Dale Murray

December 27, 2008

We interview t-shirt designer Dale Murray.

TM: I’m loving your designs! How did you get the inspiration?

DM: The inspiration for each design is different really but generally speaking my brainbox gets fired up by movies, photography, cartoons and music. I also find looking at other people’s t-shirt designs really inspiring. There are so many great designs out there that push you on to try and produce something better and better every time. I would probably say that music is my greatest single inspiration – I’ll often be sitting listening to some Kenny G and an idea will pop into my head. Getting that idea on paper is the real challenge.


TM: How long have you been designing t-shirts?

DM: I’ve been designing t-shirts full time for about 2 years now. Before that I was doing it part time for about 3 years whilst working as Creative Director at an online t-shirt retailer.


TM: Out of all of the t-shirts you’ve designed, which one’s your favorite?

DM: I guess I’m pretty pleased with how my ‘Music Business Remastered’ design came out for Threadless


I’m pleased with it because it is a complete idea – accentuated by the fact that it is circular I guess – and it is pretty much sold out after a relatively short period of time. So for me I think it fulfilled the brief that I always have in my head when working with any client – the design must have a combination of artistic and commercial appeal.

TM: Have you done work for any high profile clients?


DM: Funnily enough I have just finished some designs for a major British label – I think they are coming out early next year so I’ll let you know when I’m allowed to speak about them!


TM: I see your designs have been featured in the book , T-Shirt 360. How did you make that happen?

DM: Basically the guy that was compiling the book had seen some of my designs and contacted me asking me if I wanted to be a part of the project. I was very flattered to be asked. It was the first time that I had had anything published.


TM: How has being a member of the Tee Fury community helped you as a designer?

DM: Being a member of the Tee Fury community has been really fun. It is always useful to get feedback on your designs and certain members of the community (they know who they are!) have always been ready to take a couple of minutes to write some comments on my t-shirts sold there, on Threadless, or on random ideas that I post on the blogs. I also see a lot of traffic on my portfolio site comes from Tee Fury. I’ve also got quite a lot of business from clients that have seen me on there. So yeah, it is a great tool in the fight for t-shirt awesomeness!

TM: What are some helpful tips you can give to those trying to get known in the t-shirt industry?

DM: I think having your own portfolio website is a must. It lets any prospective client know that you mean business and are serious about what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be fancy I don’t think, in fact often the more simple the site the better. I guess the next thing I would recommend is to get involved in online t-shirt competition sites like threadless, designbyhumans etc etc. Not only is it cool if you win but the communities for the most part are really friendly and helpful – there are also a lot of really talented artists submitting designs which really spurs you on to try and improve. I think the competitive element to these sites is a very useful introduction to the t-shirt industry as a whole. You really have to consider the customers that these sites are selling to and design accordingly – that is something that you have to do every day when designing commercial t-shirts. Design for design’s sake doesn’t count for much in this arena.

I think the key to this whole business is to try and stay open and receptive to new ideas and use constructive criticism to get better. By the same token you should also have to strength and self belief in your own ability to ignore the subjective negativity and haters that we all encounter along the way. And if you pass me on the way to the top, be sure to say hello!

For more info on Dale Murray, check out his portfolio.

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