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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

How Colors Hook, Convince, and Persuade


Colors can cause emotional triggers that help your custom t-shirt message stand out in an environment where sensory overload is experienced almost constantly. Colors have such an impact on people that it can persuade, convince, and hook observers to feel what you are attempting to make them feel, and persuade them to take action. The wrong colors and color combinations can negatively impact you message to such a degree that your message will be ignored by all but the most observant of individuals.

To delve into the mysterious psychological impact of color, we have to start at the beginning which is color theory. The foundations for all colors are the Primary Colors, red, blue, and yellow. From this origin all other colors and hues are derived.

primary colors

Tertiary Colors are the result of combing unequal parts of a Primary Color to a Secondary Color resulting in a hue that is close to, but not a pure rendition of the Primary Color.

Colors are also defined by temperature such as cool (blue, green, and purples) and warm (yellow, orange, and red) colors.

color wheel

Contrasting colors are colors that are opposites on a color wheel. The level of contrast will dictate how easily your message can be consumed and can be one of the most debated topics when it comes to designing with a professional graphic artist. High or low contrasting color combinations define how well your image or message stands out from the background. The background can be another design element or even the color of t-shirt you choose to print on.

The level of contrast is not dictated simply because your design features two different colors, what matters for contrast is the level of variation in the tone. For the most important elements of the design or message on the t-shirt, use high contrast color combinations. However when the entirety of the design is high contrast this can cause the opposite effect. If everything is important, nothing is important.

Similarly if everything is low contrast or tone on tone, the message becomes hard to read even if it makes an attractive piece. While good design warrants you’ll have an attractive image, you must insist your designer comply with the rule of contrast for the most important elements of the t-shirt.

Picking winning color combinations is simpler than you might think. It’s because people actually respond better to simplicity especially when absorbing a message. Each color conveys meaning and emotion so overindulgence in colors could cause unnecessary confusion.

Opposites attract both in real life scenarios and in design. Complementary colors are on the opposing side of the color wheel and exude contrast naturally. Choosing complimentary colors creates a complex balance that supports the need for contrast and the ability to consume. However 100% complementary colors making up the entirety of the design can have a jarring impact. You can include two opposites and a single additional hue (this is a split complimentary color) that is similar to one or the other to find a harmonious symmetry.

An analogous pallet is one where the colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. While this color scheme does not have high contrast, it can be used in a design as long as the power words or graphics are in a high contrasting color for punch. Analogous color combos can be soothing and relaxing.

Monochromatic palettes are derived from a single color represented in varying shades, tones, or hues. While probably the most subdued of all color combos, when married with a primary of high contrast, it can produce a design that is both impactful and attractive.

The colors we choose have a direct impact on the psyche and behavior of the observer. When you think about it, where do we look when our eyes are tired and need to rest? Likely blue, gray, or soft white is a calming choice. While how a person perceives colors is informed by past experiences and associations, the science of color psychology can be generally interpreted as the following:

color red

Red is a strong color which is an attention grabber and can also invoke feelings of anger, power, excitement, and even aggression. When used sparingly, it draws the eye and makes the observer keenly aware of the focal point.

color orange

Orange imbues the strength of red with the cheery impact of yellow. It’s well known to have an impact on the appetite and is commonly used for restaurant menus and logos to stimulate hunger. It’s also one of the least favorite colors when people choose apparel so be careful when considering it as a t-shirt background for your design.

color yellow

Yellow is the color of joy and happiness. This color invokes positivity and possibility. Its brightness makes it a great choice for high impact on a dark shirt. Use this color for the main crux of your message.

color green

Green is one the most common colors of our native environment so it’s no surprise it’s perceived as harmonious and natural. Any design that’s looking to invoke a feeling of connection and belonging should feature this color.

color blue

Blue is another color that exists in vast quantities in our environment and has a de-stressing impact on moods. The tranquility of blue lends itself to be used widely in business messaging because it conjures emotions of trust and relaxation.

color purple

Purple is an exotic color that is historically related to royalty and mysticism. While it can make a powerful statement in contrast to white, orange, and yellow, use this color in small doses or as a background since it can be distracting.

color pink

Pink has the psychological impact of tenderness and love. It’s most notably used as an identifying color for breast cancer awareness. While feelings of love and tenderness may be what you’re looking to express, too much can be seen as childish.

color brown

Brown is probably the least desirable color for graphic design unless you’re looking to appeal to the need of stability and constancy like the ground we walk upon.

color black

Black is the absence of light and is frequently used for luxury messaging. It provides a fantastic background for almost every color due to its potential for high contrast. It can also be overpowering so use with caution.

color white

White is an antiseptic color for feelings that make it okay to be vulnerable. It relates purity and innocence and can be successfully contrasted with almost every color. The danger of white is that it can be perceived as too sterile.

What could possibly go wrong with event swag?

timing for promotional products

Getting your swag in order for a big event is just one of the numerous moving parts that are involved in event planning and execution. It’s easy to assume many vendors of such marketing material will be able to produce your order in no time but custom event swag actually does require planning and providing lots of detailed information to your vendor to turn the order around flawlessly and most importantly, on time for show time. To avoid becoming a statistic of bad planning here is our guide to avoid missteps when ordering custom t-shirt giveaways, business gifts, and promotional items for events.

Look for promotional product companies and t-shirt printers that can offer solutions to your marketing swag needs. You need to be confident that your high end embroidered items will be legible and any screen printed items will do your company proud. These items will represent your company and will also be an indication of how you perceive the recipient. Who wants their company to be viewed as cheap or their gifts to be seen as last minute and thrown together? Promotional products can be last minute but if you’re working with a true professional company, no one needs to know that.

embroidery thread

Embroidery is a service that requires more time than screen printing so if you’re considering this as an option for decoration for your event swag, give yourself and your vendor enough lead time. Embroidery can actually be quite complicated and here’s why. Not all logos are easy to translate into stitches especially when reproducing on small areas. Some of the details may become illegible and in some cases, there simply is no other alternative than to adjust the logo to exclude some details or to make the logo bigger. Look for a company that does their embroidery in-house and request a “sew out” or proof of the product before ordering numerous pieces. Listen to your sales representative. If they caution against the product you want to have embellished or tell you something’s probably not going to work or look good, it’s because they have experience in this decoration method.

We have our own on site embroidery department with many years of collective knowledge to be able to offer expert advice and suggestions to ensure your embroidered promotional items will be sought-after giveaways.

Timing is everything for custom promotional products like t-shirts, totes, and hats. Under ideal circumstances you would have all the time in the world to plan for your event but sometimes surprises or opportunities come up like a last minute deal for an expensive or sold-out trade show. If you ever find yourself in a hurried situation to get event swag produced first look for a vendor that offers rush order options. For example we offer three different shipping options, one in as little as 3 business days. If it’s at all possible, we’ve offered even quicker turnaround but it depends on where in the U.S. you’re located and if we can get blank product from our vendor same day. While it’s not idea for anyone, we try to bend when we can to make our customers love us.

Sizing expectations have the potential to cause issues because not all sizes are true across product lines and manufacturers. Even the same product sourced from two different countries can produce unexpected inconsistencies. Fits vary quite a bit depending on the cut of the product as well. A fitted medium will look and feel different from a standard tee so pay attention to the product description. If it mentions fitted, fashion, slim, or junior, this is not going to be as roomy or as universal as a standard fit.

event planning

When possible, it’s totally worth your time to ask for samples of the product in question. These do not usually come free but can be sent at fraction of what it would cost to buy the product in a retail environment. Seeing samples of the product beforehand can make the difference in how much your promotional apparel actually gets worn.

Your logo or slogan may present problems you would never have thought about when getting ready to have custom t-shirts printed for example. If you had the logo produced primarily for branding on paper or website marketing collateral, colors and special effects are no problem. However when printing on apparel, these can be expensive or problematic. Be sure to work with a printer that can offer alteration suggestions or logo redesigns to save you money and ensure your final product looks great on the product you pick.

Many companies have strict branding guidelines they need to adhere to for consistency and marketing integrity. Working with a professional screen printer should ensure you logo colors are translated properly for clear branding. Screen printers use the Pantone Matching System to professionally mix colors via formulas. Through use of this method, your logo colors will be precise on order after order. Beware of screen printers that do not use or are unfamiliar with this concept.

Some final recommendations on how to avoid last minute situations that can cause panic and stress are to start early. The more time you allow yourself, the more likely you will be okay in the event that a snag is hit like a product being discontinued or damaged products being shipped to the printer. Check any proofs sent diligently to make sure you and your printer are on the same page. Reply quickly when proofs or questions are sent to you. Hardly any screen printer will proceed with an order if there are unanswered questions on placement of design or design changes from year over year. Lastly review your receipt or invoice to check for things like shipping address and time of delivery. Will someone be available to receive the goods if shipping straight to an event?

Some issues are unavoidable or unforeseeable, but if you work with pros for your event t-shirts and promotional products, they should be able to guide you through the roughest of waters to pull it off in the end.

How to Promote your Clothing Brand for Beginners

clothing brand image

So you’ve made some awesome t-shirt designs and have received rave reviews from family and friends. Now you’re ready to sit back and let the cash roll in? Unfortunately that scenario is true mostly never. If you ignore marketing your clothing brand, only one thing will happen, which is a lot of nothing. We understand you’re likely more engaged in the creative aspect of your business but unless you have a professional marketer budgeted into your business plan you’re going to have to do some of the heavy lifting on your own. Fortunately there are many ways you can promote your clothing brand with a little money. What you will need to do is use your creativity in how and where you present your clothing designs.

Come up with your brands identity

Before your splatter your designs all over Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, figure out how you want your brand to be perceived by potential customers. Come up with an overall feel that emulates the lifestyle your brand represents. Developing clear brand messaging is one of the hallmarks of successful clothing brands. People that are passionate about a brand aren’t that way because of the product alone. It’s a deeper psychological relationship where they identify with the overall image of the brand and want to be seen living the lifestyle the brand is expressing through their advertising.

If you’re not sure what your brand’s identity really is ask for opinions from people who you really trust. What type of personality would be interested in your t-shirt designs? Do they see your style being attractive to any specific segment of society? People who pursue and active lifestyle? If so, what kind? Are they gym people or they more inclined to get their exercise doing outdoor sports? You can drill that down ever further by asking if they like group sports or if they are more into solitary hiking or running.

When you understand who your audience is, think about where this audience is most likely to congregate and go there with a camera in hand. Take lots of pictures for inspiration, you’ll need them when you’re ready to do your own photo shoot with your products. You can collect all of your photos on a Pinterest board for easy visualization of the mood you’re trying create for your brand.

t-shirt mockup

Content Creation

Now you should be ready to create content for your marketing efforts. There are two opposing ideologies for how you should present designs. To use a model or let the t-shirt speak for itself. Both have their advantages. By using a model, the choice of model can go a long way to conveying the image you want for your brand. A heavily bearded male with lots of tattoos in a street setting can convey a trendy urban feel while a clean cut guy on campus walking to class can convey a conservative preppy feel. Likewise a female model in the wilderness walking a dog can provide a free spirit feel while a woman in a restaurant surrounded by friends can convey a feeling of modernity and popularity.

If you choose no models, the props and location of the shoot will help to define the ambience. Including a full outfit in the shoot is a popular method to showcase and entire look. Choosing the appropriate supporting clothing items is important. Here again, you need to keep your target audience in mind. If you’ve identified your audience as the outdoorsy type, you wouldn’t want your marketing picture to feature high heel shoes with flashy jewelry. Nor would you pair combat boots with a design that is supposed to appeal to a fraternity member.

posed t-shirt model

Videos are a very popular way for audiences to consume content. There are so many affordable ways for beginners to make their own video content even when shot with a phone. There are easy to use film editing software like iMovie and Magisto. Scheduling your shoot to take advantage of outdoor lighting can save you some bucks on expensive lighting equipment. Some software like Lumen5 even provides you with ways to repurpose your blog or look book content into easily consumable video ready to be uploaded to Facebook and YouTube.

Promoting your clothing brand on social media is essential and can garner some free publicity. While Facebook is a tough nut to crack without paying to play, sites like Instagram and Pinterest can allow you to gain traction by popularity. Initial success on Instagram is a hashtag game. Research other popular posts that seem to target segments of society you think would be interested in your designs and include them in your posts. Pinterest is not hashtag driven but featuring keywords in your uploaded description is how your content can be discovered by people who might appreciate it.


It’s amazing to get some help through others when just starting out. We’ve all heard the term “influencer” on social media. These people can be really tough to get in touch with since they are inundated with requests all the time and can be frankly quite expensive. Instead of chasing this strategy, look a little closer to home. Do you personally know any members of popular local bands? Ask them if they’d be willing to wear your t-shirt to their next gig and take pictures of it. You can then post the pics on social with tags back to the band. This is an easy way to engage both your own and their fan base.

Giving away your t-shirts may not be what you ideally had in mind but when given to the right people that are willing to talk about your brand, it is often far cheaper than other methods of advertising.

Do you know anyone who operates a boutique style retail store? Would any of your designs make sense to appear alongside their merchandise? Talk to the store owner to see if they’d be willing to feature some of your t-shirts in exchange for a cut of any proceeds.

clothing brand mockup

Do you know anyone who operates a boutique style retail store? Would any of your designs make sense to appear alongside their merchandise? Talk to the store owner to see if they’d be willing to feature some of your t-shirts in exchange for a cut of any proceeds.

T-Shirt Industry Marketing Lessons from Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

You may not think that fame and marketing have anything to do with one another but some of the most famous people carefully plot their path to fame by controlling every aspect of their image and doggedly employing known traits from successful marketing campaigns. If you’re trying to break into the t-shirt design game, or make your branded apparel stand out from the competition you’re chasing fame as sure as any performing artist.

Justin Timberlake is one such person that’s employed great marketing tactics in his career trajectory. So how did a boy from Memphis, Tennessee achieve dizzying heights of fame in a manner few have ever accomplished for going on almost two decades? Here’s a breakdown of how he’s applied marketing strategies throughout his career.

Perfect Timing- If you’ve ever watched Justin Timberlake perform, you know his choreography is well rehearsed with everything synced up to build tension and release at the right moments. Show stopping moves and signature dance steps at the perfect time make his performances worthy of the top dollar he commands.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway-Follow trending topics and movements on social channels and other media. You never know when you may be able to come up with the next best slogan for a social movement or distill the passion felt about a particular incident into the perfect t-shirt design. Embodying feelings and sentiments into meaningful graphics is what t-shirt designers do.

Stay Humble-A big star like Justin Timberlake wouldn’t be expected to interact with fans of his work on a one-to-one level but that’s exactly what he’s been known to do. At a screening of his Coen Brother’s collaboration, “Inside Llewyn Davis” at the ArcLight Theater in 2013, he stayed after the public Q &A to take selfies with fans, answer questions, and sign autographs. Instead of being whisked away immediately after his scheduled appearance he stayed to show his fans how much he appreciated them and obviously understands they are the reason he is famous.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- Thank your buyers in unexpected ways to delight them from time to time. It’s not reasonable to be expected to giveaway all the time but there are inexpensive ways to surprise and show you feel it’s a two way street. You could include a free artistic sticker with every purchase, offer a rewards program, or send them a coupon for their next purchase to keep your brand top of mind.

Sweat the Details- Justin Timberlake stated, “If you put out 150 percent, then you can always expect 100 percent back. That’s what I was always told as a kid, and it’s worked for me so far!” Everyone knows JT is a singer, but he’s also an actor, he owns restaurants, a clothing brand, a golf course and a vodka brand. Being that diverse in your business interests requires a lot of dedication and a strong work ethic. Even in his early days, his history as an athlete made him focus on perfecting every aspect of his performance.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- If you work hard at creating a design but get lazy with precise PMS colors choices and product selection, the perfection of the design won’t matter. Your customers will expect a quality product with a quality print each and every time. It pays to be selective about your t-shirt product and demand consistency from your custom t-shirt screen printer.

Marketing is for Life- Justin Timberlake is always “on.” He has his interests in so many pots he must maintain a steady and consistent approach to stay in control and remain relevant. Sure, if he quit releasing albums he would go down in history as a pop icon but over the span of his career, he has paced his releases to come up with amazing new music that awes his fans and tops previous achievements. He keeps pushing himself and collaborates with other musicians that push the envelope as well. He does not go quiet between albums. Rather we see him in movies, hosting Saturday Night Live, and making public appearances.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- Take the time to create designs that are amazing. Don’t approach your branding by throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Be consistent and find ways to repurpose your marketing efforts across different channels. If you release a new design, make a video about it, develop posts for social, create an email blast, and write a blog. There’s many ways to keep putting yourself in the public eye. Don’t release one marketing blitz and then sit back to see what happens. Keep presenting your designs in new formats and research channels you may have never considered before.

Take Chances- Justin Timberlake started out his singing career performing songs by Al Greene, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. That’s not what one might expect from a white kid from the South. His passion for R&B led him down a path where he was an exception to the rule. He was not afraid to perform the kind of music he loved and appreciated and his passion showed when performing this genre to the delight of anyone listening. Staying safe and being predictable rarely presents an opportunity to stand out in a crowded market.

T-shirt Industry Takeaway- Don’t be afraid to explore the obscure and put your own spin on the more obvious. Developing new ideas takes a tremendous amount of work and repetition. Certainly you must take cues from your fan base if something isn’t resonating with them, but keep pushing boundaries to create something unique and memorable with your signature style.

The 10 Best State Pride T-shirt Designs

Whether you feel state pride because it’s your birthplace or because you’ve relocated, or simply love vacationing there, state pride t-shirts are probably something you’ve purchased at some point in your life. The problem with these types of t-shirts is they are often designed with minimal creativity or even worse, the same design with slight modification could suit any state in the nation.

We love the idea of personalization so we looked for some of the best, original designs for state pride tees on the web. Here’s our list of best of the best.


We have start with this Arizona pride t-shirt because it’s our home state and we certainly think it’s the grandest! What we like about this design is it stays true to a southwestern color scheme and highlights the natural wonder that is our states motto, “The Grand Canyon State.” The artistic simplicity of the design feels retro and modern at the same time and the informal font matches perfectly. Going with natural for the color of the t-shirt keeps the message on point as far as we’re concerned.


The play on words with this California pride t-shirt is a golden opportunity to reiterate creativity is the key to successful t-shirt concepts. The relaxed black scoop neck is the correct choice to reflect California’s famous laid back lifestyle. We can’t tell from this pic if the ink is gold glitter but if it’s not, it should be. .


While this design is specific to Kansas City, not the entire state of Kansas, we decided to include it because it showcases a very cool trend that usually only locals could truly appreciate. Calling out some of the most famous street names is a great homage to the character and flavor of a famous city. The grid pattern reinforces the concept of transit while the overall distress effect offers a gritty edge to the overall design.


This design expresses all the attractions and allure of vacationing in this great state. From the country to the mountains to the coast, graphics illustrate the endless possibilities. The blue t-shirt reflects the color of the flag of Maine and the modest distress on the design alludes to a soft feel.


Making the most of the shape of your state is not something that all states can do. However with Michigan’s unusual shape that somewhat reassembles a hand, this designer has incorporated that feature into the message of the shirt. Hand made in Michigan has our vote as a clever t-shirt design.


The only letters that matter in this alphabet are the initials of the state of Minnesota. Drawing attention to this happy accidental design through use of contrasting ink colors puts this state pride tee on our list.


Montana pride is displayed in this t-shirt design with glimpses of a larger design artfully placed within the silhouette of a bull head. The heathered plum t-shirt product choice offers great contrast.

New York

This New York City t-shirt design is making it onto the list because you can hardly mention New York State without mentioning NYC. We love the hands signs that reiterate the vibrant energy of this city.


The yellow rose of Texas is a folk song that dates back to the 1850’s and has been recorded by famous singers like Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson. The song is embedded in the state’s history and this high contrast silhouette design is unmistakably creative as a Texas state pride tee.


This cheeky design is a pretty clever in its use of an expletive with a benign and charming replacement. It’s both daring and modern and not what you might expect of a Wyoming state pride t-shirt.

If you can’t find your state or city on this list, you can design your own using our state clip art. Search by keyword or by category: Nature/Geography, then select states to reveal silhouettes to begin your custom t-shirt design design.