With Urban Geographer's new line of clothing about to launch, it has me thinking about how large of a struggle it is to actually pull this off as a musician.
If you have no previous knowledge of the graphic design and printing industry, it can be incredibly difficult to know if your designs will sell.
As many of you know, I have been a graphic designer in the industry for five years and have had my fill of failures along the way. In your head, you think it's awesome and everyone is going to love it, but when you finally get it onto your table, people seem to pass by it without a second glance.
The bad news is your merch might suck. The good news is it doesn't have to!
I think at this point in my life, I can consider myself a t-shirt hoarder. I love a good graphic tee, especially if I bought it from a band I love.
In this new culture of DIY, it has never been easier to publish your own self recorded music, print your own t-shirts and successfully brand & market yourself without having to go through a record label.
As a band, merch can be a great deal of your income. Some of this may not make sense if you are not familiar with this process. Do not be afraid to ask questions in the comments below.
Let us take a look at what you have and maybe consider a change the next time you take your order to print.
5. Consider hiring a professional designer.
Graphic design is a trade and is learned over time.
There are a great deal of people out there that are better than your cousin who torrented an old version of photoshop on his Dell. These professionals make a living working with clients to create the best possible product. They know the industry better than you, and it would be worth a little extra money to get some designs that are purposefully crafted to be printed on a t shirt. They can help you create the exact image you have in your head.
If I have convinced you, then you can stop reading here. If you still have the DIY spirit, read on my friend. That is what I am here for.
4. Setting up your designs for print.
Most likely you are only going to have an 18" x 20" space to work with. Any larger than that and you are going to be looking at additional set up and screen fees, but that is still a huge space to work with.
Set up your design using Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. If you are more comfortable working in photoshop, then set up your art board to 18" x 20" at 300 DPI.
Next, export your design as a .png, and throw it into an .ai file. Some companies require an .ai file, but nobody rejects it. So it is faster to just send it that way.
If you created the design in Illustrator, make sure to expand all layers before saving it. This will make sure the image will not be distorted in any way when it is opened up on the printers computer.
Check our UG's new t shirts! We're so excited and we think they're awesome!
3. Deciding what kind of shirt.
I am going to save you a ton of time and hassle. Black or white shirts sell pretty much equally. They are also more likely to sell than any other color.
If your heart is really set on a colored shirt, up next is navy blue, grey then red. Everything else is at the bottom. Statistically speaking, you are better off just going with Black or White. If you have experienced anything different, I would consider looking at the designs involved, which I will discuss later in this article.
Once you have decided a color, now you need to figure out what kind of shirt to print on.
It is important to consider not getting the cheapest shirt available. They are boxy and will chaff your nipples.
The point of printing shirts is not to sell them. It's to have people WEAR them.
You can get a good, middle of the road shirt that is soft and fits well.
I would also recommend making sure the shirts have been made legally and ethically. Most of the time, if they are, it is advertised on their website. If they're not, it will say nothing. Just do your research to make sure you are supporting products that are made by people who are treated the same way you would want to be treated.
2. Make sure your design works.
Just because your mom says she likes the design, does not mean it is going to look good on a shirt. Make sure to mock it up in photoshop and look carefully to make sure it looks good. This might be where you need to hire a professional for his opinion.
You can download a .psd file from MediaLoot to use if you do not know how to create one on your own. After you do this, make sure to ask as many people as possible before you waste money printing a shirt that will sell one a show.
1. Deciding on a screen printer.
This is incredibly important. There are good printers and bad ones.
One thing that can separate the good from the bad is white ink. Yes, white ink. Bad printers only hit white ink once, making the ink look a little grey. Good printers hit white ink twice, making the ink thick and bright. When deciding on a print shop, always ask the printer how many times he or she hits white ink.
One thing you want to check on is making sure that it is screen printed by hand. Most of the time if the price is too good to be true, it is because the shirts are produced by machines.
Hand-made products are always better than machine-made.
Another downside to machine-printed shirts is the curing process. Curing is the process in which the ink drys after printing. Machine printed shirts tend to not cure as well, which causes the ink to peel.
If you are thinking long term, spend the extra dollar per shirt to ensure you are getting the highest quality product available.
If you have any questions or concerns make sure to include them in the comments below!