Meet Philip Hepler: LinkedIn T-Shirt Professionals Group Member
I'm excited to introduce the members of the LinkedIn T-Shirt Professionals Group. Watch for more member profiles as members reveal valuable secrets, share their expertise, and offer useful advice.
•Freelance Graphic Designer & owner of 316 Graphics
•Philip Hepler's LinkedIn Profile
What segment of the T-shirt industry do you work in?
"Graphic Design (freelance)"
Tell us about your company and your role in it. What makes you/your company remarkable?
"I started 316 Graphics in 2007. I am a solo freelance graphic designer, so I find myself wearing a lot of hats in my small business. I've worked for years for different apparel corporations and now I'm living my dream of working for myself. What is remarkable about 316 Graphics is how God has made it possible and continues to provide new opportunities to use my creative talents."
Tell us about your T-shirt expertise and areas of interest.
"Most of my experience is in the children's wear industry, where cool t-shirt graphics play a big role in making the sale. I've worked to make the graphics I design appeal to the end consumer and be a major selling point for, well... making sales. Age appropriate graphics that kids want to wear is key to being successful in the children's wear t-shirt market.
Now, I'm also expanding into young men's and men's graphics where I can do more sophisticated graphics that appeal directly to my own interests. Christian apparel is an area I'm looking expand in. It's the perfect place to combine my faith and my artistic talent. Why not have cool trendy t-shirt graphics that also speaks to your faith? Who says Christian t-shirt graphics have to be lame?"
How did you get your start in the T-shirt industry?
"I first started designing t-shirt graphics for Healthtex, a children's brand sold in Kohl's, Sears, etc. Since then I've designed graphics for Target, Kohl's, Saks, Ruff Hewn, adidas, Lee, Wrangler, etc."
From where do you draw your inspiration? Motivation? Ideas?
"I do some trend shopping and do a ton of research online. I keep track of what the major brands are doing for their t-shirt graphics, but also keep my eye on indy brands and lesser known graphic designers. I keep a collection of inspiration images and organize them trends I see each season. I offer my collection of inspiration free of charge on my web site www.316graphics.com. Check out the "Inspiration" section to see what graphics are inspiring me this season -it's free! And if you sign up to my mailing list you are notified when new inspiration is available.
Specifically to my Christian t-shirt graphics, I keep a ongoing list of Biblical scriptures that inspire me and wait for a vision or idea to develop from the scripture. Sometimes I see an art style that I like and a scripture just seems to fit, other times the scripture comes first and then I find a art style and inspiration to springboard off of."
What are some challenges you currently face or have overcome in your career? Lessons learned?
"The slowing economy is a big one right now. I've noticed my corporate design work slow significantly. Early last year, I was turning down graphic projects, now I find myself networking a lot more to keep the business coming in. In my corporate past as a in house graphic designer I've seen layoffs, company sales, and closings. What I've learned that I am not in control, that prayer works, and God will provide. But that doesn't mean that you can sit on your hands! I've learned that you have to be proactive to keep yourself busy and in business. This means a lot of self promotion and networking that takes time and effort. As a one man show I have to be my own advertising, promotion and art director. When I focus on just doing t-shirt graphics I fall short on keeping my work schedule busy down the road, etc. My faith has helped me make tough decisions and is guiding my career."
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
"Honestly, going freelance and working for myself. There are a lot of pros and cons to being self-employed, but I am very proud of the blessing that it has been for me and my family. It's not for everyone, but it fits me nicely."
What advice would you offer to someone new to the industry? Any tips or trade “secrets” you want to share?
"For fellow graphic designers out there...If you have the opportunity to work in house as a t-shirt designer do it. It's a great learning experience that gives you the opportunity to learn from other fellow graphic designers in the industry. I never could have gone freelance without the experience of working for other companies. If you are an artist, learn to draw! All the graphics I do are done in the computer, but without strong illustration and drawing skills my computer graphics would suffer. I've seen great computer artist who lacked the drawing fundamentals and it showed in their work. I spend a lot of time with traditional art media and look for ways to incorporate it into a digital media. My next suggestion is learn to be a good communicator. Listen to your client and ask lots of questions. Breakdowns in communication can make design projects a joy or can make them a disaster. "
What are you looking to find in the LinkedIn T-Shirt Professionals group? What types of people do you want to connect with?
"I would like to connect with other graphic artists and t-shirt companies that are looking for freelance artists. It would be awesome to have a network of other artists to compare notes, tips, tricks, stories, and experiences."
Do you have an experience with the LinkedIn T-Shirt Professionals group you’d like to share? Have you made some valuable connections?
"I'm pretty new to Linkedin, but I hope to get more out of it."
Is there anything else you want the world to know about you or your company?
"Thanks for the interview! I hope it may be helpful to someone.
I'm available to design your next t-shirt graphic!"
Members are welcome to complete the interview and will each be featured here for one week. If you are a T-Shirt Professional looking to make new business connections, join LinkedIn and look us up for details!