Mike Joos is a Spreadshirt veteran who’s been sharing and selling his designs for nearly five years. He makes the most of what the Spreadshirt universe has to offer. In finding a different niche with each of his three Showrooms, he’s a perfect example of how to develop a theme while being aware of his audience. No matter where you’re from or what you do for a living, you can be successful with the right approach.
Hey Mike aka thingsps, and thanks for taking the time! Let the world know who you are!
I’ve two small dogs that are awesome and a less awesome cat. I do a lot of running and mountain biking for fun. I spend a good amount of time drawing. Drawing is one of the only things that can keep me occupied enough for prolonged periods.
Your linedraw Showroom exhibits many different themes. Dog breeds in the guise of trendy triangular patterns, famous people and safari animals on bikes, yoga unicorns and I-love designs with American state names. What’s the system behind the madness?
Some of them are just my best effort to find an audience to purchase from me. Dog and state images as well as unicorns seem to be popular. I have a list of potential illustrations to create. As I’m a big fan of biking, I’m most passionate about the bike-related images, and I make an effort in creating something clever and unique.
If I find a theme sells well or receives positive feedback, I will make similar designs or use a similar theme. I‘m often surprised to see some of my personal favorite designs don’t sell very well while others that I didn’t put much thought into might do very well.
We’ve also noticed your new handle thingsps. You put a whole lot of effort and devotion into creating heaps of proverb designs there. Where does this come from, and where do you want to take the project?
Thingsps is my shorthand for Things People Say. I made the Things People Say illustrations back in 2010, setting out to make about 100 illustrations of idioms and proverbial puns. Just to have a little fun with.
People keep creating new phrases that drop into everyday language. I can imagine that one day I’ll see enough of these newly born phrases to inspire a second generation of Things People Say.
How did an artist like you become a t-shirt designer?
I was originally selling the Things People Say illustrations as 5×7 inch postcard prints. They needed to be simple and clear to be seen in that smaller format. I wasn’t thinking of t-shirts as I created them, but am pleased to see the simplicity still works when scaled up. The illustrations being simple make them kind of child-like. But I also think that the simplicity mirrors the simple sayings that the designs portray.
A lot of our designers are looking to flesh out their t-shirt design style. Do you have any advice?
I‘m not sure what technique works best but I try to pick a theme or style first. Then I work on a bunch of illustrations in this vein. With my bike designs, for example, I will pick known people or popular animals for the rider. For wheels I will pick anything that is round or roundish and can somehow be associated with the rider.
It’s a good idea to stick with a theme and being creative within the parameters of the theme. Not all themes work and not all designs in a particular theme work. But at least some of them will draw a positive reaction.
What marketing efforts do you employ? Any do’s & don’ts for future marketplace designers as far as marketing goes?
I have a website and Instagram account that I upload most of my work to, and a Facebook page that I update less often. Other than that I rely on people finding my designs on Spreadshirt, and make sure that my illustrations are popular enough that they will move up in search queues.
Lately I have created a brand and registered trademarks for my brand Keep Being Magical® for my unicorn related stuff. I am still figuring out the details of promoting my work and building my brand, but I make sure to regularly upload my designs to Spreadshirt’s Marketplace, and share these on Instagram and Facebook.
Use the same names for your designs on your own website or social media as you do on Spreadshirt. I found it helps people find where to buy that design by searching the name from the social media site on the Internet.
What’s good about Spreadshirt? Do we offer something that you can’t find anywhere else?
I originally chose Spreadshirt because it seemed easier than other platforms to work with. Years ago, I bought a heat press to print my own illustrations on shirts. The effort spent on dealing with processing orders and keeping an inventory of shirts was time consuming. Time that I would prefer to use making new illustrations. I decided to find a third-party provider to sell through. Spreadshirt was the one that looked best.
Famous last words?
Designers! Register your copyrights! Your work is copyright protected when you create it. And lately I’ve very much appreciated that watermarks have been added to my designs on Spreadshirt to protect my intellectual property. But registration definitely helps enforce that protection. You can register multiple unpublished works under one modest fee, and it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Shoppers! Check out my designs – I most sincerely hope that at least one of them will strike a chord and perhaps bring a smile.