Top 5 Design Trends for T-Shirts

With the abundance of t-shirt design sites such as Threadless and Design By Humans, it’s easy to trendspot themes that are popular. Each site and its community has their own taste and it makes gaming the vote a lot easier. Here is a list of our top 5 design trends that are sure to give you a few extra votes in t-shirt competitions:


T-Shirts with skull designs are arguably the most popular theme on the internet and in retail. Something about death just gets designers and t-shirt lovers united.

Skull T-Shirts


Trees are one of the most symbolic pieces of design and probably the reason for their popularity. They can equate to life, growth, green living, reunion, and much more.

Tree T-Shirts


Birds definitely win the versatility award for having the ability to range from cute to scary and from large to small. They can be the focal point and make the whole design or just be an accessory and play a small part in the big picture.

Bird T-Shirts


Splatter is a pretty simple effect that can be useful for the majority of t-shirt design concepts. There are many resources on the internet for photoshop brushes and vectored image packs with splatter to add to a t-shirt designer’s toolbox.

Splatter T-Shirts


Floral artwork is another wildy popular component of t-shirt design because of its all-purpose usability. It usually sits in the background and can act as polish for the featured portion of the artwork.

Floral T-Shirts

As with anything else, what is hot today can be cold tomorrow but these 5 design elements and concepts have been in high demand for some time now. Our guess is that with the increasing amount of platforms for t-shirt design, these design elements will reach saturation at a faster rate than ever before.

Hopefully these designs are inspiring, because custom t-shirts can be a great and fun form of promotion, whether it’s for a business, band, freelancer, etc. Aside from that, they’re awesome to come up with just for the sake of creativity and design.

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