ShirtOps: How to Make T-shirts for Tech Conferences that People Actually Wear

Over the last 6 years I have helped organize over 10 different conferences (all the LASCON conferences, all the DevOpsDays Austin conferences, AppSec USA 2012, and even a couple for my church) and for most of the events I have been in charge of swag. T-shirts, bags, shot glasses, lanyards, usb keys… You name it, I have swagged it.

From all these conferences I have learned a few things, and specifically I have learned a bit about making t-shirts. T-shirts are a funny thing. Everyone has opinions, however as an organizer you have to learn that most of those opinions are wrong. I have had lots of bad ideas recommended to me by well-meaning organizers and friends: Print the logo big! Put all the sponsors logos on the back (also known as the “the NASCAR special”). Have a big design on the back which I like to call “the restaurant shirt.” Then there is the design someone on the team knocked out with MS Paint.

Everyone has good intentions, but as the one in charge of making the shirt you have to lead them through the process. Show the team what good actually means. In this presentation I highlight the last several years of DevOpsDays Austin t-shirts and walk you through the process of how to make t-shirts people want to wear after the event is over.

Links from the presentation:

If you have any other tips, add to the comments and/or tweet with #shirtops.


Filed under Conferences, DevOps

5 responses to “ShirtOps: How to Make T-shirts for Tech Conferences that People Actually Wear

  1. Chubby Eric

    #DevOpsDays Austin shirts dominate!
    My only tip is the super soft and thin shirts are not as complimentary for us large guys. (XL and up) They seem to contour our curves a bit more than a thicker shirt does.

  2. Lesley

    My tip is v-necks for the girls – much more flattering!

  3. hayzel

    Why is it that people think its okay to make graphic designers work for free?!
    Hell, you can’t even get a plumber to come to your house without a fee whether they do the work or not.

    • While I appreciate some designers don’t want to do design contest work, it’s really the only way the low end of the market is going to get graphic design. As a small nonprofit conference, it’s either that, have one of the random techies helping put together our event do it, or don’t do it at all. There’s no world in which we go contract a design firm for one of our t-shirts. Heck for this blog we’re working with the kid of one of our colleagues for a mascot. You have to accept there’s different tiers of commerce in any sector, and there’s both supply and demand for design work on the low end.

      • KirkR

        My son is a photographer and he gets this stuff all the time. “But it’s great exposure to potential customers.” to which he replies “But YOU’RE a potential customer. Pay me.” Different tiers of commerce for any sector? Does that apply to plumbers, doctors, etc.? There’s something about any work that requires artistic talent that makes people think it should be free or really cheap.

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