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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

The Best Way to Prepare your Artwork for Custom T-shirt Printing

t-shirt idea

We offer tons of t-shirt design ideas as templates to show our customers what is possible to create for print in our design studio. But most of our t-shirt printing website visitors come to us with their design already in mind or prepared. Although we have artists that review each and every art submission to ensure the image will print perfectly, we realize the importance of educating our customers on the best way to prepare artwork for a custom t-shirt print. Here is a rundown of our professional knowledge on art preparation that will make you look like a rock star of t-shirt design.

Design using PMS colors

Most professional graphic designers work primarily in RGB or CMYK for web or printed publications, however to ensure spot on accuracy of your chosen colors, design your t-shirt using specific PMS colors. The reason behind this is Pantone colors are developed using precise formulas. These formulas were created with consistency in mind. If a screen printer is worth their salt, they will use this matching system and not “eyeball it” to match what looks close. CMYK colors are simulated to create the final output and will not be consistent to PMS so if you are creating a design that will be used across all types of advertising platforms and consistency matters, use PMS colors. Another advantage of PMS colors is a screen printer can simulate multiple colors through the use of halftones with one PMS color. If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, talk to us about this method.

Pantone colors

Design your art as actual size

If you have a specific output size in mind, why not design it with these specs from the beginning? If you know the t-shirt product you’ll want for the print it doesn’t hurt to print out a full-sized image, cut it out, and stick it on the shirt to see exactly what it will look like when printed, that way there are no surprises. We’ve printed millions of custom t-shirts over the course of 14 years and always use our best judgement if we haven’t been given explicit instructions.

Vector art rules

We print a lot of t-shirt art that is submitted in raster format, meaning the image is made up of pixels but for a serious t-shirt artist, vector is the only way to go. Vectors consist of lines that are controlled by points and nodes. The beauty of vector art is that it can be scaled up or down to any size and never lose its clarity. Raster or bitmap images lose information each time the image is resized because it’s being recalculated to adjust to the new size. If you must use raster art, for a photo t-shirt as an example, it must be submitted at 300 dpi or higher to provide a high quality final t-shirt print. If you found the perfect foundational piece of clip art for your t-shirt design but it is in raster format to start with, it can be converted to vector, (we do this all the time as part of our printing services,) but be prepared to clean it up quite a bit in Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW.

Vector graphic for t-shirt

Always convert text to outlines

Awesome t-shirts designs will often feature a signature font that might represent the entirety of the design or be a critical part of the integrity of the design. When outputting your file from Adobe Illustrator or a similar vector program, always convert text to outlines so there is no chance your font is corrupted when digitally transferring the file. Converting to outlines turns your font into an image that cannot be altered. If you’re worried about the necessity of altering the design at a later date, like changing the year for future reprints, simply save a copy before converting your text.

Convert strokes to paths

This is similar to converting text to outlines except it has to do with objects in your t-shirt design. This ensures that your design stays exactly the way you created it without the worry that another program will handle strokes differently. Expanding the strokes before converting to paths is also beneficial to keep your design precise.

Be specific in your design and printing instructions

A perfectly executed t-shirt design is just part of the submission. Our design studio offers a great preview of what the final product should look like but specifics that cannot be visually represented should be communicated in the note areas of your order form. Some examples are an unusual placement, if you intend for the design to be off center, if you need a color replaced with another color, if the final print needs to be specific size, specific PMS color requests, two sizes of art for youth and adult sized blended orders, and removal of background. Basically anything you can think of that could possible impact the final print. While we don’t hesitate to reach out to our customers if we’re not clear on something, we don’t know what we don’t know and depend on your communication to provide a product that you’ll be delighted with.

Graphic desing programs

Designing custom t-shirts can be a rewarding experience whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out. Some t-shirt designs have become part of our culture and define periods in history. When you design a shirt, it has the potential to be seen by many people and hopefully will fulfil its purpose whether it is about advocacy, business promotion, or a fashion statement for a clothing brand. Submitting great artwork is the first step towards realizing the goal you have in mind for your t-shirt design.

12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway Design Ideas

We get really excited around the holiday season just like most people. Finding ways to delight our customers and make our brand the type of brand people can feel a connection with is an authentic goal for us at DesignAShirt. This is the 2nd year we’ve ran a promotion called The 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway and although it’s not over yet, we want to give all of our readers an opportunity to see the designs we’ve come up.

Over the course of several weeks we went through hundreds of designs to settle on the 12 we’d use this year. Last year we came up with designs that we’re from all walks of life, events, and careers. This year we chose to stick to holiday only themed shirts. We hope you like them and if you get a chance follow us on Facebook and Instagram to be notified of your chance to win one!

Don't Open 'Till Christmas

The first t-shirt design we used for the 1st Day of our Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is really special to us because our Customer Service Manager, Jessie, is due to give birth this December to her second child. A Christmas baby is something very special and although we had some initial misgivings about using the design because it’s very specific, it’s turned out to be one of the most popular thus far in the giveaway. Who knew there would be that many expectant mothers due this December? One of our artists created several different versions of the bow that drapes across the belly and the Christmas tag all which are available to use in our design studio clip art. We added “Don’t open ‘till Christmas” using one of our standard fonts available in our custom t-shirt design studio. We can’t wait to meet Jessie’s new baby later this month!

Staching Through the Snow

Our second design for the 2nd Day of our Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is a mustache themed Christmas t-shirt. The facial hair phenomenon doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon and the waxed mustache has become an iconic symbol in the hipster culture. We also like to show our customers how using our design studio clip art in surprising and creative ways can lead to a very unique design. We copied and pasted the same piece of clip art and enlarged each copy just bit to build out a cascading mustache Christmas tree with a star topper. The added text, “Staching through the Snow” is a play on the lyrics of “Jingle Bells.”

It's the Most Wonderful Time for a Beer

Our third design for the 3rd Day of our Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is a beer theme. Obviously beer has been an important part of culture throughout history with roots as far back as the ancient Egyptians who primarily brewed it for its nutritional value. Today, beer brewing is diverse and many breweries strive to create unique, artisanal based recipes to stand out from the behemoths of the industry that often buy out smaller companies to keep their hold on the market. Craft beers are very popular in the Northwest United States but there are many thriving local breweries where our warehouse is located in Tempe, AZ. Some of which we proudly print custom t-shirts for. Understanding the cultural love for a good brew, we included this design because truly, the holiday season is the “Most Wonderful Time for a Beer.”

Oy to the World

Our fourth design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is not Christmas themed at all but rather in recognition of non-Christian cultural systems and beliefs. We strive to be all-inclusive and wanted to provide a spotlight for our Jewish customer base. Embracing diversity is a core value at DesignAShirt. We debated whether to use a dreidel or the Star of David in the design and ultimately settled on the Star of David because we thought the dreidel was too commonly used to represent Hanukkah. The play on “Joy to the World” reading “Oy to the World” is simply our designer’s sense of humor.

The Christmas Cheer is Strong

Our fifth design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is all about Star Wars and the release of The Last Jedi in mid-December. The Force is a metaphysical description of the power behind both good and evil in the Star Wars universe. Darth Vader stated “The force is strong with this one” in the very first Star Wars movie as he’s trying to blow up Luke Skywalker in an epic dog fight. We altered it to provide a holiday cheer twist and asked our biggest Star Wars fan to model the tee. Obviously she was delighted to do so since she got to keep the tee as compensation for modeling.

Best Gift Ever

Our sixth design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway was created for anyone with a newborn around the holiday season in mind. The photo opportunity alone is priceless. Imagine using this concept for Christmas greeting cards. One that family, especially the grandparents would love to receive. The design could also be used by people of all ages as a gag gift.

Let it Grow

Our seventh design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is homage to the wild popularity of beards. A play on the Christmas song, “Let it Snow,” Let it grow is ideal for anyone that’s proud to be a member of beard culture. Our particular model has been growing his for more than three years so he’s the perfect person to represent with this tee.

Lit AF

Our eighth design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is a joke t-shirt about drinking. For a lot of us the holidays are about having a good time. Good times can be enhanced with a little help from alcohol. We decided on this design because it incorporates the concept of holiday Christmas lights and drinking. The term, “AF” is somewhat socially acceptable replacement for words that many of us love to use and is pretty popular in custom t-shirt design currently.

Joyful, Merry, & Blessed

Our ninth design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is a girly concept. “Joyful, Merry, & Blessed” is perfect for anyone wanting to exude the holiday spirit. We used three different fonts and Christmas coordinated colors to show how even simple words can be transformed into a fetching t-shirt design.

You Sit on a Throne of Lies

Our tenth design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is based upon the massively popular Christmas movie, Elf, starring Will Ferrell. We are all big fans of the film so we created elf shoes and added them to our design studio along with a quote from the movie. Will Ferrell’s character, Buddy, is dismayed that a mall Santa is trying to impersonate the real deal and trick children into believing he’s the authentic Santa. He whispers to the mall Santa, “You sit on a throne of lies.” It’s just one of many memorable quotes we could have used but decided this one is unmistakable and will go down in the holiday movie hall of fame.

Wine Christmas

Our eleventh design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is a play on the song, “White Christmas” but with wine as the dominate theme. We’ve added ugly Christmas sweater elements to enhance this fun Christmas t-shirt logo. Our model was an enthusiastic participant!

Gingerbread Boy

The final design for the 12 Days of Christmas T-shirt Giveaway is a funny shirt designed with photo opportunities in mind. Imagine seeing this post in one of your friend’s feeds this holiday season. It’s also a great concept for Christmas greeting cards. We created a gingerbread boy and gingerbread girl both of which are available in our design studio for your own personalized gingerbread child photo shoots.

Check out all of our Christmas themed holiday t-shirts in our Christmas T-shirt idea gallery. Customize your own by changing fonts, colors, and custom apparel products.

How to Create an Amazing Brand on a Micro Budget

brand building

When you’re starting a new business, building your brand is a huge part of your success but it can be a challenge on a limited budget and dealing with time constraints. This can be stressful especially if you have to start repaying a loan from profits or have to answer to an investor.

Don’t get lost at the starting gate by panicking over what you can’t afford. Instead focus on strategies that will help you to build a brand that people will begin to know, trust and love.

Stick with simple and clear messaging. You might be tempted to get fancy and witty with your messaging but stay on target to create messaging that is straightforward and relatable. Too much clutter and your brand’s identity will be lost. People don’t have time to guess what you offer by adding unneeded layers of mystery. What you may think of as clever, customers may think of as inflated puffery.

core message strategy

Consider minds like Steve Jobs, “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

Figuring out your core message is about ideology. What problem will your products or services solve? How will your products or services improve your customers life and most importantly, how will your products or services make the customer feel about themselves? Distilling all of these important elements into messaging can be tough but it’s important to bring it down to a statement or an expression that embodies all of these characteristics.

standing out from competitors

It may help to figure out what your business is not. Make a list of things you hate about your competitors products or services and build upon that to decide what makes you different and how you achieve this difference. People demand an experience these days from brands. Those are the ones that develop cult followings. Developing an immersive experience for your customers also begets a lot of free advertising as people that have experienced something remarkable will want to tell their friends.

Small marketing budgets do not automatically equate low quality creatives. It’s ideal to hire the very best when it comes to graphic design but when you go with a designer that works at an agency, you’re going to pay a premium as that designer’s employer has to pay all the overhead expenses that come with running an agency.

Get creative when looking for a design professional. With the freedom of access the Internet affords, you can easily shop around for a quality artist that offers their services at a reasonable price. The rock bottom cheapest way to make a logo is to use an online designer that allows you to make it yourself. This is not recommended though because although it looks cheap at first, being able to download the design at a high resolution, and with all the different formats, costs more money. Additionally, when you start with one of their templates and simply plug in your text, you will not have an original design specific to you and you won’t own the artwork either.

It’s far better to spend a little bit of money on a site like 99Designs, eLance, or UpWork to work with real graphic designers that can produce art that will translate into all aspects of your advertising. Whether it is a logo for your shop’s window or a custom t-shirt design ready for print it’s critical to work with a designer that understands different print methods and the requirements for each. For example, custom t-shirt art needs to be no less than 300 DPI and preferably in a vector format. They should also understand that designs with lots of colors will be more expensive to print and be able to simplify your design for varying print methods.

branded business t-shirts

Custom t-shirts for your business are a very economical way to broadcast your brand’s message. Using them as a customer giveaway is a clever way to build brand recognition. Familiarity is directly related to buying decisions. Brand awareness impacts two situations when it comes to purchases. 1. When a consumer needs to recall a product or service because they are actively looking to solve a problem. 2. When choices between brands are set before them in an environmental situation. In each case, familiarity with a brand influences the consumer’s choice.

Consistency with your brand’s style will reinforce familiarity. Once you’ve settled on your messaging and style stick with it. This is how brands build iconic status. Your color scheme and visuals should remain static so your branding translates to your products or services as dependable and reliable.

Building a brand identity is not really about money. It’s about the beliefs you able to instill through messaging and of course delivering on expectations for a great experience with your business and its products and services.

How to Choose the Right Fonts for your T-shirt Design

t-shirt word art

Fonts can make or break a t-shirt design. It all comes down to how you want the t-shirt design to impact the person wearing it and viewing it. Does it effectively communicate the message or the brand’s perspective? Will the wearer feel proud of the design? Do you want the t-shirt to be worn for years or will people use it to wash their car next month? Choosing the right font or combination of fonts can have a huge impact on how your t-shirt design will be received by the person intended to wear it.

It’s well worth your time to be choosey when making a decision about what font(s) to use. If you’re a seasoned designer, you’re likely familiar with many fonts and have amassed a library to choose from but keep in mind, what translates well in a digital sphere doesn’t necessarily translate as well on a t-shirt design. If you’re new to t-shirt design, taking the time to review and apply lots of different fonts to your design is worth the trouble to find the perfect combination.

Fonts can vary moderately or dramatically and they influence the readability and comprehension of the message. The size of font you use in your t-shirt design can also impact emotions and feelings of connectivity. Your choice of font can even impact how people perceive the credibility behind the message. For example, a serious message delivered using Comic Sans is going to feel less legitimate than if you used Ariel. This is something that should be heavily weighted if you’re designing for a nonprofit, hospital, or government agency.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. If the message is meant to appeal to or represent a specific segment of society the font can be fun even if it’s representing an entity that is normally conservative. Some examples are, a design for children’s hospital event, a nonprofit that is putting on event to raise funds for a children’s cause, or a government agency looking to communicate to children.

In some cases, even familiarity with a font can impact how the message is received. It makes sense, if someone is familiar with a font, it’s easier to read and digest the message, so keep that in mind if you’re design needs to be text heavy.

When choosing a font, the majority are designated in two distinct ways, serif and sans serif. There is also cursive and brush, and the last category of decorative. The decorative segment houses every font outlier that is non-traditional. Use of these fonts is of course personal preference. Serif and sans serif are traditionally used for smaller text but are not attention grabbers. Script, brush, and those that fall under the category of decorative are more popular for t-shirt designs because they are more stimulating as a headline. That’s not say you can’t incorporate serif and sans serif into the design. They are often used in conjunction with decorative for some elements of the design. This is a traditional standard when designing across all types of print and display channels.

In many cases though, using serif and sans serif fonts alone can have a stimulating effect. This is true particularly when the message is brief and therefore can be printed very large on the shirt. There are many famous examples of designs that use only one basic font printed large across the t-shirt. Nike, Choose Life, Frankie says RELAX, Keep Calm and Carry On, and the Helvetica list shirt are a few examples. In fact minimalist design offers a soothing aesthetic that is typically associated with newer brands.

There is something very calming about plain lettering surrounded by negative or white space that allows the viewer to focus simply on the message. Simple design can transmit an expectation for the experience with the company or brand that conveys the relationship will be easy, accessible, and honest. Fat round serif fonts can emulate cheeriness or and sense of fun.

Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your font choices. Who are you designing this t-shirt for? If you’re designing for a sorority, look for fresh, modern, and creative fonts. If you’re designing for a tech company, stick with clean and easy to read fonts. If you’re designing for a construction company, look for bold and rugged font that will convey solidity and reliability.

What is the end goal of this t-shirt design? Are you trying to gain trust? Avoid overly decorative fonts and stick to Plain Jane’s. Are you trying to be fun or cute? Decorative and rounded fonts can communicate this sentiment.

What is more valuable, the design aspect or the ability to read the message? This will dictate whether you use script and decorative fonts or serifs. Not that all script fonts are challenging when it comes to legibility but to go super scripty, a person may need to have a few seconds to process it. Depending on all the elements that need to go into the design, you could find a compromise by making the script a larger font than other aspects of the design.

We offer t-shirt designers a good selection of fonts to use in their designs but with all the fonts available on the web today, you may find others you can use if you have access to design software like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Here are a few of our favorites available in our design studio that we commonly see used in our customers designs.

anton font for t-shirt design
bebas neue font for t-shirt design
bromello font for t-shirt design
new athletic font for t-shirt design
ostrich font for t-shirt design

How to Get the Most out of Millennial Employees

millennials in the workplace

Whether you have a start-up company or are trying to breathe new life into an established business, one thing for sure is you’re going to need millennial employees. That’s anyone born between 1980 and 2000 and it represents the most massive segment of society in U.S. recorded history. However, unless your one of them yourself, you’re going to need to understand a little about them before taking them on as employees.

Millennials are broadly defined as narcissistic. Initially that sounds like a negative thing, in a work force it can be good if you’re able to navigate and harness that characteristic in a positive way. Millennials have no need to respect a hierarchy because they basically didn’t have one growing up. Previous generations like Baby Boomers and Generation X took on the Establishment and essentially disbanded it as it had previously been known. Parents from those generations wanted their children to have a better life and feel like they could do anything so that’s what they told their children and of course they believed it.

Instilling self-esteem became paramount and was projected into Millennials with awards, praise, and constant reminders of their value and worth. However, since the rest of the world is not comprised of their parents, Millennials may have a hard time entering the work force to find out that they are indeed not special. Awards are given based upon performance and no accolades are showered for showing up every day.

They live in an environment that is dictated by their peers. This is because they’ve grown up with technology that allows them to be in constant contact with their friends and therefore do not feel the need to interact and learn from people with experience. While all of these traits sound daunting and not particularly desirable in an employee there are ways you can position your company to appeal to and extrapolate the best facets of these traits to propel your businesses interests.

millennial workforce

More than anything it is said that Millennials need to experience a sense of fulfillment. What they do needs to matter and produce meaningful results, and also assuage their anxiety that they might be missing out on something better. The latter is a result of being hyper connected to rest of the world and of course something amazing is always going on in one of their peers lives. Growing up with channels like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook have provided them with outlets to broadcast anything. This type of airing of ideas and messages was previously barred by, and limited to huge companies that could pay for broadcast time on traditional channels. Because they’ve seen so many of their peers turn into microcelebrities, they are acutely aware that uniqueness has value.

This highly developed sense of individuality can lead to a lot of creativity because creativity is awarded with likes and followers. Not every position in a company will require creativity so it can be a struggle to offer that outlet as an enticement and to promote retention. You could meet that need by offering some other avenue for creative fulfillment like online workshops or even on site classes that are geared towards Millennial interests. Be aware that these interests are not necessarily going to intersect with your business. Offering a bookkeeping course is not going to help these employees with self-actualization and the need to demonstrate their individual talents.

Millennials can help catapult your business on social media if you’re publishing content they can relate to and be proud to associate with. Inviting these employees to contribute to these channels is a sure fire way to get them to interact with your posts. Feature them in pictures with back stories as to what they are doing and how their efforts bring worth to your company.

Millennials are not known to be loyal to the concept of the company, they are however loyal to people so having management that understand this trait and are able to manage on a relationship level versus a hardline “do as I say” style is going to be extremely critical to your success.

Work/Life Balance is important to all but particularly important to Millennials. In fact unlike their predecessors, they are not willing to put in a 50-70 hour work week just to get the job done. This is because they perceive their parents missed out on important family time and personal development while corporations advanced their bottom line while simultaneously whittling away at the benefits and job security their hard work was supposed to have earned.

Finally, giving your Millenial workforce the freedom of expression in their appearance is amazingly important to them. This should not come as a surprise being that they are characterized as narcissistic. If you have a business that requires some type of uniformity for the benefit of your customer like a restaurant for example, you need to make sure that uniform is something they will proud to wear.

Pride can be the result of an on-trend design and a stylish t-shirt product. It’s really important to consider how your businesses image reflects upon these employees and vice versa. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine if they would go out in the world after work and still wear their uniform because they are proud of where they work or if it’s more likely they would change before being seen by their friends. If it’s the latter, think about what needs to change about your t-shirt design that would make it more fashionable, edgy, or thought provoking.

Attracting and retaining Millennial employees is really important since they make up so much of the current workforce. While there is lot of debate about this particular generation, as a business owner you can’t afford to ignore the massive potential they offer and the fresh eyes and perspective they can lend towards your businesses message and services.