Blog, Industry Tips, Marketing, T-Shirts

Types of T-shirt Designs and Techniques involved


Every good designer knows that design is problem solving, regardless of the medium. The mission is always to organise what needs to be communicated in the most effective way possible while still keeping it pleasing to the eye. Being in the personalised t shirts industry means not only to choose the right design, but also the most appropriate printing technique for each scenario.

the-sum-t-shirtTypographic T-shirts

These types of t-shirts tend to be the “message” or “slogan” t-shirts. Since there is no other element than the written word, special attention needs to be paid to the typeface used to deliver it. Typography can be a complex art, but there are still simple tips you can follow to come up with a harmonious design.

Photographic (hyper-realistic) T-shirts

When done well, these types of t-shirts can create a really big impact. A hyper-realistic image, not necessarily a photo since illustrations can achieve the same effect, can draw attention and deliver a message without any words. The best part is that now a days, you don’t even need to create the pictures yourself.

Illustrated Tees

One of the great things about them is how versatile they are. Illustrations can be for kids, naughty, minimal, complex, hyper-realistic and anything else you can imagine. That being said, the versatility of illustrations can add complexity to the production process. Since they cover such a big spectrum, no formula can be prepared regarding their production.

realistic-vestGraphic T-shirts

They stand between the typographic and the illustrated. Not quite as simple as the first, but not as complex as the second. They tend to have a simple design which makes them easier to print than most. They’re perfect for screen printing and cad-cut vinyl.

Branded Shirts

These t-shirts are just what they sound like, garments printed with the sole purpose of promoting a company or a brand. With these types of garments no major work is required on the creativity aspect (as most of the time it only requires a logo on the middle of the chest), but more attention should be paid to the technical aspects.

Abstract Tees

By definition, abstract art or design is the one that doesn’t feature any recognisable figures, may these be from nature or man-made. These types of prints encompass a wide range of visual styles. The only rule here is that people cannot put a name on what they’re seeing. As with illustrations all sort of printing techniques can be applied here, depending on the design.


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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