6 T-Shirt Design Rules to Live By

A t-shirt is more than just an article of clothing—it has the potential to be a walking advertisement for your business. This is great if it’s done well because it allows you to spread the word about your startup all over town with minimal effort and production cost. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

When creating T-shirt designs, it’s crucial to prioritize simplicity and readability to ensure your message is clear and impactful. For large orders, consider wholesale printing to save on costs while maintaining high-quality prints.

Unfortunately some businesses make the mistake of not spending enough time up front creating an effective design, which does not reflect positively on their brand (no surprise there). That’s why we’ve put together this list of t-shirt design rules to live by so that your business can make the most out of this creative form of advertising:

1. Take Your Time

One big mistake that business owners make when designing their first t-shirt is that they don’t spend enough time brainstorming potential designs and considering their benefits and drawbacks. It’s easy to get excited and caught up in the creative process, but you’re better off starting slow and really thinking your design through. Come up with more than one draft, and make sure to get some outside opinions. Even if your first concept is great, it doesn’t hurt to have a few more designs as backups. Perhaps your first t-shirt will be so successful you’ll want to print more in a short amount of time? You’ll be glad you have some additional ideas in your back pocket.

2. Consider Your Audience.

Your audience for your t-shirt should be the same audience you’re trying to target with your business and products, and your t-shirt design should reflect that. Definitely ask yourself “would they wear this?” And better yet, would you? If you wouldn’t feel comfortable sporting your own t-shirt design, you should probably head back to the drawing board.
Think about the age, gender, and other similar demographics of your target audience when creating your design. Consider checking out other clothing brands and designs that that particular group might wear for inspiration. And most effective of all, ask them. Bring drawings and plans for your design to your target audience and get their feedback, then listen to it and make any necessary changes. This will save you time and money in the long run, and will go far towards making your shirt (and your business) successful.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Use Color

While there are plenty of instances where a simple black and white design will suffice, that doesn’t mean it has to be your go-to. Experiment with color, but don’t go overboard. You want it to be eye-catching, but not overwhelming. The whole point of advertising with a t-shirt is to get people to notice it on the street and in the real world, and using color is a good way to ensure that happens. As a designer this may be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: Make sure the colors you choose don’t clash. They should have a purpose and fit in well with your design, not chosen at random.

4. Remember That the Artwork Has to Transfer to a T-Shirt

Anyone can appreciate a good artist and a great design, but remember that just because the artwork looks good on paper doesn’t mean it will transfer well to fabric. Think back to the details and your choice of color.
Layout is also a big part of this. Don’t just throw various aspects of your design down and assume they’ll work. Really give some thought as to where your artwork should be positioned in comparison to your t shirt logo and any other text you choose to include, and think about where it will fall on a person wearing the shirt. Consider consulting a printer about your initial design before you commit to putting it on a shirt; they have enough experience to know whether it will look good the design has been transferred from paper to cotton. Shopify’s t-shirt design tool is also a great resource that allows you to visualize your design on a t-shirt, helping advance you from Photoshop file to actual t-shirt design.

5. Pay Attention to Detail, but Avoid Intricate Designs

You don’t want to get too complex, but definitely pay attention to detail when creating your design. The shirt is a reflection of your brand, and so it should be consistent with your current logo and design. Sometimes intricate designs get lost in a shirt, which makes it difficult to recognize the message. You want your patrons to recognize your attention to detail; just don’t overdo it.

6. Be Careful When Incorporating Humor

Be careful when choosing to incorporate humor into your design. Think back to your target audience; will a funny shirt be popular with them? If you decide the answer to this is yes, think about how far to take the joke. Too much humor runs the risk of making your design look cheap. And because the shirt is a reflection of your business, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the joke is appropriate. You want consumers to take you and your business seriously.
Still not confident that you’ll be able to create a winning design for your business? Check out this article where you can find 28 great designs that are just waiting for you to use for your small business.
How are you going to begin? Comment in the section below!
Image Credits: blog.customink.com

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at 85ideas is a team of WordPress experts led by Brian Harris. Here to share amazing tuts, guides and collections.

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