If you’re an illustrator looking to get started in t-shirt design, or if you’re a professional designer who would like to transform your artwork for t-shirts to sell, there are some guidelines you should follow that will help you achieve the best results.
Whether it’s for a team, a brand, a unique gift, a designer range or just for yourself to showcase your artwork, custom t-shirts are a hugely popular medium for displaying your creativity.
Get inside the head of the customer
As with any creative process, it’s essential to know precisely to who you’re appealing. Are you designing a t-shirt to be worn by an older or younger demographic? Male or female? Dig a little deeper and describe who they are and what they like. Find out what their favourite brands are or what music they love. The more you know, the more appealing your artwork will be.
Get inside your own head
You know the creative process. If your concept arrived quickly, sleep on it and see how you feel about it in the morning. If you’re still working on refining an idea, create a few variations. Investigate whether or not your concept has legs for future versions. Brainstorm, go for a walk and come back to your design. Be inspired by the work of others, but never copy. Trust your originality.
Create a mock-up and do a reality check
Don’t let the difference between on-screen design and a printed piece take you by surprise. Mock-up your design on a photo of a model, or print it out and place it on a t-shirt to get a feel for it in context. Imagine your artwork being worn and see how it works full size.
Strike the right note
Detailed artwork that deserves to be studied and appreciated close-up is incredible, but sometimes the strongest concept is the simplest, especially if it is visually clever and striking. So go for simple and clever or attention to detail – there’s no middle-of-the-road compromise.
Use humour and colour wisely
A humorous t-shirt can turn heads, but subtle is much better than cheap and loud. Colour choice doesn’t have to be subtle, though. Complementary colours can be effective on a t-shirt, and a simple colour palette can be powerful.
If you’re using illustrator, turn on global colours. If you have a restricted colour palette option for a brand, use halftones to make the most of it. And remember to use pantone colours for screen printing.
Now all you have to do is get in touch with the right t-shirt printing company who understands the art of screen printing and who will be able to do your artwork justice by making it come to life on a custom t-shirt.