Project Duties:
Art Direction
Hand Lettering

Nov 2018


Amanda Williams


Admin: 4 hrs
Art Direction: 2 hrs
Design: 5 hrs
Digitalization: 3 hrs

Debt Free in Sunny CA is a community that offers financial and budgeting advice for everyday people. They reached out to create their first piece of original swag to be used on shirts and vinyl decals that they could share with their online community.

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I started by creating a mood board offering different options and styles to make it easier for my client Amanda to make a thoughtful decision for the art direction of this project. We ended up going with a lettering phrase with a mixture of varied weight script and a sans serif similiar to this and this example from our Mood Board. We were also going to include subtle accents such as stars and banners where the letters flow into one another nicely.

For printing we wanted to go full color for this piece. Since this design will be digitally printed using Printful her printing costs would be more affordable without the headache of extra admin.

In addition to creating the art direction I also offered some help coming up with just the right phrase that would best represent the community Amanda had built.

My top favorites were:

  1. Hustle hard now, retire early
  2. Oh the places you'll go once you're debt free
  3. Never give up on your financial freedom
  4. Success favors the savers
  5. Your debt free life awaits
  6. Living that debt free life


Once we had a clear art direction I got started on some pencil concepts. These design were made digitally using my iPad Pro and Appel pencil using Astropad. After multiple thumbnails and experimentation I landed on these bottom two concepts.

Concept 1

This version is more condensed and will work well on more products since it fits in a square ratio. I personally like this version better because it features more script with "Budget Life" as the key words that make you want to be a part of it.

Concept 2

This piece will take up more room on a t-shirt giving more of that wow factor. This piece is heavier on the sans serif with "budget" giving off those game show vibes. Then we have "Life" in a lovely script that gives off that impression of pride and success.

We ended up going with Concept 1 with a few minor changes like reducing the thickness of the letters and removing any 3D elements from “Living”. Then the next concept I sent over I started to include Debt Free’s color palette so customers could easily recognize the brand.



After everything had been approved it was time for me to spend some extra time in Photoshop perfecting each letter and creating the perfect layout. This process started with me redrawing the shapes that make up each letter a few times till I get it just right. Then I fill in the letters so I can begin to make the phrase more consistent with even kerning, width, and negative space.

Once the main lockup was in place, I started to add in accents to fill in any weird pockets of negative space while adding some personality to the piece. Even once everything is dialed in I spend hours making tweaks and zooming into the canvas getting every last detail just right.

After I was done in Photoshop I imported the final design into Illustrator to vectorize. I Image Traced the design and while in Outline Mode smoothed out any weird kinks or noticeable bumps. I always like to create a design that still has that handmade look with just the right amount of imperfections.

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This shirt is to be printed on Bella + Canvas 3001 Unisex Short Sleeve Jersey T-Shirts in both Heather Grey and White. We wanted to make sure that any shirt we would print on would be available in larger sizes and on a fabric that wouldn’t be too thin or see through. Me and Amanda we’re both happy to find out that this brand goes up to 5X making this shirt available to more people of all ages.

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