At RathaCon this year there was a guy who worked as a T-shirt printer who came up to my table. I took a second to get some feedback from him about potential T-shirt designs.
The thing is, the most popular request I get for a T-shirt is, “Do you have the T-Rex Sissy Fight as a shirt?”
I did, once upon a time, when I still had a RedBubble account. I deleted my account for a few reasons, but mostly because I wasn’t making money on that site, and I like being in charge of my own printing and taking the products with me to conventions.
However, T-shirts are something I don’t want to print from home because the equipment is 1) huge, and 2) expensive. But if I DID get T-Shirts made, I wanted them on hand, again, to sell at conventions. So I’ve been on the lookout for T-shirt printers, but only in passing.
Anyway, I asked this guy if he could print T-Rex Sissy Fight T-shirts with the colors in the image.
Because here’s the thing – mass-produced T-shirts typically use screen-printing or a method of printing that only uses one or two colors. It’s easier to replicate onto fabric that way. BUT the image I have of the T-Rex Sissy Fight is not that at all. It would require a more sophisticated version of heat transferring, to transfer the image onto the fabric, which tends to get pricey.
What this dude said surprised me.
He said, “The T-Rex Sissy Fight may get more interest, because it IS nerdy, but it won’t sell. But THIS,” to which he pointed at my Dia de la Gata card, “this would be more worthwhile to pursue. You would sell the hell out of that design.”
I can see where he’s coming from. When he pointed out my la Gata card as being the better T-shirt design, he was thinking of what would be easier to sell at places like Rue 21 or Wal-Mart, or other places where T-shirt designs are ubiquitous.
And yeah, la Gata would probably sell well in those kinds of markets.
But making art for t-shirts…is that what I want to do?
It’s kind of the same dilemma that hit my buddy Thom Hotka, creator of Nextuus, in this video:
There was also a piece of advice I got from my Intro to Entrepreneurship instructor when I was still in college. We were given the assignment of thinking of a business, and one of his rules was “Do NOT pitch a T-shirt company. Everyone wants to start one and the market is oversaturated with people making T-shirts in their dorm rooms. Think of something else.”
There is truth to that statement. At every convention I go to there is, at minimum, three T-shirt vendors, or people who have a main line of products who also have T-shirts. Even at small shows like Intervention Con.
Do I really want to include T-shirts in my line, given how ubiquitous they are, and how expensive they are to make and store?
I don’t know. I’m still thinking this through. Let me know what you think down in the comments.
Thanks for reading.
You. Are. Awesome.
2 Replies to “To T-Shirt or Not to T-Shirt”
Don’t forget, if you’re okay with whites (I’m not sure about darks yet, because I haven’t used the new JPS for darks), I can make pretty good full-color shirts at a really low cost on my press… the bigger issue really, like you mentioned, is the demand and the storage.
Yep. While the T-Rex Sissy Fight gets requested to be made into a shirt, it’s not frequent enough to make me say “yeah I’ll print up a WHOLE BUNCH OF SHIRTS LET’S GO!” Y’know?
But I may take you up on that offer for a couple of other designs I have in mind. ;)