Hello, fellow t-shirt aficionados and designers.

There are a lot of threads started where people submit their idea, asking for opinions. And there should be, I don't want anyone to think they're not worthy of consideration for anything. But not everyone has the artistic prowess of a Megan Lara. Seriously, there's a skull hidden between Rogue's knees and it doesn't matter if you never saw it.

Before I give verbal examples (and maybe a picture or two, including some of my own submissions) of what I'll call "not what TeeFury seems to be looking for, don't call them, they'll call you", here's a design that someone submitted for criticism eight weeks ago (but because I was creating stuff for another site, I didn't see). A design I like.

The only think I can say is wrong is there's transparency where the inside of the mouth should be, and it should really be a capital 'Z'. This is instantly recognizable, but has a twist. The font is right for the design (apart from that one letter). It's limited palette. It uses the colors really well, the shading on that leg bone is pure art. The user jessetattoo left this eight weeks ago, got absolutely no comments from anyone, and left.

I would buy this shirt.

And now for the "not what TeeFury seems to be looking for, don't call them, they'll call you" list. If you think of any more examples, please add to the list.

If your design is a silhouette of something with no details inside and some words in a font that doesn't tie with the franchise (even though the words do), it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

If your t-shirt could be created in less than 30 minutes (see image above), it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

If you lifted something that's copyright without changing it in any way, like the Superman logo bang center in the chest on a royal blue shirt, it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

If it's a contentious issue (political, religious, etc.) that any company would rather not have to handle heated debate over (see above), it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

No matter how clever your design is: if it's convoluted enough so that most people can't see there is a hidden message in that maze... it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

The Game. You just lost it. photo THE_GAME_preview.png

And for those that saw the message, yes, you just lost the game.

If your design is so busy, it should come in book form...

 photo xeno_final_design.png

...it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

If you know your design has a very limited market appeal (people that would wear an Alliance design from Firefly is more limited than people that would wear a Browncoats shirt, especially if it's a one-line reference from a single episode), it doesn't matter how clever it is. It doesn't matter if research was done and it's an authentic patch from a uniform seen in the show and the font seen on displays. They probably won't sell that many so it's not what they're looking for, don't call them, they'll call you.

 photo MAINAlliancelogoTWO.gif

That being said: as you see, I contribute on and off and will continue to do so. Although my designs have never been picked, it's spurred me to improve my designs and I have sold shirts and stickers elsewhere. So don't give up hope, and don't stop trying. Just know what level we're all up against.

We're up against this guy!!!

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    58 weeks ago
    I'd like to add to this with some alternative opinion, because discussion is a good thing. Whilst the 'Not what TeeFury seems to be looking for' designs don't work for reasons that are obvious to almost anyone but the person who made them, what works as a design can be unclear.

    I should give some pointers as to how to make a design that has a better shot at being selected. I've included some inline links, if you are interested you should read those too.


    Unless you've got amazing traditional art skills, and sometimes even if you do, trying to recreate traditional, highly detailed work like that looks like a comic book cover or the work of Alphonse Mucha, is setting yourself up for frustration and fail.

    You probably shouldn't really try to imitate the styles of Megan Lara or Captain Ribman either. Who wants to be known as a second rate Megan or Ribman knockoff? And if you're only in it for the money, as I believe some people are, you should go away now. I've got nothing to help you.

    Creating art on a computer is a potential pitfall. It quickly allows you to access tools which may well be beyond your level of ability. The more advanced programs tend to be complex to learn and the simpler ones often produce poor, unprofessional results. Even if you have traditional art skills (think pencil and paper) these do not always translate well onto the computer screen. Drawing with a mouse isn't the most natural of artistic tools. Cheaper digital stylus setups aren't great either.

    To avoid the seemingly insurmountable hurdles, START SIMPLE!

    1. Work in the medium you know best, if that is pencil & paper or some other non-computer medium then do most of your hard work there (you can scan it in or use a camera phone and trace it later).

    2. Even the most complex of designs start out as basic shapes. A good example being the cartooning tutorials here.

    3. Visible pixels don't cut it, keep it smooth. This means working at a very large image size (something in the region of 4000 pixel wide by up to 6000 high) or using Vectors.

    4. Fonts, if used, must be tidy and properly kerned. I got away with less optimal kerning once upon a time, but you can practice your kerning with this game online. If you can beat my best score of 93/100, I'll have to kill you be very impressed.

    5. The best art package is the one you can use. MS Paint isn't good enough though. If you aren't sure or are still stuck on a basic paint package, here are some suggestions...

    •Corel PaintShopPro (Windows) is a very powerful and inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop, it's also cross compatible and way easier to learn. I use this to create my basic designs before working on them in more detail elsewhere, for all my non-printed art I use this program exclusively.

    •CorelDraw (Windows) is a Vector program which is phenomenally easier to learn and usually cheaper than Adobe Illustrator. Fun fact - Some top designers use this rather than Adobe Illustrator, as I discovered on Behance and last I heard WinterArtwork uses it.

    •InkScape (Win/Mac) is a FREE Vector program, not tried it myself but plenty of people swear by it. Since it won't cost you a penny, if you haven't got a decent Vector program it won't hurt to try it.

    •Adobe Photoshop (Win/Mac) is a rather expensive habit that's industry standard. You should really want to do Art a lot to spend money on this. The same is true of any of the overpriced Adobe Software.

    •Adobe Illustrator (Win/Mac) is another expensive industry standard habit. It's awkward to learn and difficult to use. I cannot recommend it at all. However if you're willing to learn the results can be incredible, though generally no better than CorelDraw nor the skill of artist using it. Fun fact - it's the program I finish my designs on.


    Draw what you know. It's no good creating a design just because that is what everyone is doing. If you've never watched Doctor Who, for example, creating a Who inspired design is a bad idea. Anyway, when starting out, a Doctor Who design is also a bad idea because everyone is doing them, so you'll have a lot of competition.


    •Celebrate something
    •Be funny or cool or both
    •Know your subject matter inside out - fans of the subject will tear you a new one otherwise
    •And start simple!

    A quick look through the TeeFury Gallery will show that there are plenty of simple designs (don't confuse simple with easy) that have been very very popular.

    You don't need to be able to draw like Captain Ribman or Megan Lara and the chances are, if you can, then you don't even need my advice anyway.

    And this, which I made as a (hopefully obvious) joke, is NOT what T-shirt design is about...
    ...though I may get one printed for myself. :D
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    58 weeks ago
    Chuffy - Well said; great points. One major highlight... design something you like and that you're happy with. Everyone likes to make money but it doesn't come easy and you shouldn't focus on that. You have to work at it so in the end you have something you're happy with in your portfolio. There is incredible competiton out there, Megan Lara, Captain Ribman, Inkone, Jimiyo, etc (I apologize for all you other awesome artists & illustrators out there I didn't mention - you know who you are... I was just trying to make a point) forget the competition and do what you want and what you love. You'll find out that even if you have 11 followers compared to 10,000... those 11 love what you have done or continue to do. Stick with it. I've only been doing this for under two years and basically has a hobby to keep my brain creative after a long day at work. I love it! And sometimes it pays off. The best advice I can give anyone is to market yourself. Get your name out there and make sure people see your work. Try some smaller daily sites. If you design it, they will come. Word of mouth, sharing and most importantly networking. And don't forget to appreciate other artists work. If it's good... tell them. They deserve it. Have fun with your work and it'll pay off in many ways. (I'm out!)
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    58 weeks ago
    Hi Chuffy,

    I got halfway down your post but have been distracted by the kerning game. It is the greatest thing I have ever seen... I managed 89, which I thought wasn't bad considering that I got 45 for one of them. I'm coming for your high score...

    Right, I've stopped playing it now and have read the rest of your advice - it is sage indeed. I've always worked under the theory of design what you love, and I've had a modiBoldlyGo of success as a result - I've been doing it about the same amount of time as Warbucks for much the same reasons - a hobby first, with an occasional payday, so sale or no sale, I feel I get something out of it.

    But with regards to simplicity, the one design I've had printed on Teefury (and so help me, I will keep banging on about it until they print me again to give me something to compare to!) required a fairly low level of competency on Inkscape, it was just a reasonable idea that hadn't been done before that I submitted at the right time.

    I'd say that the original post suggesting that Megan Lara is the minimum level is a bit extreme, as she's definitely up at the top with the most artistic tee designers - whereas Teefury print lots of designs that are more simple and possible for us mere mortals to achieve.

    Wow, I've managed to write a lot without actually adding anything much to the discussion.
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    58 weeks ago
    also interesting filtering there...
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    58 weeks ago
    Do BoldlyGo here often? Hmmm... Fascinating.

    Credit to Jackpot777, his post is useful for identifying common problems. It inspired me to write the post above because I felt that in identifying Megan and Ribman, the bar was set to unobtainable for beginners. I'm sure Jackpot777 had intended to inspire rather than daunt beginners. His patient and generous help of others and constant enthusiasm for constructive criticism is something I admire and respect.

    There's a lot of great T-shirt designs out there that are by people who you would not necessarily consider to be great artists. I don't want to name names so I'll just put myself forward in this category. I cannot draw figures particularly well so generally I avoid them, but where typography and composition is involved I'm more confident and I feel I'm getting better. Although I use the word Artist on occasion, I consider myself to be a technical illustrator as I was taught. The guy that you'd use for a rock band poster, illustrated print advert or beer festival sign. Not someone you'd want drawing your family portrait.

    In original post editing it lost something from the second paragraph 'I should like to suggest some pointers' rather than the confusingly dictatorial way it currently reads, not my intent at all.

    As an aside, I got 93 on my first try at the kerning game. /smug
    Successive attempts only made my score worse. /fail
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    58 weeks ago
    Just want to agree (and clarify) with the Megan and Ribman comments. That's not the minimum requirement.

    But on any given day, that could be who you're up against to get your design selected. And even if it's not, there's still everyone else sending designs.

    So don't do it primarily because the top five on the Submit page have made tens of thousands of dollars. That's like entering a singing show on TV because Adele has made a lot of money over the past few years, even if you can't sing.

    But there are sites where you can build a portfolio and set a price. The first time you get an email telling you a stranger has liked your work so they bought it is fantastic. Checking the site and seeing you're close to reaching the payout amount is even more so. Receiving the first check is bliss. And you could occasionally sell something you made so long ago, you're not even sure where you saved the .psd file.

    So even if you're not amongst greatness, at least aim for it.

    Because we all are!
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    58 weeks ago
    Oh, and I scored 18 on the keming game.
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    58 weeks ago
    I got 96 on my second attempt! /reallysmug

    Unfortunately my apparent ability in kerning is wasted because I'm often to quick to submit stuff with text in it without kerning properly.

    I'd include myself in the category Chuffy mentions - ask me to draw a person and the result would be all arms, thumbs and shins, but something a bit more emblem or logo-esque, and I can make something reasonably nice looking.

    And the original post does have a point about lots of things - in a slightly 'tough love' kind of way, I can imagine Teefury still get a lot of submissions with jaggy edges, contentious material and generally unpolished designs (kerning aside, obviously), and it's probably worth making people aware that they are up against some amazing artists, so jaggy edges won't cut it.

    And yeah the site Jackpot is talking about is ace. I got a nice little payday today - about twice what I'd normally make from them in a month. Not sure why. It's just nice.

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