ShirtFight! Get Ready To Step In The Ring

Calling all designers – get ready for the newest tee design contest site to hit InternetLAND. The name of the site is ShirtFight and it was started by husband and wife duo looking to improve on the current crop of tee design competition sites. They’ve done their research and have also approached designers for their input as to what they would like to see in a competition site. Although the site is not officially open (they open on March 5), you can sign up to receive a 5 day advance notice of the first design challenge. 

Miss Etti, one part of the founding couple, sent me ShirtFight’s pledge to the tee design community:

  • We’re going to keep things fun, that’s important to us. We’re doing weekly themed competitions, and we’ll keep them interesting. And we aren’t just going to throw cash at the winner and call it a day…that’s boring! I can’t give you any details just yet (it’s hush hush), but we have a lot of great ideas to put a smile on the faces of our artists and community members every day.
  • We’ll always keep our community priority #1. We’re nothing without you guys! That’s why we’re going to keep the lines of communication open, constantly ask for your opinions and feedback, and do what we can to make this the most artist-focused t-shirt design competition site out there!
  • We want to keep the individuality and the uniqueness for our community (the artists *and* the customers)…and to achieve that we’re never going to carry more than 21 shirts at any given time. It drives me nuts to see hundreds of pages of shirts on a site…it’s like being lost in a sea of tees! By showcasing the very best designs, we get to focus everyone’s attention to the talents of the artist. Plus, if we only carry a select number of designs at a time, this eliminates the “Damn, everyone is wearing a Threadless t-shirt!” syndrome.

The weekly cash prize will be $500, but in celebration of their launch, the first contest will be two weeks long with the winner receiving $2009 cash! Pretty awesome, eh! And think about it, your chances to win at ShirtFight might be better than at some of the more crowded and established competition sites. Why not try ShirtFight out when it opens on March 5 – are you up for a good fight? 

 

ShirtFight!

Design By Humans Gets A Facelift

Design By Humans has undergone a facelift, and I think it’s for the better! I really dig the changes that they have made to the DBH site. Everything looks so much cleaner and less cluttered. The changes affects not only the t-shirt buying consumer, but also the dedicated DBH voters and, maybe most importantly, the design submitting artists. They have also added a new forum to their site, it’s a bit bare at the moment, but I am sure it will pick up steam once more people figure out it’s there! 

As a consumer, it’s important for me to know how the actual product looks – and the new DBH does a great job with this. They now offer multiple angles from which you can view their t-shirt designs in the individual product pages. The submission process has also changed, so if you regular submit to DBH be sure to check out the submission format changes, you can view them here. 

The only thing that I find a bit weird, is that on the product thumbnail page (see below for example, or go the men’s product page here), they use the same guys repeatedly. Granted, the model changes by row, but still, it’s kind weird seeing the same dude over and over again. It’s kinda creepy in the cloning sense. Other than that minor detail, I dig the changes they have made over at Design By Humans!

Design BY Humans

Design By Humans

“DBH is about the artists, their fans, and t-shirt lovers. So, to improve the experience for all of you, we have launched this new site with many improvements.

For shirt lovers, we have changed the way our shirts are displayed, giving you a much better view of our shirts. Our new product page shows you the shirt from several angles, and you can open a larger version of any of our product photographs. And while you are shopping, adding an item to your cart no longer takes you away from your browsing.

For our artists, we have a new submission process with a new format for your submitted art. This, along with our new visual design, will allow us to do a much better job of showcasing the quality art that you submit. We also have a new design guide to help you format your art for our new site.

As for the fans of the artist, we have a redesigned vote section. It gives you a better view of submitted art while you are browsing and, if you click a design, a large image of the art and its intended placement on the shirt. You can also see all designs that you have voted for and keep track of which of those become printed.

Also, for all of you, we have a new forum, so that you can interact with us and each other more directly.

And we are not yet done. Stay tuned.” -Lanaer of DBH

Desired Hearts Back and Helping With Twestival!

After recently closing their site down, the Desired Heart team is back in action, re-branded and hopefully better than ever. To kick off the re-opening of Desired Hearts, they have teamed up with the folks running the upcoming and worldwide Twestival and is currently organizing the official Twestival T-Shirt Design Competition. You can now vote for your favorite entry (12 from the 45 submissions were selected) and can even pre-order your Twestival tee now for $20.00. Voting closes this Sunday and the results will be announced on Monday, February 9. The profits from this sale will be going to Charity: Water – a group dedicated to bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 

Here are the 12 Twesitival designs that you can choose from and vote for:

Twestival

For those of you wondering what the Twestival is all about, here is the information that you need:

On 12 February 2009 175+ cities around the world will be hosting Twestivals which bring together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity: water.

Join us by:

Attending one of the events detailed on the city sites listed on this page.
Uploading or buying music at Twestival.fm.
Taking part in the t-shirt design competition.
Donating to charity: water.
The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers in cities around the world and 100% of the money raised from these events will go directly to support charity: water projects.

Modeling Your T-Shirts 101 (Part 1)

Modeling Your T-Shirts 101 is a guest post that was written by tee and belt designer, Jon Wye. In Part 1, Jon discusses how to create quality product shots using a DIY lighting box.

After four years of trying various photography methods for T-shirt display I’ve learned a few things that, with the help of Coty, thought I might pass on.

When I first started my company I was convinced that the photos had to be the best. I pulled in a favor from a professional photographer friend. Rented backdrops, rigging, lighting, lighting, lighting. Lighting is expensive. Asked a few attractive friends to help model. I even hired a professional hair and makeup team. My girlfriend, Nikki, was the hostess and helped provide a constant source of conversation and food.

It was the most professional endeavor I had organized to date! The photos came back amazing! My T-shirts were looking like a million dollars. The products looked hot, the models looked hot. Everything was in place.

I launched the new photos of the new products. Day one, day two, day three: where were my sales??? I didn’t get it. I had created some world-class imagery! Surely people would see my stuff and want to buy.

I realized many many months later that the problem wasn’t the photos, it was the fact that my site, my fans, my image, my WALLET wasn’t ready for a photo shoot like that. I was trying to walk the walk too early, portray myself as a bigger designer than I really was. So I took a step back and asked, are they buying me or my tees? And the answer was both. All the fancy photos were distracting from me, the small designer, selling you my vision.

So I took my licks and kept pushing ahead. And so I keep it small time, but really fun and classy!

And over the years I have come up with a few good methods for photographing on the cheap and hip, and just wanted to share some of them.

Method 1: The Abercrombie Method (no models)

Despite whatever violent ideas come to mind when you think of Abercrombie they have an impressive and consistent method for t-shirt photography; the precisely wrinkled head-on t-shirt photo. Check out their stuff, you’ll understand. Basically they take a freshly ironed shirts and do some hand wrinkling to make it look rugged, wearable, hip, and intentional.

But how do they get such good lighting and all those cool mini shadows that form from the wrinkled tees? The quick answer is a professionally lit photography room, but I’m guessing if you are reading this then you probably don’t have one and neither do I. But you can create a mini lighting box!

1. Paint It White. Get two 4 ft. X 4ft. board and paint them a matte white finish. Make sure it is matte white! And paint on enough layers to be completely opaque. The t-shirt will lie on one board and the other will go on the top of your creation.

White Paint

2. Built The Frame. Find a way to build a 4 ft. X 4 ft X 4 ft. frame (I used PVC pipes and fittings). Place that frame over the 4 X 4 board you just painted.

PVC Pipes

PVC Box

3. Cover It Up. Drape a WHITE cloth over all four sides of the frame. You can buy something called white duvotene cloth from many stage supply houses, and it will block out excess light from within your frame, but still keep the interior white.

4. Cover It Up. Take your second painted board and cut a 5 inch hole in the center of it, this is where your camera lense will go through.

5. Add The Lights. Go to the hardware store and buy four duel fluorescent lighting fixtures (3 ft in length). Buy some DAYLIGHT BALANCED bulbs to go in them. Now screw those into the white side of the 4 by 4 board that has the hole in it. Starting to make sense?

You are basically done with the build. In the end you should have a 4 by 4 by 4 cube that has a white board as a base (one that you lay the t-shirt on) and a white board on top that has lights attached and a hole in the center for a camera.

Lighting

6. Set Your White Balance. Turn the lights on and watch that baby glow. Don’t put any t-shirt in the box yet. Before you start shooting you need to WHITE BALANCE your camera from the light and color inside the box. Consult you camera’s manual to determine how to properly white balance. This is extremely important or your images will turn out like crap.

Cameras

7. Take some photos. Start putting those t-shirts in your new lighting box and start snapping away.

Octopus Boy by Jon Wye

Threadless 2008 Bestees Winners Announced!

The results are in and the winners of the Threadless 2008 Bestees Awards have been announced! Red by Kneil Melicano took home the big prize – People’s Choice for Design of the Year. I did “not bad” on my Bestees predictions, guessing just 3 out of the 12 awards correctly. That’s not bad considering the sheer amount of designs and designers at Threadless. I was able to predict ir0cko as Gallery Photographer of the Year, Monster Mash as Collaboration of the Year, and fatheed aka Aled Lewis as Designer of the Year. 

I have to admit that I am surprised that Red by Kneil Melicano took home the big $20,000 prize. There was major hype surrounding When Panda’s Attack and Foam Monster In Emotional Reunion with Severed Limb. Congratulations to Kneil for beating out some awesome designs! 

Here are the rest of the winners, congratulations for all:

 Threadless 2008 Bestees Award Winners

5 Things We Can Learn From The Seibei Story

The first two 5 Things We Can Learn From… posts featuring Threadless and Johnny Cupcakes proved to be quite popular. This time around I dissect Seibei. Seibei is a one-man brand that was conceptualized and developed by David Murray. Murray is a 26 year old college graduate who majored in Japanese Literature. Lucky for us, he decided to focus on making cool art instead. 

With such popularity and a cult following, Seibei must have done something right. Here I look at 5 things that we can learn from the Seibei story.

1. Your Website Should Be An Extension of Your Products. You don’t even need to click on the store, or see any of David tees or other products, and you already know what his style and what his goods will look like. His website is an extension of his products. He showcases many of the monsters that he prints on his tees throughout his site. And why not? The colors that he uses on his site reflects the colors often seen on his tees. Why would you have a sophisticated, modern and simplistic site design when your products are all about fun, humor, vibrant colors and monsters! Extend your products through your website design. 

Seibei

2. Take “Advantage” of Your Fanbase. In a good way, of course! David takes “advantage” of his fanbase through his Seibei Nation promotion. The Seibei Nation is his version of a street team. A lot of people consider word of mouth the purest form of marketing. Word of mouth is what a street team and esssentially the Seibei Nation is all about. And of course, remember that if they rub your back be sure to return the favor. Every time a Seibei Nation member brings in ten $10 or more sales they get a free Seibei T-Shirt. People LOVE free things so why not take advantage of that. BTW, use coupon code COTY for 10% off your next Seibei order!

USE COUPON CODE COTY FOR 10% OFF!

3. Be As Transparent As Possible. If your company is a one-man show, and even if it’s not, it may pay off to be as transparent to your audience or customers as possible. David is as transparent as can be on his blog, often posting about things not related to tees but that show off the fun side of his life. David loves to make posts about food, by doing this, maybe he’ll appeal to other food lovers who will then be interested in his tacos and sandwich tees. By being transparent, you make yourself the face of your company. You are living proof that your company exists because of you and your hard work. People are able to relate with you much more when they see a face. When people can relate, they often are more prone to opening their wallets and spending their hard earned cash. 

Seibei

4. Make Art and Craft Shows Your Friend. David hits craft and art shows pretty hard. A quick glance at his blog shows that he’s attended a ton of these, including: Craftacular, Boston Bazaar, Renegade, and Stitch Austin. What’s so important about attending craft and art shows? Well, it helps to give you brand exposure in the offline world. Sure you have an online store, but when you attend a craft show, people can actually see your goods, they can touch it and purchase it right then and there. Secondly, attending a craft show will help you to actually see what demographics are interested in and are purchasing your products. This should give you an idea of what you should maybe do for future product releases – build on popular products, build on what your target demographic is interested in. 

Seibei

5. Trust Your Gut. When David submitted his Give Us A Kiss design to the Cornelius Hearts Threadless contest, he had high hopes and was quite excited about it. Things didn’t turn out so well for the design. Voters were quick to give it low scores and the submission was prematurely dumped from the voting process. Understandably, David was miffed about this – mainly because he was so enthusiastic about the design. He decided to go with his gut and have the design printed despite it not being seen favorably in the eyes of the tee loving community, Threadless. The shirt that Threadless once abandoned is now a staple of his online store and I don’t doubt that it is one of his top sellers. The ultimate vindication came when Jake Nickell, one of the founders of Threadless, stopped by Seibei’s booth at Renegade Chicago. Nickell loved Give Us A Kiss and even purchased one. Trust your gut. 95% of the time your gut is right, which is totally worth the 5% of the time it is not. 

Seibei

Wheww, those are my thought about Seibei – what are yours? Leave them in the comments section!

Linty Fresh Live Show #3 Review

This evening Eric Terry of Linty Fresh hosted his 3rd Linty Fresh ustream chat. He had a special guest this time around, Vincent Maglione. Eric, as usual, answered questions regarding Linty Fresh and Vincent was there to talk about search engine optimization (SEO), web design and coding. Here are my notes from the show for those of you that would rather read then watch. A ton of questions were asked so click on to read them all!

[Read more…]

23 Great Apparel Related Design Articles

Here’s a great article from My Ink Blog that I found on Twitter (thanks to @designforum) that features 23 apparel related design articles on the web. The post features some of my favorite tee sites, including Pop Culture Tees, Taddict and The Art of Apparel. Some of the topics covered include:

15 Awful Mistakes Made by Designers in the Music and Apparel Industry

How to Take Your T-Shirt Artwork From Good to Great

47 Essential Resources for T-Shirt Designers

The Big List of T-Shirt Blog Feeds

Also check out these articles from this site:

10 Tips From 10 Great Indie Brands

5 Tips That Will Improve Your Online Store

5 Ongoing T-Shirt Design Contests (Part II)

My Ink Blog

Linty Fresh Live Show #2 Review

Online video chat by Ustream

Eric did a great job with his second Linty Fresh live show! There were about 40-50 viewers watching the live feed the entire time which is a great turn out. For those of you who missed the show and want to watch it check out the embed above. I’ve also provided a transcript of the show below, for those of you who rather not watch the full 2 hours, or just missed a few questions, or just like text better. Thanks again, Eric!

The following Q&A was taken from the Linty Fresh Live Show #2. I had to type really fast so they are not direct quotes. But it’s as close as I could get. Enjoy with tea and a comfy tee!

Is it a good idea to use models for product shots or not?

Difficult to use models every month so very hectic. Can be flexible, time wise, if you don’t use models. More professional to use models and people may be more likely to purchase your product.

What do you use for your newsletters?

I use campaignmonitor.com to keep people in touch. Don’t over do it or it will be ignored like SPAM.

Do you change your style when doing commission work?

Yes, like to keep the LINTY FRESH style for LINTY FRESH.

How do I define LINTY FRESH’s target demographic?

Online: Guys 15 to mid to late 30’s. In person I sell more to the ladies, between tweens and 30’s. Girls less likely to buy things online vs. guys. Hipster scene if I needed to classify it, though a lot of people enjoy it.

[Read more…]

Linty Fresh To Do More Collaborations

Other than single rare collaboration (see Eye Scream below), Eric Terry of Linty Fresh has been running his brand on his own for the past three years. He has been the solo designer of his tee designs, buttons, website and even marketing materials. Despite this, Eric announced on the Linty Fresh blog that starting in March, he will be  releasing more collaborative based products.

It seems that the Linty Fresh brand is getting bigger and it’s good to see that Eric is broadening his horizons, so to speak. He did mention that the design concepts, as with his current line, will be his own. He feels that by working with other artists on these concepts, they can bring fresh and new styles to the Linty Fresh brand.

I look forward to seeing what Eric has up his sleeve and am quite interested to see who he will be working with in the future!

Eye Scream

In other news, the next Linty Fresh live chat is schedule for this Sunday, January 11. Check it out on ustream.

Linty Fresh