Friday, May 21, 2010
Before becoming the Governator of California and before deciding that he'll "be back", Schwarzenegger was a world champ body builder. He knew exactly what his strengths were and what his weaknesses were and knew his limits. In the design world you should also.....
Know your limits! Know your strengths!
If you're thinking that this "online store/money making thing" is something you'd be good at, then before you do anything you need to know what you have to offer that's commercially valuable. You may love t-shirts by a particular favourite artist of yours, yet that doesn't mean that's where you could make money. Trying to copy or emulate a style or approach to t-shirt designing (or merchandise design) is always a bad idea!
You might find that you keep coming up with great ideas for t-shirts that need some graphic design, but lack the skills necessary to achieve a marketable and sellable design. If so, partner up! Find someone who compliments what you want to achieve - they may have the same sense of humour and interests as you and will be excited and supportive of your ideas; which ultimately makes a designer/artist achieve their best work! Soge Shirts is a fine example of this, as is GritFX T-Shirts (if I may say so myself).
If you get a laugh every time you make a joke at the dinner table, then perhaps word-only quotation designs is the direction you should follow. Research graphic design blogs and trawl the internet for what fonts are out there. There are plenty you can download for free, and many other great fonts for sale. The right font use (along with layout) will make or break the appeal to customers. If you subscribe to the idea that "you've got to spend money to make money" then you're probably going to want to purchase some fonts.
Maybe you know someone who is doing some great artwork and they don't seem to see how that artwork could translate onto a t-shirt... but you do! Ask them to partner up with you. You are already passionate about what they're doing and will be perfect for all the marketing that lies ahead... and there's plenty of it! Lady Umbrella is great example of this kind of dynamic.
Then again, you may just adore photography and have a library of images that are waiting to find a purpose. If that's you, then I would recommend the print shop and/or merchandise path. Sort through your photos and find out if there is a common theme - it may be nature, animals, architecture, or something else - finding a focus and theme is your start; then you can move on to looking at what work is needed to build up a store and an online presence like Creature Creations.
You wouldn't beat Arnie in an arm-wrestle, so do what you do best and design to your strengths.
The following are a series of designers/artists who are flexing their muscles and are great examples of harnessing a strength and converting that into successful online stores.WORDS ONLY: The Shakespeare Shoppe
Award-winning Australian designer and actor/writer, Sally McLean, is the talent behind The Shakespeare Shoppe. The Shakespeare inspired online t-shirt store is one of many branches of Incognita Design; selected to demonstrate how a font library, and knowing when to use each, is vital to the execution of any design that uses words to paint the picture.
GRAPHIC DESIGN (balancing typography with graphic elements): Rizzo Tees
There's no doubt that the humor and ideas behind the Rizzo Tees range are offspring of the mind of Chris - you just need to follow him to understand that. My motive in featuring this creative individual is two-fold. Firstly, his work is outstanding and he alone manages all he does (operates the whole business with a full time job); and secondly, by his own admission, uses a few graphic designers to help him "vectorize" his ideas. Chris is a perfect example of knowing when to out-source work; effectively managing time, and in doing so, achieving a professional finish with each design.
GRAPHIC DESIGN (minimalist): Milk and Eggs
Milk & Eggs Co. are Ade & Dave of Burbank, California. While browsing their website, it came as no surprise that the duo are inspired by Charley Harper (a unique minimalist illustrator), amongst other artists. The duo's humor is expressed through the most bare of essentials, showing us all that you can get your point across without always needing to spell it out.
Matthew Johnson is the talent behind Seventh.Ink Shirts; an independent tee label that draws it's name from his graphic design business - Seventhfury Studios - and the designer's favorite number... 7! I see distinct illustration in the tees and imagine Matthew putting pencil to paper before he migrates to the computer. (I'll have to ask him one of these days... Matthew?) His background in art and graphics is one of the strengths he brings to his brand; that and a great sense of humor... I can't imagine one of these creations popping up on a Corporate Report Cover... but they make for excellent t-shirts!
Sabine Steinmüller is a German photographer. Her combined love of photography, travel and nature is a strong foundation for this Zazzle gallery which is full of amazing imagery. I'm personally partial to the various landscapes from Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Scotland, which feature on a select range of products. Sabine's store shows a strong understanding of the customers' needs and desires towards this product range. The stationery designs are simple, clean and classically stylish (which could also be considered "corporate") - a design approach which emphasises the beauty of the images.
Follow Sabine Steinmüller on twitter * Visit Sabine's other Zazzle store tailored towards special occasions such as weddings, engagements, birthdays and holidays
Marc Loret is a French photographer with a fascination for nature who "could look at trees or flowers for hours". His macro perspectives translate to photographic prints which I can imagine many of us hanging on our walls only to be mesmerized, losing ourselves in them for prolonged moments. Marc has forged a strong style/look in how he presents his photographic prints - adding distressed textures to some - and "grunge" style masks/border edges to others -with many cropped and composed for square formats... Because, ya' know - it's hip to be square!