Personal Project: Family Reunion Designs

Iteration Process for Family Reunion T-Shirts and Stickers

Chelsea Hansen


In the Summer of 2021, we all needed a much needed vacation, so my parents planned a vacation to Branson, Missouri for my sisters and their families, me and my husband, and my brother who was in college at the time. It would be the first time in a long time that we would be together as a whole family.

As the result of my career path, and because my mom thought it would be fun, she commissioned me to make a Stamm Family Reunion t-shirt. So, here is my process for how I ended up branding our entire Family Reunion:

Research and Brainstorming

I involved my family heavily in the design process to make sure I got a design that would suite most if not all of us. The first thing I did was do some research on Branson, and the famous things about it. I found several locations that were famous to visit, but was unsure how to design for it.

Then, I decided to ask my mom for an itinerary of things we were going to do there. The activities we were focusing on were the Dolly Parton Stampede, the aquarium on the boardwalk, a bluegrass concert, and carnival activities. With the research I did, I was able to compile a list of ideas, and find and make assets to start making different iterations of the shirt design.

Finding and Creating Assets

I found most of the assets I wanted to use online. They were free pieces of clipart that I thought represented what we were doing on our trip, and that would make sense for the whole family.

I took the pieces of clipart, and traced them in Illustrator to make them vectorized so I could size them and color them the way I wanted.

I made sure to make all the icons black, since we didn’t want color in the printed design. Not only would it would save us money in the end, but it help make the shirt design more minimalist.

I made the ferris wheel from scratch as I didn’t find another one that I really liked online. I used ideas from other clipart for it, and it is composed of lines, circles, and some custom shapes using the curvature tool. I used the rotation and copy tools to make the lines of the ferris wheel spaced somewhat evenly, and the reflect and copy tools to make sure that the bottom part of the ferris wheel was symmetrical. It wasn’t a perfect design, but it worked for what I was intending.

Design Iterations

I need to learn how to save files of design iterations so I could show them a lot better in articles, but I’ll show you the pictures I took of my screen for my design iterations. The shirt design itself went through about four iterations before landing on an idea that would look good on a t-shirt and that most of the family liked.

Iteration #1

First Design Iteration using Argos George font, and all clip art except for the ferris wheel which I had not created yet. The title idea my my sister Nicole’s suggestion that she said was a joke, but I took it seriously. The title ended up staying in the final iteration.

This was a hodge-podge put-together design that I made because I was a bit confused on what to do. I used the Argos George font for the family reunion font, and arranged the clipart on the state of Missouri using Illustrator. This design felt incomplete to me, so I sent a group text to the family asking them what I should do with it. We tried other things, like making all the clipart fit inside the state of Missouri, and things like that, but in the end, I scratched the design.

Funny thing happened: When we decided on a final design, my mom piped up saying that she actually preferred this iteration, but I unfortunately had to tell her that I didn’t save this one. This is a lesson in SAVING iterations and not deleting them.

Iteration #2

I looked up Branson, and this PNG came up. This was before I realized that Branson wasn’t a big city.

Because of how much I was struggling with the clip art, I decided to see if I could find a complete scene already made for Branson. This was the only one I found, and I sent this to the family. This was when my sisters informed me that Branson actually wasn’t much of a “city” with a skyline, and was more on the level of Midway, Utah. I scratched this design immediately, but it did bring up a few ideas that I bounced off of my sister Monica that led to the final design.

Iteration #3

Based on my brother’s text: “Do you know what would be totally cool? An octopus playing the violin while riding a horse”

I went back to the clipart, and made another design based on my brother’s comment, which was also supposed to be taken as a joke, but jokes tend to lead to the best ideas in my opinion.

I figured I could do what we said, and put this absurd scene on the state of Missouri, and colorize it a bit. I tried to make this in black and white, but it didn’t look as good, and I figured this color combination looked good, and could be changed. I had the title above it, but it was shut down.

Not wanting a good design to go to waste, I actually made this a sticker that I printed out myself at my parents. I figured the grandkids would get a kick out of getting stickers.

Iteration #4

Taken from my sister Monica’s idea for a skyline version of the vector images. This is where I added the ferris wheel.

This is getting to where we had the final design. Luckily, my sister is a web designer, and got me into interaction design, and graphic design in general, so it was like we were working together on this. She liked the idea of a “skyline”-like design using the clipart images. This is where I made the ferris wheel to make the design more even, having two pictures on either side of the state of Missouri.

I originally planned on maked this design for the back of the shirt, and a medallion design to put on the front right, thinking of shirt designs I have seen. What I should have done, and something I should do in the future is research current shirt designs. Luckily, Monica was on it, and she did research into common designs for family reunion t-shirts and t-shirts in general, and said that a design just in the front of the shirt was common. This led to the final design.

Iteration #5: Final

Putting a circle around the design helped group everything together.

Thanks to my sister Monica and her ideas of putting the design in a circle, we can up with this finalized design. The state of Missouri was blown up a bit bigger, and the place and year was placed at the bottom of the skyline design.

Oddly enough, my mom and my sister Nicole liked earlier designs, but both my sister Monica and I convinced them of this design.

I messed with the icon sizes, and the spacing quite a bit in Illustrator before finalizing this.

Printing the Shirts

Medium Shirt printed at Blue Gecko with the final design.

After getting the design altogether, it was time to send them to get printed. We printed with with Blue Gecko Apparel. I had to resize my design to print on different sizes of T-shirts. We all wanted to have matching blue t-shirts, but due to stock issues, I chose from different kinds of blues that were in stock, and we managed to get all blue shirts in different colors. The nice thing about printing at Blue Gecko was they printed on Maternity shirts which was needed because my sister Monica was pregnant at the time. We got our shirts just in time for our vacation, and had the stickers cut out and everything, and they really did add to the vacation as a whole I think. Other people didn’t quite get the design unless we told them what the icons meant, but that led to some interesting conversations, as did the sticker design.

Final Thoughts

Picture taken at the Aquarium on the Boardwalk in Branson, Missouri. A few of us wore the stickers I made as well.

I enjoyed making shirts and sticker designs for my family’s reunion. It really made for an awesome group picture at the aquarium we went to. Everyone liked the shirts and the kids wanted to wear them for the whole trip. Maybe next time I’ll design different shirts for different days…

What I would have changed about my process here is saving my different iterations as separate files. That would have been useful for those who wanted me to visit a few iterations back. Despite that, I liked what we came up with, and it ended up helping make our trip to Branson an awesome one!

Thanks for Reading!



Chelsea Hansen

I am a budding web and app designer who likes to learn new technologies, and use creative means to solve problems.