Wherever you go these days, there always seems to be someone wearing somewhat wacky personalised t-shirts, whether it be out of context, ironic or just plain weird, the t-shirts we wear make a statement about us. Why not get one step ahead and design your own?
As a designer, I know that every format I design something for has its little quirks and special requirements. T-shirt designing is no different. Here are a few simple tips on ways to combine typography to create your own personalised t-shirts, whether you’re ordering a batch for a hen party, or equipping a team for a marathon, there’s definitely something in this for you.
1. The Typographic Composition
Inside out, upside down and round and round. You’re not writing a formal letter, but creating a form of wearable expression and direction is everything. Depending on the quantity of text you’re going to use, you can really play with different compositions. Characters can really come to life just by being moved around the canvas and take on a different meaning, concepts and forms. Express yourself!
2. You don’t want to really, but you can’t help but read me t-shirt
Let’s face it, there are some typographic t-shirts that you just feel you have to read. After all, if someone is going to be walking around with some truth on their chest, you wanna know what it says, right? So, that can be a good tool when thinking about the design of your customised t-shirts. As a general rule, I’d suggest using a few lines of text, not just a short sentence. In the example I’ve created, I’ve also played with colour just to make the message more memorable (in case you wanna know more about this, it’s called “the Stroop effect” and is a pretty cool optical trick that makes you read slow).
3. Frankie says “Relax”
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with your typo-tee. As I’m sure you’re already aware, some of the most epic t-shirts of all time have just been a simple statement. Just remember that if you’re going to wander around wearing it, make sure you’re comfortable with what it says, Printsome will not be held responsible for any scrawls you might get into as a result of your poor taste.
4. Poster Inspiration
Sometimes it’s tricky to know where to go for inspiration, especially when you’re trying to come up with that design that says everything you want to say at a glance. Not only that, but the composition of text, especially with longer words on t-shirts isn’t always easy, due to the chest width especially when you need to maintain a certain level of legibility and visibility. Try using some of the typography art movements for ideas, I find the Bauhaus posters an ideal go-to when I have doubts about the composition of letters and type since their vertical format poses a similar dilemma in terms of space management.
5. Big is beautiful
Type isn’t just words, fonts come with a whole character map which can include some quite fun glyphs. Whilst making smiley faces out of brackets is fun, don’t forget to play around with some of the less common glyphs – you can make some quite creative compositions and give a whole new meaning to the type. Here, for example, I’ve just used a mathematical symbol to create my t-shirt composition. And size does matter. Big is beautiful. Easy!
6. Typographic concept
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the typeface itself that communicates. There has been some pretty ingenious work done with type concept. For inspiration and to see what works, check out Ji Lee’s project ‘word as image’ to see how this can look when it really communicates properly. Tip: it’s a good idea to check your ideas out on your gran – your idea of concept and the rest of the world’s can be a little disjointed. Here is a couple I thought was cool. Simplicity is key.
7. I’m with him, stupid
Speaking of simple things, sometimes all you need to express yourself is just a nicely designed, very legible font that says exactly what you want to say. Just be careful when attempting to communicate in other languages, for the same reason laser tattoo removal was invented…
8. You’re just not my type
Don’t be afraid to mix and match different fonts. As every designer knows, a bold sans serif can go nicely with an elegant serif, depending on what you want to say. Experiment first, of course, you never know, some of the most innovative designs come from accidents. Here, I’ve chosen to mix chalk and cheese with this unlikely duo.
9. Say what you see.
I know we’ve been talking just about expressing ourselves textually so far, but there’s no reason why we can’t bring the image into the mix to make that message as clear as a bell. Using type as a frame for your photography is also an interesting way to bring your type t-shirt to life, and works well with DTG and transfer printing techniques. So go on! Get snapping, cos texty is sexy.
It might seem pretty obvious, but don’t forget to use colour to help you to convey your typographic message. With t-shirt printing, there is a huge range of interesting blending options that can work well with type. For my personal logo, for example, I use transparency to show the glamorous forms of the letters in my artistic name. This doesn’t mean that when printing the inks are necessarily overlapping, but there are various ways you could achieve a similar effect, whether it be through DTG, transfer or screen printing, depending on your budget and requirements.
If you have more ideas on how to use typography on t-shirts’ designs, don’t be afraid to share it with us! You can find us through any of our social media outlets, or you can comment below. In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome blog for more awesome content.
T-shirt Printing for Designers
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