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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Is Your Corporate Swag On-Trend?

corporate swag header

If you offer an interesting service or product you’ve probably already experienced inquiries for your corporate swag. These kinds of fun promotional giveaways are a great way to make an emotional connection with your existing customers and make a quality impression on new customers and leads.

Many people that receive branded promotional items have a high level of recall for that company and hold a positive opinion for that business. However younger consumers have increasingly higher standards and expectations for companies they do business with. That’s why it’s more important than ever to evaluate how your brands reputation is reflected in the corporate swag you intend to giveaway for promotions.

corporate swag

While it’s true that corporate giveaways draw crowds at events and conventions, making sure your corporate swag is on trend and high quality will help build your brand identity. The core concept here is quality and how that relates to the perception of your brand. People are gravitating towards brands that are genuine and display core values that reflect their own aspirations.

To make sure your swag echoes the perception you’re trying to build you need to figure out what your customer’s value most. If you’re business is like ours, custom t-shirt printing, your customer could be literally anyone. To meet that challenge, you can look at society as a whole and the trends that are leading consumer intentions.

U.S. consumers in aggregate are looking for meaning and experience in their lives. The recession took its toll on American consumers and the volatility of the political and economic climate in the last decade has had an impact as well. People are responding to brands that have high standards. This means the corporate swag you choose needs to project these ideals.

discussing details

The demand for quality and authenticity is not restricted to gender either. Men are becoming more fashion conscience and women that usually were the purchasers are supporting this. Even if your ideal customer are primarily men, when considering a unisex option for corporate swag, don’t make the mistake of thinking any old t-shirt will do. It’s simply not true. In fact online forums dedicated to men’s fashion like Styleforum and MaleFashionAdvice have hundreds of thousands of active members seeking to learn about fashionable male clothing.

You should also put yourself in their shoes, or in this case, their t-shirt and reflect objectively how you feel about that product. Don’t approach this with a price per t-shirt mindset. Think about the cut, quality, and feel of the t-shirt. Is it something you’d feel comfortable in all day? Is it itchy, too heavy, or too thin for comfort? Does it stretch or is it stiff? Is it a t-shirt product that is currently trendy like heathered tees or triblends? Is it a brand that your customers would recognize and associate with value like Bella + Canvas or Next Level?

create a great design

Quality and value should be easy to recognize in the development of your design and messaging on the print of the t-shirt. Take time to create a design that will be appealing to your customers. This means considering how much information you will put on the t-shirts. If you do a two-sided print obviously you’ll have twice the space but it is more costly. Don’t get carried away with the self-promotion either. Adding too much to the design can detract from would otherwise be a beautifully branded tee. Do you really need all your social handles, email address, website address, phone number, and physical address on a t-shirt? Pick a few of your most important channels of contact or the channels you’re really trying to grow and leave it at that.

Will your t-shirt giveaway be useful to the recipient? People have tons of choices when it comes to apparel so when you give someone branded corporate swag, it has to be exceptional for it to be worn. In most cases there has to be some emotional connection to your brand in the first place. However, if your design is amazing and the t-shirt products you choose to have us print it on is top quality, you have the chance to have non-customers market for you.

You may have heard about the fashion phenomena sparked by the DHL logo in 2016. All of sudden it was a must have and legitimate DHL delivery men were in danger of getting rolled for their uniform. While your branded t-shirt might not reach that level of demand, trends on the runway have a trickle-down effect to the streets and corporate swag has gained a whole new spectrum of interest and desirability. That is of course, if it’s produced as high quality merchandise.

When you provide something that is useful and on trend, sentiment towards your brand is reinforced. You make a statement about your company with the swag you give. You are saying to the world that your company cares about its reputation.

Another aspect to consider is how your customer sees your company’s impact on the environment. If you choose t-shirts products that are sustainable like American Apparel’s Unisex Organic Fine Jersey Classic T-shirt or Alternative Apparel’s Organic Cotton Basic Crew you are demonstrating that your company is responsible and takes initiative to lead the way towards a sustainable future.

Marketing your company appropriately to the desired audience requires more than a last minute brainstorm for swag giveaway ideas. When you choose to promote your business with custom printed t-shirts it’s essential to consider how your company will be regarded. Precisely, if you want to be perceived as a quality company that is interested in authenticity and provides a useful service or product, make sure your corporate swag acts as an ambassador for your company.

Try these 12 Unexpected Ways to Increase your Creativity

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Everybody experiences periods where their reservoir of creativity dries up. If you’re embarking on a career as a t-shirt artist having a wealth of artistic ideas at hand is going to be very important to your career. Even those of us that are bursting at the seams with creativity need to take a moment to clarify our vision and interpret through different eyes occasionally. Here are some unexpected ways to increase your creativity and keep your artistic aesthetic fresh and flowing.

Keep a box of treasured items– Have you ever been simply drawn to some trinket, toy, or literary quote that you find meaningful? Everybody gets enamored by objects or bits of whimsy so why not collect the things that inspire you and keep them in an inspiration box? When you feel stuck, open up the box and mediate on what attracted you to the memento originally. It will bring you to a happy place and help press the reset button on your creativity.

walking alone

Walk by yourself- Exercise and solitary thought can help you refocus on the task at hand. Having to entertain someone else with conversation can be distracting. Getting out and stretching your legs while breathing in fresh air has a soothing impact while also making you feel better about yourself as you’re improving upon your health and physique.

Make a handmade item- Sure, creating t-shirt designs is making something by hand but step out of your comfort zone and create with a medium you don’t normally use. Consider a do it yourself home improvement project, a sewing project, or even arranging flowers or creating a miniature succulent garden.


Grow something- There is something to be said about gardening. Cultivating and watching something grow from seed provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment. The physical labor involved in keeping a garden also helps to clear your head and create room for artistic inspiration. Lots of inspiration can be found in the natural world too. Think about the wonder of Fibonacci sequences that exist throughout the world of botany and how that symmetry can be incorporated into design.

listen to music

Listen to meta music- You don’t have to believe in the manipulation of alpha waves to gain an appreciation for music that is orchestrated to enhance concentration and creativity. If nothing else, it can be very calming which is great when you’re stressing about a deadline. Even ambient noise recordings can help you gain focus and energy that is needed when trying to channel your creative side.

talking to friend

Run your idea by a friend- Do you have a friend that’s always opinionated? Ask them about your project and see what they have to say. Even if their input isn’t the direction you want to go just having someone else to bounce ideas off of can help to reposition your thought process.

reimagine reality

Dissect and mutate an idea- There are creative games you can play that force you to push the boundaries of what an object is supposed to look like. Imagine this. You can start with a mountain but instead of drawing peaks with snowy tops, the layer that covers the peaks has the consistency of coral, the roots of the mountain are jellyfish tendrils and the clouds are waves instead of vapor. You can play this game by mixing forms, playing with size and scale, and replacing traditional patterns and surfaces with the totally unexpected ones. Even visualizing what an emotion looks like on paper can help. Going through practices such as this help your brain to escape the narrow construct of what the world is supposed to look like.


Try Zentangle- This is really great, it’s doodling but on a more elevated level. There are tons of pattern examples online and just giving your mind a rest while still “creating” can help you to break out of creative rut. Sometimes just forcing yourself to create can break the ice and help you to keep going in a more concentrated direction.

Drink up- We’re not exactly advocating that you get hammered but a lunchtime beer or wine can loosen up your mind just enough to get past whatever is constricting your creative flow.


Laughter is the best medicine- Feeling good makes everything better, even your creativity. Having a good laugh increases the release of endorphins which are nature’s happy pills. Happy people typically get more done but they are also more creative. Watch a funny movie or listen to a comedian and let loose with the laughter.


Daydream- As we grow up and the pressure of everyday life looms over our heads we forget how much inspiration comes when our heads are stuck up in the clouds. Daydreaming is the font of imagination and it not only helps with creativity, it can be therapeutic as well because we allow ourselves an escape from the burdens we face. Notice colors and textures when you daydream about your happy place.

Let go of the perfectionism- This is probably one of the hardest things t-shirt artists have to face when actually designing a shirt. Perfection is taught in art school as part of the learning process, and then only later are you allowed to explore deconstruction. It can be a challenge to let go and let it flow which is an integral aspect of creativity. Leave the perfection to your t-shirt screen printer when you have your finalized design.

How to Discover Inspiration for a Killer T-shirt Brand

find your design inspiration

Fashion is a billion dollar business whether you’re are self-styled indie designer, interested in streetwear, or trying to make designs that are mainstream, ideas are bound to trickle down from the catwalks. Reimagining the familiar and reinventing retro fashion styles are themes we commonly see. But with every collection, the designer has put countless hours into study, introspection, and labor to come up with looks that are worthy to be showcased.

Even if you’re not into high fashion, ideas have to come from somewhere. There isn’t any shame in building upon the ideas of others because we all do it. As Meryl Streep’s character in the Devil Wears Prada stated, "OK, I see. You think this has nothing to do with you," she says, sounding exhausted. "You go to your closet and you select that lumpy, loose sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back, but what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue. It's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean."

She continues: "And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns, and then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent who showed cerulean military jackets, and then cerulean quickly shot up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it filtered down through department stores, and then trickled on down onto some tragic Casual Corner where you no doubt fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it's sort of comical how you think you made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff."


New design ideas rarely come out of thin air. There are steps that can help organize and inspire your journey when designing t-shirts or any other type of clothing line ambitions you may have.

gathering inspiration

Start out by assessing the current atmosphere in the fashion world. This is literally paying attention to what’s on point and what’s losing its luster in design trends. How fashion is expressed nowadays has been utterly impacted by the rise and use of social media and other emerging technologies. This is how the public consumes information. When designing always keep the big picture in mind including how well your collection will translate to social media and the Internet at large. This includes imaging how it will photograph.

Look at influencers for direction, what are they wearing? Can you gain any insight from styles they are favoring? People that have a lot of followers on Instagram or YouTube can be every bit as relevant as major fashion designers when it comes to dictating trends.

Consumers have become accustomed to purchasing products immediately when something catches their eye. Would you be ready for such a demand? Do you have a custom apparel printer in place that you trust to do the job right and deliver your product on time? Are they flexible enough to offer different categories of decoration like embroidery and specialty effect inks like glitter, puff, and glow-in-the-dark?

Being on trend is not the only facet of being a fashion designer, you need to be able to add an element of the unexpected and show something new to be considered a true designer.

organize ideas for designs

Understanding your target consumer is critical to providing designs that will appeal to them. Create a persona of who this individual is. To do this you need to figure out what is important to your ideal customer, what are their values, how old are they, what are their genders, and geographical location? Are they wealthy or middle class? Are they students, mothers? Most importantly, what activities, events, or functions are they involved with. Does your clothing line fit in with that lifestyle and those destinations?

You don’t have to design with just one buyer in mind. Some designs can appeal to many segments of society.

street inspiration

Great designers immerse themselves in the subject matter of their ideas. They go where their imagined persona goes; they look for striking elements in those environments and expand upon what they see to incorporate it in their designs. Take lots of pictures for reference and use these images for inspiration. Reorganize your collection for a different perspective when you get hung up. These collections can be physical or you can organize them online on mood boards. is a great resource for creating mood boards for free.

t-shirt line mood board

Designers gain inspiration from all sorts of avenues, it could be an author, a genre of music, a particular landscape or geography, even sciences like botany or entomology. Sometimes two different fields can be grafted together design wise to create a totally new concept. These are the building blocks of creativity.

Expecting thunder bolts of creativity to be going off constantly is not a realistic expectation. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and frustration by having this assumption. Much of what happens in any creative field is simply working hard and being consistent with your efforts.

Many times bursts of creative thought happen when you take yourself out of the situation and pay attention to something else. Go for a walk or watch a video, play with your pets.

When you’re ready to put your design into production, connect with us to discuss options for printing your clothing line or t-shirt brand. We’ve worked with high-end clothing lines that have high expectations for their screen printer and their retail ready product. After all, it’s what you’ve worked so hard for. Why not partner with professionals that have an equal respect for your brand’s reputation and an appreciation for your design aesthetic?

Zodiac T-shirts

astrological t-shirts

The interest in Astrology isn’t new but it’s an area of curiosity that is currently trending especially with Millennials. It’s not that they believe horoscopes and zodiac sign traits exhibit any scientific qualities they do however use the information for affirmations and even for inspiration. Perhaps it results from the generational rejection of traditional beliefs and the need to uncover more meaning in life. The age of the Internet makes exploration of this system of belief easily accessible to anyone who wants to do research.

Astrology is considered by some as a way to deal with the unknown and prepare for opportunities. It attempts to explain elaborate concepts about life, love, and relationships that make up a singular existence. It particularly sees resurgence in times of high stress when people are looking for a little hope and hints of when things will become stable again.

Humans are always trying to provide explanations for the abstract and horoscopes provide the perfect answers. Well, sort of. In a world where everything is labeled, measured, and documented on social media, astrology is still mysterious. You can take the information astrologers provide and apply it how you see fit to make you feel the way you need to feel. This is the affirmative encouragement we typically seek when there is an element of the unknown.

Whether you believe in the esoteric or just think there is a margin of truth in Zodiac signs and their influence upon our daily lives, here are Zodiac t-shirts designs with brief explanations about the characteristics typically exhibited by people born under these signs.

Aries– Typically likes to live life on the edge and hides their emotions with sarcasm. They may do things impulsively but realize when they perhaps should not have done something. They might be your foul mouthed tough talking friend but inside they are marshmallows. They are very confident so you’ll see them as leaders not followers.

Taurus- Well known for being steadfast, they are all about hearth and home. They like to be in control and usually know things before anyone tells them. They appreciate kindness and may appear really confident but can be very shy on the inside.

Gemini- Very observant but they keep what they know a secret. They love to make their haters upset. Known for being emotional on the inside, you could never tell it by the way they project. Highly adventurous and fast thinking, they are not going to be held down by norms and rules.

Cancer- Emotional but can freeze you out if their done with you. They can be impulsive when surrounded by those they trust. They can freak you out with their ability to read your mind but keep you at an extreme distance until you figure out what you’ve done wrong and apologize. They are worriers and frequently night owls.

Leo- Fierce and kind, they are movers and shakers. You will never know if they are telling the truth but you trust them all the same. Their confidence makes them not care whether you love or hate them and they are not easily restricted by rules. The longer you know them, the more you like them.

Virgo- They can be very tough but don’t handle likewise treatment very well. They spend a lot of their time analyzing situations inside their own head. It’s tough to impress them but they’ll binge on Netflix if they find a show that’s worth their while. You’re likely to get a sarcastic reply if they are feeling emotional.

Libra- Very judicial and diplomatic you’ll likely find them teaching or administering in an authoritative role even though they are introverts. Late nights are the norm for this sign and they are very practical. They need others in their life to achieve balance which is the ultimate state of well-being for them.

Scorpio- Seriously witty and sharp tongued they are usually attractive to others even if they are unaware of their desirability. They can be moody and silent but will usually be the life of the party. Although they can cut to the bone, they really do need relationships even though they hide their feelings to keep from being vulnerable to others.

Sagittarius- Their easygoing attitude belies traits below the surface which are courageousness and the inability to be controlled. They are forgiving and typically overthink situations. Kindness defines them but they will never skirt away from the truth. Upon becoming more familiar with this sign you might find yourself increasingly attracted to them.

Capricorn- Having high standards for themselves, they expect those close to them to live up to expectations also. There likely to be the best dressed and organized people. They want good things and work hard to get them. They are cautious by nature and are therefore a challenge to get close to.

Aquarius- Spontaneous when with friends, you might think they are reserved until you see the crazy come out. They are perceptive and demand to be noticed. They make good friends because they listen but can also act very icy if you cross them. They have an unusual sense of humor and take a while to get to know simply because you don’t know where you stand with them.

Pisces- The most deep and spiritual of all of the signs, it’s sometimes hard to get their head out of the clouds and attend to practical things. They despise mean acts but are forgiving of the perpetrators. They are grateful for kindnesses and are fiercely loyal to friends and family.