February '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R 4 3 H ave you been to a thrift store late- ly? It has become a graveyard for fundraiser and 5k T-shirts. We have all received (or pro- duced) a fundraiser T-shirt that would never win any awards or even be worn. For some reason, the promo or fun- draiser T has become a billboard for all the sponsors, although there's yet to be any data to show that the sponsor or the cause benefits from this. As apparel producers, we should be talking clients off this prover- bial ledge. Instead, let's help them make great T-shirts, not just take orders of what they ask for. Apparel is meant to be worn and not just seen as a tchotchke that gets donated or put to the back of the closet never to see the light of day again. Our mission should be to help make the greatest impact and create a shirt that will be worn for years. Let's use a real-life example of how we can put this practice into play. The Taste of the Broncos, which is a fun- draiser put on by the Denver Broncos to support Food Bank of the Rockies, com- missioned us to make, design, and print the annual event T-shirt. The following is our creation process that delivered a design that everyone loved and made for happy clients. INGREDIENTS FOR A GREAT DESIGN We start every custom design by asking the client three leading questions to help our creative team design something that falls in line with the client's brand as well as have retail appeal so it will actually be worn. 1. What is the occasion? Purpose? Goal? In the general sense, do they want to sell, give away, or use the shirts in conjunction with a promotional campaign? We like to be politely opinionated when discussing their goal, saying that one of the main goals of the shirt is that it is worn. While it sounds obvious, this pushes the client to really think of the T-shirt more than just a business card or flyer. 2. What vibe/style do you want? This is where a lot of shops miss the mark. Basi- cally, you want to know if this shirt were to be sold at retail, what store would it be found in? What style makes the most sense? Most clients do not know how to articulate what they want. Having them describe things in the best way they know how is vital to filter and narrow down the desired look. Ask them, "Do you like this or that?" 3. What demographic are you marketing to? Who is your audience? It is so im- portant to truly know the audience that will be attending, buying, or wearing the shirt. Is it for moms, dads, grandparents, and the kids? Or is it for tweens or college students? Knowing this upfront can save design revision time and give the client a smoother experience. Once these three questions are gathered, we meet with the design team to begin the process of the actual art creation. THREE STEPS TO THE PERFECT DESIGN 1. Market research and ideation. It all starts with a mood board. To create an authen- tic look, it is vital to understand the past, present, and future. For this design, we wanted to integrate three eras of Broncos mascot to create a unique and licensed T- shirt design. We are big fans of worn-in distressed textures and aimed to find T- shirts that could inspire the design. 2. Concept sketch. This is where we pro- vide the client with a 'rough' rendering of the potential design. It is much easier to edit a sketch than to create a fully digi- tal design that gets turned down or has so many tweaks that it will take twice as long to edit. For this project, we pitched three different layouts integrating ele- ments from the event and Broncos heri- tage. The client liked elements of each of the designs, so we decided to take their requests and went to the design phase. 3. Digital design. Digital designs take the project to the next step. This not only makes the approval process quicker and easier, but it gets the graphics ready for printing. Licensing can be a headache depend- ing on the team or sport you are design- ing for. With this project, the author was granted the Broncos license to create a unique design that didn't have to fall within the brand's normal guidelines. (All images courtesy Amb3r Creative)

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