Creating Custom T-shirts with CorelDRAW
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite from Corel (Booth 8657) plays an important role in the day-to-day operations of an Oklahoma screen printing company. Dustin Barr, owner/designer of Five Nine Print Shop, has been using CorelDRAW to help his custom T-shirt company thrive.
Barr always loved to draw as a kid, but didn’t realize “graphic designer” was something he could become. In 1999, he had an opportunity to take a commercial arts course that launched him into the design world, and that is where he was first introduced to CorelDRAW. He used the software at his new job at a screen-printing company; in those first five years, he discovered a passion for making T-shirts, and that time enabled him to develop and refine his craft. Barr went on to become the creative director for two other prominent screen printers before trying his hand as a full-time freelance designer in 2008. Freelancing gave Barr the opportunity to try out other avenues of design and grow as a designer and artist. It also gave him his first taste of working for himself. But, he had a vision to create something more. So, he started his own print shop in 2010, Five Nine Print Shop.
A typical workflow for Five Nine includes an initial meeting with a client, which sets the stage for a discussion around the project and brings forward high level ideas. Barr provides a project quote, digs into the client’s industry and anything related to the project, and that leads to a style direction and design concepts, product research, then mock-ups for approval. Barr does as many of these in a week as possible, but it all depends on the complexity of the project and how many shirt designs are involved. And when he isn’t working on client projects, he works on his own line of custom apparel.
“I’ve worked on some really cool projects in my career — collegiate apparel for The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, college football apparel, logo/typography for Red Digital Cinema, several lines of apparel for the U.S. Marine Corps, a line of wakeboards and apparel, professional apparel for Dell and Corel Software, as well as my own line of apparel,” Barr says. CorelDRAW plays a major role in his business, and has for almost twenty years. “I’ve used CorelDRAW for almost every kind of art job, but I can say with all sincerity that CorelDRAW should be the software of choice for screen printers. I wouldn’t use anything else,” Barr admits.
The Bézier tool has proven amazing for illustrations — specifically, the ability to add and delete nodes with a double click. The envelope tool has also been invaluable, and he’s produced inspiring things in Unconstrained mode. Keyboard shortcuts for align/distribute make his workflow a breeze — and the way CorelDRAW works with fonts and type is indispensable. “A paragraph can be broken down into sentences, sentences into words, and words into letters all with a simple CTRL+K — and it’s still all editable text,” Barr says. “From beginners to pro designers, it has everything you need to design and create at a professional level.”
For the newcomers, Barr offers this advice: “To those entering the design industry, toughen up! Not everyone will like what you do. Don’t take it personally, it’s just part of the job. To my fellow screen printers, flood, stroke, repeat. Enjoy what you do. The T-shirt is a daily staple for millions! Make someone’s favorite T-shirt, and it becomes part of their life. People express themselves through what they wear, and when they look good, they feel good. It may not seem sexy at times, but we get to express ourselves artistically, and connect with people on a personal level through this medium. It’s hot, it’s dirty, and sometimes our backs hurt, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had. Keep up the hard work! Oh, and if you are not already using CorelDRAW, give it a try. It WILL surprise you!”