When you have an idea for a piece of merchandise with a unique design but lack the skills to draw it up, where do you go?
Custom merchandise illustrations can take your idea and make them a reality. But what is the process for getting merch illustrations, and what types of merchandise are the best?
Let’s discuss what makes great merchandise and how you can go about taking your ideas from imagination to screen to merch in no time.
What is Merchandise Illustration?
Merchandise illustration is the process of creating artwork for use on various sellable goods. These types of illustrations can be of basically any style and are usually designed to accompany a brand’s other offerings, work as promotional material, or fill up their online or brick-and-mortar shop.
Basically, if you’re looking for an image to put on a physical product that you can either sell or give away, you need a merchandise illustration.
The merchandise itself can take nearly infinite forms, from t-shirts to drinkware to stationery to home decor. Whatever type of item you’re looking to put your custom illustrations on, the best images and merchandise come down to a few things.
What Makes Great Merch
Whether you’re looking to create band merch for music fans, custom merch for a non-profit or community group, or unique merch items that you can distribute as promotional tools, there are a few things that you can lean into that can provide the best-selling opportunities you want.
To ensure you produce the best merchandise possible, here are three suggestions to help you get your merch business started off in the right direction.
Know Your Audience
When it comes to branding, which can include choosing designs and items for your merch, understanding who your target audience is and what they are looking for is crucial.
The number of merchandise shops, both on and offline, is staggering. There are thousands of places where you can purchase merch and thousands of types of products. With all that competition running strong, offering your customers exactly what they want will be crucial to your success. To ensure you’re presenting your customers with the best merch offerings, you’ll want to look into the social media habits of your prospective customers, check out the competition’s offerings, and keep an eye on the latest trends.
What’s more, you can always poll your core market to see what types of items and designs they would like best.
Offer High Usability Items
To sell more merch, consider products that people get daily use out of because they can provide your brand, organization, or business with improved odds of increasing brand visibility. From t-shirts and hoodies to phone cases and mugs, there are some great daily-use item options out there.
An illustrated t-shirt with your logo or symbol, a phone case showcasing your brand style, or a notebook with a custom brand image will likely sell better than very niche or specific items such as golf balls or flashlights.
That doesn’t mean you have to avoid niche items altogether. You’ll just want to be sure that your customers are highly likely to use the items. For example, book sleeves are a great option for a small bookshop or author, water bottles are a great option for a sports club, and utility tools are great promo items for hiking equipment stores or teams.
Don’t Forget About Quality
Whatever merch items you’re selling, quality should actually be your number one concern. You want to sell or provide something that customers will love to use, wear, or show off. You don’t want to give them something that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Not only will that leave your reputation open to poor reviews, but it will also make it very difficult to keep selling your items.
Both the design and the product itself will need to uphold the highest standards of quality. From apparel and accessories to drinkware and paper products, you want to be sure each piece of merch does what it’s supposed to do and looks great doing it.
When it comes to the illustration itself, there are also a few key things you’ll want to remember when you’re getting ready to put your idea on a piece of merchandise.
Getting Your Illustration On Your Merch
Providing a design that can be properly translated from a digital file to a finished piece printed on your merch is critical to getting a final product that you’re proud to offer and reflects your brand. Proper file preparation and providing the correct formatting and size information are essential to getting the illustration you need.
When you’ve approved your design and want to start using it on your merch, it’s time to ensure that each element is print-ready. If you’ve worked with a professional illustrator, your file should include the following considerations and components.
For the best printed results, your digital file needs to have a very good resolution with a minimum of 300 dpi. You may see images that have 72 or 180 dpi, this is not high enough quality for printing. Your professional merch illustrator should provide you with a file that has at least 300 dpi.
To ensure your specific typeface can be replicated in production, your artist will need to make sure that any text or lettering used is outlined and packaged properly to be read by the printer.
You’ll want a file in the CMYK color spectrum for printing. Creating your illustration file in that spectrum will allow you to better see how your image will look on the physical item.
Bleed, Cut, & Die Lines
If your illustration will be going on something that has bleed, cut, or die lines, you’ll want to be sure to provide those dimensions to your illustrator so that they can create the design in the right size and composition. It’s important for items like invitations, handouts, notebooks, and other items that will be entirely covered by your illustration with no “white space” like a t-shirt often has.
All these aspects of creating the right illustration file for printing will be standard when you work with a professional artist. But how do you find one for your merchandise needs?
How To Get Merchandise Illustrations For Your Brand
Not everyone has a professional illustrator on their staff who can whip up a custom merch illustration in just a few hours. The skill to take a concept and turn it into a beautiful design people want to own, with all the file requirements accounted for, isn’t something everyone has.
For individual creators, entrepreneurs, and businesses that have just launched, bringing on an in-house illustrator can be way over budget. They could go the freelance marketplace route, but it can be hard to find the right person for the job there because you can’t vet quality.
Worse, how long it will take to finish your illustration can vary widely from person to person. You also now know that your illustration needs to be completed in the correct file format and setting to ensure that it prints well. What if your illustrator doesn’t know what those are?
Don’t settle for something you don’t love or risk not having the high-quality illustration you need for your merchandise. This is something you’ll be attaching your brand name to, after all, and as stated, quality is the highest concern.
When you want talented illustrators for an affordable cost, a monthly subscription service can be a much better choice. Best of all, when you sign up with Flocksy, our artists can do all your illustrations for you, including custom logos and characters, and the rest of our team can handle your social media ads, videos, and even copywriting. Thanks to our all-in-one creative service platform, you can trust us with all your marketing and promotion needs.
With us, a monthly subscription provides all the creative services you require for an upfront fee. You can focus on other important jobs or just sit back and relax while our artists draw up the perfect illustrations to capture your vision.
The no-contract, all-in-one format puts all your creatives under one roof, from your graphic designer to your illustrator to your video editor to your freelance copywriter.
Getting Your Merch Illustrations At Flocksy
To start a “custom merch illustrations” project with Flocksy, all you need to do is follow these easy steps.
First, click on the “Create new project” button from our intuitive dashboard to go to the project request page. Then select “custom illustration project.” From there, use the drop-down to find the “merch illustrations” option. It will cover your illustration needs for designing a piece of art to be used on whatever type of merchandise you’ll be distributing. You can also find options for mascots, characters, avatars, and product illustrations.
When you’re starting your merch illustration project, be sure to include as many details about what you need as possible, especially what we talked about above, like the item it will be going on, any bleed or cut line dimensions the illustration needs to fit in, and what you are trying to depict and in what style.
Your illustrator will be able to create something unique and impressive when they know your brand’s purpose, style, and personality. Whenever you need more merchandise designs or illustrations for your business, you can work with the same artist over and over again to ensure style consistency.
In roughly 24 to 48 hours, you’ll have a professional merch illustration ready to use across your products that was drawn by someone with the skills and know-how to deliver something beautiful, unique, and totally sellable. For the highest quality merch illustrations, work with the dedicated team at Flocksy.