Posts tagged as:

design

Hands on with a blu-boy tee

by Chris_S on February 4, 2013

Post image for Hands on with a blu-boy tee

This little package arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. In case you’re incapable of reading, it’s a package from blu-boy, a tee brand started up by Bev O’Shea when a freelance graphic designer in Ireland. “I guess it’s safe to say that I got bored of playing it safe and sticking to the norm,” Bev said in a covering email. Not sticking to the norm results in some brilliant t-shirts.

bluboy2

Opening the package was great. For what is a relatively young brand, blu-boy have managed to put together a really professional style of presentation that makes receiving a tee more of an event. As a little attempt to bring something new I used Vine to produce a 6-second unboxing of the shirt itself here.

bluboy3

The shirt blu-boy sent was their ‘Exquisite’ design (€25.00) on a black crew neck – and I can’t fault it one bit. It’s one of the least brash designs they do, and I think the sort of understated nature makes it excellent. I’m a strong type fan, and this is great use of it. It’s subtle enough that you don’t feel overly self-conscious wearing it while standing out enough that it’s not the sort of thing you find ten a penny on the racks at any high street shop.

bluboy4

Everything about this seems well made, from the thick card stock used for the brand tag on the back of the neck to the printing itself (blu-boy use water-based inks, for those of you who are concerned about the environment and want your tees to have a green-friendly provenance).

bluboy5

All told, this is a really great tee – which means I’m stuck for having much to say. What I will say is that this isn’t the only good design that the guys at blu-boy have online, and it’s well worth a look at their online store to see if there are any others out there you might fancy.

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Post image for No Love City : Ain’t No Love… (Design Process)

We at No Love City work with a handful of artists to create what we feel are really great designs that represent our brand.  Recently I realized how lucky we were to have found and be able to work with these people who truly never cease to amaze us. The reason for this is that a majority of our designs are typography driven and all begin as sketches. I personally thoroughly enjoy the design process, watching it unfold, and seeing our ideas come to life.

I feel that this process is unknown and/or unappreciated by people who don’t know what some artists go through in creating even the simplest of original t-shirt designs.  I wanted to share this process not just because it’s cool, but also might give some a new found respect for the talent, work, and skill that artists put into your favorite t-shirt designs.

Ain't No Love (Sketch)

The artist in the case of this shirt design is Friks84, who is also responsible for our logos, some of our shirt designs, and amazing work for countless other brands, project, and anything else you can imagine.  All of his work begins with a sketchpad and a pencil, not digging through fonts and clipart.

Ain't No Love - Progress 1

The shirt is simply called ‘Ain’t No Love…’  We felt that the quote itself and as a classic R&B song which has been sampled in numerous Hip Hop tracks would coincide with our brand perfectly.  Friks took what usually comes in the form of a long, rambling email from me at 3 in the morning and began turning it into what you saw above.  As usual, just seeing the sketch I knew he had once again taken my vision and made it 10x better.  I asked him to grab a couple screenshots along the way to document parts of his process so others could appreciate and understand what is is people like him do.  I knew before we even got past the sketch how amazing this one would be.

Ain't No Love - Progress 2

Of course after the initial sketch, the design gets scanned in and his mad scientist Illustrator skills come into play.  Working out the background and outlines the design begins to jump off the screen.

Ain't No Love - Progress 3

The time, patience, and skill in working out all the little highlights, line thickness, shadows, etc. is way beyond me.  From the sketch to the final product you saw above and everything in between, I hope you have a new appreciation for the artist.

Long story short, respect the ones you work with, make sure they know you appreciate them, and the most important part… PAY THEM!  The deserve every penny.

You can see more Friks’ work at www.friks84.com or find him on instagram @friks84

Ain't No Love (Mockup)

The ‘Ain’t No Love…’ shirt is coming in March.  5 colors screen printed on a black shirt.  We are currently taking wholesale pre-orders, so if your retail or online store would like to carry this or other No Love City products, please contact us.

For more on No Love City, you can visit our website or find us on facebook/twitter/instagram under @nolovecity.

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Keep Growing by Industry Print Shop

by billpyle on January 13, 2013

This shirt by Industry Print Shop is designed by one of my favorite artists, Michael Sieben. He has a variety of different shirts available in the Industry store. I’ve been a fan of his for years, so its always awesome to see new work of his.

The shirt is a bit pricey though at $28 and there is no mention of the shirt brand that is used.

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Wordans Custom T-Shirt Review

by Amy_F on November 19, 2012

Wordans-Shirt-Review

I’ve been asked to do Custom Reviews before and really enjoyed myself since I got to try out the companies website and custom design process and design my own shirt.  Not that I don’t already design my own shirts for a living but it’s always fun to try out other ways to go about it.  This most recent Custom Review was for a company called Wordans.  I had never heard of them prior to this so I was eager to check out their website and design center online.

Wordans logo

Their website is clean and designed well making it very simple to find the “Create Your Own” custom t-shirt section in the top left corner on the front home page.  They give you a drop down menu which sometimes I personally find annoying if there’s too much clutter happening in there or too many options, but they give you a reasonable amount of items/products to select from to custom design yourself.  I think it’s great that they’ve given you so many different items to custom design because there are so many creative people in the world that could just sit there for hours designing things which will in turn become lots of orders for them.

Wordans website

 

Let’s get right to it so I can start showing you my custom shirt.  I obviously clicked on custom T-shirt and while that page is loading they give you a brief 1-2-3 step process of how the website will work.  Once the design center loads they give you a slew of t-shirt styles and brands to choose from on the right hand side and color options for each shirt underneath plus sizing and quantity and all that good stuff.

design center screen shot

Wordans gave me a lot of options which I liked but disliked at the same time.  Let me explain; I’ve done custom t-shirt websites that give me 4 shirts to choose from and I hated it.  But too many options, especially options that are very similar where a normal consumer (not a clothing company owner/designer such as myself) would know the difference between the brands and fits and styles.  I’m not sure if they get a lot of every day people shopping for a few custom shirts or more so clothing companies or business’s purchasing in bulk since they have that option as well.  If it’s more consumer-related then I think you should limit the brands and styles of the clothing.  What do I mean by that?  I mean don’t give me the same style shirt in a Gildan and an American Apparel because a normal person isn’t going to know the difference they are only going to look at color, fit and price.

Amy-Wordans-Custom-Tshirt The Gildan-Women’s vneck fits perfect!

I chose a Gildan Women’s fit v-neck t-shirt in white though the color options were endless I was in a simple mood.  The next part is simple, simply choose your text or image to place on the shirt.  They give you a much broader range to place your design on the shirt than most other custom design websites do.  They basically give you the entire front or entire back to maneuver your text or image around.  This was great because I got really frustrated on other websites with the small limited area they allowed me to play around with.  Now you have the option of typing your own text and playing around with styles, fronts, colors, etc. which could be an all day process.  Or you could upload your own image for the t-shirt or even better CHOOSE from one of the MANY selections they give you.

Amys-Custom-Tshirt-Design I actually overlapped two separate designs together to create MY custom t-shirt design at Wordans!

Now here’s where the fun began because they gave me a lot of different categories of images to choose from from “Funny” to “Love”, “Music”, “Animals”, “Sports”, their Top 25 image selections and a ton more.  Plus, every category had sub-categories which killed me because there were even MORE options to choose from.  Again, something that could be good or bad.  Here’s why I say that; because I love options but with more options comes perhaps me making more shirts = good for Wordans.  With more options comes me sitting on their website longer = good for Wordans.  Here’s why it’s bad.  More options could mean I get frustrated and don’t want to deal with it and just give up on the designing thus Wordans loses a sale.  Too many options can give one a headache and drive them up a wall.  This is sort of what happened and I ended up having to stop searching for more images, rethinking the design and starting over.

Amys-Custom-Tshirt I am so excited with the final result of my custom t-shirt!

I have to give it to Wordans though because overall they were the best custom t-shirt website I’ve tried out in my short 28 years on earth.  Their pricing was stellar starting t-shirts at $9.95 before the design.  If you recall I did a review for Zazzle and their pricing was outrageously high before the design amongst a lot of other poor qualities about their website and custom t-shirt center (ie: limited design area on the t-shirt, poor blank t-shirt selection, etc.).  Wordans made me happy and pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of their website, design center and product.

Wordans-Custom-T-shirt

Thank you Wordans for allowing me the privilege of reviewing your custom design feature.  I had a lot of fun and am thrilled with the final product I created on your website.  Next time I need a custom product made I will be heading your way!

FUN FACT: Wordans hails all the way from Montreal, Canada!

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Tees from Aesthetic Apparatus

by billpyle on October 30, 2012

Aesthetic Apparatus is an awesome graphic design studio from Minneapolis. I first became aware of them because of their awesome poster work, but they’ve done plenty of other work including shirts and logos, among other things. Their store features a wide variety of different items and I’ve selected my two favorite shirts: USA-OK and Too Small to Fail. I really enjoy the simplicity of the designs, although they could be printed a bit bigger. Their product shots could be better as well. They show off the design well enough, but I can’t help but wish they showed the entire shirt as well as someone modeling it. Both shirts are printed on American Apparel and are $20 a piece.

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PASTE Skeleton Tee

I had been waiting for a while to receive my t-shirt for review from Paste.  They got me all excited months ago but turns out they were waiting for their new line to launch – so I guess I can forgive them for that.  I had no idea that it actually arrived when it did because the mailer was a basic one with no indication of where it was from.  The return address didn’t even say Paste, it said Jason Laurits which I at that point in time, I had no idea who that was.

Turns out, he’s the artist!  Ha, don’t I feel stupid now.  Anyway, inside that basic mailer was something unique.  The t-shirt was rolled up in a brown paper bag with a Paste sticker to hold it closed.  My immediate thought was, “ooooo, the t-shirt was exposed in the mailer and what if the mailer had a hole and got wet?”.  Then I thought, “this is a cute idea!”.  It gave me this simple and earthy feeling (please don’t ask me how you can feel earthy, I’m not quite sure.).

Earthy? right?

I was able to slide the shirt out of this very easily, without having to tear it open or wreck the sticker which was nice.  When I unfolded the shirt, that’s when the real shocker took place.  It had a skeleton with a cute kitten inside poking it’s head out.  Unfortunately, Paste happens to have bad timing on the review front.  Let’s just say that I had to attend a funeral not too long before I received this package and even THAT aside, the same day that person passed, the family I work for’s pet cat died as well.  So you can see that AT FIRST I thought this was some sort of mean joke.  Then my rational side came back and I realized it was a coincidence and that I need to wait a bit before I review this because I need to change my perception of the t-shirt.

With some time having passed now, I am not AS bothered by the shirt’s design as I initially was.  This original work is titled “Skeleton” and is designed by Jason Laurits for Paste.  Jason is an artist/designer that has an incredible portfolio of what I’d describe has amazing Photoshop skills.  His pieces look like part drawings, part photographs, part Photoshopping other images into photos where perhaps they don’t belong.  His art is silly, a little shocking at times but more or less just fun.  I wouldn’t necessarily describe this particular design as “fun” in my book; it can be distinguished as a bit dark but in another viewpoint; loving.  With a little help from my mother, she looked at this design as the kitten is always in your heart.  Still, for some reason when I look at it I see a dead person (the skeleton) with a kitten inside that could represent you eating the kitten?  Perhaps the kitten was swallowed alive?  No?  Or maybe the kitten is dead too?  Is the kitten playing inside of a dead body?  I really have no idea and when I took to Paste’s website to see if they had any explanation or description, there was none.  If you’re an avid reader of my reviews you know I do enjoy a description of a design.  I feel it helps capture your customers attention, emotions and wallet (you with me on this?).

Descriptions aside, some small details I noticed on the t-shirt were that they included the brand’s name and what appears to be Jason’s signature underneath the design on the front of the shirt.  It was a small, delicate detail that I really liked.

 Though I’m not a super fan of this particular design, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like Paste’s other designs or them as a company in general.  They produce their shirts all within the USA.  Their tees are hand silk-screened in Brooklyn, NY and they get their tees made in California.  Once again all the graphics are original works by Jason Laurits; and let me tell you he’s got some really good ones in there if you take a look through their website.  I especially enjoy the Hamster one, myself!  The t-shirt is a men’s slim cut in a Small (I believe all their shirts are men’s cuts) and it is by far the world’s most comfortable/softest t-shirt ever!  Whatever they’re doing with these tees in Cali and Brooklyn, keep it up!  The print itself doesn’t make for any discomfort as if you run your hand over the top of the tee, you only feel a slightly different texture where the design is, but it isn’t lumpy or hard or cheap like some t-shirts I’ve felt before.  The tee is loose, being that it’s men’s cut but I’m assuming that if on a man it would fit “slim” (ha).  They’ve got their own private label printed on the interior neck area which I’ve photographed for your viewing pleasure!

They also gave me a sticker, a large postcard size business card for Jason Laurits and a hand-written note!

They gave me just enough little goodies and not too much to clutter my desk.  I got only the important stuff, which is how I like it!  I’m still currently wearing the shirt while writing this because it’s THAT comfortable.  I can get past the design for comfort on this one.  All in all though Paste produces some amazing apparel made in the USA keeping comfort in mind.  I’m sure at least every one can find one design on their website that will tickle their fancy and make them laugh at little.  Though, at $38.00 a pop per shirt, that’s a little out of my price range when it comes to buying t-shirts.  I guess that can be justified with the hand silk-screening process but otherwise I can’t understand a t-shirt being that pricey, no matter who the artist is.  Time’s are tough these days and tack on shipping to that and you’ve just spent about $45.00 for 1 t-shirt.  Not really my style when I go shopping but if you can afford it and it’s your taste, I say go for it, because the product doesn’t disappoint at all!  Two thumbs up to you, Paste!!

Just want to give a huge thank-you to Andrea from Paste for sending this over and to Jason for his ever so unique designs!!  You can keep up with Paste on Twitter and Facebook and don’t forget to check out all their shirts on their website.  And by all means, take some time to head on over to Jason’s website and see all his beautiful work!

 

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Post image for Gordon Holden is a little weird; we’re “magical”

We got an email from Gordon Holden recently. His site is pretty interesting (and, well, confusing), but from what I can gather he is an artist who also likes to design tees every so often.

Anyway, back to the email. It was short and sweet. “i like what you do. it is magical.”

After that, there was no way we weren’t going to check out his site. What we saw was interesting, and very well designed (though maybe beyond the price range of most people).

The tees look great. They’re a little strange, but this is a guy who sent us a two sentence email and called us magical, so you get what you ask for.

The problem is that this is art, really, and art ain’t cheap. You’re looking at $62-$66 for a single t-shirt, which is far from cheap. In fact, everything that I’m wearing right now (bar my shoes) didn’t cost that much. But if you’re interested in these designs, and have a little chunk of change spare, then there’s no reason not to buy one of these as a statement piece.

Just wash it very, very carefully.

(Costliness = $62-$66)

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Amy wearing her Global Warming T-Shirt

I’ve been getting a lot of goodies in the mail lately from reviews to purchases I made for myself.  Typically I know what it is from the packaging.  I’ll give it to Gage + Desoto, because they totally stumped me on this.  I knew ahead of time I was receiving a package from them and when it arrived it was really professional looking in a white large envelope with 1 simple mailing label.  I honestly though it was some legal documents I was waiting for, that’s how smooth it looked.  Low and behold, it was not legal papers, it was my Global Warming T-Shirt to review!!

Either people are really reading my reviews and noting that I enjoy a hand-written letter or everyone is just really polite these days, because as you can see above, Gage + Desoto sent along a nice note on their letter-head just for me!!  They kept it very simple with a simple note, the t-shirt and 1 small sticker for me to enjoy.  I appreciated that, because sometimes less is more.

Now for those who don’t know, Gage + Desoto are a unique resource for road cycling and design.  What does that mean exactly?  Well they like anything dealing with bikes and cycling and design.  Yes it’s actually pretty straight forward.  They sell items from books, to magazines, apparel, prints & stationary and even bikes!  Their shop is located in New York and they call it the The Red Hook Office: part offices, part bike studio, part clubhouse, and part storefront.  They are only open 2 days a week, but everything in store is also sold on their website – aside from the bikes of course.  So let me get to the point, Gage + Desoto partnered up with Pajamahouse to collaborate on a t-shirt.  Pajamahouse is a small studio located in New York and Tokyo dedicated to making fun and creative projects.  So now you see, these aren’t our typical t-shirt clothing brands (so I’ll cut them a little slack), these are design studios working together to bring you a brilliant t-shirt with baby arctic animals zooming down a bike lane.

The t-shirt is white and the design is very flattering placed right in the center of the tee.  The Gage + Desoto and Pajamahouse logos are screen-printed in the inside neck area (as seen in the photo above this).  They don’t give much of an explanation behind the design or tee on the website.  Why is it called Global Warming?  Why are there arctic animals on a bike?  Clearly putting two and two together the bike’s there because Gage + Desoto enjoy bikes.  Let’s go on…the animals?  I don’t know much about Pajamahouse but on G+D’s website they give reference to a “hit” by them called Desi Leaves Town .  I watched the trailer and it has animals in it.  It appears to be a game you can purchase to play with puzzles and tasks to complete, etc, etc.  Not really my cup of tea but if they’re making the games I mean I know how hard animation is so definite props to them for that.

Without much of a back-story to go on with this design I can only speak from opinion on what I see.  I”m a huge animal lover myself so the cute little cartoon-ish animals definitely captured my attention.  The word I’d use to describe this is “cute and quirky”.  It’s illustration at it’s finest from the bike to the animals.  Speaking from a design standpoint the lines of the bike draw your attention inward towards the animals, then up, down and around.  It’s a nice composition to look at.  Very flattering and the colors are subtle and friendly.  I think it’d be an outstanding children’s t-shirt, but as you can see in the photo at the top I totally rocked it by tying it up in the back, rolling up the sleeves (because they seemed to be longer than normal) and throwing it on for the day over my bikini.  It is a longer t-shirt, appears to be a unisex fit (not my 1st choice) which is why I’ll probably sleep in it or wear it as shown in the photo.  Being that it’s really one of the only t-shirts either of these companies have put out and it isn’t what they focus on as a whole; I think they did an incredible job with it.  It’s a really soft cotton and it’s a playful design.  I’m not sure of their target audience but as I mentioned, I would have suggested it on a children’s t-shirt or even a tote bag for that matter.

It’s for sale on Gage + Desoto’s website for $30 – which is way too much for a shirt like this in my opinion but their products are all on the pricier end so that’s to be expected.  After thinking about it for a bit, I’d guess that perhaps the name of the shirt “Global Warming T-Shirt” is a play on words relating to the design.  Arctic animals on a bike (you usually bike when it’s hotter outside and clearly these animals belong in a colder climate).  For those of you who caught on to that way before I do, let’s keep in mind I am a blonde.

Check out Gage + Desoto’s website and Facebook and Twitter !

Check out Pajamahouse’s website and Facebook and Twitter !

Thanks for the t-shirt Gage + Desoto & for allowing me to review it :)

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Post image for Mechanic Industries combines magic and gambling

Most people I know have a sideline these days. It might be that they clean cars on weekends from their day job; others might enjoy going to horse tracks and becoming a part-time professional gambler. So it’s encouraging to see a t-shirt designer who has a sideline too. We got an email from Jimmy K at Mechanic Industries explaining how his day job parlayed into a sideline (which then transformed into a tee brand. Stick with me!):

A Mechanic is a card cheat that utilizes advanced sleight-of-hand techniques to gain advantage over their opponents. Mechanic Industries give magicians the competitive edge with an arsenal of premium products. This advanced product line taps into the very essence of what Magic & Gambling is all about – advantage.
Appearing in June of 2012, Mechanic Industries Ltd is based in the UK and specializes in the design and production of the highest quality gaming & gambling products for use by magicians, flourishers, poker enthusiasts and avid gambling fans alike. We are fanatical card magicians, poker players and leading designers. It is our aim to become the premium retailer for all things magic and gaming. 
So of course it makes perfect sense for them to start designing t-shirts too. There’s only the one design at the minute (‘Work Wear’, £24.99) but I like it, and it comes in three different colours. These guys might be a brand to watch in the future.

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winkyboo bang for your buck

Between this heatwave going on in the states and everyone looking for a good deal these days, I decided that it was the perfect time to give our customers some huge savings.  Since summer began I’ve been rotating Summer Clearance items in store online weekly!  To keep up with which items are on sale during which week, LIKE the Winky Boo Facebook Page.  I’ve extended last week’s sale items because of Father’s Day, so we currently have 4 Clearance Items with savings as much as 50% off!  Pictured above is Stalker which is currently on sale for $12.00  (Saving You $10 from it’s Original Price).  Stalker is a unisex fit for Men & Women printed on 100% combed ringspun cotton – super-soft- lightweight tee.

Buy it at Winky Boo

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Sleepy Dan : Vinyl Thoughts Event Shirt Printing

by Sleepy Dan on March 19, 2012

An inspiring night requires an inspiring shirt design… The theme of this year’s Vinyl Thoughts event was Next Level. A retro video game tribute, so I had to create a shirt using one of my favorite games growing up, the classic Donkey Kong! With the help of Alexa Machine this shirt printing went perfect.

To line up a four color print on the press, you gotta tape one of the films to the pallet in the same spot you want all the prints. So you can line up all the screens in the press to that film, this is the basic registration of the print.

You will be able to see the film thru the negative space of the emulsified screen, and just gotta line them up perfectly and tighten the screws on the press…

Once all four screens are taped off on the back and loaded with the correct ink color, the printing begins!

This four station, six color manual press is perfect for two people to print at once. Just gotta print the colors in the correct order and communicate so no mistakes are made. Check out the final color printing

Then you get perfect prints like this! I wanted to design something with huge letters, so the levels of the Donkey Kong board were a perfect large surface area.

Hot off the press, I picked up the shirts and rushed over to the event where all the shirts sold out that night! I am reprinting some more shirts now, so they will be available on my Sleepy Dan web shop this week.

The two color back design showed off all the sponsors for this year’s event. The show was packed all night and has become such a hit for the up and coming Dallas vinyl arts culture.

I’m so proud to be part of this event and becoming a contributing vinyl designer. If you check out pics of the event and custom vinyls, I created a tribute to Mike Tyson’s Punch Out by creating two vinyl characters Bald Bull and King Hippo!

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Hydro74 and Mr Rocks at Design By Humans

by Mr Four Fingers on February 22, 2012

Post image for Hydro74 and Mr Rocks at Design By Humans
Alchemy Owl - Hydro74

Alchemy Owl - Hydro74

Symetric_Wolf_1

Symetric Wolf - Mr Rocks

Symetric Wolf - Mr Rocks

Symetric Wolf - Mr Rocks

By now everyone knows of the behemoth that is Design by Humans. Finding a good design on here is like wading through a swamp. But, spend some time trawling and some awesome designs rise to the surface. I recently purchased these two t-shirts (30% discount!) and hell am I chuffed.

First design is by Hydro 74 entitled Alchemy Owl and the second is by Mr Rocks entitled Symetricwolf. Both are a really good fit with tighter sleeves (check the pistols). However there is an odd line travelling down the centre of the wolf skulls face. This is either a msitake by printers or some lazy artworking.

Both t shirts are $20 from the DBH store. If you are shipping outside of USA, my advice is don’t get shafted for the faster delivery at $33 because I opted for the $11 2-3 week delivery and I received them in about a week.

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Sleepy Dan : Customized Hood Sweatie

by Sleepy Dan on January 29, 2012

Sleepy Dan hood sweaties released in December, I had to release one cut n sew project for the first year so you can be sure there will be some more customized designs for the upcoming years! I can not emphasize enough, process is the most important part of any project. The rugby style hoodie is a design just recently hitting trend so I had to make some comfortable enough to bear the Sleepy Dan brand! In my day job as an apparel designer, I have learned how to work with embroidery shops to create apparel patterns, but sometimes several of the finishing steps have to be done on your own to save on cost. That’s how I was able to make these hoodies so affordable.

Coming from the manufacturer, I had to make some custom modifications past adding the logo embroidery appliques and the new custom neck labels for outerwear… This hoodie has several exposed cover stitch seams, so you can easily see it’s custom made, but the excess seam fabric had to be trimmed up a little more to be finished.

After finishing, the logo embroidery appliques are hand stitched to the garment, then the size labels are machine stitched into the neck seam. What makes this hoodie so special is the herringbone cotton twill neck seam, rugby placket, and hood seam edge. The time invested to this project is longer than a t-shirt design, but the fan and blogger reviews of the hood sweatie are amazing for the first cut n sew design. Research and development are a key role in the process of a successful project, so don’t overlook your process at any stage! Hope you got one before they sold out…

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Sleepy Dan: Creation of the Pillow Monster

by Sleepy Dan on December 16, 2011

After the inauguration of the Pillow Monster character at Artopia for the t shirt battle with Fur Face Boy, the design has been getting great reviews. Dallas Observer sponsors this annual event as their birthday party and I was proud to have their help bringing the Pillow Monster Lightning Strike design to life in the true nature of Frankenstein! So continuing with the success of this behind the design column, I decided to share the whole design process for this new character. The Pillow Monster will be involved in another design this coming year, so I am going to show how the idea began from concept, then sketching, then inking the layout, then vector the art for production of the printing.

The first step of the process is creating the concept. The Sleepy Dan branding has been so much fun to design for because there is a wide range of possible ideas that fall in line with the sleep theme. The Alarm Clock character was the beginning of the character side of the branding, reminding fans of our youthful side that used to be afraid of the dark and the possibility of things coming to life when you are unable to see them… Remember the clown doll from Poltergeist under the bed? Thanks, now I can’t even look at clowns any more!

Illustrating a complete character design for the brand, is a more complex project than people realize. But it’s the passion for the brand that keeps me going! Pencil sketching the concept takes several attempts to get the look right. Keeping in mind that the design needs to have more of a vertical layout to take advantage of the printable surface area of the shirt.

Making friends in the arts community is easy when you are giving back at the same time. Having friends with ill skills like Rico Ultraelectromagnetico to help with the character style was the first step to the Pillow Monster. I want to make sure that all my characters have the same appearance so they are easily understood to be a Sleepy Dan character, even if the design has no displayed type.

After making several sketches, better parts of the character will be remade in the next sketch. There is a constant improvement for the problem areas, till the whole design has the perfect layout. This is the fun part of the process but usually takes the longest, so you can’t get frustrated with levels of failure. Just gotta work thru them till you find successful revisions. Ask friends for constructive criticism, you have to learn to take the good advice with the bad, create a thick skin for necessary revisions cause this is the best time to make them…

I am sharing less than half of the sketching process for this project, so you can understand there are so many versions of progression for this design you can almost look at them like a flip book! Eventually you get to a sketched layout that best suits your concept vision from the start. All parts suddenly fit perfectly into place, then you can move onto revising the smaller details thru the inking process and using Adobe Photoshop.

Inking over the sketch allows you to see a clearer design layout, while creating deeper levels of detail. Usually after the first inking designs, you are confident to almost be there. But treat this stage just like the sketching stage, revision is still easily done now that details are clear, so get some more constructive criticism from your friends that you know will not leak the secret just yet…

Making final inking revisions gives you goosebumps! You wind up staring at the design for a couple days, 30 minutes at a time to make sure there is nothing else that needs to be changed. Then you can decide how many colors you want this design to be printed with, then create color layers of detail for the character scene. Inking new layers can be done in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, I prefer to use Illustrator because it makes the color separation so much easier to manipulate and revise.

Usually I start this stage, not by looking at the color I want, rather looking at the color details I want to involve, so use crazy contrasting colors… The Pantone colors used can be revised after the levels of detail are finished. The best way to decide colors of the print is to decide shirt color first. Figure out the background color of the design, then the character colors can easily be picked knowing what shirt trends are most successful. Research shirt brands over the web, see what colors are selling best for the season. You’d be surprised what a little research can tell you!

Printing shirts for your brand in this economy means planning out the profitability of the design. The more color you print, the more the shirt will cost, and shirts just don’t sell well the closer to $30 each you get. I advise to keep even the most complex designs to a maximum of four printed colors. There is no reason for you to use more color than that, also fans will have a harder time matching up their gear to the shirt, secretly all guys love to do this…

Any printer you use, will appreciate you color separating the art before you give to them. This means separating each color, so the printer knows what colors to put on each film layer they print, which will be used to make screens for your printing. Remove the questions from the process for the printer and your project will turn out the same way you give it to them. I prefer to have a design with the darkest color as the top detail. It’s easiest for the printing process to have the color layers beneath the darkest layer, that way the bottom layer edged are covered with the darker layer, insuring there will be no offset printing problems.

Give the printer the exact Pantone colors you want used in your design, they will be mixing ink to match the Pantone colors you give them. If you don’t give them exact colors, then you are opening the possibility they will not mix the right color you want to use. For the Pillow Monster design, I had to see the shirt color to pick printing colors since there is one tonal color specified in the shirt. The print might have looked weird if the navy color was too much of a red tone rather than a blue tone…

After the Artopia event, the extra shirts were added to the Sleepy Dan web shop. Check out the Artopia event blog posting and friends links on the posting to see lots of pics of the event! Maybe we will see you at Artopia 2012?

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Sleepy Dan: Printing SnapBacks

by Sleepy Dan on November 6, 2011

Sleepy Dan snapback hats released this week! Screen printing on shirts has been so much fun so I am working to print on new apparel bodies too. This is the first part of the Fall line addition, the second half will release by the end of November. These hats are USA made and printed at Classic Cap & Embroidery with a high density ink to give the graphic some texture. There are several types of printing texture you can use, but all are able to be printed thru a normal silk screen. Using a dense ink for printing, means using a lower count screen mesh to let the ink easily pass thru the screen onto your material.

This is a 95 count mesh attached to a small metal frame, custom made for printing on headwear. The emulsified screen has the new wake up graphic burned into it the same way a larger screen is made for printing on t shirts.

The thin flat metal frame is bendable and slides into this form shape. The form gives the screen a stable arch that matches the shape of the hat crown, so an even transfer of ink goes onto a non-level surface.

After the frame is secured into the form, the screen is taped off just like a larger t shirt frame. This makes sure no ink will leak around the edges of the emulsified screen.

The form is secured into the specialty headwear manual printing press. This setup is used with specialty headwear dryer, which is taller to fit hats and has the heating coil on the side rather than on the top like a t shirt dryer. This makes sure the ink printed on front of the hat is properly cured.

Normal ink can be combined with several different types of textured materials, to create a different texture print. The amount of ink has to be precisely combined with the correct amount of high density material to create the desired look during printing.

The headwear printing press looks very similar to a t shirt press, but the pallets are curved just like the screen and hat crown. A hat is positioned on the pallet and secured with a spring mechanism at the back, then the press is operated like this — LIVE PRINTING

After printing, the hat takes a 15 second run thru the dryer which activates the high density material and cures the ink to the hat.

Each hat has to be positioned perfectly on the small pallet surface so all graphics are printed in the correct area of the front crown. This process is tested several times till the desired graphic position is perfected for the project. The hats I printed have a five panel crown, so there is one front panel of the hat.

I tested the printing on some Flex Fit six panel hats, but not all of the prints came out well because the seam at the front of the hat did not allow perfect printing every time. The printing surface has to be perfectly flat for printing success. As with all printing, some mistakes happen and then some mistakes are a surprise success… Screen printing is an art form, so have fun with it!

The Classic Cap & Embroidery sewing team is amazing, the side woven label is attached with precise placement every time like this — LIVE SEWING

I made some interior woven labels for extra detail. They are again attached with amazing placement like this — LIVE SEWING

I hope this insight helps you design a better project, knowing how easy it is to get it done. I made this hat printing a limited edition only printing 30 khaki and 30 navy hats. Creating something original is so much fun, so I’m looking forward to making some new snapbacks for Spring 2012…

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Sleepy Dan: Behind the Design

by Sleepy Dan on October 12, 2011

Hopefully after you read this posting, you will find yourself checking out the Sleepy Dan link below. I was asked by the Hide Your Arms team to create a column from the perspective of an up-and-coming indie clothing brand. My expectation of this column is to share the behind the scenes of a designer creating seasonal lines of clothing and apparel. Working in the Dallas area as a graphic and apparel designer, I’ve gained great experience as a branding designer since graduating from Ringling College of Art & Design – Yes, I went to clown school… But no, Sleepy Dan is not clowning around!


Recently the Sleepy Dan signature line was released and already finding many fans that share common bonds with a lack of sleep. Being close to the beginning, I want to share the production journey from the start and help anyone looking for some guidance on their search for a successful project. Success of your project can be broken down into two parts. Making a product that is popular and able to sell for profit, then having fun with the project so you can consistently repeat the process while adding your creativity. I don’t believe success is measured in financial wealth, rather happiness of life while pursuing what you love. So stay sleepy, there is no time to rest because if “You Snooze, You Lose!”


Starting out means you have minimal money to invest in the project and tons of time to perfect the first line. Around two years ago I decided to learn how to screen print from home so I could cut my overhead. I purchased some screen printing supplies and hardware from craigslist.org, aselart.com and gogsg.com then researched how to complete the process. After a couple months of working out the process, I was able to successfully print 40 shirts in a night, then hand out to new fans at events like Kixpo and Sneaker Summit.


The purpose was to get some recognition and feedback for the branding direction with only the cost of the shirt, the ink, and my time invested. Taking your time to perfect everything from the trademarking to the clothing and the social media is most important. This is not a race… Get out to local clothing events and make friends with everyone in your city. Knowing the market you are looking to enter is just as important as making product for it. Make sure you understand the quality of product everyone else uses, so you are not considered out of bounds… Invest in a bunch of indie brand shirts you think are cool and represent some other brands. They will be your best allies down the road! You gotta give props to the city you love…


The finesse of screen printing is just as much an art form as the designs you are printing. Starting from making films, then burning the film image into the emulsified screen for printing, then working the squeegee over the ink filled screen, the process is not complete until a high temperature is used to bind the ink to the apparel threads. Using water based inks is less harmful at home, especially during cleanup. Sorry I can’t share pics of our spare bathroom tub, cleanup has turned it into a scene straight out of Scarface…


Becoming a recognized brand means being thorough and original with all the smallest details. Coming up with new ways to market your brand is your last step after you have a product ready to distribute. Have fun with the process from start to finish and you will be the wealthiest person you know! Creating more complex designs means you will need help from a local printer, or embroider, or seamstress. They are not difficult to find and work with, but it helps to be confident and understand the process they work with. The Sleepy Dan column will be sharing more of the apparel and accessories production from the line with you along the way, so stay posted! Contact me if you have any questions about your process, help is universal so don’t overlook it.

Thanks to Andrew for letting me become part of the Hide Your Arms team and one of the new featured columns!

http://www.sleepydan.com/

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How to prepare your t-shirt design for printing

by Andy on September 28, 2011

how to prepare artwork for printers

Blake from YouDesignIt (who guest posts here from time to time) has written a guest post over at Design Juices explaining to people that are new to the t-shirt game how to go about preparing your file for the printers, which is something that may not be immediately obvious to everyone. It’s by no means an exhaustive guide, but it definitely sets you along your way.

3 Helpful Tips to Get Your T-Shirt Design Print Ready

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Foalio – connecting brands with artists

by Andy on September 21, 2011

foalio artist job postings

The idea of creating a job posting website that would allow artists and brands to connect with each other is something that I’ve long had in my “book of genius ideas Andy has but lacks the skills to implement”, so when I saw a newsletter from Threadbird introducing their new website, Foalio, which offers that very same service, I was a little saddened.

That sadness was short lived however, they’ve done better than I could have ever managed, and in doing so have created a fantastic resource that will hopefully make it easier for designers to get work with t-shirt brands, and help t-shirt brands connect with excellent artists from across the globe. Of course, websites like this need a lot of traffic to make them successful, but since it is a Threadbird project they have a built in source of brands wanting designs to be made, the people getting printing from Threadbird, so that should provide a steady flow of job postings, which should in turn entice designers.

I haven’t had time to get deep into the site, but it all looks promising from what I’ve seen, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops and grows in the future. Will any of you guys be signing up? Is this the website that the design community has been crying out for or is it just another place to put your portfolio?

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original music shirt

Earlier today Original Music Shirt (aka OMS) sent out an e-mail saying that they had redesigned their website. I checked it out and as the page loaded I thought everything looked good very clean and easy to navigate. After a few seconds I realised why I liked it, they appeared to have taken a lot of design cues from Threadless.


I’m no fool and I’m not looking to create drama where it doesn’t exist, but there is no denying that there are some similar aspects to both sites, and as the Threadless design is much older, it all points to OMS being inspired by Threadless at a few turns. The thing that annoys me about it is that you expect an established business like OMS to be above these kind of shenanigans. It is of course possible that OMS used an outside developer for their new website that borrowed a few ideas from Threadless and OMS aren’t aware of this at all but that does seem to be a fairly unlikely. Here’s a few side-by side shots:



The search areas & footers are similar, but in web design the position and style of search areas is often similar, so you could almost let them get away with that, but the navigation bar really gives the game away as far as I’m concerned. Again, there are items on navigation bars that have to be there and are there on every shop, but this redesign just happens to pick the same font as Threadless and put those items in the same order (considering the ‘club’ and ‘community’ can be used interchangeably in this context, and the OMS doesn’t have a design competition so they have no need for a ‘participate’ page)? That doesn’t seem particularly likely to me.

Another little ‘similarity’ is that OMS now have ‘shop guys’ & ‘shop girly’ rather than mens/womens, and Threadless also use guys/girly. It’s possible that OMS were using that before the redesign, but it’s worth noting.

I feel a bit like Glenn Beck as I write this post, being the guy that just happens to notice a few things between a couple of websites, and hopefully I haven’t made any mistakes in my comparisons and suppositions because I have no reason to be negative towards Original Music Shirt, I like their designs and like their style, but I saw their new site and couldn’t help but notice the similarities. I realise that Threadless do not own many of the things I have pointed out, such as the font they use in the navigation bar, the colour blue, rounded corners on buttons, and the style of their footer, but just because they don’t own those things exclusively doesn’t mean it is okay for that design to be copied by other people.

As you might expect, I’d really appreciate your comments on this post, and I will update you if I hear anything from either Threadless or Original Music Shirt.

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design & wonder t-shirt

I presume I’m not alone in thinking that this is a really cool shirt?

Costiness=$25 Buy it at Make Believe Clothing Co.

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