Articles by Month: November 2010
Simon here, for another showcase of the amazing work posted in the Go Media Flickr pool. It’s so hard to select, as the level of submissions keeps getting more and more fantastic.
If you’d like to see your work featured here, just join the group!
Sorry for not posting this earlier, but you know how it goes: busy, work, life, trying to keep some sanity, etc.
It’s me, Jeff Finley, with a quick video message for everyone thinking about grabbing The Making of Andrew Jackson video tutorial.
You know I still get emails asking about the process & techniques I use to achieve that authentic worn vintage vibe seen on most of the Parachute Journalists posters. I always respond that you can literally watch the techniques develop in real time on the Andrew Jackson video tutorial, which is much better than any description I could write.
Well enough typing, here’s my video message wrapping up The Making of Andrew Jackson Video Tutorial.
Again, thanks to everyone who has purchased the tutorial. If you have lingering questions about the techniques I used in the video tutorial, ask me in the comments! If you still haven’t picked up this tutorial, I promise that it will beef up your creative toolbox, so check it out.
For this installment of Blank Canvas, Go Media Zine would like to get some reader feedback on stock photography. Do you use it? What’s your favorite site? Do you sell your own stock photography?
For the most part, when stock photography comes up for a project, I tend to use iStockPhoto. They have a pretty decent selection of both photography and illustration, and it seems easy enough to find what you are looking for.
That said, I think the primary reason I’ve used iStock is because the prices are low, the quality is decent for what you pay and I’ve just been using them for so long it’s easiest with an account and credits set up already.
I’ve dabbled with some other stock photography sites such as BigStockPhoto.com, but that’s about it. To be honest, I’m not too familiar with any other competitors out there.
As far as contributing, I’ve never contributed photography, but I have done so for some illustration work. I’d be curious to hear from any readers who do contribute photography to a stock photo site — let us know what your experience has been as far as exposure, pay/income and what seems to be the most popular.
It seems to me the way to make any decent money is to have a lot of stuff uploaded, since the royalties aren’t that high.
If you don’t use stock photo sites, where do you get your photography from? Shoot your own photos? Hire a photographer? An alternate resource we may not be aware of?
If you’ve spent any time around here, you probably know about Jeff’s Wacom Illustration Video Tutorial. In this two hour voyeuristic walk through, Jeff shares his process from concept to final coloration & tweaking – and all the meaty hand illustration work in the middle.
Well, what he’s working on in that tutorial is a fictional album cover called “Beauty is a Black Hole”, and we ended up showing the final art mocked up on a vinyl record. In early 2010 when the tutorial was released we actually received quite a few messages from ya’ll asking about the record mockup. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that all the Vinyl Record Mockup Templates were finished.
Buy Jeff’s Wacom Illustration Video Tutorial, get the Vinyl Record Mockup Templates Free
So I think these two tools go together nicely. If you have the guts & skill to make it all the way through the Wacom illustration video tutorial, then you damn well should be able to get the final satisfaction of seeing it mocked up in all its glory on a record sleeve. That’s why if you purchase the video tutorial between now and Friday November 19th, we’ll throw in the 11 Vinyl Record Mockup Templates below for free.
There’s no coupon code necessary – just purchase the video tutorial, and the templates will be included.
If you’ve already purchased the video tutorial and would like the Vinyl Record Mockups too, email me with your order number and I’ll send you a discount code for 35% off.
Welcome to the third and final installment to Starting your own Shirt Line. In this article I’ll be talking about elements of business and planning and the importance of developing relationships.
Quick recap of past two articles. In Part I I talked about Creating your Idea, Research, and Who is Interested? That part answers questions about where to begin and shares my view on originality. Part II talks about my process of creating the actual art and working with a printer. Although you can create art in many different ways I gave you some insight to my process as a guide.
With that said let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of Part III: Business.
In anything you do you need a plan, right? Let’s keep it simple and talk about your business plan. There is something about writing down your goals, visions and dreams. They take on substance. No matter if you think your goals are unattainable, you just need to know where you stand. As I wrote down my plans and goals I discovered more what I wanted my line to become than I thought I would. Ideas poured when I just started writing. After pouring out my ideas I put them into an outlined plan. See SCORE.ORG. I researched every part of business that I didn’t know about and I ended up with a 31 page business plan! I sent my plan to an advisor at SCORE, and I think I sent him into system overload. “That’s ok.”, he said. “It shows you did your research/homework and that you understand the t-shirt/clothing world.”
Send your business plan to an advisor that has experience in the fashion industry. Why? They will know how to guide you and offer suggestions. Fortunately I found someone at SCORE that was a big time salesman for Bobby Brooks back in the day.
WRITE IT DOWN!
This might look insane but I really dove into learning about how to start a shirt line. I can’t tell you how many times I went through this folder.
As you write a thorough and well designed plan you are going to understand what you want with your business and what is needed. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your creativity, you are just going to understand where to put those creative and business energies. Remember smarter not harder. Below are highlighted points to start with as you write your plan. Within these points are the elements of business.
GOALS: What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals now, and in five years? Do you want to just have a t-shirt line or a full-blown clothing line down the road? Do you want to sell to friends and family or do you want to really make money at this?
OBJECTIVES: How are you going to accomplish your goals? Do you need employees and/or investors? By what means will you accomplish your goals?
MARKET RESEARCH: You have to know your market. Who are you selling to? Where does your art fit in? Is it the Hot Topic crowd, the BMX crowd, or are you creating apparel art for pets? What other companies are out there doing what you want to do? Become an observer. Observe the past 10 years of t-shirts trends. What I am getting at is originality again. Do you want to ride a wave or be the wave? Barriers. There are also going to be barriers that will prevent you from something in your business. Is it start-up cost? Not enough designs? What strategy do you have to get people to buy and how will you advertise/promote?
HERE IS AN INTRIGUING QUESTION: What advantage does your product have over the competition? T-shirts are not something new. You have to be creative, not just with your work, but with your advertising, marketing and sales. Don’t be discouraged, you’re not alone.
PRODUCT:You are the face of your product and your product will reflect the kind of person you are. To explain, the more care and attention you give it the more quality of a product you will have. People will notice. Think about the amount of time you put into each piece of art. My most detailed shirts range from 20-30 hrs. I really, really care about the quality of my art and product. I want word to get back to me that people are drooling over my work and can’t wait for the next one. In addition to the man hours of creating the art, I put time into figuring out what kind of tee I will be using and if I want a specialty ink. Remember that the same amount of energy needs to go into the marketing and sales part too.
Probably the toughest question I had to answer in the beginning was: Can I financially do this? For a while it was “no.” I thought, in that case, was it even possible? I had to start small, which meant I had to make smart decisions. Personally I believe unless you are 1000% sure you will be making your money back within a suitable time frame DO NOT MAX OUT A CREDIT CARD!! DO NOT START IN THE RED.
Some of the best advice I received from a sales rep at Jakprints is “go for quality not quantity.” This helped me understand it wasn’t about getting as many printed as possible for the sake of quantity. I knew my budget and I made the most quality product I could afford. My plan was to produce an excellent line where buyers can’t wait to see the next one. I could therefore be strategic with what I put out and not crank out as many as possible for the sake of quantity. On my computer monitors I had around 20 thumbnails of ideas. When I made my first run, only three were chosen.
SALES: I feel sales can be simple. Where and how are you going to sell? Retail stores, on-line, both? Who you are selling to? Celebrities, your friends? You have to sell to people who have money, right? You have to sell at places where people are coming expecting to purchase something too. If a company charges $90 a shirt they are not going to sell to a person who can’t afford it. YOU CAN’T MAKE MONEY OFF OF POOR PEOPLE. The company selling the $90 shirt sells to celebrities, entertainers and those rocks stars who think nothing of it. You have to figure out how much you want to sell your product for and make sure you are selling at a fair price to you and the buyer. If you can sell a higher price shirt and you have buyers, do it! Remember that cash flow is essential in order to stay in business. Produce, sell, invest back into your line and make a good return on your investments.
Alright so this was a lot of info to think about, but do you feel a bit more armed? Do you still want to start a shirt line? Hype can only take you so far but knowledge and understanding will give you longevity. Remember to make a plan for success.
Everyone is in a different spot in life. Some people have wealthy families that can spot them $2000- $5000 to start, cool! Some have to save everything they have (not so cool) but they end up approaching business with a different perspective. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. Yes, you can learn from everybody; the good, bad and the ugly. Remember, whatever you do in life you have to find your own way and your own path. Don’t ride the coat tails of what has already been created. Finding what is unique to you will make your shirt line stand out. My favorite quote is from film director Patrick Tatopoulos: “Create something you have never seen on the streets before.”
Ok so we talked business. You learned, you’re prepared. You rock out amazing art but what else do you need? PEOPLE, RELATIONSHIPS AND NETWORKING. You probably already do this, but, go to art shows, rock shows, events, conventions and most of all hang out with people after the show is over. Here’s my point…
Don’t be a cave artist!
In 2006 I decided to increase my freelance time and build my business. I kept to myself and didn’t go out to gallery shows or hang with people. I stayed in my “cave” only communicating on-line with people in my own city. I worked hard to get my style down and perfect my craft. True, this is necessary, rock your style, but there is a saying that hit me like a ton of bricks a year later: “IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW IT’S WHO YOU KNOW.” It’s all about face time.
Since then I’ve spent more time networking and hanging out after events with people. There is something about a relationship that builds a trust factor. There is something about having a drink with someone and getting to know that person that builds the feeling “I want to work with ya!” When I had my epiphany it was also when I observed art on clothing that sold for big bucks. I thought to my self,” I can do that and even better!” (Please insert a pompous ass..me not you.) The difference was I didn’t know anyone and nobody knew me. It was the reality check and smack in the face I needed for my ego.
So where did my epiphany get me? For one, it got me out of the cave and to events where people I wanted to work with were. This has paid off but you must keep going. It never stops. RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS. Yes, learn business, yes, get a degree if you want, make killer art and be the best at it. But don’t forsake the little things like buying someone a beer, lunch, or even their merch. It will show that you are interested. It’s funny how that little act can help launch you to the next level you have been striving for.
Levels of people
Another realization I had is that everybody needs to be carried. Now that doesn’t mean you should sit back and let someone else does the work for you. But there is always going to be someone above you and below you. Think of a sports team. Without fans buying tickets and merch, how will the owners stay in business? Same goes for your shirt business. You need buyers, you need to be on websites that promote you. Get involved with events and with groups that are doing things on a higher level than you. You might just be asked to sell your product to thousands of people for a 3 day event!
As far as the people up and coming or the people below you, it’s a golden rule/karma thing. Don’t burn people, be honest and your personality will count for something. I love illustrating, but a close second is teaching someone and watching them learn. Word will spread about your character, whether good or bad. Better be sure it’s good.
BONUS ROUND: Here are a few bonus points:
ORGANIZATION: Be organized with your inventory. Keep an Excel spread sheet of all your inventory. Take pride in your business.
PRESENTATION: An organized table/booth says a lot. A sloppy table/booth says more.
WHEELIN’ N DEALIN’ BABY! This has to do with negotiating. Negotiating can really be fun, it can also be painful. I would love to sell shirts for the highest cost all the time in order to make a full profit. Does it always happen? Nope. Think of giving deals, price breaks and discounts. For instance, a family stopped by my booth at the West Side Market one afternoon in August 2010. The 3 kids (pre-teens and teens) loved my creatures and skulls. The parents were thinking and talking about it. Yes I could have charged $26 for each, but who holds the money? Dad. I thought to myself “Be cool.” I offered them a little off the top and cash was in my hand. I bagged up the shirts and asked them to be a part of my email list. I thanked them and had 3 sales. When you are confident and feel out the situation good things happen.
FOR REAL: Have some street sense, just be yourself, read people, let them look and feel your shirt and give them hooks. One of the best ways to hook people is to explain your art! Be passionate about it. I have people just liking the art rather than saying “I need a t-shirt.” I love the double takes…reel them in! We wear the “hats of business.” Whether you know it or not you have to wear a sales hat, marketing/advertising hat and, of course, your creative hat.
BE PROFESSIONAL: What does that mean? RESPECT. Be respectful, not a jerk. Be grateful not pompous. You will be amazed how far customer care helps you out. Communicate with people. Nothing boils my blood more than walking into an establishment and nobody says “Be right with you.”
FEAR: Simply put, fear sucks. There is always going to be fear and risk, but if you don’t create a plan for success then you will always be wondering “What if?” Just jump in, there is no perfect time, just a time that feels right.
Give yourself a high-five – you passed the Starting your own Shirt Line class! I’m guessing this series has been a lot to digest. Do you feel OD-ed information? Good! Preparation/homework is a key to success. Do you know where you stand starting your own shirtline? Remember you’re never alone. Just do the footwork and others will help you along the way. I really hope this article and Part I and II give you the confidence and courage to begin or continue business. Keep in mind, Knowledge = Power. Relationships = Success.
Thank you for reading! It’s my honor to provide helpful tips for creativity, originality and business. View my work at www.steveknerem.com
Here is the list of websites I mentioned throughout the past three articles:
Khoi Vinh, former design director of the New York Times website, has a recent post where he opines that the current crop of iPad magazines (and tablet-based magazines in general) “run counter to how people use tablets today and, unless something changes, will remain at odds with the way people will use tablets as the medium matures. They’re bloated, user-unfriendly and map to a tired pattern of mass media brands trying vainly to establish beachheads on new platforms without really understanding the platforms at all.”
What he fails to expound upon is the phrase “the way people will use tablets as the medium matures”. What is this? How do users use tablets now? It seems like he lumps every tablet user into one category. I’d like to know how he sees average or typical tablet usage.
As a recent iPad owner and a voracious reader, one of the most compelling reasons to pick one of those gadgets up was for the extended reading capabilities. Sure, I was using Instapaper on my iPhone (and still do), but having content formatted for a screen closer to the size of a book or magazine makes a huge difference. In fact, it’s increased my long-form reading habits on digital devices. I see magazines fitting into this space.
Later on, Vinh vents: “In my personal opinion, Adobe is doing a tremendous disservice to the publishing industry by encouraging these ineptly literal translations of print publications into iPad apps. They’ve fostered a preoccupation with the sort of monolithic, overbearing apps represented by The New Yorker, Wired and Popular Science. Meanwhile, what publishers should really be focusing on is clever, nimble, entertaining apps like EW’s Must List or Gourmet Live. Neither of those are perfect, but both actively understand that they must translate their print editions into a utilitarian complement to their users’ content consumption habits.”
Magazine apps like the Must List are indeed slick and fit well into the “snack food” category of news/information apps, but the Must List seems more of a glorified sidebar with slick interactive design. Where do extended pieces with some journalistic oomph (and great design) come in?
Pandering to “top ten” list information might be a great sidecar app to the full magazine app or website (or even the print magazine), but I think Vinh is looking towards lowest common denominator readership.
While I may agree with Vinh that shoehorning the print version into a tablet format isn’t the way to go, one can hardly fault publisher for trying to minimize their production times and costs. InDesign Magazine has a free sampler issue out, and I have to say I like the format for a tablet-based magazine. Good content, great design. Perhaps I don’t fit into that demographic Vinh has in mind.
I do agree with Vihn that magazine apps have “an impediment to my normal content consumption habits. I couldn’t email, blog, tweet or quote from the app, to say nothing of linking away to other sources” — however things like these I think will come in time. Let’s start with getting magazines on these devices, working out a delivery system, and then adding some rich functionality. I do have to say that I am surprised this type of functionality isn’t being embedded into the magazine apps already.
To be honest, I find most device-specific magazine apps to be redundant with the coming of HTML5 and the internet in general. Publishers should be able to push out rich content without proprietary formats that work on all devices, all tablets, from all manufacturers. I’m no web developer, so perhaps there are technical limitations I am unaware of. Perhaps a solution can be found through the solutions Adobe is working on. I’d just hate to see content and design reduced to presenting the most inane information just to target Vinh’s mysterious “average tablet user”.
Header image via John Karakatsanis