How to come up with good T-Shirt Ideas Ideas that don’t suck
Table of contents 01 Getting Started 02 Becoming an effective t-shirt idea machine 03 Some practical tips on becoming the T-Shirt Idea Generating Machine 04 Conclusion
1. Getting Started 1.Getting Started
Every T-Shirt design starts as an idea. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an independent artist trying to make sales on Redbubble, or a brand owner sending Facebook traffic to a Shopify store, or an Instagram ‘influencer’ selling Merch to your million+ followers – we all need ideas. The better your t-shirt ideas are, the better your T-Shirt designs will be and the more sales you’ll make
Difference between T-Shirt Ideas & T-Shirt Designs • T-Shirt Ideas are intangible – they are concepts, or ‘briefs’, that could be articulated in a few words, or in a simple sketch. • T-Shirt Designs (on the other hand) are finished, print-ready artwork (PSDs, Ai files or PNGs). • T-Shirt Ideas come first, design comes second. Design is the act of taking an existing idea and turning it into something ‘real’ and visible. …and just like a T-Shirt design can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (eg. poor illustration or bad font choice) – a T-Shirt idea could also be bad (eg. poor phrasing or no appeal to buyers).
As the world gets smaller, and the cost of decent design and illustration work comes down– it is often your T-Shirt ideas that will set you apart. Better T-Shirt ideas will give you a stronger connection with your potential customers .To put it another way – an average T-Shirt design can still be successful if the idea behind it is strong. But even tip-top design work won’t help a T-Shirt IDEA that is terrible.
Don’t trust your subconscious when generating T-Shirt Ideas Sometimes great ideas will just pop into your brain . That may happen pretty regularly, and it’s great. However, in order to improve as artists, designers or illustrators – and in order to maintain or increase our sales and our income, we should be continually creating new designs. And that means having a lot of ideas (from which we create new designs). More T-Shirt ideas = more designs = more sales. Better T-Shirt ideas = better designs = better sales
But how do we come up with better T-Shirt ideas – if we can’t rely on a steady stream of them from our subconscious or semi-conscious brains? Well I believe it is actually possible to generate original ideas ‘on demand’ – so that you always have a healthy ‘pipeline’ of potential ideas. (and not just any old ideas – but really good ones – ideas that turn into designs that are much more likely to sell).
There are a few key principles to mastering ‘on-demand’ T-Shirt idea generation – and they include: intentionally trying to come up with new ideas (not just leaving it to your subconscious) developing systems to store new ideas, research those ideas, and develop those ideas understanding that there are different ‘types‘ of T-Shirt designs – and understanding why, when and where they work If you put those fundamentals to work, I think you’ll be surprised how many great T-Shirt ideas you can come up with, on-demand.
#1 Save your idea: I want to give you some practical tips and advice to help you become the T-Shirt Idea Generating Machine that you need to be. • Use Evernote (or a similar, simple note-taking app) to save ideas, whenever and wherever they strike. • Set aside time each week (or even daily) to open up Evernote and ‘revisit’ your ideas. Try to evaluate each one – using Google to help you discover if (a) this idea has been done before, (b) if there’s any kind of existing market for such and idea, and (c) to figure out the best way to ‘render’ this design. • Once you’ve been saving ideas into your note-taking app for a while, try occasionally taking a break from scrolling Facebook or Twitter (!), and instead scroll back through your old ideas.
#2 Build Your Own Personal T-Shirt Ideas ‘Swipe File’ Or ‘Cheat Sheet’: • Whenever you see a T-Shirt design that you like – save an image of it to a folder on your desktop, or a Google drive folder or something like that. • After a few weeks (or once you have, say 20-something images saved) – open your folder and start analysing, categorising and ‘reverse engineering’ these designs. • After a while you should begin to spot patterns in these designs, and you can begin making a list of T-Shirt ‘idea’ categories. Then the next time you have a topic, trend or subject you want to create designs for – you can open up your list, and start running through it to generate new ideas.
#3 Become A Pun Connoisseur: • Take note of any puns you see. These could be in memes, in TV adverts, magazines, movie scripts, marketing emails, on twitter – wherever. Try to analyze what makes these puns work – and then come up with your own puns based on the same subject. • Like the ‘Cheat Sheet’ idea above – begin building out a list of popular T-Shirt ‘sayings’ (like “Death Before Decaf” or “World’s Best Dad”) – and begin categorising those. Over time you’ll have a list of text-based ideas you can re-engineer and adapt to any trend, topic or subject you throw at them.
“Everything begins with an idea." Earl Nightingale
Wrapping up! • If you practice the techniques above – you’ll begin to develop those systems (and skills) that will help you come up with original, funny T-Shirt design ideas whenever you need them. • Ok – that’s all I got on this one – so until next time – Happy Idea Generating!
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