February '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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T-Shirt Design 101 l Beginner What not to do by Rick Roth I n more than 25 years of working with T-shirt designers, amateur and professional alike, I have seen some incredibly creative and interesting designs. The best designs are printed on shirts that eventually become threadbare from years of wear. I've seen designs on Ts that make people laugh, shirts that inspire action, that show pride, or sell well and help to fund charities, shirts that worked to get people elected, and (rarely) good designs on shirts that made money for all involved—even the printer. Unfortunately, I have also seen some of the worst artwork ever, some of which Rick Roth is president of Pawtucket, R.I.-based Mirror Image. In recent years, his business has taken home numerous Golden Image awards in various categories, as well as top honors in the industry media's various printing competitions. Read his blog at I even had the responsibility of overseeing. In order to encourage more of the former, and much less of the latter, what follows are some design tactics to avoid. Six-feet-tall and bulletproof When using traditional plastisol ink, any design that requires a large coverage area of ink will likely result in what is known in the business as a "bulletproof " print. This effect is compounded in cases where there is too heavy of an ink deposit, and particularly if printed on colored shirts that usually require an under base print of white ink—thereby making two large coats of ink. Bulletproof shirts are unattractively shiny, won't allow air to pass through the material and, in extreme cases, can even cause skin irritation and rashes due to its rough hand. Ugly and uncomfortable is not a nice combination. Colors that vibrate I'm not talking about good vibrations here. I'm talking Be sure to plan designs about color combinations for when the shirt is that almost physically make being worn. Prints that you ill. Even if the client, wrap around the side whose company logo is red, is are a cool concept, but a fan of teal, steer them away the message is missed from ever bringing the two when the wearer is together. Other color comwalking down the binations to watch out for street. (All images are: some greens and oranges courtesy the author.) 62 | Printwear PW_FEB13.indd 62 February 2013 1/18/13 10:09 AM

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