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Meet Director's Path to Tranquility

Tee Time

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"I don't design clothes, I design dreams"
-Ralph Lauren

Our meet tee shirt design was developed quickly and posted on time to the web site at the beginning of December. To date, I designed all past meet tee shirts, although not because I wanted to. We tried another team member one year, but it didn't work out, and I ended up doing the shirt in the end. I would be happy if someone else would do it - for free.

We offered a tee shirt for sale at the first meet, in hopes of making a few extra dollars. We also realized that the shirts become an advertisement for our meet during the year as swimmers wear them around at other meets and workouts. My first tee shirt design was fairly cleaver if I do say so. However, it was a learning experience into the wonderful world of tee shirt graphics, and there were errors made.

First, the design was tall and narrow. This is fine if it was the design intent (it wasn't.) I learned later that the maximum size is about 12 or 13-inches square for a simple graphic, which will fit on most adult shirts.

Second, my design had a good concept, but was poorly executed. The colored areas were small, which produced a lot of white space. The text was placed under the graphic, which made the entire image rather tall. Once it was printed, this became apparent - lots of white tee shirt and not attractive. However, we did sell a number of shirts to make some money and the future meet tee shirts were better.

All the shirt designs over the years followed a few rules. Shirts have long-sleeves since our meet is in the winter, and few meets offer long sleeve shirts. All shirts creatively combine 'tropical' and 'swimming' themes into the design. Our team name is kept to a minimum if included at all, and the MEET name is emphasized. Personally, I do not want to buy some other team's tee shirt that someone is pawning off as a meet tee shirt (team turtles or team crabs) - with the host team name plastered across it. I want a MEET tee shirt. (Past tee shirt designs can be viewed in an album on my personal profile page.)

This year's tee shirt design process was a lot like past years - it was done at the last moment, and ended up nothing like it started out. Always on the lookout for some graphic or idea that jogs creativity in the brain, I saw a graphic online somewhere that had a mirror image below it. Cool. I thought the idea could be conveyed to a concept of a swimmer's head with arm raised (standard, ho-hum design of most masters swimmer tee shirts & our new 'logo'), but with a hibiscus in/on the swim cap, and the entire image reflected below as on smooth water.

While searching the internet for hibiscus images, I came across some underwater tropical fish, and thought of including them in the design instead of the smooth water reflection. I played with it, but the fish were too small: the swimmer looked like he was opening his mouth, ready to suck up the fish to eat.

Next, I searched for swimmers images in hopes of finding some way to shrink the swimmer's head without losing the recognition of a swimmer. Result: headhunters. I gave up and decided to try making the swimmer smaller. However, I saw an online image like that of a 'caveman petroglyph' swimmer - rough and freehand, I altered the fish to look like petroglyphs, too; repeating them rather than making them all unique kept the graphic simple.

I selected a font that matched the petroglyph image, played with colors (decided on a dark shirt color this year - a first), and came up with the tee shirt design. I always run it by a few people and ask, "would you buy this shirt?" If the answer is no, the design is scrapped or modified until it is acceptable.

The profits on the shirts are about $3-4 each, depending on the shirt costs. Long sleeves cost more. Colored shirts cost more. More colors (= more screens) on the shirt cost more. About 50 out of 150 swimmers buy our meet shirt. I found this high compared to a few local meets, (probably because we leave off the crabs and turtles.) In addition, a handful of our meet workers will buy one. We order a few extra, bringing the batch to 72; and the extras have sold themselves at the meet. The per-shirt cost goes down at 72.

I received two comments during the year from swimmers who reported that our meet has the best tee shirts. In the past, one even ordered a shirt but did not sign up for the meet. I will report how many shirts are bought this year after the meet.

6 entries received to date

If shirts are sold for profit, make sure the design will sell - don't emphasize your team name

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Updated December 21st, 2009 at 12:09 PM by Rnovitske (punctuation/grammar)



  1. tjrpatt's Avatar
    short sleeve meet t-shirts are so much better.
  2. Rnovitske's Avatar
    I prefer them, too, and usually order a short sleeve version of our meet shirt for myself.
    Updated December 21st, 2009 at 09:37 PM by Rnovitske
  3. The Fortress's Avatar
    Your t shirt album is beautiful!
  4. gigi's Avatar
    Is there a link to a T-shirt album?
    Nice design on this one! And I agree about the "other" team name - I feel like I'm being used to bring their team shirt price down..unless the design in ultra cool, which they rarely are!
  5. Rnovitske's Avatar
    Thanks for the compliment Fortress.
    Gigi- Click my name in the sidebar to view the shirt album on my personal profile page.