My New T-shirt Wrinkle – Becoming a T-shirt Designer

Opportunity Knocks You Down - a BonBon
Opportunity Knocks You Down – a BonBon

For years a folder sat on my desk: Make signs or graphics

It was filled with the quotable lines or sayings that came up as I was writing one thing or another. Some of them would make great bumper stickers. But fewer people use them or put them on bumpers any more.

What should I do with them? The folder kept getting fatter and fatter, but I was stymied.

Along came social media. Some of those quotes or ideas would make great Tweets, or could be developed as Pinterest posters.

Still they languished. Part was that there never seemed to be the time or energy to take the next step with them. The other snag was my absolutely abysmal skill with graphic software programs.

Be the kind kind - T-shirt and story behind
Be the kind kind – T-shirt and story behind

I’m visually oriented

I sense imagery behind my words. Visual pictures and metaphors accompany the insights as I’m writing. I’ve gone to great lengths to become better informed about how images influence us subconsciously. For example, The Business Card Book: What your business card reveals about you and how to fix it © 1997 (currently out of print) goes into that in great detail – even dealing with the physiology of how the eye works. I wrote that book to explain what I call the body language of printed materials.

Delving so deeply into such matters makes me unusually sensitive to the psychological reactions that accompany the language that makes an indelible impact on us.

My whole life long, I’ve been on a treasure hunt for the insightful quotes that touch me deeply.They have formed my character and outlook on life. I feel the best of mine arrive via inspiration – the Muses whispering in my ear.

And in some cases those words can stand alone, without further explanation or the context of an article or book. Those need to see the light of day, and not only be shared with the readers of my publications.

Photoshop and I have a sad and frustrating history

Back before 2000, I made my first attempt to learn Photoshop—and failed. I kept going back and trying (since the software was on my computer), but never got very far. Then I got cancer and had no wits or energy to deal with such matters. It wasn’t until 2007 that I tried Photoshop again. Very frustrating! And I tried other graphic programs that claimed to be easier. Nada.

Meanwhile, my son Ross acquired considerable skill with Photoshop and digital graphics. The next time I set out to tackle Photoshop, he said to me: “Promise me you will not go through that again. It’s too hard to watch. If you need something done, ask me.”

Problem solved. Sort of. Ross is very busy. So getting my projects into his queue usually meant I’d be kept waiting. And that’s crazy making in itself. So I’ve been trying to learn some much less challenging graphics programs. But not very ambitiously.

Cat Approved Human
Cat Approved Human

Amazon creates the Merch program

In October, 2015, Amazon started Merch, which is a Print-on-Demand (POD) system for making T-shirts. Merch T-shirts are sold through Amazon, who takes the orders and processes the sales. At that point, the shirt is printed and shipped. All the Merch T-shirt designer has to do is submit a design within their parameters, select the colors and it goes on sale in the mammoth Amazon marketplace. I thought, I can do that! That’s for me. And I set to work.

I got out the “Make Signs” folder and went to town. Finally, the sayings of mine could be shown on peoples’ chests. That’s when my lack of graphic ability hit home. I had enough skill to make designs based on fonts, but not enough to include images. Still, I was pleased to get my designs and message out.

Getting found is the next challenge. And one that’s much more frustrating than dealing with the design phase issues.

Over the next few months, I got nearly 50 designs completed and up for sale at Just one problem, how can my T-shirts be found in such a large website with millions of products?

Obviously, I needed to develop a way for all of my T-shirts to be found. It had to be easy for people to find my T-shirts without expensive online ads.

I make a T-shirt store

seizethesparkshirts-com-logo-2 red-transparentLeaving aside all the learning curves and technical glitches I had to deal with to launch my store, it’s up! Notice it’s called Seize the Spark Shirts, a concept I developed in Naked Visionary, and is the image on the front of the book.

It offers both my T-shirts and other people’s designs. What they have in common is that I pick them myself because of their upbeat energy – Binkle energy.

Seize the Spark - the T-shirt
Seize the Spark – the T-shirt

My store is But I’m determined that it shouldn’t be just another T-shirt store. One way of doing that is with a blog category and The Story Behind the Shirt. That gives me a chance to tell the backstory that goes with the particular T-shirt slogan.

Making both sites work together

When appropriate, I’ll show some of my T-shirt designs here, on . But I will also include some of what I’ve written, like BonBons, at This website is my author platform. But I’m starting to learn that, so is the T-shirt store. Both provide readers online access to what I’m writing about. I hope you’ll visit one or the other from time to time.

Another discovery is that I can be releasing chunks of what I’m writing about, and really brief T-shirt slogans as quickly as they’re created. No need for me, or you, to wait until the next book reaching the point of publication. I find that rather freeing.

Let the cherishing begin - T-shirt and story
Let the cherishing begin – T-shirt and story