Designer Tees! Wear your art on your sleeve

Who doesn’t like a little Tees action? Personally, original t-shirt designs catch my eye more than most graphic art that I see. Mainly because I can wear it. Functional art, oh baby! Another reason I take such staunch note of Tees, is due to the nature of print design. It’s an underrated source of artistic expression, probably due to it’s small scale presentation, whereas the grandiose display that most graphic art seems to get cast it in a more ‘respectable’ light. And for that, I call shenanigans!

It’s so much more than just a t-shirt, or a flyer, or whatever else the belittling label of choice that’s applied wants to call it. It’s art. And it’s a design field that restricts it’s artists in many ways. Size being one, that again, may get the piece a less than respectable branding, is another way that the print designers have been limited. They must capture their idea and encapsulate all their meaning in a much more compact piece. In a lot of graphic design, the large scale of the creation itself allows for all the intricacies that are weaved throughout the work to shine and convey their part. However, print designs must be able to work fully on a smaller scale that would cause most graphic designs to lose too much of their subtly for their piece to still be effective. So that’s a limitation that print designers deal with regularly and brilliantly.

Another problem they face, is the restricted use of colors. Large scale graphic designers love their gradients as they breathe such life and depth into an image, furthering the transmission of it’s message. But print designers have to step it up to tell everything in a much more succinct manner. The shading and depth must be crafted with a three color palette, on average, and that’s an accomplishment in my book. So why all the dismissal of designs made for tees and other print outlets? It doesn’t seem right that work that takes more skill and preparation than most, gets more ridicule than participation. Perhaps it’s a bit of jealousy rearing it’s ugly head from those who can’t, so they just critique!

Some examples of great t-shirt designs! Respect!

Irate Monkey

Artist: Dave who is really into whales and their bones a full time graphic designer and illustrator

Prom Night

Artist: Jeff Finley a graphic designer and part owner of Go Media


Artist: Filter017 was created by Enzo, Wen, and Nick since 2004. you can see there Flickr and blog

Ape Vs Monkey

Artist: Illustrator Nik Holmes has been in the picture making business since 2004 and in that time has racked up clients including Virgin, Microsoft, Orange and Mastercard. visit his blog and portfolio

Royal Blood

Chris Rushing graphic designer see his flickr for more cool designs.

Refraction Retraction

Artist: FullBleed, Since 2004 fullbleed has been a one man t-shirt army, printing over 70 tees.

Poetry Of Demise

Artist: Herman Lee, a 22 year old guy who just relocated back to Hong Kong from Toronto, Canada.

Oddica Octopus

Artist: Ray Frenden an illustrator from Greater Chicago “I Draw things” you can see his flickr