From the Artist Desk: Grow Your Business with Fishbiscuit5 – Part 1

There are a lot of ingredients that go into growing a successful shirt business. I can’t discuss them all. It would take too long. So instead, I’ll be posting a new thread on the two aspects that have been most critical in growing my own shirt business. One topic each week. Lucky you! This week’s topic:

Tap the Trend, Friend

Throughout history, artists have used their creativity to give expression to the events and collective human experiences trending in the world. You can do the same. Elections, sports, world events, funny memes, hobbies, professions… cats! The ticket to selling t-shirts is to figure out what is current and trending right now. Like cats. Cats will always be popular. I don’t care what day it is. All cats, all the time. Especially on Caturdays.

Give Them What They Want

So what do people want? I don’t know about you, but I love wearing shirts that express my opinions and show off things that are important to me. It’s a quick way of saying, “Hey! I like the thing that you like. Did we just become best friends?!” Enabling customers to make connections with like-minded people is key to successful t-shirt designing.

Keep it Simple. Not Sloppy.

Keeping it simple, funny, and relatable can be challenging. Designs with simple elements or only text take time because each decision and element requires consideration. Don’t rush it. Fewer elements on the shirt mean more attention will be focused on them. So take the time and though needed to get the feel of the design just right. When a customer wears your design out in the wild, it will only have 2-3 seconds to get its message across. Make each one count.

Find Vein and Plunge In

As much as I love to unplug (not really), I find social media to be an invaluable tool for inspiration and ideas. Twitter is an endless resource of information and humor (after you filter through all the fighting and end-of-the-world tweets). There is a treasure trove of potential t-shirt topics out there just waiting to be mined and cultivated. Get busy!

Speed Matters (Just Ask Keanu Reeves)

Let’s talk about speed. You have to be immersed and hyper-focused on the current trends and conversations if you want to ride the collective wave. Designing with speed is difficult, but pushing yourself to be fast will force you to learn invaluable shortcuts and techniques and to develop focus and discipline. It’s worth it. My favorite compliment is when someone tells me, “Wow! That was fast.” when I release a current, relevant design. Aim for that kind of reaction.

Own your Awesomeness (No Seriously, Own It!)

One of the most important steps to being quick, is posting your new design on social media before someone else beats you to it! Using social media to timestamp your art is essential to protecting your work. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as my timestamp. This comes in handy when the eventual-but-inevitable art thieves start stealing and selling your designs and you need to send takedown notices.


Tapping into what’s popular right now can get your work noticed by an audience looking for a way to express what they are feeling and what is going on in their world. And growing your audience is a critical element to growing your shirt business. Pay attention to the world, and it will pay attention to you.

-Grow Your Biz w/ @fishbiscuit5 (Also, cats.)

Next Week’s Topic: Work Hard to Shirt Hard


(Disclaimer: I have over two month’s worth of @fishbiscuit5 shirts; the majority are from shirt.woot, but also from GoodJoe, TeeFury, and TeeTurtle.)

Because it all started with this one:
The remix is available:

I will add one other aspect since I remember her very early designs: never get discouraged. Pay attention to what folks are voting for and buying. Keep at it; as you improve, you will be noticed.