Teemill Updates

Typography and Slogan T-shirt Design Tips

Slogan t-shirts are among the most popular designs and done right, can be a designers dream with easy, fast and profitable results. But often it can be easier than it looks. What are the secret tricks the pros use?

As well as having some great words to use in the first place, making great slogan tees comes down to observation and application of all parts of good typography: That means choosing the right font, font weight, character spacing, line height, use of caps, punctuation with an aim to get a balanced, clean design.

The best way to get good at typography fast is to learn to look at the arrangements of words (the way they’re laid out) in detail.

Choosing the right font.

The font is the most natural place to start and maybe the most fun bit. First of all, ask yourself what the vibe of your t-shirt is going to be. Are we making a cute, happy slogan tee about cats? A kooky hand written font like Moon Flower gives a friendly, cuter feel. If the t-shirt is about impact and statement, for a hard-hitting style a bold, capitalised font like Couture or Bebas Neue is more appropriate.

Generally sans serif (simpler, less fancy) fonts are best for slogan t-shirts.

People need to be able to read them in an instant and the words need to look natural on the t-shirt. Joined up letters or fonts with fancy serifs just don’t work as well. You can find loads of fonts to try and use at Dafont.com and other similar websites*

i-love-cats

*Not all fonts on font repository websites are totally free for commercial use: Pay close attention to usage rights and make sure you only download and use fonts that are genuinely free to use, as you might land yourself in legal trouble.

Choosing the right words

Once you’ve found a font that fits your style, it’s time to get the words in the design refined to be as concise and punchy as possible.

With a slogan t-shirt design, you only have a split second to get your message across – use the minimum number of words for the best results.

The aim is to remove words that don’t add to the meaning.

“If I had to choose between my cat versus going on a date, I’d choose my cat”  might become “Cat or Date? Cat every time.” – for example. Sometimes this is the hardest bit.

If you can, try and add something clever, like a play on words to bring your design to life in the mind of the customer. “Cat Addict. Help Meowt”

Laying out the words

Now we’ve got a font that fits our style, and some words that will make a great punchy and clever slogan design, it’s time for the bit that gets overlooked the most, in the finishing touches, and this is where typographers set themselves apart from the rest.

The aim of typography is to lay out the words in the font in a way that is pleasing on the eye. Really we’re looking for the words to form a balanced shape in relation to each other in the lines of text, and the letters within individual words to be balanced and aligned correctly.

Fonts come with character spacing that is generalised so that all letters work together. Pro t-shirt designers fine-tune this spacing, and the line height, so that it looks perfect.

Here’s a before and after of adjusting character spacing. At first glance, the word “meowt” looks fine. But looking again closely, the spacing between the letter o and w gives the word an odd balance, almost like there’s a gap in the middle. It’s just the nature of fonts. If you think about it, some letters are thin and tall, others wide and short, and how close they stand next to each other would normally depend on what the shape of the letter they’re standing next to is. But fonts can’t do that, so they make do with an average sometimes. And that means you get some odd results like this.

meowtIn Photoshop, clicking window > character gives you the character editing window, where you can tweak character width for individual letters in your design. You can see that this makes the word a lot neater, and professional.

Sounds like nitpicking? As slogan t-shirts are so minimal, the details like character spacing and line height become noticeable. If you find yourself saying “it just doesn’t look quite right somehow” it’s worth investing time in your typography.

Merchandising

So you’ve got your font, your slogan and laid out your words and letters beautifully. The next thing you need to do is be brave: Sometimes it can feel too easy, or that you haven’t done enough “designing” with slogan tees. But it’s okay, so long as you get the next bit right: Merchandising. This is where you put your slogan design on your products to make it look amazing, and get people to want to buy it. Put your slogan tee on a great model using the handy Magic Photoshoot tool, as your photography will really bring the design to life, and write an awesome product description for your product page.

merchandising

Let the model and the description sell the product, and remember sometimes less is more in design. The simple slogans often sell more than the detailed graphic design masterpieces – as care has been taken with typography and merchandising.

 

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Controversial Designs and our Values

Teemill is a platform, not one big shop. Anyone can potentially upload a design to Teemill, build their own store, sell their designs to get printed. It raises some interesting questions… Do we need some rules?

Firstly, there’s the obvious: In order to upload a custom design or create a product, the user will have both agreed to the custom product terms, store operator terms and confirmed they have obtained all relevant licenses (i.e. copyright and trademark permissions) to right to use, sell and reproduce the artwork.

So that’s clear: Designs on Teemill must be original artworks. But this blog is about something else – the more subjective idea of what is “ok” or “acceptable” to sell on Teemill. It’s a really interesting question, and it’s the first time we’ve had to think hard about this. After all, every time we’ve created a product in the past, we’re responsible for it and know the intent and values behind it. Teemill is different, because we don’t create any of the designs. We created the platform that allows people to upload and sell these designs. And it unlocks loads of powerful results.

Teemill is for the new brand that needs a platform to get started. For the talented designer to make creativity pay. Or the struggling charity that needs revenue to keep going. Maybe the band who want a better way to do merch in the 21st century.

That’s a nice idea. But it’s on the internet, we know what can happen: Trolling, incitement, extreme opinions. We want to build a platform that shares the values of the business we started out as, Rapanui. And so we got everyone at the Rapanui factory together to debate this. This whole blog is a result of that debate.

Quality

The first word that came up and everyone instantly agreed upon was quality. We want Teemill to be a quality platform with good products and designs. That means we might need to have an active role in maintaining quality. We also felt we don’t want Teemill to be about exclusivity – we want Teemill to be accessible to anyone, but the product and presentation has to be of a high quality.

Freedom of Expression

We then talked about opinion. Some of us are atheists and some of us are religious. Some gay, some straight. Some like guns. Some don’t. Some love football, some like photography. Our own beliefs and opinions shouldn’t dictate what people can and cannot design on Teemill. We all agreed that even if we don’t agree with a message or like a design, freedom of expression is important.

Some designs or opinions might be considered unpalatable or in bad taste, annoying or even offensive. It’s not always easy to know when: If you look hard enough, you might find an individual somewhere that’s offended, no matter what you do or say. For us, it becomes different at the point where a design’s made with the intention to upset people or cause offence.

The Teemill platform is a place that enables freedom of expression, even if your opinion of belief isn’t universally popular. At the same time, we will work to prevent and reduce designs that incite hatred, are designed purely to be offensive or that attack people or groups of people with the intention of causing harm.

Politics, conspiracies, far out beliefs

Politics came up when we discussed our values. We really didn’t relish in getting too involved with politics. If individuals that feel like they’d like to make tees that represent their politics or beliefs in state institutions in a reasonable way with a quality t-shirt design, this should not be something we prevent. We decided that it’s not our place to censor messages in products with a political theme.

Nudity, adult content

Nudity came up. It was quite early in the morning, and nobody liked the idea of printing lewd pictures so soon after breakfast. We’re all adults and it’s not our place to censor a bit of risque fun if that’s what you’re into. Those cheeky or flirtatious designs, if you think they’re cool, you’re welcome to upload them – but we’d rather not have all out nudity submitted in T-shirt designs for Teemill.

Profanities

Whilst we’d rather not have heaps and heaps of dumb profanity t-shirts all over Teemill, we recognise we’re all adults and if you choose to have some mild sweary language on your store for the purposes of making a funny or entertaining t-shirt, that should be up to you. Please remember, Teemill is about making profit from great quality clothes, not making a scene so let’s agree to draw the line at the C-word.

Giving customers a voice

And we realised too, that our customers are part of this debate. We have made it easy for any person to comment or flag a product that they believe is not in the spirit of Teemill’s values at any time on the contact page of every Teemill store. This page also gives anyone the opportunity to resolve a copyright or IP dispute with the store owner, and in both cases the user can alert us to help resolve the situation if a resolution cannot be resolved.

It comes down to Intent

Really, it came down to tone and intent. If a design sets out to offend, abuse, shock or hurt people or organisations, please don’t be surprised if we uphold a complaint and shut down your account.

Our attitude is that if a t-shirt design is of a high quality and the tone is not intended to be malicious, whether we agree with you or not, you’re welcome on Teemill.

*This article is blog intended to give the user a deeper understanding of how our values  guide choices that we have to make at various stages in Teemill. You might now better understand the values that influenced the design and action of algorithms that can detected and rejected your content. Or you might now have a better understanding of why we upheld a complaint against one of your products from an offended member of the public.  It does not form any part of the Teemill user agreements.

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Customer Problem? Don’t worry about it.

Someday, if you’re successful with Teemill, a customer will reach out and get in touch with you with a problem. It might be something simple like a size change, or something dramatic like a damaged product or refund request.

It’s our job to take great care of it. That’s part of the deal with Teemill: Factored in to the pricing structure is the cost of handling returns, exchanges, calls and emails all day in a busy customer care team. We do this every day, and we’re quite good at it. Let us talk you through what you need to do to resolve customer issues.

But I want no problems, ever!

Firstly, stats. In the e-commerce fashion world, return rates of 20-40% are common. That means 20-40% of all product most companies send out comes back for some reason. Returns, exchanges, problems – it’s part of the game. The only way to get no issues, is not to play.

At Teemill our return rate is very low (in single-digits) largely due to the optimisation of our shops, size chart advice and photography.

The point is, zero returns, exchanges and issues is not possible: If you’re selling, you will encounter a return, exchange, refund etc: It will happen: It’s totally normal.

It might be a question from a customer about the product’s manufacturing provenance, the fit and feel, or it might be an expression of disappointment or a request for a refund or exchange.

Whatever the issue is, we’ll sort it the same working day.

Exchanges are free in the UK, refunds are part of our customer service policy, and we often go above and beyond to make sure your customers are happy.
Every problem or question is a great opportunity to build a customer for life: Our full-time customer care team understands, and we love resolving customer issues and getting amazing reactions out of them: Particularly on social media!


This service costs you nothing – we’ll deal with all your customer issues the same day. So how do you make it happen? Simple…

Let us know immediately.

If you’ve got a customer who needs attention, let us know immediately. Our hello@teemill.co.uk account is a catch-all for any issue to do with customers. You can also call us on 01983 409790 to tell us about an issue too.

Or on twitter, tag us with @teemillstore

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VAT registered? Teemill VAT invoicing

Value-added tax is a UK-specific sales tax. Big companies in the UK are often VAT registered, and can get the VAT due on top of royalties too. This blog is for accounts-literate financial professionals: If you’re not VAT registered, or don’t know what that is, this blog is not for you!

At Teemill, the customer transaction is between their bank and ours, and we pay you royalties on each sale. Royalties are paid exclusive of VAT automatically, but if you’re VAT registered you can get the VAT due on top of your royalties too.

VAT Registered Example

For example, if a white t-shirt that retails for £20 and costs us £10 inc VAT to make, there’s £10 profit including VAT to split 50:50:  £5 for us and £5 for you.

As royalties are paid exclusive of VAT, our system will automatically pay you the £5 ex.VAT above: Therefore the standard payment will be £4.17. If you’re VAT registered you can claim back the VAT due on your royalties (e.g. the £0.83 balance from your earnings, from the VAT man.)

All royalty payments are made automatically at the end of the month. If you’re VAT registered, you can then claim back your VAT by advising your accounts team to do the following:

  • • Send a VAT invoice including your total royalties paid for the month PLUS VAT due on those royalties

and

  • • A statement that shows this invoice as well as the payment of ex.VAT royalties made by our system at the end of the month to pay@teemill.co.uk.

 

This will show a balance of the VAT due on royalties you have earned.

All royalty payments are made each month, automatically by our system. We also make VAT balance payments (each Friday) for the VAT amount due, bringing your VAT balance to zero.

Hey presto, VAT-registered companies accounting with Teemill, made simple.

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