Cranberries are a staple of Thanksgiving dinner and have been since English settlers first came to the continent. It’s likely the berry was introduced to these early inhabitants by the American Indians living here. Since then, the little cranberry has been an overachiever of the berry world. If you have been down the juice isle lately in your grocery store, you’ll see that cranberries have made their way into almost every juice blend. You can find cran-grape, cran-apple, cran-cherry, cran-pineapple, cran-orange, and more. Let’s not forget cranberry lemonade, it’s crantastically overwhelming how many brands have jumped onto the cranberry express. At this point, what cranberries can teach you about t-shirt design has got to have you perplexed.

bowl of cranberries

There are over 100 varieties of cranberry that grow in North America. It’s difficult for farmers to control the variety based on seeds from a berry because bees may pollinate from a different variety. As a t-shirt designer, learning to offer variety in your designs broadens your opportunities. Not to discount having a specific style. Most art professors drill the idea of developing a specific sense of style into student’s heads. Otherwise how else would you stand out or become a recognized artist? But when you’re marketing your designs commercially, offering a variety of styles casts a wider net of potential customers.

You could categorize your different styles into industries, segments of society, genders, interest, and audiences. Having a wide variety of styles in your portfolio also supports your creativity. Challenging yourself as an artist to explore American Kitsch, Art Deco, Pop, and Street styles widens your horizons and exhibits to potential clients your ability to translate visions into realities based upon the mood or idea they’re trying to convey.

Beyond pervading into the other fruits hold on the juice market, cranberries have made their way into:

  • Salads
  • Baked Breads
  • Sauces
  • Stuffing
  • Salsa
  • Pizza
  • Rice Dishes
cranberry drink
Adapt to your customer base-

Cranberries eaten fresh can be a little too much for the average person because of the tartness factor. However when combined with sugar to overcome this, the dish becomes a delight. Even if people don’t like the taste of cranberries, people can still enjoy the health benefits cranberries offer in extracts and capsule form. As a professional t-shirt designer, it’s not just about your art. You need to have the business skills to adapt and thrive. Think about time management to make deadlines, management of your material resources, problem solving, critical thinking, social perceptiveness, active listening skills, and the ability to persuade both your client and to project that persuasiveness into your designs to achieve the end goal. You need to appeal to all types of customers like the cranberry by offering a multitude of ways for people to consume and digest your design aesthetic and business style.

Offer a variety of price points depending on the complexity of the design. This will appeal to both low end and high end clients. Don’t forget, just because your client is a small business with a small budget, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever.


Some of the cranberry vines that are being cultivated today were planted over 100 years ago and are still bearing fruit. Obviously you’re not going to be working as an artist for that long. Well perhaps if you believe in the antioxidant benefits of cranberries this could be an arguing point. But sticking to t-shirt graphic design long enough to develop a robust portfolio is important. If t-shirt design is your passion, this shouldn’t be a problem even if you need to branch out to other design jobs to stay afloat while you’re building your t-shirt design empire.

vine cranberries
Get Better with Exposure-

Cranberries are typically harvested by flooding the bog where it’s grown. The berries have pockets of air which allow them to float to the surface and this makes it much easier to harvest. Anthocyanins are a type of super healthy flavonoid which give cranberries their beautiful red color. And anthocyanins increase in concentration when the cranberry is exposed to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight happens far more when cranberries are water-harvested.

Exposing yourself to the sunlight as a t-shirt designer is paramount to your success in building your brand. Think of every possible way to advertise yourself. Go to Meetups where your target audience is likely to be, of course wearing your best demographically targeted design is helpful. Research the hashtags that are frequently used by your target audience and include them when posting your designs on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Adopt your own hashtag like #joedesignstees and have it printed somewhere on your t-shirt designs that you personally wear. If people aren’t ready to hire you on the spot, your personal hashtag will be memorable without having to shove your business card in their hands.

List yourself on graphic designer for hire websites. Share your work, all of it. Most artists are really critical of their own art. But if you’ve been in the business for any amount of time you’ll likely be familiar with clients choosing your least favorite mockup. There’s no accounting for taste so even if you think people won’t be impressed, put it out there.

Make an Outstanding Value Proposition-

Okay, the Native Americans understood the inherent goodness of cranberries centuries ago beyond its value as a food. They used cranberries as a dye, and as a medicine for treating the blood, as a laxative, to treat fever, and stomach conditions. Through modern scientific research, we now know why this berry is an outstanding dietary supplement. They have acquired the coveted moniker of “super food” and stand in the ranks of kale, gogi berries, and flax seeds. Some evidence suggests they can help with cardiovascular disease, cancer, aging, and most famously, urinary tract infections, (UTI’s.) If you’ve ever had a UTI, you’re probably very familiar with the value of cranberry juice.

scared cranberries

As a t-shirt design artist, making your value proposition stand out amongst the competition is going to be a struggle because it’s very competitive. Developing a value proposition will require that you know who your customer is. You need to understand how to solve their problems. In t-shirt design it might be conveying their message in an appropriate manner. To do this you need to put yourself in their shoes. Think about what that client’s business is about, what do they offer to their customers? Are there industry standards they’re trying to exceed?

You might not think this level of thought is really your place as a t-shirt designer, but capturing the essence of your client’s message in such an evolved manner will certainly put you ahead of competition. A t-shirt artist that is able to inspire the client’s marketing department to think about the product or service in a different way is extremely memorable. Distilling your ideas into a t-shirt design that speaks on its own is an outstanding feat.

The Good Kind of Notoriety-

It’s hard to find much of anything negative about cranberries online except that they can be quite tart and the acidity level may not agree with some. Obviously cranberries don’t have publicists, (although there were some raisins in the 90’s that probably did,) but a positive public image is crucial to any business. In a competitive occupation like t-shirt design where there are many choices of designers to work with, maintaining and building your reputation is simply part of business.

Some clients can be very difficult and demanding. It’s hard to always keep your cool especially when it comes to something as personal as your art. However, the damage that can be done by a few bad reviews is hard to overcome. It’s inevitable in business that at some point you’re going to have dissatisfied customers. Since those are usually the ones that are the most vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction to everyone that will listen, always try to work on a resolution. Even if the resolution requires calling it quits and refunding their money. It may sting a bit but over time it’s better to have the good will of the Internet than the private satisfaction of knowing the customer was just a jerk.

It’s even better if you can get the jump on anything negative being posted by asking happy clients to review your work on sites that matter like Google My Business, Facebook, and on any freelance site from which you were hired.

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