We can say with confidence that the majority of us have dreamt of having a clothing line or, at least, printed t-shirts. It’s a great image—people loving and wearing your brand, and you loving its success. Pretty cool, right? Well, it’s no secret that the apparel industry is a tough one to crack in to, especially for t-shirts. With countless people producing apparel in hopes to make it big—think of all the folks in the fitness apparel world—you may feel like it’s impossible. As industry veterans in screen printing, we have time-tested knowledge on what sticks and what tends to get lost in the noise. We’ve gathered up some of our best t-shirt design tips to help you not only go into the industry with realistic expectations but gauge your target audience as well.
Targeting Your Audience
One of the first to consider before jumping in to designing is your audience. Who do you envision will be donning your apparel? This does not mean you need to boil folks down to one category—on the contrary. If you’re nimble in your design, you’ll be able to attract various types of markets. Take OBEY Clothing for example; artist and designer Shepard Fairey’s highly coveted brand worn by millions. Why? OBEY not only produces t-shirts that look stylish and a little up the beaten trail, but they mean something to their target markets. Every t-shirt design has enough secondary substance to symbolize something. OBEY’s stance has always been to resist the trends of the masses and to support activism. These two themes have built a massively successful brand. The clients of Abercrombie & Fitch are not seeking out OBEY. If you know who your audience is and why they’re the right market, then you’re off to a good start.
Who Are We Designing For?
It’s your t-shirt design, so obviously it’s for you. Right? Going back to the audience point, we want to design apparel that the target audience will want. One way we can do this is by creating substance. Like OBEY, what will your brand really mean to your audience? Anyone can throw a random design on a t-shirt, but cultivating value is what builds a loyal following. That’s what we want! People who believe in and trust your brand will aid in sustainable growth. After all, OBEY had to start somewhere in 2001. When you take time to honestly plan out the designs of your brand, people will notice and begin to invest.
Is the design or the color of a t-shirt more important? This is a bit of a complicated question. Neither is more significant, but color should be what you pin down first. When we look at a t-shirt as a whole garment—which you should always do—the color actually is an element of its design. Let the color of the shirt enhance the design. You could even do a handful of colorways for one design to appeal to even more people. With color, you must also think about wearability. Where will the design be placed? You want your apparel to look great no matter the size of the client. This begs the question—would you wear your t-shirt? That answer should always be a positive one.
Ensuring that the design looks perfect on your t-shirt is crucial. Have you ever seen a shirt and, because the design was so cramped, you couldn’t tell what it was? Let’s avoid that! Every line, dot, and word needs to have room to breathe in your design. Allow it to come together naturally—composing your piece will pay off with the end product.
These tips will help in your considerations of designing t-shirts. If you want to discuss design more or have questions, please contact us. We have a team of solid designers who would love to talk to you about your ideas.