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People Watching – Inspiration for T-shirt Design


Besides providing highly amusing free entertainment, people-watching can be a great source of inspiration for all creatives and business people.  For example, let’s take a look at some tactics T-shirt designers might use to get creative inspiration from people-watching.

  • Notice the T-shirts people are already wearing.  Figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Maybe the design that old guy is sporting would look much cooler if it was larger, stylized, done in discharge ink, and centred on a purple tee, rather than plastered in orange on a pocket of a white polo shirt.
  • Watch people’s gestures and habits, the way they walk, the facial expressions they use while talking.  Can you capture an expression or an interaction between people in a simple caricature?
  • Try dreaming up some what-if scenarios, based on the scene around you.  What’s that stressed-out looking guy over there talking to himself about?
  • Listen for snatches of conversation.  Kids in particular, with their innocent view of the world, can come up with some truly hilarious questions and one-liners which can be used to good effect in a T-shirt design.
  • See if you can figure out what’s hot and what’s not.  Perhaps you can guess what future trends are going to be, and create your next release of designs accordingly.  What colours are popular?   What sort of clothes are the people in your target market wearing?  Perhaps someone has put colours together in a way that you haven’t seen before … and it works …

You can people-watch anywhere – outside one of the stores you sell your T-shirts to, in cafes, on park benches, in a local shopping mall, or at the arrivals terminal at the airport.  Take advantage of times when you have to wait.  The important thing to remember is that inspiration comes from observing and thinking, from finding a fresh perspective.  By standing back to observe humans you don’t know, from an objective distance, rather than during the course of your everyday interactions, you might just find it easier to let your imagination fly.

Image courtesy of Milori Blue