Designing your own band’s tees can be an incredibly fun, fulfilling process. You get to decide the message you want to send and you get total creative control. Heck yeah! Below you’ll find my bite-sized tips to help you hit the ground running.
Start with a mood board.
You can easily take the guesswork out of your band tee design by having a clear plan. Pinterest is my favorite free online tool for Mood Board creation. You’ll be able to collect inspiration from other bands, tees, movie posters, ads, designers, album covers, painters, food artwork - you name it!
Ask yourself these questions as you begin: Who are your fans? How does your music make you feel? Do you want to incorporate your lyrics or an in-joke that only your fans would understand? Do you want to try multiple colors in your design? Does your music genre offer any standards in colors, textures, imagery and, more importantly, are those rules something you want to break? Once you get your mind thinking on these questions you'll have a better idea of what you are trying to make for your fans with your tees.
Pick a font that is legible!
This is SUCH an important step but so many bands to overlook this! Unless your band is so extremely popular that your fans don’t need to be able to read your logo to know it is you, your band going to NEED to pick a font that people can actually READ!
My biggest pet peeve is seeing bands choose their logo based on what Every. Single. Other. Band. has been doing in their genre. Metal bands, I’m looking at you. Seriously, how the hell are your venues, your promoters, your newest fans, etc. supposed to know what to call your band if they can’t even READ your logo? Give them a fighting chance!
You can find some incredible free or low-cost fonts from Dafont, 1001Fonts, and FontSquirrel. I challenge you to try at least 15 fonts before you choose the font for your band’s logo. You’ll see very quickly what will work and what you absolutely hate and you can move forward with your Tee design with confidence.
Keep it simple
Just because you can throw a million fonts and a bunch of different free graphics into your band’s merch designs doesn’t mean you should. Simplicity can be highly effective in t-shirt design, just look at what Nike does with their Swoosh. Think about your favorite shirts and band tees that you own - are they covered from stitch to collar with every possible design known to the web or are they focused? Always take a step back to consider as you are adding, “How does this contribute to my ultimate goal for this design?” When it doubt, leave it out!
Your Next Steps:
Take Action: Write out four to seven words you associate with your band - feelings, colors, textures, sounds, places, food, adjectives, other bands or brands. For example, “Empowering, bold, experimentation, rose gold, adventure, and fireworks”. Create your own Pinterest board for your band’s merch designs. Search Pinterest with these words in your mind and pin like crazy. Don’t stop until you have about 50 pins saved, then take a break. Come back to your list of words and see if you can pull out any associated words from your original list - look these up in thesaurus.com and pick any words that you are drawn to. Example: “Power, fearless, invention, wanderlust” Go back and pin some more based on your second set of words, stopping only once you’ve hit another 50 pins on your board. Now it’s time to edit. Look at your board as a whole - which pins stick out to you? Remove them! Which pins are you “Meh.” about? Get them off your board. In the editing phase you can make deep cuts - your goal here is to remove any pins you no longer love or you feel don’t add to your overall pin board. You should end up with a targeted board that will be your guide for creating your merch designs. You’ll have all your inspiration in one place and any time you feel like you have wandered from your design goal you can refer back and realign.
Share your mood board in the comments here, I’ll be happy to take a look and answer any questions you have! If you are looking for more resources to design your tees but don’t want to invest in design software, checkout my post on free design resources to get you started!