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ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
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« T-Shirt: More RAM Than Apollo Thirteen | Main | Designing the endo icon »

T-Shirt Designs: Ideas and Questions

14276463_240x240_F.jpgI started the day listening to the SXSW 2006 Podcasts, in particular he Keynote Conversation with Jason Kottke ( and Heather Armstrong ( They spent around an hour talking about their blogging experiences: what they've learned about themselves, their audience, methods and limitations of funding approaches and more. Interesting podcast.

One remark in particular caught my ear, as Jason mention how Jon Gruber ( suggested he develop t-shirts for his blog as a way to help bring in some funding. Daring Fireball t-shirts are very cool, and that's where my question about t-shirts comes in.

T-Shirt Selling History
I have a history with this t-shirt, having setup a Cafe Press shop years ago for The Palm Tipsheet, offering t-shirts, mugs and more. In fact, that store is still open for business. However, in the 4 years since opening the Cafe Press store, I've sold 3 shirts, one of which was to myself, at cost. :-)

I've never felt anyone would want to a Rohdesign Weblog-branded t-shirt, let alone pay money for one. It's not that what I'd design wouldn't make for a stylin' t-shirt, — it's more the idea of someone wearing a t-shirt advertising my weblog.

Topical T-Shirts?
However, I could imagine people buying well-designed topical t-shirts, featuring funky coffee, cycling, PDA or other interesting, colorful graphics on them. So the question is, would you, as a reader, consider buying a Mike Rohde designed t-shirt?

I've already been playing around with a few preliminary coffee-related shirt ideas at the Rohdesign Cafe Press Store (see the image top right) but I feel as though I'd need to expand the designs for coffee or other topics quite significantly, and feature more colorful designs as well. I thought I'd ask you, my readers.

What Would You Buy and How Much?
It all comes down to the question, what would you, as a reader, consider buying? It might be worth my time to design some cool t-shirts, if there are folks out there interested in buying them. Here are my questions:

1. What would you like to have designed? Would you like funky coffee-related designs, or maybe cycling, PDAs or even pen or pencil sketches? What about other topics or ideas? I'm open to your thoughts.

2. What kind of t-shirt do you like best? White, black, color?

3. What's a reasonable price range? I'm mostly interested in knowing if the average price of around $15 for white, $18 for organic cotton and $20 for black at Cafe Press is reasonable?

4. Extra Credit: Would a limited edition (short run), traditionally screen-printed t-shirt, offered on a nice color fabric interest you? If so, what do you consider a reasonable price for such a t-shirt?

Feel free to leave a comment or email me with your thoughts.

Reader Comments (8)

would you be willing to do "one off" shirts by special request? ---something with acerbic humor?
March 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTim Dorr
Tim, sure thing. I think maybe custom t-shirts prionted at Cafe Press might be kinda cool. There's a good chance your idea might also be attractive to others, but one off is cool too.

So... what's the acerbic humor concept? :-)
March 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
pen / pencil sketches!

March 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
Great! Any sketches of mine you like, or any to create that you would like to see?
March 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
A set of tees with rough sketches of people and their faces, each a different mood. Simple designs that don't look like you got it from a flea market, tongue in cheek caricatures or exaggerated facial expressions without the distortion. Something that would stun blank faced, over professional looking executives. Or maybe a feature on celebrities, past icons and their trademark faces, in ugly/ seductive/ angry/ lovesick looking moments? What I had on my mind was a sketch you did sometime back on random faces you caught, I think.
March 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
Black. The camera sketches would make cool T's!The Jazz sketches in your moleskine.Perhaps the whole design stage of Endo on a Black T.

I'd snap those up.
March 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDev Benegal
Hey, take a look at They give you 70% of the purchase price on the shirt -- and use open source tools to power their platform. You can build your own store, set prices and all the rest -- but you get a much better deal and more control over your store.
March 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChris Messina
Chris, thanks for the suggestion! GoodStorm is a great service that I've no making use of after your suggestion. :-)
March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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