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art & design

Designing Graphic T-Shirts

Lesson 2 of 5

Understanding the Client & Wearer

Brandon Rike

Designing Graphic T-Shirts

Brandon Rike

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Lesson Info

2. Understanding the Client & Wearer

Lesson Info

Understanding the Client & Wearer

You want to understand the client first and foremost if you're a little logo on a t shirt that clinical thing fits them then that's fine um you know, putting an apple right in the middle of a shirt that kind of fits that brand um it works that way but putting a little tiny motorcycle logo here with really clean type doesn't fit it as much you are if you have a heavy metal band is right there the band name right here that's not too in the job so there's a lot more to say on a t shirt there's a lot more to say what a t shirt says is uh this is who I am and I chosen to wear this so you have to understand the client but then you asked that also have to understand where the where is he's the ultimate person who's going to end up advertising this graphic that you've created in this brand that you've made so he has a choice or she has a choice of all of their shirts in the morning and are they going to choose the thing that you made are they choose just a blank t shirt or whatever and if they...

choose the thing that you made well maybe that means that you understood that where you understood where ended up eventually so in addition to the where you've got to understand how the graphic fits the body so, like I said, in this medium, we're dealing with a very different thing you don't know where it's going to fold, you don't know what the person's body type is, and you want to know how to design for that. So some basic body types, these air just generic, so maybe he doesn't want attention drawn right here. Maybe she doesn't want attention drawn here. This is sort of the basic general area that most graphic tees it will kind of always work that's the default, um, it's right on the sternum, um, and there's some unmentionable things about how graphic fits a woman's body that you do take into account. I'm not going to get weird about that, but you have to think about where it's hitting and, uh, where attention's being drawn, and you have to think about all this things, so that can work as well, but that doesn't seem to be a dynamic as that. So this says something different than then that would say, I'm gonna make sure that we're not hitting these places that we don't want anyone to look at, you know? So I don't want to draw attention to this, uh, I want to try to stand up straight and have good posture and maybe draw you into more of ah, johnny bravo style look, so maybe the v works a little bit better and maybe those play up the attributes that we actually want to show as opposed to just thinking you can take any shape and throw it anywhere on a shirt and it works it doesn't and your stuff is going to suffer if you don't take that into account so maybe this dude is a fan of a certain band maybe this big buff dude is a fan of a motorcycle brand. Maybe this scrawny little guy is a fan of another type of but all of these things are the things you have to take into account what is the broadest type of body that this graphics is going to end up one so you can see already that I'm not talking about popping a logo on his shirt that's not what I'm doing at all and if I'm gonna make a whole life about graphic tees that I got to care about how this is gonna hit the body so I tend personally to gravitate towards this area it's not always about the upside down triangle, but I feel like those are the best things so the best places to draw your eye if I was going to do a graphic and I was going to give you a ban thine a band name, I'm not gonna put it here because you're hitting somebody with this first all the time so I've seen lately band names going across here when there's a whole other graphic going long, and I think the visual hierarchy is wrong if the goal is to get the band name across, the goal is to just show all the illustration that's hold everything, but first of all, we're going to go here, and then we're going to go down, so I would say it's probably smartest to start here and to make the boldest thing right there, and then we can go down from there. So there's a visual hierarchy on there and there's, a visual hierarchy that people want you, uh, you know that a person with wants you to look at their body because that's, what we're talking about here is people looking at her body, if we're gonna use where graphic teams were drawing attention to ourselves and there's, something that we think about ourselves, there's, a style that we have, so we want to think about how that's gonna work. Now, I've preached this little concept, and it might be difficult to understand at first, but I stand by it, and I believe in it, you can create a good, graphic graphic could be anything good, graphic could be really complicated and have all that's a detail it's just really beautiful to look at, you could make a poster out of it and hang it on your wall and kind of just stand there for a while looking at all the ins and outs of this poster because it's complicated and it works for that. So in that way you could say it's a good graphic, I could create a really good logo. Um, and it totally fits the need of the company and it's a great logo, but what we're creating with graphic tees is a good garment. Do you know what I'm saying so overall? With the graphic on the shirt that's, a good garment. So for talking about the rolling stones, lips, t shirt, that's a good government if we're talking about black flag, punk rock thing that's a good garment, the whole garment work. So you see the person who wears the black flag shirt, if it's the entire personality, the black and white of iowa, that all is all part of the garment. So think a lot more about that t shirt than just one hundred percent cotton whatever fit works there's a design with a cut and there's a fabric and await to that fabric. So what I'm trying to do is create a great garment. If a great garment means all I have to do is write the band name really simple, then that's all I'm going to do because it's good garment there's a lot of really great athletic shirts at all they are is just whatever um and that makes a great shirt and that becomes somebody's favorite t shirt so you think about people's favorite t shirt and how complicated or those how much detail is inside people's favorite t shirt most of time your favorite t shirt is pretty simple, so don't feel like you need to over complicate what you make just to please the client or feel like, you know, show them you've done enough work I don't care if it took me you know, five minutes I want to make you a great t shirt I want to create a classic t shirt that's gonna hang around for a long time, so I've made a lot of graphic tees praising it's the machine well, there might be, you know, there's something powerful about that they just want to say their name strong they're not ashamed of what they believe in raging this machine so it's bold it's loud it's in your face and there's a vibe to it paul mccartney we want to think of the nostalgia of paul mccartney and who he is, so you want to keep coming back, tio we always want to put a nostalgia and a vintage around paul mccartney because he's the sacred national tour global treasure for us, eh? So we always want to tell that story about paul mccartney and even if he has a concert in two thousand fourteen or in nineteen sixty nine whatever it is we want teo have a nostalgia around paul mccartney's performances now paramount wants to have fun and paramount wants to be punk rock panic at the disco wants to be a little on re and a little bit vegas neon trees they want to be colorful lindsey stirling well she's a pretty talented artist and she's a really great writer she wants to tell that story iggy azalea has a few unmentionables david bowie of course um you know we wanted around david bowie with nostalgia as well old world counterfeit that gets the vibe across that becomes more about the where marmosets vancouver it's a uh souvenir shop type thing ed sheeran is another example of something that could become a uh you know, a classic t thatyou wantto use forever eric church that that dude can put on the air church and become the biker sons of anarchy guy you know and all and he can do it all with one t shirt blink on a two let's keep it upbeat let's keep it pop pop punk uh maybe the all american rejects wantto cheer up a little bit house and chains it's a little bit more creepy it's going to make you feel something hopefully the creepy the person wearing the creepy t shirt's a little bit creepy themselves christina perri stuart hand drawn let's be a little fashion forward for well williams clap along paramore punk rock so you get the idea for something all of these bands are trying to say there's a feeling that they're trying to convey and man graphic t shirts has just been this really great medium that I love to just nestle myself in and make all kinds of all kinds of different things so you guys can see there's so many different ways you can make a t shirt and some major freeways I've made a graphic t um but the final project the final product is actually when you're seeing this being warned so all of these ideas come from different places sometimes it's heavily dictated by a logo sometimes it's heavily dictated by you know a vibe that they're trying to get out but I I like the parameters I do like having a logo I do like having you obviously have a band name that always khun work with to always have some element that I can design around so most of the time I think the band name is enough you know so whatever the band name is I can design around that and everything else is just secondary to the band name so this thirty seconds to mars it's. Not about the tiger to me, it's about just saying thirty seconds to mars. The tiger ended up being sort of a filler into the way that I wanted to use the graphic. So and ban tease it's fun, because I'm already giving that. I'm already given the focal point. The focal point is the name. So I designed around that.

Class Description

Learn the art of producing custom band t-shirts from a designer who has mastered the art.

Brandon Rike is living the dream. He makes his living designing band tees and his client list includes everyone from Aerosmith to Lady Gaga. In this beginner-friendly class, he’ll show you the ropes of professional t-shirt design. 

You’ll learn:

  • Which types of graphics work best on tees
  • Positioning and color tips
  • How to prepare files and get them printed

Whether you work for yourself or aspire to work for someone else, Brandon will teach you the best way to put an image on a shirt and share his expert insights on making t-shirts that rock.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brandon Rike - Graphic Tees Working

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Andrew Shim

Excellent teaching. Best of all, he took a random word from a participant and built a truly awesome band logo for tshirt right before your eyes, going from sketch to final artwork in something like 15 minutes. Of course, his vast experience and skill must surely help him speedily come up with inspiring ideas, but nevertheless, he is truly inspiring. Much, much , MUCH better trainer than most others I have had the misfortune of watching.

Hilary Slaughter

Great class! His work is top notch and he shows a lot of integrity in his designs and how he communicates with clients. I do believe he combs thoroughly through shirt design elements and how to apply it in Illustrator and Photoshop. I think you should already have some working knowledge of the software to follow the last portion, otherwise take good notes and rewatch if necessary!


Excellent stuff, I'm no pro but I found the course useful. It's good to see what can be done so you have the idea filed as you work towards the ideal.