There’s a certain knack to t-shirt printing for bands. It’s something that we know a lot about and we thought it might be helpful to put together a few tips and hints. Some pointers that give you a better than even chance of getting great custom merch for your group or musical endeavour.
Here at Fifth Column, we’re no strangers to the music business. It’s in our DNA, part of what made us what we are today. T-shirt printing for bands is where we began. Trying to earn a few pennies from printing stuff, by hand, for up-and-coming punk bands. The money wasn’t any great shakes and that didn’t matter. It was our passion. Earning a bit of cash simply made it possible to stay where we wanted to be, at the heart of things. We grew and changed with the times. Back then everything was different. London, the UK, the whole world. We’ve all moved on.
Printing t-shirts for bands and indie outfits is still something that we love. So, here we go, a bit of advice. One or two simple tips for your band when it comes to singing in tune with your printer and making the most of your potential.
Band T-Shirt Designs
It’s one of the basic questions and hugely important for any range of custom band clothing. What are you going to print? Everything revolves around the design. In many ways, bands are lucky when it comes to this aspect of the process. Depending on the musical genre and the character of the people in the group, there are usually plenty of possibilities. There’s also a wealth of creativity already at hand. Making music is an inherently inventive pursuit and that imagination can be applied to the aesthetics of garment decoration. Here are three ideas which instantly spring to mind with t-shirt printing for bands.
For most acts, it’s not long into the musical journey before they get themselves a logo. Their name, with a specific typeface or font, written in an identifiable way. Maybe with a crest or symbol incorporated into it. That on its own can make a great t-shirt.
Is there a face in the line-up that stands out? Or does one or more of the band members have a distinctive characteristic or feature which is recognisable or synonymous with you as a group? When you saw Johnny Rotten’s face, you thought of the Pistols. Nothing says the Stones better than Mick Jagger’s lips and ZZ Top made a mint out of beards.
A lot of bands have associations with a particular concept or idea. Many start out fuelled by a social philosophy or inspired by a desire to speak out about subjects close to their hearts. It need not be political, it could simply be an artistic movement. Is there a graphic representation of that which could adorn a t-shirt?
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s visually strong and, like your music, resonates with the audience. Being at a gig is a highpoint for fans, something that they’ll remember fondly long after the amps have been unplugged and the venue doors are bolted shut. Pulling a band t-shirt out of the drawer should bring back that good feeling.
Custom Merch for bands
Getting custom merch printed for your band can be a load of fun if you approach things in the right way. It’s incredibly satisfying seeing your artwork on garments which people want to buy and wear, especially when the demand is generated by them listening to your music. Yep, there’s no doubt that t-shirt printing for bands can be a blast, but don’t forget the basics. When the music stops, you don’t want to be packing up a ton of unsold t-shirts along with all the other gear.
You need to get the size range right. No point ordering ten larges and two hundred extra smalls when your venue is normally populated by beer-swigging bikers in their fifties. Not to say that bikers can’t be slim, but you get the gist. If you’re unsure, talk to your printers. They won’t be able to guarantee the numbers are perfect, but good print and embroidery firms will generally have experience with size distribution and be able to offer advice.
It’s a similar thing with the cut and fit of the blank shirts. T-shirt printing for bands is no different to creating custom clothes for any other sector. Stunning artwork and the best screen printing on the planet won’t cut much ice if the styling of the actual shirts isn’t suitable. They need to match your target market. A choice that enables your fans to find a comfortable fit for them. Cut loose and relaxed or slim and snug, and made of an appropriate fabric.
it might seem like a great idea to order exotic colours in the base shirts, a splash of vibrant lime or a spot of tie-dyed pink can be very tempting, but think about who is going to buy them. Just like simple designs, basic colours are often the safest bet when it comes to printing t-shirts. Black and white are pretty hard to beat for broad appeal. Plus, white shirts are cheaper to print. Adventurous shades aren’t out of the question, you just need to be sure they’ll get a good reception.
However exciting the prospect of ordering custom tees, try to keep a firm grip on the basics. The practical considerations aren’t always as boring as they seem and making sensible choices can make a big difference at the end of the night when you’re totalling t-shirt sales. The most important thing to remember is that the finished shirts have to meet the expectations of the folk who love your music.
Band T-Shirt Styles
We’ve touched on the importance of the cut of customised clothes. Let’s not ignore the wider style and garment options.
Short Sleeved Tees
You can’t go far wrong with this enduring favourite. The short sleeve t-shirt has become a staple of every wardrobe and is probably the most commonly printed article of clothing for most customisation companies. When you think of band merch, it’s usually a short sleeved printed t-shirt that comes to mind. Regular cut and decent weight shirts are the type most often chosen by bands for printing.
Long Sleeved Tees
A style of shirt which seems like it could have been specifically made for band merch. Long sleeve t-shirts are getting more popular across the board and they’re a first choice for lots of rock groups and music crews. You have to factor in additional print cost, but printing the sleeves can raise your design to a different level and really make the garment feel special.
Thinking Beyond T-Shirts
Most bands build their range of merchandise on the back of the humble t-shirt. Once they’re scored a success there, many think beyond those limitations. Why not consider caps and jackets, hoodies and sweatshirts? It won’t be where everyone goes, but for some the band logo can become a valuable brand in itself, something that works in harmony with their music.
A final few words about t-shirt printing for bands. The printer that you choose clearly needs to be skilled in the requisite techniques such as screen printing or DTG printing. But, there’s more to it than that. Creating a run of absolutely knock-out tees for a band calls for a mix of elements, not all as obvious as technical ability. It’s more even than simply having experience in this specific arena. Great printing partners need to appreciate the art and the industry involved in making real music.