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Becoming a T-shirt Designer

Becoming a T-shirt Designer: Where and How To Start?

So, you wanna become a t-shirt designer?

The good news is; it’s no rocket science and requires no degrees.

And the bad news? Well, the market is very competitive.

No need to get disheartened by the news of stiff competition, because with hard work, perseverance, and my guidance, you can surely make it in this industry.

In this post, I’m going to show you the pathway that’s going to lead you to become the next success story in this highly crowded industry.

So let’s get down to it.

Software That You Need To Master

Apart from creativity, proficiency in both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator is an absolute must to become a t-shirt designer. Without specialized knowledge in graphics designing software, it will be incredibly hard for you to succeed.

More so, being familiar with only Photoshop won’t do as expertise in both Photoshop and Illustrator is a minimum requirement for any designing agency.

Even if you intend to start your own business, getting skilled in Illustrator will be immensely helpful as it is vector-based and way faster than Photoshop.

Excellence in other graphic designing software such as CorelDraw and Graphics Pro studio is also highly valued in this field.

Select an Audience

Choosing the right niche can be the difference between success and failure in this industry.

Mind you; it’s an incredibly challenging task to stand out in this highly developed market. In order to catch the eye of the customers, you must cater to a certain type of audience.

Choosing a specific niche will enable you to target a particular section of the audience. That means less competition, and consequently, more recognition.

Create Unique Designs

It’s a tad difficult to become a designer without actually creating some designs.

So, pull up your chair, turn your pc on and work your ass off until you have created some awesome designs. If you have an online t-shirt business in mind, unique and attractive designs must be your priority. Customers can’t be lured by designs that they have seen somewhere else.

Designs don’t need to be too complicated. Simple designs can make a great t-shirt too. In fact, most of the famous designs are very simple. I’d suggest that you avoid generic and bland designs like skulls and guns. They don’t help to make you stand out from the crowd.

T-Shirts with funny texts aren’t a bad idea.

But you’d better target a certain niche (for example, medical or engineering students). Otherwise, you risk being siding into obscurity. The bottom line is, your designs must connect with the audience.

Mockup Your Designs

Once you have completed crafting all your designs, you need to get some mock-up pictures of your designs on actual tee shirts. Your clients or customers will like to know how the designs look in real clothes.

Ordering samples can be an expensive option.

That’s why I suggest that you create a digital mock-up with graphic designing software.

Adobe Photoshop has several t-shirt templates to illustrate how your design will look once it gets printed on a tee-shirt.

You can change colors and apply effects such as creases and folds to see how well the design goes with them.

Get Feedback

Before you start pitching your ideas to clients or start a business, get some opinions on how good your designs are.

Getting feedback on your designs prior to putting them on sale can save you time, energy, and money.

To find out if people are interested in your works, post them on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites and ask people to give their opinions.

Asking friends and family may not be of much help. For obvious reasons, you may not find them entirely honest with their opinions.

Build Up Your Portfolio

If you are looking for freelance projects or a job on a designing farm, you will probably need a stellar portfolio.

But building a portfolio can be a bit tricky. After all, who would trust a newcomer with their money?

In order to build a portfolio, you can offer free design services to people that you know.

Once you have gotten some restaurants, start-ups, and reputable sports teams on your résumé, it will be much easier for you to get new projects.

Sell Your Designs

Once you have made some fantastic designs and built a huge portfolio, it’s time to go after the cash.

Getting a job in a designing company can be a safe option.

Although a constant flow of money is nice, my advice is you do something on your own.

If you are good at your craft, then you have the potential to earn much more than a regular job can offer.

On the flip side, you need a big investment to start your own printing business.

The required machinery and computers can be pretty expensive and can cost between 20-50K.

You can, however, strike a deal with a local screen printer to print t-shirts for you.

But the best option for you might be to start an online store.

It will be both cost-effective and allow you to make substantial capital for future ambitious business ventures.

E-Commerce sites such as Shopify, Teespring, and Zazzle can help you to set up an online store quickly.


Neither magical prowess nor extraordinary talent is required to become a t-shirt designer.

All you need to do is commit yourself to the profession entirely and follow the instructions with complete trust.

Be fully dedicated to each of the steps, and success will follow.

Mark my words, if you put hard work into the job along with your dedication and passion, you will definitely end up as a successful t-shirt designer.

Good luck!

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James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.

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