Designing personalised t-shirts is exciting and great fun, but a lot of thought needs to go into getting it right. To accomplish this, there are many things you’ll need to consider.
But don’t worry, help is at hand! Your friends here at Printsome have compiled a simple guide to give you some ideas, a few pointers, and generally cover all the bases.
That means materials, cost, logo design, placement, slogans and printing methods. And we’ll provide some great examples of successful t-shirt designs to show you what we’re talking about. So time to get clued in, and have a bit of fun while we’re at it.
We’ve all had freebies and giveaways either from work, events, the gym, bars or wherever, but we’re focusing here more on t-shirts as fashion.
The Simple Two-Step Process to Start a T-shirt Brand
Basically, there are two stages to the process. First, you need to create your design; then you need to get that design onto your garment.
When you’re creating a design, first of all, you need to consider who your brand caters for, who it’s marketed towards. Who do you want to buy your clothing? Male or female, young or old, students, skaters, hipsters, sports fans, or any and everyone?
Even within the same demographic, individual tastes and style can vary widely.
Will your design be simple or complex, subtle or eye-catching? Will there be lettering, a slogan, quote, humour or politics? Most t-shirts are in effect a lifestyle statement, so what statement are you making?
T-shirts are an item of casual wear, they’re not formal, so therefore so you’re not really restricted in any way when creating your ideas. Your only limit is your imagination.
As a self-confessed t-shirt addict, taking a peek through my own wears, I mostly bought t-shirts because I love the artwork, logo, or slogan/quote. But it’s a combination of the design and the material.
And the quality of your material is absolutely essential. This, more than anything, depends on your budget. I’ve simply had to have some t-shirts purely on how they feel to touch.
How do pros do it?
One example by Zadig & Voltaire. I touched it, and thought “I need this.” I looked at the price tag, had a little cry inside, took it off the rack, paid and walked out of the store without looking back.
It was the same with a beautiful plain white tee by Thom Krom. I’m not name dropping here. The point I’m making is that your choice of material can be the crucial difference between a sale or not.
Below are some great examples from the UK, Continental Europe, the US & Asia. All of them showcase a variety of different concepts and designs:
This British brand offers mid-range price, simple, sophisticated lines and floral prints.
Innovative UK streetwear, quirky, bold, brash, bright and colourful prints. Check more of their job here.
The Giant Peach
San Francisco Bay Area enterprise supporting local artists/collectives, producing designs with a hip-hop, alternative influence. Cool stuff.
Super fresh street styles out of Jakarta, Indonesia. Inspired by themes of space and exploration. Find out more by clicking here.
These are a few of my personal favourites but hopefully, they give you some inspiration for your own ideas.
Design done… What about printing?
Now you’ve got your design, how do you get it onto the t-shirt? In all likelihood, you’ll be going for 100% cotton. If that’s the case, then standard screen printing will absolutely suffice.
Screen printing (also known as silk-screening) is a method which allows you to get your graphics onto a t-shirt. Better for graphics with just one or two colours, it’s the best option if you’re producing in bulk and want large quantities.
DTG (Direct to Garment, or sometimes Inkjet) printing is a newer technique than screen printing. This is used when you want your fabric to directly absorb the ink, so it becomes part of the shirt. A better option when using multiple colours.
There are some great guides below which cover more techniques:
- 10 Pro Tips for Better T-shirt Designs
- Guidelines from prep to printing
- How to start your own t-shirt business
And as always, there are many other useful tools and resources on the Printsome blog, so please have a browse through our earlier posts for more information.
The market is saturated, competition is huge but so is demand, and that demand is never-ending. But have that passion for perfection, and there’s room for you to succeed if you do it right.
Maybe one day it gets relegated to gym, bedtime or housework status. Sooner or later that’s the fate of most t-shirts. But you want that day to come later rather than sooner.
And hey, you could always take it to a charity shop – that’s like t-shirt heaven, effectively their afterlife.
For one final piece of inspiration, check out the video for D.A.N.C.E by Justice which makes the t-shirt the star of the show. Because remember folks, that’s what you’re trying to do!
Printsome is a T-shirt printing agency based in London that delivers all across the UK, from printing T-shirts in Brighton to York and anywhere in between. So, if you’re after a T-shirt or custom clothing, get in touch for a quote and indulge yourself in some awesome customer service.