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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I'd start a good discussion on the popularity of parody and one line of text shirts. Personally, I view shirt design as more of a fashion/art than just a way to get a few laughs while abiding indecent exposure laws.
From personal experience, do uncreative simple designs sell more than artistic lines?
To me it seems that sales of parody shirts has gone down lately, since most young people(16-35) are sorta taking on a pseudo-sophisticated style over the ever so popular funny tee trend of the late 90s.

I donno, I a newbie to the business so I wanted to get some ideas on the current t-shirt market and how it's changing in terms of style. For business it must be great to have a parody line since it doesn't involve that much creativity and design skill.

I'm aware that alot of people here sell those type of shirts, and I'm not trying to offend anyone since they are more successful than me at this point and in the end business is all about what the consumer wants.
 

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I think parody shirts with only text still sell pretty well, but I'd never buy one. Look at t-shirt hell...they are a multi-million dollar company based on shirts with text.

I think it all depends on the artwork. If you create artwork that is more popular with today's youth (distressed/messy artwork, odd placement of artwork on shirt) I think the message could still be the same.

The designs we do usually have very little text and the emphasis is more on the artwork. If it's a parody of something it's usually more symbolic than literal. We're still setting up so I'm not sure how they'll do, but they are different that what you see most of ( only text with minimal artwork)
 

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statc said:
From personal experience, do uncreative simple designs sell more than artistic lines?
Seems like a bit of a loaded question by saying that parody or text designs are "uncreative".

To me it seems that sales of parody shirts has gone down lately, since most young people(16-35) are sorta taking on a pseudo-sophisticated style over the ever so popular funny tee trend of the late 90s.
How are you gauging this downturn in sales? Without sales figures, it would seem like a hard thing to measure.

For business it must be great to have a parody line since it doesn't involve that much creativity and design skill.
I would have to disagree. You can't just throw words on a t-shirt and expect it to be a quality parody or slogan design.

There is a skill and artfulness in crafting a well designed "slogan" shirt. Not all parody/slogan shirts are quality and not all "artistic" shirts are quality.

Just as you can't throw some clouds and shapes offcenter on a shirt and have an "artistic" shirt.

I'm not trying to offend anyone
I understand that might not have been your intent, but you may want to watch out for descriptions like "doesn't involve much creativity and design skill" and "uncreative" if your intent is not to offend :)

I think a t-shirt is an item that has to get its point across in about 3-5 seconds. Whether that "point" be an eye catching artistic design or a funny slogan that the wearer (and viewer) can relate to doesn't matter much.

From what I see, it still seems like slogan type t-shirts sell better "overall". That doesn't mean that sites like threadless that have more artistic shirts don't have a high volume of sales as well (mostly because of the variety of designs and volume of targeted traffic to their site)
 

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I think parody shirts with only text still sell pretty well, but I'd never buy one. Look at t-shirt hell...they are a multi-million dollar company based on shirts with text.
T-shirt hell is a multi million dollar company for a few reasons.
They were the first offensive t-shirt company...
superb graphic design and great original ideas...not text parodies.
 

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I agree with your first comment about being the first offensive t-shirt company. But 90 percent of their "graphic design" is just something to dress up their text, thats my main beef with it. I've noticed them trying to go outside of the text realm with designs like "white flour" and and the "hung horse" which I think they need to do, the "this shirt is blue if you're a dwarf" stuff is getting pretty lame.
 

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One important point is that those who buy threadless arty tees are often longterm repeat customers....those who buy one liners are often one time customers.
 

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jdr8271 said:
T-shirt hell is a multi million dollar company for a few reasons.
They were the first offensive t-shirt company...
superb graphic design and great original ideas...not text parodies.
True t-shirt hell is a multi million seller and mostly likely multi million dollar company ON PAPER... but you MUST be kidding that their shirts are much more than text parodies... I just went there for reference and in less than a minute counted over 20 shirts that diplayed nothing other than a text only treatment. Superb? Not really sure... I'd put my "alright" shirt up against any of their original hand illustrated designs. But then again I'm a bit partial.

Or then their was this easy lock for the IFC contest that was legitimately beaten by "Gunjector" and robbed by mediocre designs...

Lady Killer

My side still SORT of hurts from the "not text parodies" quote.
 

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monkeylantern said:
One important point is that those who buy threadless arty tees are often longterm repeat customers....those who buy one liners are often one time customers.
I don't think this is true either. If a person finds a site that sells one liners that they really relate to or that are really funny, you can bet they will go back and buy more.

I bet you tshirthell has a lot of repeat customers waiting to see what they'll print next. They aren't the only ones.
 

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Very interesting discussion.

I must say that I don’t really care for the one liners myself, although there are some that I think are kind of funny. It’s still not something that I would consider wearing.

The viewpoint that statc has is interesting, and I think is an easy one to take when your talking about something that you don’t particular like. It’s hard to see it as “work” or “artful” or whatever you want to call it. It’s hard to view things that way that you don’t like. And yes it is hard to really appreciate things that you either don’t like, or don’t understand.

I kind of equate it to how some people feel about hip-hop. If they don’t like it, they don’t understand it. And since they don’t understand it, they think that it’s junk. So thinking that it’s junk, leads them to the conclusion that it’s really not music and you don’t have to be talented to be an artist in the hip-hop world.

They don’t see the time and effort that goes into putting down a track, or writing lyrics that rhyme, have a point, and happen to have some very clever metaphors.

So it’s not just t-shirts, it’s easy to have that attitude about anything we either don’t like or don’t fully understand.

Now, since I don’t particularly like the one liners, I can understand why some people will feel the way statc feels about them. But, I’m sure there are people who like one liners, think those that make them are creative and good at what they do, and think artistic shirts are rip-offs.

Also, there’s something to be said for finding a market and being successful in it. Whether it’s text one liners or not!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah great point. I guess that one liners do take some creative skill. In terms of the artistic value I just enjoy the process of making an artistic design. The same process might go for one liners but as COS said.. it's easy not to like what you don't understand.
 

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I would still have thought that people who buy threadless-style are buying day-today wardrobe itmes. For people who buy text slogans, I would have thought, many (although by no means all), are buying a more "semi-regular" wear item. Kind of like not wanting to be telling the same joke eveyday (of course, you could argue that means more regular purchase of new text designs)
 

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monkeylantern said:
For people who buy text slogans, I would have thought, many (although by no means all), are buying a more "semi-regular" wear item. Kind of like not wanting to be telling the same joke eveyday
I don't think the average t-shirthell buyer would be familiar with the concept of "wearing out a joke".
 

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Text only is all that I create. I have had just a few people suggest that I have some artwork to go along with the text. The joking response I came up with is "poetry doesn't need pictures". I know it may be a stretch to call my stuff poetry but I do believe the words paint a picture by themself. Overall sales are still slow but I am making progress and I get great reactions wherever I sell.
 

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and why can't there be a market for both? obviously there are customers that like the one liners and obviously there are customers who like the art stuff. If there weren't, half of us wouldn't be here.

although, what we're trying to do at our store is to start offering both....we'll see if it works.
 

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I think there is a market for both, but I see the clothing industry as every other industry: the people who have the more fresh and new ideas sell the most.

Case in point, T-shirt hell. They were really the first ones to create an entire line based off of offensive designs. That is why they are so successful.

Now the market is so saturated with those kind of designs I don't see new shirt companies popping up being largely successful doing the exact same thing as t-shirt hell.

So it really depends on what you're after, doing it as a hobby, a part time gig to make some extra money, or try to make it big. Once you decide that then you'll know how to approach branding.
 

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BangBangT-Shirts said:
Is screen printing the best method or is an overkill for slogans?
If you're willing to commit to inventory it's fine and dandy, if you're not you might consider vinyl or plastisol or etc. This was all covered in a recent thread.
 
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