Win at Winning - How'd those Artists Win the Contests?

Wanna know the inside scoop on winning at Design By Humans? Well as Creative Director I can offer some tips and insight. Reading this will not make you an automatic winner but it will equip you with some useful knowledge and we all know "Knowledge is Power". Let's get this show on the road.


Sloppy presentation will not do. Present your art in the best possible light. This means use actual model photographs or mock ups that show how the shirt will look printed. This allows the team at Design By Humans to envisage a final product. The number one reason for rejection is formatting so make sure you don't have distorted/pixelated images or you will get that dreaded reject email. You spent a lot of time on your art; make sure you present it with as much care and dedication. Let's breakdown the 3 images you submit.

  • Thumbnail: This is the first image voters and staff see. Make it count. This should be the image that entices people to click to see more. This image is often rushed and badly presented and that results in fewer views, less attention and less likelihood of printing. Personally I look at every single submission but not everybody will do that. Don't count on it. Make it happen.
  • Art Image: This is where we will look to see the finer detail and get an idea of the standard of the art. This should be a clean image presented to show the majority of the image and some detail.
  • Placement: Very, very important. This is where we look to see if the design is printable and how it will look as a finish product. It is also the image people see after they hit that lovely thumbnail you made. Sloppy mock ups really hurt designs and there is no excuse for it. You can buy down-loadable psd mock ups for a few dollars or you can use the ones we supply in our "submit section.": Make sure you take some time over this; it could really help your submission to make the final cut.

T Shirt Design Presentation


We find the most successful designs are those that have a theme or concept to them, meaning the customer can relate in some way to the art or idea. Is it funny, thought provoking, scary, loud and clever or a popular theme? Then you may be onto a winner. People buying T-shirts want to relate to the product and feel that it helps to identify them as an individual. Ask yourself, would you WEAR it? Customers also search for key words to find certain themes or concepts. What does Design By Humans have lots of? Do we need to add another bird tee? If it's awesome, yes we do but consider what the current catalog of designs is lacking. A new idea or concept will get our attention. If you crack this you could become one of our top printed artists. Let's move onto style because it's closely related to this section.

T shirt Theme


Artists develop a style. A unique and interesting style that people like and relate to. Mr-Nicolo has a very unique style and people who like his work tend to buy all of his tees. They like and identify with his style. Gaining a personal style as an artist is tricky, but if you can, it will help to get attention and a horde of followers. So stylized strong concepts can really stand out and can ultimately mean wins! This leads onto promotion nicely...

T shirt Style


You won! whoop whoop. We printed your tee and put it up for sale. It sold 20,000 tees. We cheered. Did you promote it? Did we promote it? You bet you did. The point here is we are a business and T-shirts have to sell. We have to pick winners based on this logic otherwise Design By Humans would not be here. So as an artist with a cool concept, developed style and now a bunch of followers you should help to sell the design you made. It's a marriage made in heaven. Many successful artists are successful because they are popular and they have powerful promotion skills. We print at least 4 new artists a month at Design By Humans (usually more) so it's not all about the professionals but if you are able to promote well you definitely stand a chance of repeat wins.


Look at the T-shirt market and see what is popular right now. What are people wearing and what styles are hip this year? Keep an eye on the market and that will help your designing and also inspire you creatively. I am often spotted in T-shirt stores touching the printed tees and checking out what all the cool cats are wearing.

T Shirt Trends

PRINTING, Know The Science:

"That's amazing art but unprintable as they have it mocked up". I have said this and it happens a lot. Here at Design By Humans if we like a design we will work with the artist to make it more printable. Knowing how things print is valuable. Knowing the limitations and the advantages will help you design for production. Know all about, sizing, screens, inks, pantone colors, separations, discharge inks and other industry details. It will make you a stronger designer and when we look at your art we'll be more "oooh that's cool art and it will print like a dream". Our T Shirt design guidelines are well worth a read as a starting point.

T Shirt Design Printing

LOOK at what wins:

Take the time to look through our winning catalog. What has won before and what is the standard of the art? Look at your work and ask yourself "Does it fit in with this awesome art?"


All of the above is valid and will help you in your quest to win but ultimately we want amazing Art. As a community of art lovers we will help you to develop and transfer your art from awesome 2-D doodle to an apparel garment worn by the masses. We encourage new artists and want to see you succeed. The people who win are dedicated, determined and submit regularly. Don't let one rejection stop you. Grow, create and make a better design. Present it well and let us see you at your best. There are no losers at DBH and everyone'€™s art is appreciated. We want you to succeed and we are here to help. Take up your pencils and lets make a beautiful T-shirt that hits the Top 50 most Wanted and is adored my thousands worldwide. Get creative, get thinking and win win win!

Best of luck. Make Great Art and we will make Great T-shirts. Check out more information about submitting designs the t shirt contests.

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Day of the Dead Tees with Mexican Art

Day of the Dead Tees with Mexican Art