Finding a Graphic Artist for Custom T-Shirt Designs
How to Find a Graphic Designer That Works For YOUR Business.
The Problem… Oops, You’re Not an Artist
You want to find a graphic designer that works for you. You want to know How to find an artist you can trust.
The graphics that you use, the images that you print, the message you convey either for your brand or niche market shirts, can sometimes make or break your business.
That seems obvious, right?
But, what if YOU’RE NOT AN ARTIST?
-or a graphic designer?
Don’t fear. Here I’ll give you some great tips and point you to some great resources to help you out. You can still be successful in your search to find a graphic designer.
Everybody Has Something They are Good At.
Maybe it’s your great ideas that will make you successful instead.
Or, perhaps you’re an expert marketer, and you can succeed at nearly anything you have to sell. Maybe your t-shirt business relies on word of mouth advertising?
Or, perhaps you’re hooked into an attractive niche market that you KNOW you can make waves. With custom shirts and your name alone will give you a success.
You may already have a successful business, and you’re adding shirts to it to capitalize on your existing success.
None this however makes you a graphic designer.
Just like buying Microsoft Word doesn’t make you an author, buying Corel Draw or Illustrator doesn’t make you an artist.
It’s a little unlikely that you’ll be designing award winning, profit generating t-shirt images as soon as you’re done with your software tutorial.
Not being a great artist was the issue I went through when trying to discover my niche market previously. To get my own t-shirt business up and running!
Don’t worry!! I’m going to share a few great solutions for you right now. II’ll help you find a graphic designer and will tell you what I learned along the way, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.
Where can I find a graphic designer?
Until you can do the graphic design work yourself, you’ll need to find a Contractor. Or, you can bring someone in-house to do that.
I’m not talking about someone to help remodel your kitchen… This kind of contractor makes their living doing Graphic Design.
Contractors can be individuals or agencies. They can be part-time after-the-day-job people or do graphic design for a living.
They can be here in the U.S. or located anywhere in the world, and the prices that they charge can vary WIDELY.
First, we’ll talk about how graphic artist contractors charge, then I’ll give you a few ideas on where to find a graphic designer that might be right for you.
How Much does it Cost to Find a Graphic Designer and Hire Them?
Contractors can charge in a few different ways:
Charge by the Design – the most recent range I found was $30-$85. Some had different prices depending on:
- Number of colors
- Complexity of the idea
- Number of Changes requested
- Quality of designs – less if you contract for 10 or more designs, etc.
Charge by the Hour – there were only a few designers that wanted to charge by the hour.
The only way I would accept this idea is if they were part of a hiring platform that had time tracking, like UpWork.com, for example. You want to find a graphic designer that you know will stay on task.
Subscription Service – I tested one example of this called “Design Pickle”* that you hear about in a minute.
A Subscription Service means that you pay a flat fee every month. You can find a graphic designer and artist to work for you part time.
How Much does it Cost?
The answer to how much it costs, just like almost everything, is “it depends.” During my tests, I found virtually no correlation between how much I had to pay for a design and how much I liked it in the end.
It depends more on the market the graphic artists serves, what they charge, and where they are located. It also depends on the quality of the graphics they do.
In addition to hiring a designer in one of these ways, there are website platforms that offer an “online designer.”
DecoNetwork and InkSoft are examples of this. They have a library of clipart and fonts you can use to create designs or that your customers can use.
This solution is not ideal for those wanting to take advantage of a niche market or start a brand because you’re always going to end up with some mix of generic elements. So whether you have a dtg printer for custom t-shirts or you do embroidery these tips will work for you.
However, they’re both great options if you want the speed of a design-it-yourself site while you find a graphic designer for your t-shirt business.
Find a Graphic Designer Online
By just searching online for “graphic designers” you’ll find lots of options. Or you can ask other business owners for referrals.
You can even take out an ad out on Craigslist. The advantage there is that you are likely to find someone locally who is looking for work for a good value.
I’m pretty sure if you just stood in a crowded room and shouted “I’m looking for a Designer” you’d get some response too.
Here are three places I looked to find artists that did a reasonable job producing niche market t-shirts:
Design Pickle * is a pretty unique business. You subscribe to their service for $370 month, (there’s a free trial period) at the time I’m writing this, and they pair you with a graphic artist overseas. Yes, you can find a graphic designer Overseas! You can then order as many graphics as your artist can complete for no additional charge.
I liked the idea of basically “hiring” someone and not worry about a per job or image price. To me, It felt like more of commitment from both the artist and myself for a longer-term relationship that just a one off t-shirt idea.
The workflow fit my needs too. My artist was in the opposite time zone so that I would place an order during the day, he would work on it overnight, and I would get to see results the next day.
The designs that he came up with were pretty good – here are a few images.
If you’re going to have an ongoing need for a graphic artist and like the idea of “hiring” someone and not worrying about how many images you get created, this is an excellent option.
Upwork.com is a traditional freelancer site. I have used UpWork for many years and still do today.
If you have not used one before, there are a lot of things to recommend it.
- You can create a job that is paid by the hour or by the job itself
- There are ratings for all of the Contractors on the system
- Payments can be kept in escrow
- You have SOME recourse if things go sideways
The downside here is that there are a HUGE number of contractors from all over the world. Almost too many options if you’re just starting to work with outsourcing.
And if you’re not used to working with people from overseas there may be some cultural differences that impact the work, schedule, etc. (compared to Design Pickle where you have a company intermediary.)
I found a great designer on UpWork and paid $30 each for five designs.
Referrals, Word of Mouth, Friends, and Family
The last graphic artist I found was from an internal reference. A family member of one of our employees who’s a new graduate looking to make her mark in visual arts.
The designs of hers that I’d seen looked good, so I also gave her a shot at the design work.
Our referral designer was by far the EASIEST to work with because she was anxious for the work. She was certainly in my time zone for real time back and forth emails and was already familiar with doing artwork for t-shirts.
Her price also came in at $30 each when I committed to doing at least five designs at a time.
The potential disadvantage to using a referral, especially one that’s in the friends and family category, is if there are any issues, they can affect the relationship with the person who referred you.
Outsourcing for Profits
Outsourcing is for me because its an excellent way to expand my capabilities and free up my time. I was more profitable and productive overall.
I urge you to give it on something that isn’t time sensitive or live-or-die for your business. It can be a powerful tool for growth.
If you want to learn a little more about it before you jump in:
Listen to Episode 60 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast here.
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