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The Best Online T-shirt Design Competitions


Design by Humans

Design by Humans features regular design contests, with past contests including clients like Assassin’s Creed and the Diablo video games; musicians Stone Temple Pilots, Kiss, Kings of Leon and Lil’ Wanye; and even T-shirts for Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. There are chances to catch the attention of major, major brands here. They don’t always have a contest running, but you can sign up for e-mail alerts to hear about new ones.


FESPA, a conference about garment decoration and textile print technologies, hosts every year a contest to design the official T-shirt of the annual occasion. The event is open to all members of the garment community, so there are a lot of interesting artworks being submitted. The only rule designers have to comply with is by including at least one of the logo images for the conference. Winners receive cash prizes, as well as the glory of having their design front and centre at a major conference of the textile sector.


Every year, Openstack, a cloud security software company, also holds a contest to design its annual T-shirt. It’s really easy to participate — all one has to do is email them a sketch of the design.


Threadless always features art from designers in their community and lets people vote on which ones are their favourites. You can view the designs by the top ones, the rising ones, and the newest ones, so there are lots of ways site visitors can see designs. All of them are really high-quality, so it’s a good place for serious designers to get their work noticed.

Go beyond the contests

If you’re thinking big and believe you’ve got a winning design, you could contact manufacturers directly to see if they’re interested in using it. Another way of getting into the mass market is to enter contests advertised by the big clothing companies and retailers. To find these contests keep an eye on your favourite fashion magazines, clothing websites, fabric companies and competition websites*.

Let yourself go and come up with something really special. Your design doesn’t have to be complex. It can be classic and simple or anything in between. You can use pictures, words and photographs to tell the world what you want to say.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!

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