Design insights & tutorials.

How to Create Fanatics as a T-Shirt Designer

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How To Create Fanatics as a T-Shirt Designer


Quick…think of the top 3 most popular t-shirt designers that you know of. You probably came up with names like Geoff May, Jimiyo, Wotto, Collision Theory, Corefolio, Godmachine, and many more. Just how did these graphic designers become household names in the t-shirt industry? It wasn’t easy, because “just being gifted” won’t take you to the top. You have to be smart, you have to market, and you have to focus on a few key ingredients in the recipe for success.

Great Artwork

I had to start with the most obvious. This is one part of building your tee design credibility that you just can’t fake. Stay true to your style and try to be consistent, because the consistency in your style will become the fingerprint of your work.

Collision Theory's Design By Humans $10k Winner

Personal Site With Portfolio

It’s 2009 folks. Don’t expect to gain a following if you don’t have a web presence you can call home. This allows your fans to dig a little deeper and get to know you better. It also provides a plethora of content for t-shirt bloggers like myself.

T-Shirt Blog

This creates a conversation. It also provides you with a platform to launch new designs and products. You don’t have to blog that often, just provide quality with each post.

Keep Your Fans Up To Date With A T-Shirt Blog

Get Involved

It isn’t good enough to just join a competition anymore. You need to interact with the members and occasionally scratch some other backs. Being a part of the community is crucial. Having a lot of friends in multiple competitions can build an army.

You Don't Get Paid at Emptees But You Can Gain A Lot of Industry Friends

Submit, Win, Repeat

You’re never gonna win if you don’t submit. And you need to submit often. Then hustle the heck out of your design, because the more eyeballs viewing your submission…the more votes you will receive. T-shirt design competitions are all over the web these days including:

Create a Mailing List

I’m not talking about a monster 1000+ list of e-mail addresses. Just a small, high-quality list of t-shirt bloggers, friends, influentials, and fans. You can use this list to update people on what you’re working on and ask for favors.

Teach Them Your Ways

You have to give back to the community that gives to you by creating tutorials. Take your most popular designs and show them how you arrived at the masterpiece. You can gain a lot of exposure and appreciation by showing others how you do what you do.

You Can Gain Respect & Authority By Helping Others

Create a Freebie Pack

Who doesn’t like something for free? If you have an abundance of unused artwork, then give some of it away instead of letting it waste and rot. You don’t have to give away the farm, but artwork was made to be seen, so get it out there.

GoMedia Is A Great Example of Sharing Their Work

Show Your Personality

Your artwork should speak for itself. But what it doesn’t say about you, should be shown in your interaction and interviews. There are many different ways on the Internet to make yourself available and to really let loose. Don’t be afraid to share your quirks and make some jokes with your online friends.

Solicit T-Shirt Bloggers For Interviews Like The T Addict

All of these components are critical for gaining momentum and building a following. After all, that is the hardest part. Once you have a loyal group of fans, you will have more opportunities than you can probably keep up with.

About the Author, BlakePoutra

I'm an internet junkie that loves to design t-shirts as much as I love wearing them. I work for You Design It where we specialize in custom t-shirt printing.
Discover More by BlakePoutra


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Unik Ink Specialty Printing

    Great post!

  • designfollow

    thank for the great info

  • Geoff May

    Cool post with a lot of useful information. Also, thanks for the shout out!

  • Simon H.

    Nice post. Thanks also for the links for the tee contests.

  • AnticitizenDesign

    thanks for the info, great post as always! also, dno if you've noticed yet but theres a little typo in the set 14 vector freebies pack's terms.. take out one of those nots before people get the wrong idea ;)

  • FoolishGraphics

    Great post. I wish I had more time to do all of these things.

  • Tom Faraci

    Thanks for the article. I'm getting more and more interested in apparel design so every bit of information helps.

  • Hello Destroyers

    great post…this will definably help my t-shirt business.

  • demonpack333

    These are all true and I've dug into each again and again. I would like to add one great element.

    Make a Video

    Show us your portfolio, show us you in the creation process, create a motion graphics movie with your work, or make us laugh while wearing your work.

    I've just got started with this, but you can see my channel here:

    Best of luck to everyone!

  • Vitaliy

    Nice, thanks

  • Digital Art Empire

    great post there are some really inspiring designs here thanks gonna start screen printing in 3 weeks

  • Jack Jones Jeans

    nice post

  • Hirochisung

    thanks for the info, great post as always!
    Great idea for a shirt! I want a shirt like that! Well, maybe not like “that”

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
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  • dizi izle

    thank you great post

  • T Shirt Designer

    Awesome post Blake! Best part: “be consistent!” I have run into so many designers who think they should be versatile… consistency builds your brand so you CAN be versatile (much, much later).

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  • Amanda Smit

    Thank you for this post, this has given me some excellent ideas on design, even though it was written on creating fanatics as a T-shirt designer.

  • Amanda Smit

    Thank you for this post, this has given me some excellent ideas on design, even though it was written on creating fanatics as a T-shirt designer.

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    Them to do what I need? More accurately, what kind of t-shirts. I tried it with a cotton T-shirt, but did not.