As I made my first steps into the world of illustration — which was admitting out loud that I actually wanted to pursue this highly competitive and unprofitable career — I got some very wise words of advice that I’ll never forget: “Enter as many contests as you can to get your work out there.”
It made an impression. After all, it was the first serene reaction I got among a bunch of raised eyebrows and it came from an an elegant and smart woman succeeding in a creative field I hoped to thrive in. So I studied illustration and entered contests as she told me. To be honest, I didn’t win any, (maybe I wasn’t that good) but I did meet interesting people and professionals got to look at my work.
The point is, contests are a powerful tool to expose a designer’s work.
Make Money With T-shirt Design Competitions
If you’re a budding designer and want your designs to be seen then why not search the net for design competitions? Enter a T-shirt design contest and you could win anything from cash prizes to free exposure. To give you a head start, we’ve rounded up a few of the best places to find contests that run regularly.
Design by Humans
Design by Humans features regular design contests, with past contests including clients like Assassin’s Creed and the Diablo video games; musicians Stone Temple Pilots, Kiss, Kings of Leon and Lil’ Wanye; and even T-shirts for Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. There are chances to catch the attention of major, major brands here. They don’t always have a contest running, but you can sign up for e-mail alerts to hear about new ones.
FESPA, a conference about garment decoration and textile print technologies, hosts every year a contest to design the official T-shirt of the annual occasion. The event is open to all members of the garment community, so there are a lot of interesting artworks being submitted. The only rule designers have to comply with is by including at least one of the logo images for the conference. Winners receive cash prizes, as well as the glory of having their design front and centre at a major conference of the textile sector.
Every year, Openstack, a cloud security software company, also holds a contest to design its annual T-shirt. It’s really easy to participate — all one has to do is email them a sketch of the design. The 2016 contest is already closed (the deadline was back in March), but look out for next year’s edition, which we’re sure will be coming soon enough.
Threadless always features art from designers in their community and lets people vote on which ones are their favourites. You can view the designs by the top ones, the rising ones, and the newest ones, so there are lots of ways site visitors can see designs. All of them are really high-quality, so it’s a good place for serious designers to get their work noticed.
Each week, the best designs as voted by the community are printed and sold. Occasionally, Threadless will also have a special design challenge that awards the winners a cash prize. Submitting your design is an easy process, go to their website if you want to find our more about it.
Go beyond the contests
If you’re thinking big and believe you’ve got a winning design, you could contact manufacturers directly to see if they’re interested in using it. Another way of getting into the mass market is to enter contests advertised by the big clothing companies and retailers. To find these contests keep an eye on your favourite fashion magazines, clothing websites, fabric companies and competition websites*.
*Pro tip: Use Google Alerts to stay on top of future competitions.
And here’s a great website we’ve found set up just for the world of T-shirt design competitions.
Design your own T-shirt hits
Let yourself go and come up with something really special. Your design doesn’t have to be complex. It can be classic and simple or anything in between. You can use pictures, words and photographs to tell the world what you want to say.
So all that remains for us to say is get started on those T-shirt contests and start bringing in the quids. And of course – good luck!
Did we miss any important T-shirt design contest? Then please, let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
Printsome is online t-shirt printing UK agency offering t-shirt printing Edinburgh to t-shirt printing Bristol and anywhere in between. For some advice about customised t-shirts or personalised polo shirts, or a nice chat about t-shirt competitions or simply want to say hi, give us a shot!