Whether you’re starting a business or want to come up with t-shirt designs, we’ll cover the full scope of t-shirt design ideas for every purpose.
Let’s dive in!
How do you design a great t-shirt?
A great t-shirt is determined by quality and design. Tailor your quality to consumer demands by choosing suppliers that have ethical and sustainable practices in place.
Choose materials like organic cotton, hemp, linen, or even recycled water bottles! This will make your business more sustainable and win over environmentally conscious consumers. Not to mention leaving a smaller footprint on the planet!
Great t-shirt design ideas have to be aligned with your intention. Are you trying to make a statement? Or are you creating relatable t-shirt designs that make people smile? Use the basics of design to create something that resonates with your audience and delivers your message.
T-shirt printing methods and styles
There are myriad ways to get your design printed on a tee. They all depend on what your budget is, your batch volume, as well as what design you’re printing. Here are the top t-shirt printing methods to consider:
- Screen printing
- Heat transfer Vinyl
- Heat press printing
- Direct to garment (DTG)
As an alternative to printing, you can always check out machine embroidery if it suits your design. If you’re looking to outsource this process, check out Zazzle, Teespring, or Printful!
Examples of great t-shirt design ideas
Phenomenal Media, a company that highlights marginalized communities, uses t-shirts to tell stories and uplift people. Their t-shirt design is simple but powerful, relying on profound messaging to connect to their audience.
Some t-shirt design ideas come from viral moments in politics or social media. They capitalize on the profound impact that words of world leaders can have, such as the nasty woman t-shirt.
After the lewd comment by the former US president, women took to the streets in protest, and the “nasty woman” t-shirt became a feminist symbol of standing up to sexism in government.
T-shirt design can seem intimidating at first. To keep things simple, focus on these three elements:
- Fonts: use a font that stands out and is aligned with your brand
- Colors: use color combinations that are on-brand, but don’t clash with the t-shirt color
- Design: keep it simple and focus on making an impact with layout, words, and exciting imagery.
1. Business t-shirts
Having a great business t-shirt helps you market your business everywhere you go. It’s like a wearable business card! So, getting your t-shirt design right is critical to boosting brand awareness, and getting people to wear (and market) your tee consistently.
Make the most of your business t-shirt design by focusing on fashionable design rather than a basic tee with your logo and slogan on it. Use your brand identity to find imagery and messaging that show your business subtly and fashionably. The goal here is to get people to wear your t-shirt, and for others to notice it.
Don’t make your business t-shirt design look like an advertisement. A t-shirt needs to be fashionable and work well with anyone’s wardrobe. Choose imagery, subtle words, and a unique design that appeals to your target audience.
Design your business t-shirt now!
2. Event t-shirt design ideas
A t-shirt is the perfect memorabilia for good times and life’s milestones. Whatever the event may be, having the perfect event t-shirt design helps keep that sense of nostalgia and unity alive.
Event t-shirt design ideas are simple but powerful in their messaging. You can either strike a balance between imagery and words or only use typography to get your message across. Retro and vintage styles are graphic design trends in 2022, so going the nostalgic route might help your t-shirt design get noticed.
Handwritten lettering or illustrations are also a graphic design trend, with people leaning into the handcrafted and artisanal look to create truly unique t-shirt designs.
For protests or events showing solidarity, using iconic imagery and bold lettering on a simple back or white t-shirt is important in getting the message across. It also creates a wearable tee that can be worn inconspicuously.
3. Clubs and organization’s t-shirt design ideas
Club and organization t-shirt design needs to be inclusive and direct. It should instantly identify what group or team a person belongs to, and communicate what their team or organization does.
From softball teams to twitch gamers, use bold fonts and unique team color combinations to express what your team is about. Use your team logo slogan to stand out and have fun with the layout while following the rules of visual hierarchy.
Try using curved text over a team symbol, or use the back of the t-shirt to create team spirit while the front shows off the team logo.
Social organizations cover anything from climate change to social justice. So, they intend to inform and inspire – as well as identify. Take inspiration from existing organizations like Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, or Black Lives Matter to create your t-shirt design.
Pick some powerful copy to place either on the front or back of your t-shirt design and use bold fonts to make it clear. Stick to readable serif font or thicker sans serif fonts that are legible on a printed t-shirt. Otherwise, use on-brand colors that you want others to identify with your cause and organization.
4. Charities or non-profit t-shirt design ideas
Charities and nonprofit t-shirt design ideas center around getting an emotional response from people. From adoption to animal rights and testing, its main focus is on the subject matter more than design.
These t-shirt designs are more functional in their layout and colors. Choose a simple color palette with powerful words that bring awareness to the cause. Use your slogan or a catchphrase as the main design element, with your logo applied discreetly.
Think of it as more of a statement shirt rather than an awareness of your brand piece. If your slogan is powerful enough, people will start to naturally correlate your brand to this cause.
Use no more than one statement color to make some words pop more than others, but try to keep it subtle on most occasions. This makes it easier for your customers to wear your shirt more consistently, and for it to match with other clothes. Remember, it’s fashion first!
5. Graphic t-shirt design ideas
Graphic t-shirt designs are all about creativity and art. They’re about expressing yourself and tapping into a unique creative outlet. When choosing or designing graphic art to print on a tee, keep these pointers in mind:
- Look for circular designs, so that it looks better on a t-shirt.
- Use a black, white, or gray t-shirt as the canvas for your graphic art. Having clashing colors will ruin your design.
- Think outside of the box and don’t forget about the back or sides of your t-shirt. You can have a wrap-around design or use the sides of your tee as well. Get experimental!
You can buy designs from independent artists or take inspiration from animated movies, series, or iconic cinema moments when designing your own. The world is your oyster with this one!
6. Pop culture t-shirt design ideas
Pop culture t-shirt design ideas are relevant, current, and bold. They rely on witty messaging to make their mark. Keep an eye on the news and media to brainstorm ideas for your t-shirt design. Or, choose a specific niche to tap into, like politics, movies, viral social media moments, or even memes!
The effort here is mostly in messaging, so keeping the design simple is an option. But, there’s no harm in using high contrast colors or imagery with bold typography if it matches your aesthetic and subject matter.
The t-shirt design above highlights the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death and her contribution as a trailblazing woman in politics.
Below, the “bye, Ivanka” tee uses simple colors and a bold sans serif to express the relief some felt when the Trump administration ended.
Other pop culture t-shirt designs cover famous movies or TV moments. The infamous “Vote for Pedro” t-shirt is a cinema moment that people love and relate to.
Create your business t-shirt design with Looka!
Get your business t-shirt design instantly when you design your logo with Looka. Our print shop offers branded t-shirts, business cards, swag, and stickers! They’re all automatically generated for you, all you have to do is hit print!
Once you’ve designed the perfect logo, head over to the brand kit to check out your print shop.
We’ve partnered with Zazzle to give you easy access to branded swag. You can print on various colors, and choose the perfect style for your t-shirt.
T-shirt design ideas are always changing
The world of t-shirt design ideas is limitless and unique. You can put anything on a t-shirt, as long as it has a purpose and resonates with a specific audience.
Keep your eye out for opportunities to create t-shirt design ideas that resonate with people’s changing beliefs, events, causes, or even their sense of humor! Make your t-shirt design everyone’s favorite t-shirt, and always stay plugged in.