T-shirts have been ‘in vogue’ for about half a century and are a key part of any ‘casual Friday’ ensemble at work. As well as being a quick and easy clothing option, they can also be a way to get noticed. From a business perspective, great t-shirt design is an excellent way to advertise since you can use it to effectively turn customers into walking billboards/advocates of your company.

The thing is, a lot of people create t-shirts and a substantial amount of t-shirt designs are pretty awful! In this piece, we will look at the t-shirt design process and help you avoid making basic mistakes.

1. Make it comfortable

Before you even think about the actual t-shirt design artwork, make sure you choose a comfortable ‘base’ shirt. If you choose cheap and uncomfortable material, people may buy the t-shirt but they won’t wear it! Since the t-shirt is representative of your brand, do you want customers to think you’re low grade or high quality? Pick a ‘base’ shirt that customers would wear again and again.


Design by XZEQUTEWORX™ for ben mH

2. Consider your target audience

There is a big difference between the style of t-shirt that a teenage girl and a middle-aged wine drinker would wear and we’re not just talking about the logo! Teenagers are likely to wear slimmer t-shirts made with lightweight material that act as a fashion statement. In contrast, middle-aged wine lovers would expect a wider and heavier shirt that isn’t so figure hugging.


Design by diwas for zrachie

3. Get in touch with a printer

You should do this before you come up with your t-shirt design. Why? Because you need to ask the printer what design software they would prefer the files to be created in. By all means, save your design as a PowerPoint or Word file but don’t expect anyone to be able to actually print it! Common platforms include Photoshop, Illustrator and CorelDraw.

In addition, you need to ask the printer about their maximum imprint dimensions; this is the largest your artwork is allowed to be. It’s an important question since the equipment used by printers can vary so the maximum limit could be different from one printer to the next.

4. Choose your colour scheme

The next step is to review the colour palette in order to come up with the right hue for your t-shirt design. In general, the darker the colour, the more expensive it will be to print. Then there is the small matter of certain colours having limited availability. Common printing colours include white, black and grey while navy and red are also good choices.


Design by 1507kot

While it’s always best to pick well-known colours in order to appeal to your target audience, the palette should also be in sync with your brand’s colour scheme. You should also try and keep the number of colours down. Complex colour patterns not only cost more to print, they may not be to the tastes of your audience as not everyone wants a t-shirt design that looks like a Jackson Pollack painting!

5. Find your inspiration & start designing!

Discover 99designs t-shirt designs

If you already have a logo and colour scheme in mind, you’re ready to begin your t-shirt design. Not everyone is as clear-minded however and perhaps you could do with some inspiration. Here are 5 sites to consider:

  1. Beautiful Decay: This site is updated daily and offers you a look at high quality art and design from around the globe. The posts on the site tend to focus on one artist/group that is creating art for different products.
  2. Threadless: You should definitely find inspiration on this website since it is a t-shirt manufacturer! With a team of talented designers plus ideas from users of the site, Threadless is a goldmine.
  3. Mintees: This is an online t-shirt & apparel design community which features some of the world’s best t-shirt designers.
  4. But Does It Float: This site features countless beautiful images and you are sure to find ample inspiration if you scroll down the page. It is the online equivalent of an art gallery!
  5. 99designs: As well as being able to host contests to hire someone to complete your t-shirt design, you can find inspiration on our ‘Discover’ section. It features dozens of designs that were chosen by businesses and could provide you with a great idea for your shirt.

Hopefully, these tips will help you come up with the perfect t-shirt design for your company. Remember, it is only an effective form of advertising if it’s ‘on brand’ so don’t try to be experimental if the end result isn’t easily identifiable with your company.

You may come up with several designs but only pick one. If you have one t-shirt design, you might sell 400 t-shirts but if you have 30 designs, you might not sell any. Focus on creating a t-shirt design that your target audience are proud to wear; simple designs are best because complexity can be misinterpreted and is also more expensive to print.