6 essential steps for effective swag. It's all about the design.

Posted Dec 31, 2013 12:37:02 PM

Welcome to the Rickshaw Corporate Artwork Cheat Sheet. Here we outline your options for artwork and and the process for creating your custom gear. We're always available to chat with you over the phone or email about the specific process -- so don't hesitate to reach out. However if you have any questions about the the overall process or setting up your artwork you can find the answers here. You'll also notice some useful links for getting inspiration, setting up artwork properly and streamlining the production of your Rickshaw gear. We look forward to working with you!

Table of Contents:

1) The First Steps

2) Start Thinking Creatively

3) Deciding Embellishment Type

4) Prepping Artwork for Embellishment

5) The Proof Sheet

6) Tell your story by telling the product story

The First Steps

The first step in creating the perfect Rickshaw gear is to decide which product fits your purpose and price point. Most of our clients have varying budgets, unit / quantity requirements, and concepts for branding and artwork. Our Corporate Sales team will help you hammer out all the details for pricing and quantity discounts, but the first place to start is our website. Here's a quick breakdown and description of each product with links to our website.

Tote Bags:

Our totes are one of our most popular products and for good reason. They have a lower price point for tighter budgets, and have an ample amount of real estate for artwork on the outside of the bag. They can be made out of popular canvas, or our 50 different colors of domestic Cordura® Nylon.

Price: $15 - $29 Tote Gallery

For a more premium everyday tote, check out our Zero Tote collection. Made from scratch in our San Francisco factory, with of two layers of our domestically sourced fabric (which you get to choose), these bags have much of the same functionality as our Zero Messenger, but in a popular tote bag fashion.

Price: $69 Zero Tote Gallery

Zero Messenger Bags:

The Zero is our signature messenger bag, and has created a following of "super fans". We call it a Zero since we produce little to no manufacturing waste when we create it (great story to share with your staff or clients) and can be customized to your hearts content since they are made from scratch in our SF factory.

Price: $49 - $119 Zero Messenger Gallery

Commuter Messenger Bag:

A best selling bag since the company's beginning, the Commuter series comes with all the bells and whistles; laptop sleeve, deluxe organizer, waterproofing, customizable flap and much more. This is a great bag when you really want to "WOW" them.

Price: $160 Commuter Laptop Bag Gallery

Velo Backpack:

The Velo backpack is a great lightweight backpack, designed for biking but still great for the everyday commuter. Made from scratch in our SF factory, it's highly customizable and can range in price depending on a variety of features.

Price: $139 - $194 Velo Backpack Gallery

Macbook & iPad / Tablet Sleeves:

Our line of Macbook and tablet sleeves are a perfect gift for those with tech loving constituents. They are a lower price point, and highly customizable -- even the ultra plush material on the inside of the sleeve comes in a array of colors.

Price: $40 - $60 Tablet Sleeve Gallery

Moleskine Folios:

Our MOLESKINE® Folio is all you need for your daily excursions about the city, a multi-day bike trip, or an adventurous jaunt overseas!

Price: $50 Folio Gallery

Other accessories:

From inserts that go into our bags, to simple zipper pockets and smartphone holsters we make a variety of accessories for the everyday commuter.

Price: $10 - $40 Accessories

Start Thinking Creatively

Pick a color-way: Once you've landed on one or more Rickshaw products, it's time to start thinking about color-ways and embellishment options (how we get your logo or artwork on the bag; i.e. screen printing, embroidery, etc). The best place to start is to check out our customizer. The majority of our fabric options can be found there, and the ability to visualize the final product will help you get an idea of what you'd like to see on your Rickshaw gear:


At Rickshaw, we offer free digital mockups of your product before we start assembling. We use a variety of photo realistic assets to give you a vision for the bag, even before we start cutting the fabric. However, to start this process, it's helpful for you to show us some of your ideas for color. Please feel free to send us along some of your favorite fabric combinations from our customizer (you can copy and paste the URL from the customizer as it includes all the fabric data) or if you don't know where to start, we'd be happy to get you started with our own suggestions.

How visible do you want your artwork?: Most of our clients like their artwork extremely visible -- you can think of your new Rickshaw bags as walking billboards for your brand. However, many of our clients prefer a more subtle / stealth approach to their branding. Look at all 4 views of the bag, sleeve or folio in our customizer and think about where you'd like your branding to go. This will help our design team with your mockups.

Get inspiration from others: Take a look at our Best of Corporate Gallery, where we showcase some of our most creative client works:

Deciding Embellishment Type

After finishing your preliminary thoughts about product, color-way and logo placement, it's time to start thinking about the best execution for your logo or artwork on the bag, sleeve or folio. Our design team will always advise what they think is the best method for embellishing your artwork, but here's a quick breakdown of embellishment type and the pros and cons of each.

Embroidery: One of the most popular choice for embellishment is embroidery. The look and feel of embroidery tends to be more classic and collegiate, but there's many ways to modernize this popular option.

Pros: No minimums, we can stitch out 1 or 1000 products with embroidery. You can choose up to 9 different thread colors for artwork with matches to Pantone colors. A great option if your logo has a lot of shading and/or gradients.

Cons: The resolution of an embroidery starts to decrease at a certain size, and we don't recommend going too big either. One of our design staff can recommend the best size if you decide to go with this option. Cannot embroider on X-Pac Sailcloth or Waxed Canvas.

Patches: If you love embroidery but you want use either our Waterproof Xpac material or Waxed Canvas, this is your next best choice. With all the same features as embroidery, we stitch this out first on a black (or other colored) backing and then stitch it directly onto the bag itself.

Pros: You can use this on fabrics that aren't well suited for embroidery. If you use this on a bag with a patterned fabric, the logo tends to "pop" more.

Cons: A bit more expensive than embroidery as there is an additional step to embroider on a backing and then sew that down to the bag.

Screen Printing: The next most popular option for our clients is screen printing. It looks very sophisticated, urban and modern. It has a great feeling of depth since the ink seems to sit above the fabric. With screen printing we can achieve an extremely high resolution and fine detail and scale is no barrier. Whether you want something small and subtle or a print that covers the whole bag -- the sky is your limit. We work with one of the most talented screen printers in the Bay Area.

Pros: Extremely high resolution, near limitless scale/sizing, direct matching to Pantone colors in the ink mixing process, low price point -- especially in high volume

Cons: 25 piece minimum (if you don't want to order 25 units, we can hold onto the extra screen printed fabric for you), no more than 5-6 colors recommended (less colors will reduce price), can be more difficult or impossible to produce lots of shading or gradients in design.

Custom Woven Labels: As our most economic option, we can offer a few different variations for custom labeling. We can produce seam labels at almost any size to square labels (30mm square or 38mm square). This is also a very sophisticated, yet subtle way to brand a bag, and is often combined with other embellishments.

Pros: Low cost, high resolution, infinite Pantone color options, easily create gradients and shading.

Cons: Made overseas (we can source domestically if desired -- ask our design team), long lead time (usually 3-4 weeks), much smaller sizing options than the rest of our embellishment types

Digital Printing: If your artwork has lots of different colors, fine detail in resolution, and should cover a whole portion of the bag (outside panel or inside panel) this is your best bet. Also known as dye-sublimation, this process comes from printing your artwork with a large format ink-jet printer onto paper, which in then heated up to a specific temperature to transfer the inks onto white polyester fabric.

Pros: Limitless colors in design, high resolution and fine detail, no problems with gradients or shading, extremely durable over time.

Cons: Very difficult to match to Pantone colors -- just like an ink jet printer, the results may vary over time. It can be expensive if you're printing large pieces of fabric (i.e. the whole outside of a bag, vs an iPad sleeve). Does not print solids as well as artwork with lots of different colors, shading and gradients.

What sets Rickshaw apart: We like to think of ourselves as experts in attention to detail. Unlike other bag brands, we embellish your bag before we assemble/sew. Therefore, you'll never have to worry about seeing the backside of an embroidery or any sloppy embellishment work. We embellish raw panels first (before sewing) and always run a few extra to take into account any blemishes or irregularities in the artwork. If you are as concerned with getting everything perfect as we are, ask our design team for a physical proof before assembly. Although it can increase lead time and price slightly, we're always happy to make a pre-production sample for you to approve before we complete your full order.

All of our embellishment houses (with the exception of woven labels) are located right here in San Francisco, helping to continue our mission of SFMade products, and a great story to share with the folks receiving your branded gear.

Prepping Artwork for Embellishment

We know many of you who are looking to get custom branded gear, are not artwork experts -- and that's just fine, leave the tricky stuff up to us! However, we do require our artwork to be received in a few different formats to ensure we're getting you the best possible quality on your product. Here are some quick tips on setting up your artwork for us to work with.

Bitmap vs Vectorized: Most of us are familiar with bitmap graphics on a daily basis; photographs taken on an iPhone or Digital Camera, JPG, GIF or TIF files, or the majority of graphics found on the web are Bitmaps. These types of files will work just fine for the purpose of making you digital mockups, however there is a real problem with using these files for setting up your artwork for embellishment. Most notably, these files types relay on thousands of pixels to create the artwork. If there aren't enough pixels for us to work with, your artwork will start looking grainy and much of the detail will be lost in translation. Sometimes, we can work with these types of files but we prefer Vectorized files. Vectorized files are what most graphic designers use when creating logos, branding or company artwork. These file types tend to be EPS, Ai, or PDF. The beauty of these files are that they are not made of pixels -- they are shapes that are defined by mathematical parameters or in layman's terms, you can keep increasing the size without losing any resolution or without the artwork becoming pixelated. We can also better isolate your Pantone color from these files if you don't have it handy. Here's a great resource that further explains the difference of both Bitmaps and Vectorized files:


Prepping artwork for screen printing: As we mentioned in the embellishment types, screen printing can only have a limited number of colors. Sometimes for clients, this means they have to work with their logos to reduce the number of colors. The majority of the time, this isn't necessary and we'll work with you to find the best way to execute your logo. However, if you really have your heart set on screen printing and you want to have you files perfectly formatted for that embellishment, check out this handy tutorial: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/12/07/preparing-artwork-for-screen-printing-in-adobe-illustrator/

Prepping artwork for woven labels: Below you will find our label templates for both seam labels and square labels. Feel free to download these files and use them to size and scale your artwork to the given parameters. If you'd like our design team to do this for you -- just let us know. We'd be happy to take over this process for you if you're not a graphic designer or don't have an artwork background.

Seam Labels (you can change the dimensions if you desire): https://www.dropbox.com/s/xagpmqf8eqbh8bh/Rickshaw%20Seam.ai

30mm Square Label: https://www.dropbox.com/s/e577ey5teiqie3p/Rickshaw-30mm.ai

38mm Square Label: https://www.dropbox.com/s/d9fb0kgj666bt20/Rickshaw-38mm.ai

Getting us your files: Once you have your vectorized files ready, you can either email them to us or upload them to our Dropbox (use this link if your files are too large to email)

The Proof Sheet

Hang in there, we're almost done! After you've sent along artwork, we've shared digital mockups with you and you're close to coming to a final decision, we'll be sending along a document for you to review called The Proof Sheet. This is the final check for us to make sure we have all of the design information accurate. Please check over the Pantone colors, the fabric colors, placement and scale of your logo as well as any other notes that are vital to the production of your bag, sleeve or folio. We'll want to keep all important artwork data in this document, so if we're missing anything or something looks wrong please let us know. Once you've approved this document, the artwork process is officially over and we'll start production. Here's a sample of our Proof Sheet:


Tell your clients, staff or friends about their new Rickshaw gear

You'd be surprised how much of a rockstar you'll feel after giving out your custom branded products. People love our gear! But you'll make even more fans by letting them know a few things about their new gear!

Lifetime Guarantee: We hate the idea of people walking around with a broken or ripped bag. Even worse is the idea of someone retiring their favorite Rickshaw bag because of a defect. All Rickshaw gear comes with a lifetime guarantee. You can let your clients, staff or friends know that they can either ship us or bring in their bag to our SF factory for any type of repair or replacement. We stand by the motto, no reasonable request denied.

Any other questions? We're always happy to take questions from you or the folks that received your bags. Just forward them along to our friendly customer service team and we'll get back to you within 48 hours: info@rickshawbags.com