A RGB light interactive T-shirt design idea to elevate your merchandise! 

At Screenworks, every month, we strive to push the boundaries of garment decoration by inspiring you with exciting new designs. This month, we wanted to change things up! – so we collaborated with UK artist Helenya Apostolou, to create an interactive T-shirt print, which moves under RGB lights!

Why an artist Collaboration?

Previously, our art and production team would brainstorm ideas by scouring the internet for design inspiration. Hours spent searching for copyright-free images often felt limiting and uninspiring – any creative team knows how challenging it can be to find the perfect image for a project.

That’s when the idea struck us: Why not collaborate with artists to create unique designs featuring special effects? This approach not only addresses copyright issues, but also provides a platform for lesser-known artists to share their work, bringing fresh perspectives to our industry! It’s a win-win really.

Additionally, we wanted to bring a stronger marketing focus to our product of the month – to give our clients insights into current trends and how they can leverage these to elevate their promotional merchandise. By inspiring creativity and out of the box thinking, we bring the soul in branded clothing.

So, what’s a RGB light reactive design, and how does it work?

This illusion was initially found in 1920’s by Russian set-designer Adrian V. Samoiloff, wanting to create smooth costume & scene transitions for theatre performances. Using red, green, and blue set lights, he used coloured props which combine the primary colours, with their opposite secondary colour, essentially cancelling each-other out to alter what we see – changing the scene or making it disappear entirely! This later inspired artists, such as Helenya to incorporate the same principles in their artwork. To understand this in depth, it’s important to grasp the basics of colour theory.

If you would like to learn more about the artist and her technique, visit her website at: https://helenyaapostolou.com/

Behind the scenes of this artist spotlight; Stage 1: The Idea – Contacting the Artist

Aiming to create an innovative special effect for music & festival merchandise, we researched relevant design trends and noticed psychedelic and pop-art influences are currently very popular in T-shirt designs. That’s when we discovered Helenya on TikTok, as she has sparked a lot of interest in the online art community with her RGB light-reactive art, making her the perfect fit for this project.

During our Teams call, Helenya shared that her TikTok account has grown rapidly over the past year. She also let us in on a little secret; she’s working on an exciting upcoming collaboration with a big-name brand, and we couldn’t be happier for her!

Stage 2: Design sampling & Colour Matching

To fit the theme, we proposed an illusion of a moving TV screen or a scene of dancing figures – which greatly inspired Helenya to create two original art pieces for us to test on both white and black T-shirts. We conducted paper prints to assess the effect under RGB strobe lights, ensuring the interactive element was visually striking – and then matched the inks to ensure a perfect result.

Stage 3: Screen printing the final design

Once set, we carried out a 7-layer screen-print, including a white base layer to make the colours pop, followed by the 6 following inks. The T-shirt featuring this is none other than the 100% recycled Bella+Canvas Eco-Max Tee, which is dyed without the use of water – quite impressive if you ask us.

Would you like to see this design in action?

Click here to view: (Flash warning) https://screenworks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Helenya-Apostolou-Collab-Mobile-video-1.mp4

A few things to consider if you wish to ace this technique:

  • The illusion effect comes mainly from the design itself, which must be composed of minimum 3 colours, including a transition colour where the designs overlap. To achieve that wow factor, accurate colour matching is required to ensure each shade reacts to the RGB lights.
  • This design is best suited to dark or light garments but can work on any colour background depending upon the desired effect.
  • As this technique lies in the design; multiple garment decoration options can be used in this instance, such as Transfer, Sublimation or Screen printing. Please contact our team if you’d like some guidance on which direction to go with.

Great, now how do I market this?

  • RGB light reactive designs are perfect for music & night life merch… not to forget PRIDE events!
  • Interactive products boost customer engagement by providing a more memorable & fun brand experience – they won’t forget it!
  • Don’t limit this idea to one product: this interactive type of design is a great addition to hoodies, bucket hats, and products that will be hit by the light.

Would you like to collaborate with us?

Are you a supplier, client or artist interested in creating something new with us? If you’d like to feature in our next product of the month, or collaborate on marketing efforts please email us at [email protected]


Sources influencing this blog:




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