Graphic t-shirts look pretty simple, right? While designing a t-shirt can look easy-peasy, a common sticking point is choosing the right font.

When designing a graphic t-shirt, we often recommend starting with the typography, a.k.a. picking a font. Sometimes a font will spark the very t-shirt idea, or maybe the font name has been mandated by your brand guide, but many times we turn to the web for font inspiration.

Let’s break it down:

Serif a.k.a. The Goody Two-Shoes

Serif fonts are the ones with the ‘feet’ on the ends. Traditionally, serif has been used to convey, well, tradition. These fonts have a more formal appeal and are usually very legible. This is helpful for reading a lot of text but (sometimes!) can be less exciting when blown up on a t-shirt.

Sans Serif a.k.a. The Hipster

Sans serif fonts are similar to serif in that they are known for their legibility. However, simply by removing the ‘feet’, sans serif fonts are more modern and are especially popular right now with contemporary brands and startups. Think about Google’s recent logo change, a big shift from simply removing those little feet, right?

Script a.k.a. The Posh

Script, or cursive, fonts often draw people’s attention which makes them good for t-shirt design. Usually they convey a more feminine, decorative vibe so if this is what you’re working towards it might be a good type to consider.

Display a.k.a. The Attention Seeker

Display fonts are bold, they’ve been designed for the sole purpose of catching your attention. This is helpful when designing for t-shirts as it means the font alone can stand alone as an exciting element.

Matt Blease Brothers Cycles t shirt

Hopefully, reading through these categories brought up some definite no-no’s, with one or two resonating most with your idea. Ultimately, whether you’re a designer or a self-proclaimed newbie, it’s important to understand that a font conveys a message. Taking the time to choose the right one will help your vision come to life.

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