T-shirt design inspiration

Some great artworks used as a t-shirt design inspiration

Before you get started, bear in mind that creating a logo or artwork shouldn’t be a quick job, especially when you’re going to use it for your t-shirt design. Think about how you want to represent your brand and whether what you’ve created fits with your style. After all, this will end up adorning most of your merch. An instantly recognisable logo or a clever piece of eye-catching artwork can help you stand out from the crowd.

t-shirt design inspiration

Shop-now-custom-t-shirts-for-teams-and-events-t-shirt design

The album artwork

Joy Division — Unknown Pleasures

t-shirt design inspiration 1
Image from Joy Division
Starting with an obvious one, Peter Saville’s iconic cover for the post-punk band’s 1979 debut album is one of the best-known pieces of band artwork ever. Created from an image guitarist Bernard Sumner took from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, it is both instantly recognisable and a masterclass in simplicity. It’s still as popular today as it was on release and can be found on t-shirts, mugs and, well, everything really. In fact, people love it so much they even get it tattooed on their bodies. When it comes to creating your artwork, remember — sometimes simple is best.

The logo


t-shirt design inspiration
Image from Ramones

Arturo Vega’s famous logo for the Ramones shows that putting careful consideration into how a band is represented can pay off. The black and white design plays on the American presidential crest to reflect the band’s all-American persona, and while the symbolism may have been diluted over the years the band’s influence definitely hasn’t. Some might argue that the logo is over commercialised (you can pick up a cheap Ramones t-shirt pretty much anywhere) but if anything, it’s testament to its staying power. When it comes down to it, it’ll always be cool.

The slogan

Frankie Goes to Hollywood

t-shirt design inspiration
Image from Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking to support a cause you feel strongly about, have a statement you want to be heard, or lyrics that you’re really proud of, think about letting your words do the talking. Slogan t-shirts can rally people together and make a strong statement, as Frankie Goes to Hollywood proved back in the 80s. The band was already causing controversy thanks to the release of the suggestive ‘Relax’ and the politically-charged ‘Two Tribes’; adding a clever t-shirt marketing campaign stirred things up even more. Their black and white ‘Frankie Say Relax’ slogan t-shirts tapped into the culture of the time so successfully that they’ve been associated with the band ever since.

The theme

British Sea Power

t-shirt design inspiration
Image from British Sea Power
Great name, great music, even greater merchandise. BSP’s dedication to all things outdoors is shown clearly through their consistently inventive and fun merchandise. In addition to quirky gifts like branded travel mints and boxes of fudge, their clothing and mugs fit perfectly with the band’s love of the countryside and nature. Their latest t-shirt, for example, features names of must-visit coastal places in the UK.

The tie-in

Blur — Coffee & TV

t-shirt design inspiration
Image from Blur
lur’s brilliant ‘Coffee & TV’ was understandably one of their biggest songs, but one of the other reasons people loved it was for its video featuring Milky, the oh-so-cute milk carton that heads out in search of a missing Graham Coxon. In a smart move, Blur gave the fans what they wanted — the chance to own their own Milky carton which, not surprisingly, sold out instantly on release.

While you might not be able to stretch to custom products, there are still ways to tie your creative ideas together. The cover art for Ladyhawke’s new album ‘Wild Things’ features her wearing a t-shirt with the album’s name on it. It’s not just a clever way to show the title, you can also buy the same t-shirt from her store.

Ladyhawke — Wild Things

t-shirt design inspiration
Image from Ladyhawke

Ok, so these bands have also written some of the biggest songs of their generation which may have helped give their profile a boost but we’re sure your music has the potential to do the same. What these examples show is that with a little imagination, the designs you create can be a powerful tool in helping you on your way.

Now — hopefully you’re inspired to go make your own designs and print them.

Any questions?

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