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10 top tips for designing tote bags

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Discover the top tote bag tips from the awesome creatives behind The Travelling Canvas designs.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with a whole host of creatives on the totes for The Travelling Canvas project, whipping up some truly awesome designs. With the project now at an end, we thought it only seemed right to round up their words of wisdom and pass on their advice to anyone wanting to follow in their merch footsteps.

Awesome Merchandise, Tote bag, totes

10 top tips for designing tote bags

1)Aaron Draplin – Graphic Designer

Simple wins. Clean, easy-to-read forms just jump off these things. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the illustration and stuff I see on tote bags all the time, but to see one with a big logo, or some big type? Always refreshing.

Aaron Draplin, The Travelling Canvas

2) Louise Lockheart – Illustrator

Keep it bold and simple. I like the idea that people can see the design from across a room or a packed tube carriage.

The Travelling Canvas, Louise Lockhart, tote bag, Awesome Merchandise

3) Lloyd Stratton – Illustrator

Fine detail doesn’t always translate that well through screen printing (which is something I have to keep reminding myself) so keep your design striking and bold by using defined line work rather than intricate shading. I also think a limited colour palette always works best as well.

Lloyd Stratton, illustrator, The Travelling Canvas, Awesome Merchandise, Tote bag

4) Rob Lowe, AKA Supermundane – Graphic Artist

Keep them bold and simple and make something you would like to use.

The Travelling Canvas, Awesome Merchandise, Rob Lowe, Supermundane, Design, Tote

5) Joshua Harris – Letterer & Graphic Designer 

I think it’s wise, in almost any circumstance, to really understand the message of your work. Are you doing what is good or what is expedient? People often buy what they want and not what they need – coffee is a great example of this – so, does the message resonate with the customer and if not, what can you do it improve it?

I chose the phrase “Clear your mind of can’t” because it’s my intention to, even for just a fleeting moment, instil a sense of encouragement or positivity in the person seeing or potentially wearing my design. We’re creatures of habit and reinforcing good messages every day is essential in progressing our lives and those around us.

6) Jennifer Bouron – Print designer & Illustrator 

It should be simple without too much detail.

Jennifer Bouron, The Travelling Canvas, Tote, IIllustration

7) Mike Perry – Artist 

Do whatever you want to do regardless of what anyone might think – the burdens of responsibility when it comes to “being true” to yourself is purely up to you. No one else can do that. In the same breath, just know that if you’re going looking for reactions don’t be surprised when you get them. Like anything else, just don’t forget to have fun!

Mike Perry, The Travelling Canvas, Tote Bag, Awesome Merchandise

8) Holly St Clair – Illustrator

Keep it simple! It’s tempting to throw loads of stuff on to a tote because it’s essentially a blank canvas, but if you’re designing for your brand, band, cafe, or whatever remember that most of the people seeing the bag will be looking from afar. Think of it as a walking billboard, you’ve got to be legible and impactful from across a street.

Awesome Merchandise, The Travelling Canvas, Holly St Clair

9) Mitch Allenden – Tattoo Artist 

Just enjoy the process and remember that the design is going to get warped and stretched depending on what’s in the bag.

Sneaky Mitch, The Travelling Canvas, tote bag , Design , tattooist, Awesome Merch

10) Alec Doherty – Artist 

Make something you like, and try to avoid anything offensive like a motivational quote 😜

Feeling inspired? Check out all our custom tote bag options here. 

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