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our first gig

It’s Thursday and we’re busy preparing for our first local show: a display table at a local coffee shop.

Marie at work

Marie at work. Groovy shirt!

This particular coffee shop is rather cutting-edge for our little town. They hire some great independent musicians as they travel between bigger gigs in Milwaukee and Madison, so we get to hear some wonderful talent without having to travel. (Not that we don’t like to travel. “Road trip” is our middle name).

Anyway, tomorrow this coffee shop is hosting a “Bike-In Movie,” with food, live music, and… “odd guy art!” We’re excited.

Since we’ll be indoors, we won’t need to purchase a canopy, but we did buy a display rack for our T-shirts. We’ve got a nicely-covered table for our cards and a cool stone pedestal for our hats. We’re working on signs today. Since our business focus is “art,” we’ve continued the theme with a price list that reads like an art gallery price sheet. The magic is in the details.

Our goals are these: To make some connections and to sell some merchandise. We’ve only been in business five weeks, but we’re eager to make this happen and frankly it can’t happen soon enough. It’s exciting to finally get out there and introduce the masses to our designs. Fingers crossed.

That’s it for now. Back to the drawing board.

-Marie

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the last supper: from painting to T-shirt

I’m sure everyone out there in T-shirt-design-land has similar stories about how their designs came to fruition, but this one really puts the “fruit” in “fruition.” (*groan*).

Several years ago, I painted a watercolor still life called “Last Supper.” All I knew at first when considering the composition was that I wanted to paint pears; they’re so lovely and sensual. As I was playing around with the set-up, the idea to line up the pears like the apostles in the famous DaVinci painting just kind of struck out of nowhere. I headed to the library, checked out a book on DaVinci, and meticulously arranged the pears just so. The Judas pear even has a bruise.

So when we first considered designing T-shirts, I knew I wanted to convert this idea into a shirt design. Considering the screen printing process and hoping to keep costs down, I re-drew the image as a two-color design, with the third color represented by the shirt showing through, like this:

Most people do not get the DaVinci comparison at first glance, so if you saw it right away I give you major bonus points. To me, it’s just great fun to see this painting converted to a T-shirt. It’ll get more exposure this way, I hope, and sharing one’s ideas is what art is all about.

Enjoy!

Marie

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Copyright © 2010 by Hetzel and McAllister. All rights reserved.

social media marketing and YOU

Good morning!

I studied writing in college, and I recall one particular class entitled “Writing For Media” that taught how to write news releases, radio advertising copy, TV ads, etc. That was 1995.

Well, it’s an entirely new world. Of course good writing skills never go out of style, but marketing has changed dramatically with the introduction of the internet. Now that we’ve started our own T-shirt design business, we’ve had to re-learn some basic concepts about marketing in 2010.

First, we’ve decided (for now, anyway) that we don’t need a marketing budget. *Shock*. A decade ago, that might have spelled instant failure in the business world, but thanks to the internet and its immediate global reach, we’re able to spread our message for free. Social media outlets like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are wonderful ways to convey our ideas and meet potential customers.

Secondly, there are social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon and Delicious. These sites spread your web url to other members in response to the interests they listed upon joining. We joined several of these sites last week, and though we’re still learning how to use them, they seem to be working. (In fact, don’t tell Graham, but I’m secretly addicted to StumbleUpon).

We also participate in online forums, which are incredibly helpful online communities of like-minded people willing to share tips and advice about a particular area of interest. For us, the best we’ve found is t-shirtforums.com. We also started this blog (the one you’re reading right now), which is another online vehicle not only for marketing but for sharing information.

All of these media, in one way or another, provide an opportunity to market your business.

But how do you get your message heard amid the internet’s gazillion others?

First, you have to market specifically to your particular audience. This is called “niche marketing.” Who are your potential customers? Identifying your demographic is important. If your business sells, say, hammers for left-handed people, then you have to search the internet for elements of that exact group (and believe me, the internet contains information on some very specific groups. One quick search on blog publisher WordPress yielded 177,588 results for “left-handed”).

You also need to find a way to help potential customers solve their problem quickly. When a customer visits your site, the site design should enable him to make his decision rapidly and efficiently, and to enter into the buying cycle with ease.

Establish a genuine online persona in order to garner trust and create relationships with potential customers. Just be yourself. Leave status updates on Facebook and let your personality shine through. Write blog posts that not only talk about your products, but help your customers solve their problems and get to know you better. People are more willing to buy things from someone they feel that they know.

At this point our business is only three weeks old, so we still have a lot to learn. But teaching a couple of old dogs new tricks is still possible. And, we have to admit, it’s fun.

Marie

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let’s do launch

Tonight at 7:10 p.m. Central Time, “odd guy art” will launch its website and open for business. We are nearly delirious with excitement (or at least caffeine), and cannot wait to help you find just the artful T-shirt statement you are looking for. Dress yourself this summer in “odd guy art,” from head to, uh… waist; in caps, bags, and T-shirts. You’re going to look great:).

Once we open, visit our website often. We’ll be creating new designs, adding content to the “What’s New” page, building on our product line, and responding to your needs. Our goal at “odd guy art” is to make you happy.

See you tonight!

Marie

gearing up to open

Dear existing and potential friends,

As “odd guy art” prepares to open its virtual doors, we look forward to getting acquainted with you. We can’t wait to show you around our studio, and to help you into some unique, artistic, and witty T-shirts. If you have a sec, post a comment here and say hello.

How was your day?

Ours was busy in the best of ways. We placed our final shirt design order from our most excellent screen printer, Mountain Promotions in Oostburg, Wisconsin. They are currently undergoing a business identification upgrade (and adding services to boot), yet they’ve continued to serve customers like us promptly and efficiently. We cannot say enough wonderful things about the quality of their printing and the kindness/helpfulness of their staff.

While the last of our designs are being printed, we are working furiously on our website, registering our business, opening a bank account, organizing shipping materials, ordering shirt tags and business cards, and developing our marketing and web presence. We rarely sleep and drink lots of caffeine. But amid all the hard work, we laugh a great deal and are truly delighted to have set off on this venture. We hope we can spread some of that joy to you.

Bye for now!

Marie

PS: Here’s Graham looking very serious as we opened our company bank account yesterday. Ha. Smile, Graham!

moving forward

Woot!

As I write, Graham is placing our first odd guy art merchandise order: ball caps. After deciding to go with “Anvil” pigment-dyed caps, we chose three colors on which to have our logo embroidered. We’ve spent a lot of time researching blank hats and shirts and decided that the pigment-dyed garments are best suited for our demographic. They look slightly faded and worn, but are of excellent quality and softness (just like us!).

We’re trying to do this in a a sensible order. We can’t, for instance, design the website without first photographing the merchandise, but we can’t photograph the merchandise without first having it printed. And of course we can’t print the merchandise until it’s designed, but we can’t design the merchandise without first understanding our demographic. (And we can’t understand our demographic without first drinking a lot of coffee).

So we’ve spent the past several months doing research. Some of this simply included observing people while they hung out in coffee shops or wandered through art exhibits. But we’ve also been pouring through current marketing books and online forums and garment catalogs. We’ve surveyed our friends and harassed our families. And now, today, all of those months of pondering and studying have evolved into something tangible – and hopefully into something that YOU will find fun to wear!

Excitedly,

Marie