Spanish illustrator and graphic designer Fernando Sala Soler shares his top tips for merchandise success


 Fernando Sala Soler is a graphic designer and illustrator currently residing in the Mediterranean town of Jávea, Spain. Fernando’s creative practice encompasses a range of design and illustration projects including logo designs, editorial illustrations as well as textile and apparel design for both clients and his personal brand.  We spoke to Fernando about his work, and he shares his top tips for artists seeking to create their own merchandise. 

You can enjoy more of Fernando’s work in Pictoria Volume.2, The Best Contemporary Illustrators Worldwide.

© Fernando Sala Soler

© Fernando Sala Soler

You’ve mentioned that you started drawing at a young age. What first sparked your interest in drawing and how has your drawing evolved over time through your studies and experience? How have you refined your very distinctive style?

Since I was little I started to like to draw. I drew a bit of everything, but mostly cartoon characters, series or movies that I liked and watched on television. My love for drawing, I wake up in my need to translate ideas and concepts that I had in my head, to show it to people. My style has been refined, little by little and with a lot of practice. Studies help a lot in this facet, but many times you have been self-taught, and experience different techniques and formats.

Can you explain your creative process a bit for us? What tools do you use as you move from concept to the final image?

Once this step is done, I start to define with a clearer line, which will indicate and delimit the final positioning of each element. The next step is the inking or vectoring of the line, where in this step you should see it as a finished illustration, and where you understand what I want to express well. And finally comes the magic, colors, shadows and lights, which are the elements that finally give life and meaning to the illustrations, is where you can recreate one, in atmospheres, and details to make clear what is going on and what who wants to transmit.

You are very active on Instagram and the humorous images you share are relatable and light-hearted. We see that you take care in creating pieces that are laden with detail and expression. How do you find inspiration for these designs and continuously produce fresh series of new works?

Everything is born from my restless mind. I feel the need to create images that contain concepts that I love when doing them. Many of the jobs are commissions, which customers ask exclusively, many others are personal projects of crazy ideas that haunt my head. Inspiration can come from anywhere, watching a series, movie or simply contemplating a landscape or everyday scene. Instagram is a great showcase for any creative who wants to show his work. It is phenomenal, to throw to the world those crazy ideas and illustrations hidden inside us. Being active in this environment helps a lot to let people know your projects and your way of working. It is a very interactive network.

© Fernando Sala Soler

© Fernando Sala Soler

The clever illustrations you create for your apparel designs have been very successful. We can see that you carefully choose the works you use specifically for merchandising, how do you determine which images are the best fit?

It is this aspect, I takes into account the fashion or tendencies of the people, so I can offer what is sought in every moment. Since in the subject of designs of t-shirts, one must be very up to date, to know what the public demands. It is always a pleasure to make mashups of concepts that in theory have nothing to do, but that will, when combined give a visual and conceptual result.

Do you determine a set number of designs you include or is it based on “print on demand”?

In the section of design of t-shirts, usually they are not done by demand, but I make my designs and I am adding them to my general catalog. Also on many occasions I have designs by demand of stores and specific companies or pages where I can sell them, as well as from private clients.

© Fernando Sala Soler

© Fernando Sala Soler

Is there a particular design that has had the most success?

There are certain designs and mashups, related to Star Wars, such as "Boba Fit" that have had a great acceptance and reception. As well as everything related to pop culture.

We are interested in hearing more about the steps that brought you to apparel merchandising. Why did you decide to use this method and how did you start?

I started by chance, looking for shirts for me. And I said to myself ... And why do not I design them, to my liking? And that's how it all began. The T-shirt design format I like, because my crazy ideas of which I spoke earlier, can be translated into a physical format, which people will wear around the world. This fills me with hope and pride. It's a very viral way of showing our work.

You use quite a few different shop fronts for this revenue stream like Redbubble, TeePublic, NeatoShop, and Design By Humans, to name a few. Can you tell us more about your work with the various shopfronts you use and which ones you have had the most success with?

The way of working is normally the same, I upload the designs I want in my online catalogs, where they accumulate, and customers can see, follow, and buy. The most successful ones I am having are Latostadora, Teepublic, and Fanisetas at the moment. Although I do not like to neglect any platform, they are all equally important and valid

© Fernando Sala Soler

© Fernando Sala Soler

Have you faced any particular obstacle or challenge in getting sales on these designs? Do you have any pro tips on how to promote sales through these shops?

The obstacle, if you can say that, is always to reach the right audience at the right time. To promote your designs and works the main advice is to keep updated with new work every day in your catalog, as well as not to despair, because if this world you like, you can get to have a loyal public.

Do you have a plan to continue building up your design and merchandise revenue stream or are there other projects in the works that you could share with us?

At this moment I have editorial projects as well as illustrations for different companies. Although this will not make me stop making designs for shirts, because as I said before I love watching people on the streets of the world everywhere wearing my illustrations on T-shirts.

Thank you Fernando! We have really enjoyed talking with you today and hearing about your practice.

I would like very much to thank you for the possibility of having me for this project of Pictoria vol.2. It is a real pride to have a small corner, among so many great artists and so much talent. It is a great project which makes and reinvindicates the importance of this sector, as well as making known to many artists, which by other means, would not be possible. Thank you.

© Fernando Sala Soler

© Fernando Sala Soler


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