Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

GDS 120 Graphic Design I
Project 2: T-Shirt Design

Instructors: Liza Wynette and Paul Young


To develop conceptual thinking skills. To communicate ideas visually and verbally. To explore illustration and typography styles. To apply design principles to real-world visual communication problems.

Secondary objectives

To utilize Adobe Illustrator as a design and production tool.


Design a T-shirt for AIGA featuring an influential designer of your choice from the following list. First come—first serve. No duplications. Claim your designer here.

  • Saul Bass
  • Will Bradley
  • Neville Brody
  • David Carson
  • AM Cassandre
  • Art Chantry
  • Seymour Chwast
  • Kyle Cooper
  • Lou Dorfsman
  • Pablo Ferro
  • Milton Glaser
  • April Greiman
  • Tibor Kalman
  • Raymond Loewy
  • Herb Lubalin
  • Josef Muller-Brockmann
  • William Morris
  • Victor Moscoso
  • Alphonse Mucha
  • Paul Rand
  • Stefan Sagmeister
  • Paula Scher
  • Rudy VanderLans
  • Massimo Vignelli

Make a visual statement about the designer's philosophy, attitude and/or style. The T-shirt will be available for sale on AIGA's web site and at conferences as a fund-raiser. The target audience is professional designers and design students.

The finished T-shirt should include your designer's name (if designer is not obvious), artwork in the style of the designer and the AIGA logo (use ITC Galliard Italic). Present your finished art on a vector drawing of a T-shirt of your own design (see examples).

Per our syllabus, you may ONLY use the standard "core" fonts installed in D019 for your assignments unless you obtain prior approval from the instructor (see Parkland's Core Fonts Specimen Sheet). Please talk to your instructor if you need to use a non-standard font from the Adobe Font Folio collection.

Your design must show an understanding of unity, emphasis, balance and color theory. When appropriate, utilize rhythm and depth as well.


1. Research for inspiration:  Research the work of the designer of your choice in the library and at Analyze recurring motifs, symbols, colors, fonts, attitudes, approaches, etc. Consider making the T-shirt either a tribute or a parody. Publish your research on your personal Process Page for critique (be sure to caption each image and cite the source). Be prepared to explain why these examples are historically important.

2. Marketing research: Research AIGA's mission, its web site, its publications. Summarize your interpretation of this organization. Summarize your research and write a written statement of objectives in the form of a memo (see sample brief). Be sure to include descriptive adjectives in the "character" paragraph about the designer of your choice (see vocabulary wheel). Have your brief reviewed by the Writing Lab, then email your brief as a shared Google Doc or an attached Word file to

3. Incubation: Absorb the information you have gathered and sleep on it. Allow your unconscious mind to make connections for you.

4. Develop the concept: In your sketchbook begin to conceptualize ideas for this project (see examples of sketches). Make at least 10 sketches of all possible directions you might take this project. Edit your concepts down to your best three ideas and redraw them on 8.5 x 11 white paper using a felt tip pen. Scan and publish your concepts on your personal Process Page (no wider than 1000px) for critique along with a link to your client's current website. Be prepared to discuss how your design fulfills the marketing objectives outlined in your brief.

5. Proof: Based on the critique of the above, use the computer to execute at least two versions of your best idea (present at least one proof with an alternate font choice). Publish low-res PDF's (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Be prepared to talk about what design principles are utilized in your design. Also print a high-quality color proof for your Process Book.

6. Final Critique: Based on the critique of the above, fine-tune your designs (if needed). Submit high-quality color proof(s) for final critique (see printing tips). Prepare a presentation to justify your design decisions. Publish one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. 

7. Grading: Submit two copies of your work for grading. One proof will be returned to you after grading. File the graded proof in your Process Book for individual review along with all the preliminary work you did for the project (research, brief, sketches, preliminary proofs, final proof). Review your Process Page and make sure you have an accurate record of your process. Also submit one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) via Cobra's dropbox. You will not receive credit for this project if any of the above elements are missing.

8. Portfolio preparation: If you are happy with the results of this project, consider including it in your portfolio. If necessary, continue to make refinements until you are 100% satisfied with the project. Be sure to save all your files for future editing.

9. Extra credit:  Submit your project into the annual student show by printing an art gallery quality proof and mounting it on foam board. Also prepare an archival quality JPEG (instructions) and submit your project using the online entry form at Your project may win a cash prize and be published in a showcase of student work on Parkland's website.

Last updated: 3/1/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young