He’s named his part-time design business after a Garth Brooks song, takes his inspiration from all things TN, and has designed some of Nothing Too Fancy’s most popular (and enduring) tees - so you might say the man behind Trends In Low Places is doing all the right things. In this month’s Vendor Spotlight blog, we introduce you to the part-time designer, newlywed husband, and model Tennessean - Jacob Cheatham.
Born and raised in Seymour, Jacob grew up an only child of two school teachers, Alan and Nancy. “I’ve always been into art but spent most of my childhood playing sports and enjoying the outdoors. This is where my pride for the area really began to blossom and influences my designs to this day… I went to school at Carson-Newman College where I majored in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design. While there, I took classes in a variety of media: from traditional drawing, to film photography, to watercolor and oil painting… After graduation I began teaching art at a nearby middle school in Jefferson County. I spent one year there and then transitioned to Blue Grass Elementary in Knox County where I taught for 8 years.
During that time I began designing shirts for school functions and the track team.” Jacob also started working on some Knoxville-inspired designs. Some friends suggested that one of his designs featuring the Sunsphere would sell if he put it on a t-shirt. “I got about 200 of them printed and was just selling them through word of mouth on social media and from the trunk of my car. They sold so well that I decided to make a few more designs and from there, Trends in Low Places was born. The name Trends in Low Places is obviously a play on the Garth Brooks song Friends in Low Places, which I felt really captured the essence of my target audience: people in the South that are proud of where they’re from and like to have a good time.”
It was in 2014 that Jacob reached out to Nothing Too Fancy to ask how he might go about having his t-shirt designs for sale in the store. “Nothing Too Fancy had become one of the hottest stores in Knoxville, and I thought to myself that it’d be so cool to see a shirt or two of mine in there. I emailed Lisa and asked what I needed to do to make that happen, and she said to shoot over a few pictures of my work. I sent the first three shirt designs that I’d made, and she decided to take them all. While I’d been working in the art field for quite a while, this was the first time that I’d actually had an audience for my work, which was so exciting! I still get the same sense of joy whenever I see someone around town wearing something that I designed as I did in the beginning. It means a lot to me that someone would not only spend their hard-earned money on my art but actually pull it out of their closet and wear it.”
Jacob cites the bestselling “Local” and “Kamara Grill” shirt designs as his favorites that he’s done for Nothing Too Fancy in the past. “Growing up in the tourist area of Sevier County, being a local was always sort of a badge of pride, so I felt that making the state outline actually part of the word was a great way to express that mindset. The Kamara grill shirt was inspired by his emergence as a starter in the Tennessee backfield. I remember after he scored a touchdown the end zone camera caught a closeup of his big smile and that gold grill. I knew at that moment that I had to put it on a shirt.” You can find some newer designs from Trends in Low Places in our store on Union Avenue right now. Jacob’s incredibly popular, retro-cool Camp Smoky Mountains design comes in a unisex tee in cardinal, and in a women’s tee or t-hoodie in olive green as well as on a mug, his Waterways design can be found on a blue unisex t-shirt or in a postcard and poster sized print, and his Basketball Tri-Star design is currently on sale!
Designing isn’t a full-time job for Jacob, he’s done lots of other things throughout his design career. After teaching, he went to work for a digital marketing agency called Pyxl, where he gained experience as a Sr. Production manager. “It was great to work in an environment with other creatives,” he says of his time there. Jacob’s current day job is as a Research Associate for a private equity company called Greater Sum Ventures. “Being able to use my art as an outlet rather that my primary means of income has been a great way for me to stay motivated.”
To wrap up, Jacob graciously left us with some words of advice for aspiring designers: I think to be a good designer, it really helps to be a well-rounded artist. Things like color theory, texture, and composition play an integral part in a successful t-shirt design. I consider my design aesthetic to be simple and clean. I try to start with an idea and then communicate it as efficiently as possible visually.”
(photo by T&K Photography)
Jacob and his wife, Kara, spend their free time fishing for smallmouth on the local rivers or playing with their dogs Daisy and Potter. They also love perusing downtown on First Fridays and cheering on the Vols.The whole NTF family send our best wishes and huge congratulations to Jacob and Kara on their recent wedding!
THERE’S ALWAYS MORE TO COME SOON - FOLLOW ALONG ON OUR INSTAGRAM (@NOTHINGTOOFANCYKNOXVILLE, #NOTHINGTOOFANCY) AND FACEBOOK. STOP IN AND SEE US ON UNION AVENUE IF YOU’RE IN TOWN - AND IF NOT, NO WORRIES, YOU CAN ORDER YOUR FAVORITE T-SHIRT RIGHT HERE ON OUR WEBSITE. AS ALWAYS, THANKS FOR KEEPING IT LOCAL, Y’ALL!
BLOG WRITTEN BY SHELBY SPARKS OF NOTHING TOO FANCY.