December 19, 2006In my time, I have seen a lot (a lot) of bad tchotchkes.
What's that? Tchotchkes? You know. Corporate paraphernalia? Wearables? Giveaways? Schwag?
A shirt--like any other element of your identity system--should be governed by design.And lately, I've noticed a resurgence of really bad ones. T-shirts especially. Kathy Sierra has comments on this t-shirt thing, as well.
So let's stick to t-shirts. To focus my rant, a tad. Shall we? We shall.
It's really all about fit. Kathy describes the physical fitting of the shirt itself. I'm talking about the physical fit of the identity element on the shirt.
You see, somewhere along the way, people have fallen back into the "bigger is better" mindset. When, in reality, bigger often looks like crap.
Here's the usual thought process:
- Check specs for "available print area."
- Expand identity element (without distortion) to completely consume available print area.
- Produce t-shirt.
Can you do this? Can you make your mark that big? Of course. Should you? Oh boy. Here he goes on one of his Can versus Should rants, again.
Yes, here I go again. Because no one seems to be listening.
Just because you can expand your mark to consume all of the area doesn't mean you should expand your mark to consume all of the area.
For the love of whichever holy deity you choose to worship, please, please, please stop it. Just knock it off.
A shirt--like any other element of your identity system--should be governed by design. Just because you can throw a t-shirt design together on some low-cost site doesn't mean you should. I should know. I've done it. But I'm silly. You people are supposed to be smarter than me.
So here are some tips for your next t-shirt:
- Go small. Tease the audience a bit.
- Use ample margins. Give it some breathing room.
- Take a look at the white space, even if it isn't white.
- Center it.
- Put the mark somewhere unexpected. Like along the hem or at the neck or somewhere random.
- Make it intriguing rather than loud.
- Quit covering every last thread with ink.
People shouldn't be able to read your t-shirt from space like some freakish Colonel Sanders head. People should be intrigued. They should want to read it.
To put it in geek: STRETCHING YOUR MARK TO THAT SIZE IS LIKE TYPING TO SOMEONE IN ALL CAPS.
Annoying, isn't it?
So knock it off. And think about the same thing with all of your tchotchkes. Please.
And Happy Holidays. To you and yours.
Tchotchke design 101
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