Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How I Became A T-shirt designer.
Have you ever wanted to write a book? Well I did and boy did I go for it. I created three books in three years. The last two I pumped out in 2005 because I created a deadline for myself that I would publish by May 2005. I had to illustrate both a cooking and gardening book each 96 pages of full color glossy jacketed 8.5 x 11 inch format books. In order to get enough images I turned to download hundreds of images and saved to files to be inserted later as I constructed the books in Adobe InDesign. I used my own photography of plants and scenic shots of Hawaii for both books. My first book Amaryllis of Hawaii is 43 line drawings of Hawaii that were scanned and saved at 1200 dpi in black and white as tiffs and then inserted into pages along with the Poetry and Story of a dream come true. All my books are available at
Creating the books seemed difficult but then came the process of marketing them. First I contacted a distributor in Hawaii called Booklines Hawaii who accepted my first title within 2 days. Wow, I thought I'm in there. Then I read John Kremer's 1001 Ways To Market Your Book recommended by Mark Victor Hansen of The Chicken Soup For The Soul Series which was suggested by my distributor.
It was advised that I contact every book seller in Hawaii and every media contact in order to get personal interest stories, interviews, news media coverage, and to get their attention by designing and creating a media kit with a press release that would wow them.
This leads to how I became a T-shirt designer. I sent out a sample copy of my first book Amaryllis of Hawaii Imaginations, Poetry and Story to all the book store owners, to Les Honda manager of Borders stores Hawaii & Las Vegas,to the corporate Borders office in Ann Arbor, Michigan and to Book review authors at each newspaper in the state of Hawaii. Along with the book I sent a t-shirt designed to compliment my book with a beautiful purple dendrobium orchid band across the front and down the long-sleeves of a black t-shirt. In the first month I sold over 1,000 books. I would do my follow up calls to book stores when one store owner answered "I got a stack of books three feet high on my desk, which one?" ... "Oh the one with the t-shirt? I'm putting it in all five stores."
At Ben Franklin Crafts where my next two books would also eventually be sold I was asked "Can you do a demo?" I said sure "I can do a demo!" and hence my hand-painting on t-shirts began again. I had been painting on t-shirts for over twenty five years then stopped for five years. Now it has been reborn and I fell in love with painting on tees again. It seems T-shirts sell easier than books, though books are a wonderful thing. Nearly everyone wears T-shirts and they appreciate a well designed tee!

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