Designing a few custom t-shirts can be a great way to promote your brand, represent your favorite local club, or just have some unique articles of clothing in your wardrobe. Regardless of what purpose you’ll be using your custom shirts for, there are some particulars you’ll want to consider beforehand. Here’s what you should be keeping in mind:
What’s Your Goal?
You might think a t-shirt is just a t-shirt, but it pays to think about your goals before jumping into your design phase. If you’re going to be marketing your custom shirts as a sale item, you’ll want to craft them with that purpose in mind. Techie has a great write-up that covers how you can craft shirts that will sell well, with some choice tips being that you should concentrate on basic colors (like black) and simple designs.
If you’re going to be using your shirts to market your brand, as part of a unifying outfit for an organization, or just for your own enjoyment, however, you can experiment more with colors, font choices, patterns, and the like. The more personal to yourself you intend the final product to be, the more leeway you’ll have in this regard.
What About Your Design?
No matter your goals, you’re going to want whatever shirt you design to be high quality. If you have a measure of graphic design talent yourself, you can get to work devising your t-shirt art, remembering to keep in mind some of the best practices for doing so. Both 99designs and Creative Bloq have excellent guides that can set you on the right track. Above all else, you’ll want to take the tone and personality you’re trying to convey into account:
“You want to make sure your t-shirt design communicates clearly…Is your brand playful or serious? Edgy or conservative? Luxurious or affordable? A focused t-shirt design can answer all of these questions at a glance.”
You can convey a great deal of information with the right graphics. Do your research if you’re going for any sort of symbolism, and don’t go too “on-the-nose” if you’re trying to attempt something humorous. Remember: the small details matter, but subtlety and simplicity will help you win the day when it comes to designing the best t-shirt you possibly can.
Now, if you aren’t particularly savvy when it comes to design, but still have some ideas that you think would look amazing printed, you might have to turn to a third party to help bring your vision to life. Companies like The Teehive (and others) are generally regarded as specialists when it comes to putting designs onto clothing. Normally, working with such a business to complete your designs grants a few options.
You could, for instance, select one of the designs that they have available, applying subtle (or sweeping) customizations to make them more personal and applicable to your brand.
This might be a good option if you don’t need anything overly-distinct, but if you have something more innovative in mind, a better option would be to work with a designer directly. You could describe your idea to them and they would use your input to draft something that fits what you’re going for.
If you decide to go the third-party route, remember that the tried-and-true wisdom on selecting the right graphic designer to work with you is always applicable in such scenarios, and you should probably prioritize quality and professionalism over pricing in most situations.
What About Getting Your Shirts Printed?
Unless you’ve got a screenprinting business set up in your back office, you’ll need to turn to the pros for this final step. Again, there are plenty of companies that can assist — from your local print shops to bigger names like The Teehive — and a skilled touch is exactly what you’ll need to bring your shirts to life. Just remember, there are plenty of options when it comes to t-shirt fabrics, weights, sizes, labeling, etc. that will affect the look of your end product and total costs. Make sure you take all of these into consideration to ensure that you end up with custom t-shirts that make you satisfied.
Going the custom t-shirt route for your brand, club, or personal enjoyment has its intricacies but, when done right, it can be a worthwhile endeavor. Keep some of these tips and considerations in mind and, above all else, you should try to create something that speaks to you — just a bit of thought in this regard will go a long way in ensuring the best quality.
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