How To Design On A Budget

One of the major factors that dictate any project is the budget. Whether you hold all the gold or find yourself in a more modest situation, we all have the same goal: stay on time, budget, and scope. Follow our tricks of the trade for staying on financial track.



Keep Art Specs On Deck

Great shirts start with great designs. An easy way to make sure your artwork well never runs dry is to start building up your vector art inventory. This is where having the luxury of an in-house graphics or art department comes in handy. If that’s not an option for you, hiring a third party design service or freelance designer may be the perfect solution. However, you should never discount your own abilities. If you’ve taken a design class or two, brush up on your skills and start creating, for fun, in your free time. You’ll definitely be saving yourself the money in the long run.

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Ask About Additional Fees

When searching for a t-shirt screen-printing or branding company, make sure to check the small print for any additional fees. Be on the look out for phrases like “setup”, “startup” or “screen” fees. It is quite common for a printer to add on additional charges to your base cost for multiple colors, locations, sizes, etc. Make sure to carefully review your quote, so you don’t get stuck with any surprises!

Submit Proper Art Files

Now, it’s time for those aforementioned art files to come back into play. When handing your design over to a printer, remember to submit a print ready file. A proper print file would be a fully vectorized Illustrator file (.ai) or (.eps), or a 300 dpi Bitmap file.  Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the fonts are “converted to outlines” or attached to your order, all linked images are embedded and the text in your design is legible. You can check off these details with our Design Checklist to help you eliminate additional art costs and set yourself up for design success.


Choose The Right Product

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The “right” product is more than just the one that fits into your budget. You want to make sure you choose a brand that’s of good quality and will last. There’s lots of great brands out there that you’ve probably heard of and some fantastic little gems that you may not be so familiar. So what kind of stuff do people actually want and like to wear? Resources, like a Buyer’s Guide, can help answer this question. Product guides can also help you compare price and introduce you to quality equivalent alternatives to pricey big name brands. There’s a good number of super soft, long lasting and memorable products that fall into this category, but if you’re looking for something more specific, we can help you find it.

Minimize Colors And Locations

It is possible to print anywhere from 1 to 14 colors on one t-shirt, alone. You can add or reduce the total number of colors and locations in your design to meet your budget needs. Just keep in mind, the more colors and locations, the more expensive, but there are secrets to “adding” more colors without adding cost. One creative way to do this is by using negative space (or in this case the t-shirt color) in the design as an additional color.

Social Imprints t-shirt w negative space

Consider Your Turnaround Time

Be realistic when laying out your project timeline and when selecting your printer. Having a printer that provides you with a dedicated account manager is a huge plus. Let’s face it, things happen, and it’s always nice to have someone guiding you through your journey from initial design and product selection, up until those much-anticipated orders hit your doorstep.  If you know what date you need your items by, our team can work with you to figure out when you need to order to get them to you in time. Ordering with time to spare will help you avoid any last minute rush fees, save your money and keep you on track with your budget.

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Now that you’ve got a little Design 101 under your belt, you will be able to confidently place your order, knowing you’ve saved money and time. So go ahead, browse your vector art inventory, download some free resources and start building your next design today!


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