If you want to read more about how the sauce is made, I documented the process of making a merch store and a Zoom background for Cheap Comedy Fest.

How The Merch Store Was Born

Some of you who may have been following the development of Cheap Comedy Fest know that I just looked at a bunch of festival websites before making this one. After doing recon, I kind of just thought having a big merch button on the front page would look professional.

Buttons on front page

    (These are the call to action boxes/buttons from the front page.)

If any of you guys are familiar with print-to-order websites, you know the main benefits are having no overhead and not having to worry about inventory. You also might be aware of the main drawbacks: everything is over-priced and you only get 20% of proceeds from the default price.

However, after having people inquire about proceeds from merch when I asked for video judges, I decided to make proceeds from donations and merch part of the budget. Just like how failing startups offer shares of the company as compensation.

This is how I ended up having to actually create some merch.

Creating Some Merch

The print-to-order store I’m most familiar with is RedBubble.

This is what RedBubble looks like.

RedBubble is infamous for people using it to make pop-up shops for unlicensed merch of copyrighted trademarks (Disney, anime, etc.). This means that the bar for entry is very low, you can basically sell a product with any image you want, and nobody is checking for quality – which makes it perfect for the needs of Cheap Comedy Fest.

Don’t believe me? Check out this floor pillow you can buy of Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z with a Malcolm X quote:

Floor pillow with Piccolo and a Malcolm X quote.

That’s pretty badass.

The First Design

Since we’re already profit-sharing from profits that don’t exist, like a real startup, let’s fully delve into startup culture. We’ll be making what they call a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), which is startup lingo for putting in the minimum effort.

We’ll start by literally just uploading the flyer we made in the first blog post.

Cheap Comedy Fest Flyer

Creating a product in RedBubble is easy, you simply upload an image file.

Uploading an image to RedBubble

Next, you fill in some details.

Filling in merch details.

Great, now we have our first merch items.

The only problem is that the flyer image we made is way too small to make good merch. Look how small it shows up on the shirts:

Using a small image on RedBubble

The lesson here is that size matters when uploading images to RedBubble.

However, some products come out alright with a small image. For example, stickers.

RedBubble sticker

Well, at least the sticker is only $2.50 (not including shipping).

Creating Better Merch

Remember in the first blog post when I mentioned that it’s important to have huge images or vector files in case you wanted to get something printed?

Luckily, the virtual comedy mascot guy I made is a very large image. Additionally, he’s on a transparent background, making him an even better asset for printed merch.

Colored character in PhotoShop

Another fortunate detail is that fonts are a lot like vectors where they scale up very well. So, I’m just gonna copy the text from one of the flyers and throw it on top of the virtual comedy guy.

The mascot with lettering.

Now, we have an image that’s big enough for RedBubble.

A proper Cheap Comedy Fest shirt

You can get the shirt here if you want one.

Making A Zoom Background

Parking lot Zoom background.

Cheap Comedy Fest would not have a Zoom background if it wasn’t for Aaron Dispuva (creator of This Just In News) reminding me that it’s a thing that virtual shows do. Thanks Aaron.

As mentioned earlier, the virtual comedy mascot guy has a transparent background, so it was easy to just drag him on to the parking lot.

The only real special trick involved with making this was using the clone stamp tool to get rid of the TJ Max sign.

After making space for the Cheap Comedy Fest signage, I used the transform tool to skew and change perspective of the lettering so it matched up with the geometry.

Transform Tool

(Note: You normally cannot change perspective on text in Photoshop. You have to rasterize the layer first.)

Go Make Your Own Merch Store

Hopefully this post makes merch shops and Zoom backgrounds more accessible.

Go make a merch store for your own comedy stuff, it’s easy.