex Everything!