What’s in a t-shirt print? – designing, customizing or buying

Designing, customizing or buying a t-shirt print

You’re well on your way to building a comprehensive t-shirt brand. You know what you want, you know how it should look but how do you create the actual designs?

When we started this discussion in our previous article, we were adamant that the t-shirt business is very accessible and even if you are not a designer, you can still make a name for yourself in the garment industry.

That is because the internet has allowed for a fantastic exchange between shop owners and designers, who are not necessarily one and the same person. So, you can either be the designer selling directly to customers, or you can be a shop owner going through a designer, in order to offer your vision to the public. Which one are you?

Creating your own designs

This will require graphic designs skills, in Photoshop, Corel or Illustrator, to name but a few; the most popular ones, actually. I am also aware that having excellent drawing skills is very important, but eventually you will have to transfer them in the digital medium. As much as I respect traditional designers, in the printing business you may well not be able to sketch a tree and still run a successful printing business. Thanks to the softwares I mentioned earlier, mouse drawn graphics are highly lucrative and brilliant concept wise.

t-shirt print

So, you should be able to use at least one of these mediums to have a certain control over your material and be able, for example, to prepare a file for printing. You can also opt for free alternatives such as GIMP, if you’re not sure you’re up to doing everything yourself.

If you are the ambitious type and want to learn how to create a design from start to end, check out the many tutorials that you can find on YouTube for free or pay for more complex courses on Lynda.com.  If you’re looking for premade designs to modify, such as icons, photos, fonts and more make sure you visit Creative Market. They also have monthly graphic bundles at $39 with mixed resources, so be on the lookout for that.


On the other hand, you might be more focused on running the business and building a strategy than sketching the best illustration ever. In which case, you can buy template t-shirt designs. And here you can go for designs that can be slightly customized, in terms of colors, texts or small elements or you can go for ready-to-print designs that require or accept no changes. You just purchase them, upload them into your printing software and, in the limits of the said license, you can print a number of garments. The prices for such designs vary from $10 to $15 or even $6 for some of them, not to mention that graphic marketplaces also run sales and offer bundle options.


The price you actually pay is not your pocket, but in the sense that such designs are up on the sites for an unlimited time, so there’s a chance you might find them somewhere else.

Lastly, the most expensive option is to hire a graphic designer, in order to have something truly unique. The process is sometimes long, but it’s all for long standing quality and the assurance that there’s nothing similar to what you have. This option is definitely recommended when planning for a world competitive brand.


But what makes a good design? It is an artistic industry, appealing to subjective opinions and first impressions. There’s no magic formula but you could say that most of the time the rule of “less is more” is definitely the popular choice. Simpler designs, with bolder fonts appeal quicker to the audience, which requires quite some experience and skill, as well as a fine sense of observation. If you want to start somewhere, browse product printing sites for best sellers and see what pops up. We recommend you have a look at Spreadshirt, Zazzzle, CaféPress, Threadless, DesignbyHumans.

Once you’ve handled this other important aspect of your t-shirt printing endeavor,  it’s time to put your name on the internet map, setting up (virtual) shop, which we’ll talk about in the next article.

Welcome to the printing business – managing a t-shirt brand

Starting a printing business – managing a t-shirt brand

Welcome into the world of the printing business, where consistency, quality and customization are stepping stones to any successful, long-standing brand.

We’ll be presenting you with the basic information on how to get started, how to stay on the market, beat the competition and consider innovation in your particular area.

We will break the ice with one of the most versatile and resourceful items to print on – the t-shirt. Printing on t-shirts will be the focus of the next articles and we’ll also refer to other popular items such as caps, phone cases and more, at a later time. So let’s get started.

Selling t-shirts online is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to start a real business and earn a serious income. Irrespective of how new you may be in this field, with the online resources available and the possibility of outsourcing many of the services involved, you will be able to set up an online t-shirt shop rather quickly. Most of the time you don’t even need to buy, deliver or actually print a garment. But before you get there, there are some guidelines or rules one should follow, not just for this case, but for businesses in general. So, even if t-shirts are not your thing, the following basic information will be useful for all entrepreneurs.

It may be the easiest business to get in but it’s also very competitive, as a result of that. What will set you apart is being as specific as possible about your theme. Contrary to one might expect, quantity in this case does not equal quality, and it may not even be a guarantee of success or profit. The same goes for complexity of design. Some of the best selling t-shirts of all time have had pretty simple prints although quite meaningful.

printing business

Therefore, choose a topic, a broad one and then narrow it down to a high potential niche. Take your own example and think about how and why you prefer a certain movie or hobby – you will know exactly what’s the best slogan or visual, so start from there. What makes it promising is finding a social phenomenon around it, like memes, or communities based on it. Google is definitely your best friend for this. Once you find it, think ahead and ask yourself if you could print the design on other products as well.


Next up, is choosing a name for your brand, in accordance with your products. It should be easy, to which people can relate, one that tells them right away what you’re selling. It should also be simple, considering it will show up in your web address, social media, emails and even adverts. It’s easier said than done, but definitely not impossible. Try name generators, play name associations, ask friends, look up the meaning of words, go back and forth until it sounds right and recreates your brand’s identity.


Speaking of identity, don’t underestimate the power of a good logo. If you are not particularly good at creating one, fear not – the internet is here. You can hire a professional, who will create something unique but will get pricey. If you haven’t inherited a fortune, consider a template that will allow you to fit the name of your brand. And if you’re in a real rush and really tight with money, Fiverr for example is an option in that sense, but not a good idea if you want to build a strong brand for the future. You could get lucky, though, and get something really good, because there are many undiscovered talented designers out there!


This right here is just the tip of the iceberg, in the long journey to start your online t-shirt brand, and it’s already quite the work, time wise. The good thing is that you can do all of the above mostly from your computer. Research is paramount to a good start, to good decisions regarding your new business venture. Know the environment, know your identity and your target audience, then you can move on to new challenges, such as t-shirt designs, which we will discuss in our next article.