Real Inspiration

We talked to our graphic's team about how they use creativity to bring our Photo Real Series designs to life.

“Creativity is a tool used by everyone from waitresses to engineers to customer service reps.” -Bert and John Jacobs

What inspires you? We can stare at a well structured building, detailed decorated cake, even a crack in the sidewalk and become ensorcelled.  If we were all stuck in our four walls everyday the art that we create would become commonplace or repetition. The same old thing every single day. For our product team, it’s often about going out into the world and seeing what is being created, looking at different streets in different cities, and finding a new way to look at things. As we like to say here, Jake was just a face until someone decided he liked ice cream. Without that thought of “what’s next?” he’d likely not have jumped off the front of our tees to run or bike and explore.

How do we take the inspiration we find out in the world and bring it to you? Well, to start any project we take a look at things through the Life is Good lens. Is this idea speaking our language of optimism? When asking Steve Bourassa, our Senior Graphic Designer how he decides which photos to use in our Photo Real series, he told me I wouldn’t like his answer.  In truth, it was the best answer possible, because it really makes the most sense. He told me, he doesn’t know until he sees it. The eye of optimism.

We all have a little bit of Jake’s optimism inside of us, and it helps us create new messages and looks each season. Our Photo Real series is a great example of this. It’s almost as if Jake has the camera and he’s showing the world what inspires him. Steve, took us through the process of how we take a photo or image that inspires our team, and through filters, cutting and cropping we turn it in to a new kind of Life is Good shirt.

First, we need to ask ourselves as many questions as possible. Is this going to be for a male or female focused tee? What color is the shirt? Is it a light or dark tone? What phrase options do we want to try? Knowing as much as possible before you start helps put you in the right frame of mind to know what treatment we can and should make to the photo.


Next, choosing the photo. Luckily we a small database of photos to choose from (some companies have thousands to start with!) Some are personal photos, some are purchased from photographers out in the world. All fit within the seasonal theme or a category like outdoors or beach.


Making something photo real is about retaining the essence of the photo while transforming it into a tee. So we usually try to stay away from the hard edges of the photo when using just one image. We change this by adding texture to the image to soften the edges.


Once we have the right photo, as many Instagramers know, it is about picking the right filter. When working with a darker tee, we like lighter filters and vice versa. If we’re adding text, it is also important to look at how the filter allows us to create space.


At the end, it’s all about the feeling it evokes. Is this something that can convey the sense of optimism, sit side by side with other graphic in the series, does it have the essence of the brand? Again, this is something that often times you don’t know until you see it. Steve works with members of his team to decide which images work, which messages have the best meaning for the photo, and if other options are needed. What you see here might look effortless, but our artist can spend hours, days and weeks (even months!) getting the graphic, tees and line in the right place to bring to our consumers.


It’s not an easy process, but as each season comes around there is a renewed sense of inspiration and excitement. There are new stories to tell, new angles to try, new bikes to ride and new adventures ahead. As we like to say, the work will teach you how to do it. We cannot wait for you to see what’s next.

Check out the full line Photo Real tees.