Skip to main content

The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Looking for Local Color? Check out these Metro Phoenix Valley Festivals

Phoenix Valley festivals and events

Living in one of the largest metro areas in the country offers plenty of perks and residents of the metro Phoenix valley area are seriously lucky when it comes to events and festivals. Although summers are sweltering hot, the climate still offers mild weather and sunshine in late fall, winter, and spring. The sheer diversity of the inhabitants gives rise to myriad festival and event themes coming from cultures that are rooted in far off and near places. Due to our locality in the southwest, of course many of those cultural themes target Hispanic heritage.

Here are details on some of the most interesting festivals and events that happen around the Phoenix valley. If you find yourself mentioned here or plan on organizing a local Phoenix area festival please consider our local t-shirt printing services for event swag or uniforms for your staff. Design your t-shirt with our clip art and text tools or upload your ready made graphic and order all online!

taco festival

Tacolandia- It might sound like a television show but rest assured this taco fest is about a different subculture which is love of the taco. Hosted annually by Phoenix New Times and a bevy of beer and alcohol sponsors, it’s held at Hance Park and is a 21 and over event. Besides sampling delicious street style tacos from local chefs, you’re likely to experience traditional Hispanic music and dancing.

Arizona Balloon Classic- Going 7 years strong, this event gets more lift every year with 2018’s event featuring over 20 hot air balloon pilots and the event’s first ever StreetFood Fest.

beer festival

Strong Beer Festival- The whole craft beer movement has definitely made its mark in Phoenix with this event going strong for 18 years. Drawing literally hundreds of craft brewers from around the country, in turn large crowds of Phoenicians come to sample pours. The event features food and music in addition to beverages.

ostrich festival

Chandler Ostrich Festival– This event is a Chandler, AZ staple and has been for over 30 years. Beyond the normal festival offerings like music and food, you can see floats, classic cars, horses, dancing, and of course the feathered stars of the show, ostriches.

Greek Festival- Going 30 years strong, this Peoria, AZ tradition is eagerly awaited every year. Hosted by St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, visitors are treated to authentic Greek food, music, and culture. If you’re hankering for meat on a stick, or spinach in a pie, this is your venue.

Great Canadian Picnic- Since the winter barely shows itself in the Phoenix area, for more than 66 years Canadians have been creating it at South Mountain. Enjoy picnicking and outdoor games like calf roping and ball hockey plus a snow slide!

Downtown Mesa Brewfest- One of more affordable beer fests, you can get 12oz pours for just $5! Plus dogs are welcome, what’s not to like? Because of its inclusivity expect to see large, animated crowds enjoying beer, food, art, and live music plus special opportunities for free event swag!

rodeo

Lost Dutchman Days- Keeping western heritage alive in Apache Junction, AZ, this event offers an annual rodeo, festival, and parade featuring arts and crafts, a charity golf tournament, and a bratwurst and beer party.

Hawaiian festival

Arizona Aloha Festival- Every year this is a free festival held to celebrate the rich culture of the South Pacific. If you like to eat, this event is for you. Enjoy Hawaiian culinary favorites like Lau Lau, Kalua Pig, and Pastele. Enjoy the dance of the Polynesians, lean how to make a lie, and the sweet aloha of the keiki.

Waste Management Phoenix Open- Probably the biggest event on this list, it’s a PGA tournament that last an entire week early in the year at Scottsdale’s TPC. Organized by The Thunderbirds to benefit Arizona charities, attendees can observe competitive golf games while enjoying drinks, food, and entertainment.

BBQ festival

The Great American BBQ and Beer Festival- There’s nothing more American than a BBQ with lots of quality beer to sample. Held in downtown Chandler, this event continues to pick up momentum as they book top notch BBQ vendors from around the nation and keep the crowds around with great entertainers featured on two stages. They even feature a farmer’s market so you can take fresh produce home.

Scottsdale Culinary Festival– This is your ticket to explore some of the best offerings from local chefs in an outdoor park venue. Experience different food samplings from cuisine themes such as Asian, Food Truck style, Latin, and American. VIP packages will provide an elevated atmosphere with catered food inside a private tent.

Ace Comic Con– A new venture by brothers Gareb Shamus and Stephen Shamus, founders of Wizard magazine, they hope to reinvent what it is to experience comic con by hosting the events in arenas. They bring big league Hollywood talent and keep the environment family-friendly. Vendors feature everything from props to collectibles.

Chandler Craft Spirits Festival- While most people are familiar with craft beer, there’s also as significant movement in the crafting and refinement of spirits. It’s on its 5th year and will feature artisanal rum, tequila, vodka, and more along with educational seminars.

Arizona Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Weekend– Runners sign up for 1 mile, 5K, or 10K and get to run through a scenic course with the option of getting sponsors for your run with proceeds going to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital. Get a free commemorative t-shirt for participating.

Are you the organizer of an annual event and want to be included on this list? Send us an email with the details of your event and we may add it.

Niche T-Shirt Design Ideas for T-shirt Artists

Niche ideas

Custom t-shirt designing has exploded in the past five years or more with the emergence of print-on-demand types of stores that enable anybody and everybody to try to make a buck off the trend. Unsurprisingly, the market is flooded with a lot of not so good designs and many that are just slight modifications of the same idea replicated across social channels like Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy. How does a t-shirt artist stand out and make a name in this highly saturated market?

While some t-shirts artists succeed at the batch and blast approach to ideas, building a loyal following is a little trickier. How do you as an artist capture the attention of customers and keep them coming back to see what else you might have to offer in the future? One strategy is to design for niche interests.

What is niche designing? Instead of throwing mud on the wall to see what sticks, as a niche t-shirt designer you would be going after specific segments of society that have a passion for or a deep connection to a specific interest or state of being.

Niche markets could be almost anything but it’s important for you as the artist to also have a deep understanding of what drives a niche interest. Picking a niche that you have no relationship to or experience with will make it difficult to make meaningful designs that speak to that market.

Another thing to consider when deciding on a niche target is the market potential. If you think you’d like to target a young demographic, they will probably have less expendable income that an older age bracket. Of course there are exceptions like most sorority or fraternity targets.

The propensity for recurring purchases in a niche is another aspect to evaluate before throwing yourself into designing for that niche. For example, there will be less opportunity for return business if your chosen niche is bridal. The exception of course is word of mouth marketing amongst brides-to-be that generates a wider, albeit, less frequent audience.

Paying attention to what is trending can open up new ideas for niche targeting. If you have an idea for a niche, you can do research to see if it’s a viable niche to target by using tools that track trends. Google Trends is one free tool you can use to search Internet interest over time on any keyword. By itself, it’s really valuable but you can also see what other topics are closely related to the term and the trending data on it to zero in even more tightly on a niche idea.

Trend Hunter is an additional research resource that can provide ideas on what’s hot now to either reinforce your niche target idea or expand upon on it.

While trends are a great way to capitalize on emerging interests, some trends do not have the promise of a long life. Without seeing into the future, there is no way to know if your time and creative investment will pay off. If it’s something `that excites you and you feel you can develop relatable designs pertaining to it then forge ahead. Who knew the hipster trend would stick around as long as it has although it is finally declining. Even with decline it’s been ground zero for many other offshoots of hipster style like Yuccies.

Hyper targeting a niche inside of a niche might sound meta but it has great potential to inspire you to design very original ideas. Micro niche designs also have less probability of getting ripped off because there is less mass potential. People that are just splattering the Internet with design after design aren’t going to have the marketing knowledge of your niche to gain a foothold or even understand the meaning behind a niche slogan.

With so many possibilities we’d like to share some niche ideas for t-shirt artists to spark your creativity and get you thinking about the potential this type of market offers.

Generational- Every generation has characteristics they are proud to relate to. When designing generational t-shirt themes consider societal norms and standards, economic and political influences, pertinent technologies of the day, and how music and fashion have had an impact.

Retro- What is considered retro will be forever changing as time progresses. Retro designs for t-shirts can include slang from an era, illustration style, or themes that dominated the time.

Retro

Nostalgia– Similar to retro but referring to what was popular when a generation was youthful. Nostalgic themes can be linked to toys, foods, and electronics as examples.

Robotics– This is an interesting niche that is gaining a lot of momentum as the study of robots increases as technology evolves.

Artificial Intelligence– Not the same as robotics, AI is algorithm based learning that can be applied to robots.

Organic

Organic– People that are into the organic movement are pretty passionate about it and it can be drilled to a micro niche level by adding the layer of locally sourced organics.

eGaming– This is a competitive gaming niche and whole world of people that pay to watch expert gamers fight it out online.

Steampunk

Tribes- Seapunks, Steampunks, Rockabillies, Mermaids, Wastelanders, these are just a few modern urban tribes that have a passionate following. Creating designs that speak to these niche audiences have a high likelihood of being shared in social circles.

Alcohol- Some people just love alcohol but others have very specific tastes and develop a rich understanding of their favorite beverage and everything it stands for. Some alcohol niches to explore are martinis and mojitos. You can also focus more broadly on vodka or rum drinkers. Everybody’s got a story to tell about drinking.

Specific field of study- While this is a niche, it does offer much broader potential if you research fields that have a large number of active students like English, history, and accounting.

Specific jobs– This niche offers the potential of longevity since careers are more likely to last a lifetime. Broad niches to target are medical and finance.

Locations– City and state pride designs can be a very effective niche to target. Also specific neighborhoods and even streets can warrant their own designs.

Foods- Beloved niches like tacos, donuts, or BBQ are pretty hot but you can also capitalize on trendy niches such as avocado toast or all things quinoa.

Vegan– The vegan movement is huge and predicted to be really big in 2018. It is particularly popular with Millennials.

Crossfit

Exercise Regime– CrossFit is one of the largest exercise niches with an almost cult like following. Other areas that are unusual but trending are hot yoga and goat yoga.

Authors– The author niche should be approached with quite a few authors in mind. Think of it more as a literary focus.

These are just a few unusual niche ideas that we hope will help you think outside the normal approaches to t-shirt design and marketing. When you're ready to have your t-shirts professionally printed, check out our prices and customer testimonials.

Thinking about being a Graphic Artist?

Graphic Design

Graphic design as a career is a very attractive option for people that are creatively inclined with a good eye for detail and vision to translate concepts into artistic elements.

“Design is thinking made visual” – Saul Bass

What is graphic design? It can exist in the physical realm or it can exist in the virtual world. It consists of both visual and textual elements combined to create a mood or convey a message. It is used in all types of mediums such as advertising, marketing persuasion, political agendas, and public service announcements. It compliments other artistic genres like music, writing, film making, t-shirt designs and other textile decoration to name just a few.

All types of organizations utilize graphic design for varying purposes. It can be used in email marketing, web design, digital advertising, print of all kinds including screen printed apparel, even outdoor signage.

How do you describe a graphic designer’s role? The goal of a graphic designer is to combine messaging and images to create a cohesive presentation of an idea. That idea needs to be convincing or otherwise thought provoking to the end “user” which is anyone that consumes the final product whether they see it on the street, on their computer, or at a facility. A graphic designer provokes, sways, and influences people’s perception. It’s also about communicating thoughts and concepts through art.

Designers need to apply their own artistic abilities to design tools to compose a material piece. They can be engaged by all sorts of businesses and organizations that need their specific set of skills to communicate to their intended audience.

How is graphic design used? If you think about it, graphic design is used in virtually everything we see. It’s on product labeling, in books, magazines, web pages, and branding. A graphic designer can define the entire character of a business through selection of colors, graphical elements, even the fonts chosen.

Design persuades

What kind of job can I get in graphic design? Graphic designers are employed by advertising and marketing agencies, they can work independently by listing their skills on websites like Behance or Upwork. They can also be employed in-house by companies that provide services like DesignAShirt, which screen prints custom clothing for individuals and businesses all over the country.

To be financially successful as a graphic designer, education is recommended to learn design software. Ongoing education after graduation is a must too since tools evolve and new tools are developed to address emerging changes in the way users are able to consume media.

Diversify skills

What sort of expertise should a graphic designer possess? An inherent artistic ability will take you far in graphic design but knowledge of graphic design software will make you very marketable. Learning from freeware like Gimp isn’t recommended since most companies will only employ users that design in professional programs.

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard for creating and manipulating raster based images. Raster art is made up of pixels and is how photos are translated in a digital environment. The program is extremely powerful and in-depth so it will take some time and effort to become truly proficient in its use.

Adobe Illustrator is used to create and manipulate vector art which is made up of points instead of pixels. It’s particularly valuable for the ability to resize art to any dimension without loss of quality. It is often used for creating logos and particularly t-shirt art and graphics.

CorelDRAW is another vector based graphic design software that is popularly used to design and manipulate vector art for t-shirt printing, signage, and banners.

These three programs are the base for any graphic designer but you’ll often be presented with challenges that will require at least a working knowledge of CSS, HTML, JavaScript and animation programs to get the job done. Expanding your skill set is recommended to broaden you opportunities.

What does the market look like for professional graphic designers? Currently with so much emphasis being placed on branded and well-designed media, graphic design is in high demand but your role will not be limited to designing. To be competitive in today’s market means you must be very diverse in your talents.

Hopefully by experimenting in graphic design you will venture into other realms that go hand in hand with modern day designing jobs such as web development. It’s really a challenging environment for designers that are highly creative but not necessarily analytical which helps tremendously in web development. Taking basic courses even a community college level can help you develop the robust skill set that is required of graphic designers in a modern day workforce.

8 Cool Projects you can Make this Spring with Upcycled T-shirts

It’s nearly springtime and like many people you might be engaging in some heavy cleaning that rarely gets tackled like washing windows, emptying the junk drawer and going through your closet to discard clothing that is too worn or never worn. You probably have a good supply of t-shirts that are going to either get thrown out or donated to the thrift store. But what if there were crafty projects you could do fairly easily to upcycle those tees into quirky and useful items for your lifestyle? Here are some ideas on how to reuse, repurpose, and recycle those tees in fun and interesting ways!

Tote bag header

Tote-ablly amazing storage is never in short demand and old t-shirts can easily be repurposed into tote bags that can be used to avoid using plastic bags at the grocery store, organizing kid’s toys, or consolidating small items that might clutter up cupboards in your bathroom or laundry room. You can even use them as a casual purse if you have a printed t-shirt design you love and aren’t ready to part with just yet. Check out the tutorial below that requires no sewing skills! If you’re planning on using the tote for heavier items, a thicker weight t-shirt will provide the strength needed. Additional decoration can applied with a hot glue gun like ribbon edging or faux gems if you’re feeling very crafty.

Headband header

Make fashionable headway with DIY t-shirt headbands. Headbands are still very chic in 2018 and what better way to exhibit your own style than with upcycled headbands. Not only are they a head turner, but it makes for a great conversational piece when you can say, “I made this myself.” If you have a tee with an interesting pattern or focal point, a simple headband could do it justice. Just cut the section out twice the width you want to wear it at and measure a comfortable length around your head and sew the two ends together. You can scrunch up the width to create the look you’re going for. And if you haven’t heard, geometric design is still going very strong so a crisscrossed headband with a few simple stiches will be on trend. Check out this tutorial for self-styled t-shirt derived hair accessories.

Memorabilia quilt header

Memorabilia quilts are hot! You’ve probably seen a few social media posts featuring quilts lovingly made to memorialize a youth spent going to concerts from the collection of concerts t-shirts or even super sweet heirloom quilts pieced together from a deceased loved ones clothing. Other themes are sporting events or teams, old school shirts, or shirts based upon characters we worshipped during our childhood like Hello Kitty or Transformers. Quilts made from old t-shirts give those memories a second life and are actually a beautiful way to continue display blasts from the past. Check out the tutorial below showing how to make your own t-shirt quilt.

T-shirt pillows header

T-shirt pillows are a great option if you only have a few t-shirts you can’t part with. Assuming the original tee had its day in the sun, these tend to be very soft as well perfect for cuddling on the couch. This no sew t-shirt pillow option is great for the added effect of fringe!

T-shirt belts header

Cinch it up for 2018 because belts are still being featured on the runway. Double belts are even more in demand allowing you to recycle even more old t-shirts using t-shirt yarn. See the video below on how to make your own! You can make two single belts or sew extra lengths of t-shirt yarn together to make a continuous double wrap t-shirt belt. Check out this tutorial.

T-shirt scarves header

Scarves can instantly dress up any outfit so it’s no wonder their popularity has not waned in recent years. And this fashion item isn’t just for winter. Think of a t-shirt scarf as the ultimate neckline accessory. The different types of t-shirt scarves that can be created are quite amazing like the infinity t-shirt scarf and the fringe t-shirt scarf. Anyway you wrap these examples will result eye-catching fashion statements.

T-shirt throw rug header

Probably one of the oldest ways to recycle old t-shirt yarn can literally be found underneath your feet. Throw rugs made from t-shirt yarn are soft to the touch and can make a beautiful addition to your home’s décor plus it’s basically guaranteed to be a one-of-a-kind feature. That’s something you can’t say about just anything. Even if you’re not a huge fan of rugs, your pets will be so that’s an additional motivator to try out this great recycling project. Be prepared with between 15 and 30 old tees depending on the size of rug you’re looking to create. Check out the tutorial below which requires scissors and a sewing machine or this one for riotous rag rug look.

T-shirt yarn dreamcatcher header

How about a dreamcatcher made of t-shirt yarn? This is a new take on the dreamcatchers you used to make at summer camp. Accentuate with pony beads and feathers! Not a fan of the traditional dreamcatcher motif? How about a tree of life theme instead using old strips of lace for a gorgeous shabby chic feel? Check this tutorial from a couple of DIY fans that love to upcycle old items.