From archives to photo collections
Designing your own t-shirt is fun, but it can be difficult to know where to start. With so many options available for colour, typography, illustration and more, you could feel overwhelmed with choice, or just lacking in inspiration. But whatever your design vibe — from retro sportswear to classic band t-shirts, bold graphics to subtle illustrations — we’ve got you covered. Here are eight of the best places to find inspiration for your t-shirt designs.
The Archive Redlands
This California vintage shop is the place to indulge your 1980s and 1990s nostalgia. The owners source original t-shirts featuring TV shows like The Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead, as well as tour memorabilia (Duran Duran, Tori Amos and New Kids on the Block, for starters) and bold skater-style graphic tees. There’s plenty of tie-dye too.
If you’re a fan of old school U.S. sportswear, check out the huge selection from vintage stalwarts Beyond Retro. They stock tees from the 1970s to now, so you’ll almost certainly find style inspiration.
Wearing Gay History
This incredible digital archive celebrates LGBTQ+ activists across the U.S. along with the witty, colourful, and politically powerful t-shirts they have created over the past forty years. With over 4000 in their online collection, spend an afternoon getting inspired by the stories of the people who first wore them.
Classic Football Shirts
Beckham, Cantona, Drogba and Giggs are among the names of Premier League icons to feature in this huge selection of historic shirts. The fluorescent colours, broad stripes and chunky typefaces of these retro kits are dazzling.
The National Archives
Learn about the history of the t-shirt while perusing this selection from the U.S. National Archive. Styles include illustrations of presidents, inspirational quotes and NASA memorabilia. Some of the designs are a little cheesy, but if you are looking for ideas on how to use text on your t-shirt, these are well worth checking out.
A fabulous round up of the best graphic t-shirt styles for school and college events, sports, charity, music, brands, and parties. Whatever occasion you are designing for, check this post for ideas first.
T: A Typology of T-Shirts
Photographer Susan A. Bennett has spent the past ten years capturing the bizarre, beautiful and brilliant t-shirts she sees on her travels across Europe and the U.S. A selection of Bennett’s work is available online, and you can buy her book of over 200 images here, too.
Streetwear fanatics Hypebeast collect some of the finest designs of the past 15 years, from brands Alife, Black Scale, Mishka, Only NY, and Staple.
Looking for quality t-shirt printing? At ICON Printing we offer fast turnaround printing and embroidery with a wide-ranging catalogue from t-shirts to caps to bags. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.