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Try these 12 Unexpected Ways to Increase your Creativity

creativity header

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.

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!


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.


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– 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.


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.


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.