We know that this is likely to be stunning - but nobody at The Arlington T Shirt Company is a professional designer. We have no artists on staff, but still, we manage to create professional designs. So, we wanted to give you a quick "T Shirt Design How To" primer.
A T Shirt Design How To:
- An Idea: You have to have an idea - you can't fake that. Your idea is the basis for the entire project. Spend some time looking at great sites like CustomInk, or Spreadshirt to find inspiration. For us, we look around Arlington to imagine what would look great walking through Arlington Center and we start from there.
- A Template: Sadly, for most DIY t-shirt designs, there are compromises that must be made. In order to accommodate for cost-effective printing at scale, you are limited to specific areas for your design. A new service for t-shirt printing, Merch By Amazon has a simple template that you can download. It is basically a box into which you can put your design. There are others, of course, Google can help you more. But you have to insure that your t shirt design stays within the template, otherwise you can't use the most common printing and production methods and your costs will escalate out of control very quickly
- The T-Shirt Design: This is the tricky part - you have to match your design with your template. If your t shirt design is a total wrap around, foil-printed, multi-fabric concept, it is unlikely that you will find a service that can cost-effectively make your t-shirts. We would suggest starting small, making some sales and growing into true custom shirts. Our best advice for this T Shirt Design How To primer would be patience. Find a design that you like that you can get printed easily. You can work on art projects later. Simple images and clear text are the best approach.
- The Tools: As we mentioned, since we aren't professional designers, we do not have a wealth of complex drawing tools at our disposal. We use GiMP as our final production tool, but we generally use the Preview & Keynote programs baked into our Mac as working spaces. We have thought about Adobe Creative Cloud as a more comprehensive suite and might jump in there soon.
- Getting Your T-Shirt Design Created: Since we are still starting out, we have opted to NOT buy inventory - we are simply doing Print On Demand (so when you order a Arlington shirt or hoodie, we send it to our partner who prints it for us and sends it to you). As we grow and understand what designs resonate with our core audience, we will start producing and fulfilling ourselves, but at the early stages we are proceeding carefully. We are using Printify because it is nicely integrated with our e-commerce platform, Shopify. There are a million options out there - CustomInk & Spreadshirt have nice platforms, too.
This isn't a complicated business. You need a great t shirt design - and by great, we think that means something that people love (our ARL t shirt and Arlington Coffee Mug have been pretty popular) and a t shirt design that can be produced at a reasonable cost. We think it is hard to sell a t shirt for more than $25. That is why we have prices starting as low as $17.99 (our 100% cotton Arlington t shirt is our least expensive item), but as we scale, we want to be producing more t shirts rather than just print on demand. That will allow us to drive down the cost dramatically. We want to be able to sell t shirts for under $14.
So that's it. A quick T Shirt Design How To recap:
- IDEA (it's gotta be great!)
- TEMPLATE (it's gotta be simple!)
- TOOLS (use what you've got!)
- PRODUCTION (go slow - use POD until you get it right!)
- HAVE FUN (seriously, it's t shirts, don't take it too seriously!)