hit the bottom and escape

October 13, 2008

Another of my projects I’m just starting to think about is trying to translate my own illustrative style onto marketable merchandise; namely, I want to print up some t-shirts I can sell. Preferably, I’d like to print them myself, too.

The reason I want to work on this project is because I think it will be important in working out who I am as an illustrator, will help me to move forward creatively and concentrate on how I wish to present myself as an illustrator to both my peers and any potential clients and employers. While at my work placement the company I worked for was particularly interested by a particular style and set of characters of mine and with their encouragement I have begun to development them as a distinctive marketable style, and would like to use this second project as a chance to reinforce them as a sort of brand identity for myself.

Firstly, I’ve been trying to gauge interest among people who are familiar with my work as to whether they might consider purchasing t-shirts, just to make sure it’s worth undertaking. I asked among my friends and also through my Facebook Page, and I’ve had a fairly positive response; most of those interested have been in the 18-30 range, both male and female, though I’ve also had some mothers ask if I would consider printing up childrens’ t-shirts, which is quite interesting.

What I think I need to consider at the moment:

– What designs I’m using. Do I want to print up stuff I’ve already drawn, or create some new designs specifically for the t-shirts?

– Translating the designs onto t-shirts; position, size, what colour t-shirts?

– Printing practicalities; once I’ve got some designs I’d consider using, I need to see how easily they’d translate to print, particularly if they involve more than one colour. I also need to practice printing onto fabric, and consider things like resistance to wear, tear and washing.

– If I am selling t-shirts, I need to buy them to print onto; what’s the most cost-effective way to do this? It’s cheaper to buy 10 of the same t-shirt than to buy ones to order, but maybe if I have orders of many different shapes and sizes, buying all of them the same isn’t practical…

Places I’ve been researching:

Gama-Go – I’ve made an entry on this company further down the blog.
Threadless – A t-shirt site where users submit their own designs, others give their vote on them, and the highest-voted designs get printed. There are hundreds and hundreds of submissons, and it’s interesting to note which ones get picked. Clever visual puns attract a lot of votes, as do very intricate, visually beautiful designs; most are designed on Illustrator, but there’s the occasional photographic print too.

Hmmm. First thing I need to think about, I think, is what I’m putting on these t-shirts in the first place.

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