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T-Shirt Design Tips!

Every graphic designer thinks that t-shirt design is easy money – create a website, create your own t-shirt designs and before you know it the whole world and their dog will be wearing your designs on their chest. Unfortunately as most designers eventually realise this isn’t often the case. Graphic design can be a very personal thing and just because you would be proud to wear your designs doesn’t mean that others will.

If you are hell bent on going into t-shirt design here are a few very simple rules to keep you on track:

Theme Your Shirt

Having a theme to your t-shirt design is a good idea. However usually one theme is enough, you don’t want people staring at your t-shirt like a magic eye painting trying to figure out what it is. Keep it simple!

Copyright Rules!

If you are running out of ideas to complete your collection do not be tempted to use stock designs or photography that breeches the copyright – you cannot use other peoples designs on your product and sell them – you are selling something that is not yours.

Not a Novel

Nice bold text can look great on a t-shirt, however do not be tempted to write a novel. People will not be able to read all the text and the most popular t-shirt design tends to be clear and simple.

B**?!! Naughty Words

You may think that writing a blue joke or scribbling a naughty picture on a t-shirt constitutes a great design, and a small proportion of your market may agree with you. However there is a time and a place for those types of things, and many people can be very offended by your design.

Grainy Pictures

There is no problem with putting pictures on a t-shirt (unless they fall in line with the category above!), but always ensure that they are good enough quality, no one wants to wear a t-shirt with a pixilated, blurry image on.

KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid!

As I’ve mentioned earlier don’t go OTT – especially when it comes to special prints. Raised print, applique, metallic ink, flocking… (the list is endless) are all excellent applications and can make your designs stand out, but make sure you use them in moderation otherwise you’ll be left with a frankenstein design with a mixture of themes and textures confusing the eye.

Yoke, Back and Sleeves

Don’t forget that designs don’t have to be limited to just the chest, work other areas of the t-shirt to create more of unique feel, this also gives the impression of added value to your piece.

Swing Tickets and Labels

Have you thought about how you are going to display key information that your t-shirt has to include ie sizes, washing instructions, bar codes etc? If you leave these till last they will look like an after thought and not part of the t-shirt. A simple t-shirt can be given a new lease of life with a funky well thought out side patch and inside label.

Creating successful t-shirt designs and seeing other people wearing your garments can feel amazing, knowing that they like your designs so much that they want to wear them is a huge compliment. However trying to sell 10,000 florecent orange t-shirts with a pornographic image on at a boot sale is not an amazing feeling. Tread carefully and follow the tips above and you should be on your way to creating a fantastic range of t-shirts!

Posted by Lu

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Posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2008 at 4:25 pm
Posted In Graphic Design | Tags:

2 Responses to “T-Shirt Design Tips!”

  • Obsidian says:

    This is a great blog for start up designers, I have a project that I want to start, and it helps to have people who can tell you how to not go too far

  • Creating successful t-shirt designs and seeing other people wearing your garments can feel amazing.

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