Custom T-Shirt Design 101

Mato & Hash Blog

READ TIME: 2 MINUTES 45 SECONDSMato & Hash Men's Full Color Custom Graphic T Shirt

When designing a custom t-shirt, you must first select the finest quality material and craftsmanship for your garment. We have already done that for you here at Mato & Hash - you’re welcome!  

Cotton is widely used and the most popular material out of which t-shirts are made, yet it does wrinkle easily. Polyester is a favorite of performance tee manufacturers for its quick-drying and mold-resistant qualities, making it a popular choice for sportswear.Cotton PlantWe have combined the best of both worlds with our 60 percent cotton, 40 percent polyester blended t-shirt. The cotton and polyester mix results in a shirt that stays both cool and wrinkle resistant, delivering everything needed in a superior quality t-shirt.Polyester ThreadThe next step is consulting a professional artist to design your look, unless of course you are confident in your artistic ability. Once more, we have already done that for you, as we have multiple artists in-house to help you design the t-shirt you have always wanted but could never find.  

Here are a few basic design tips:  

Know your audience - keep in mind who you are designing this shirt for. Is it for personal use only? Is it for personal use at a specific event? Maybe you are creating a t-shirt for your baseball or softball team this summer and you need to consider what you like along with what most of the team would like. Regardless of who it’s for, consideration needs to be taken as far as what others will like or what will be perceived when the shirt is seen, potentially over what you, the designer, likes.  

Size - larger prints can affect feel. A giant print may feel a little less comfortable than a smaller one.   Men's Custom Thanksgiving Graphic T ShirtTrends – If you are designing t-shirts for your business or athletic team, what is in-style right now will be important. You want your business to look modern and on top of things while athletic teams always want to look stylish and sleek. Trends should be visible not only in artistic designs but also material, colors, collar style and other elements of the garment’s design. 

Font – following what was discussed above, keep an eye on what fonts are hot right now. Your competition could use a cool, crisp font that sets them apart from your Comic Sans, but that is up to you. Think of not only how the letters will look, but how the word and phrase will appear on the t-shirt. Spacing and typeset is of utmost importance, so take some time to lay out and review how any text will appear before going to print.  

Placement – You will need to think about exactly where your design or designs will be placed on the garment. Front will be cheaper than front plus back. However, maybe a left-chest print combined with a back print would make more sense. Will the sleeves have anything printed on them?Mens Canine Dog Custom Graphic T ShirtIf designing from scratch is not interesting to you, check out our artist-made designs that can be easily personalized with names, dates and more! Or get a little creative help from our online designer complete with popular font styles, clip art, and advanced editing capabilities.   

Click this link to see our artist-made personalizable t-shirts or create your own here. You have two options when it comes time to get your artwork onto a shirt: screen print or direct to garment.   Create Your Own Custom Graphic T Shirts and ApparelScreen printing pushes ink through a screen onto the shirt where it lays on the surface of the fabric. Each part of the design requires a separate screen and the inks are then layered onto each other. This method works best for solid images that have no fine details and a minimal range of colors. Because of the high up-front costs, screen printing also works best for large runs (over 50) as opposed to a handful of tees. At Mato & Hash we print up to two colors for screen printing jobs and require a minimum of 50 pieces. 

The Museum of Modern Art New York states Andy Warhol is widely accepted in the art world as the man who popularized screen printing. In 1969, Michael Vasilantone was awarded a patent for his garment screen printing machine, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. Originally used to print on bowling shirts, t-shirts were introduced to the machine and use for that purpose has grown immensely since.  

Screen Printed Custom Graphic T Shirts and Apparel

Direct-to-garment applies ink directly onto the shirt, soaking it into the fibers. This method is best for one-time prints and designs with many colors and fine details. Use in the USA started around 1996, says Scott Fresener in his book The Death of Screen Printing. The first commercial machine, “Revolution,” was developed in Bradenton, Florida and based off the design of Matthew Rhome. “Revolution” was offered for sale until 1998, when Rhome left the company. Today the market for DTG is valued in the billions. DTG Custom Graphic T Shirts and ApparelUse common sense when planning out your design and t-shirt selection to get optimum results with minimum investment. Take your time when creating your design and be mindful of things like number of colors, number of prints, print method and material used. Our suggestion would be a 60 percent cotton, 40 percent polyester shirt like mentioned above.  

The design is up to you, first timers should keep it simple and then go for more with each successive design. Luckily for you, our professional artists are willing to help you with your design.  

Following these tips, using this information and doing some of your own research will yield the best results. As the saying goes, you get what you put in - so take some time to get creative with your artwork, select the best material at the right price, and do not be afraid to ask the artists and printers you work with questions.   

Now go make America’s next favorite t-shirt!  

Check the Mato & Hash Blog often for new posts with apparel information, design tips, trends and more. If you have an idea you'd like to see us explore - let us know - we may consider writing about it.

About the Authors 

Jon is the E-Commerce Product Specialist and has been with Mato & Hash since the beginning of 2021. He grew up about 20 minutes east of the office, holds a degree in journalism and enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, video games, cooking and spending time with his friends and family.

Leona has been the Resident Photographer/Content Creator at Mato & Hash since the start of 2020, capturing flawless product images and actualizing breathtaking photoshoots. She loves her fur babies, hiking and anything creative. She graduated with a BFA in photography from College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

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