Here’s a word of advice. Don’t get so caught up in running your apparel business that you forget the most important part:
Designing great custom apparel.
You can recover from a slow month or a botched marketing campaign, but your apparel designs will make or break your business.
If you don’t have good designs, people won’t want to buy your shirts! It’s that simple.
You have to make a stellar first impression on potential customers. Your goal should be to “WOW” them with dope designs that they won’t ever forget.
There are a lot of talented designers in the world, so you need a unique style to stand out from the pack. Keep that in mind as you brainstorm ideas for your work.
Believe it or not, looking at art is one of the best ways to cultivate inspiration for your own designs.
Coming up with t-shirt designs can be challenging, especially if you are new to the world of fashion and apparel design.
One of the best ways to find inspiration is by looking at art—whether it’s paintings, sculptures, or other forms of creative expression.
Art will open your mind to different styles and techniques that you can draw inspiration from when creating your own work.
You might be wondering, “Why do I need to look at other people’s art if my goal is to have a unique style?”
Well, just like reading makes you a better writer, looking at art will help you design t-shirts for your custom apparel brand.
If you check out other people’s art all the time, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also be able to understand the different elements that come together to create a successful design.
Inspiration is everywhere—but if you don’t know where to start, here are 10 places you can look for t-shirt design inspo:
1. Art museums
Looking at fine art can be a fantastic way to find inspiration for your custom apparel designs. You’ll be able to learn about the history of design and see what other designers are doing now.
Many museums offer free admission, so there’s no excuse not to visit! Start with your local museum and then branch out from there.
If you think Pinterest is just another social media platform, think again. It actually functions more like a visual search engine.
A quick search for “t-shirt designs” on Pinterest will bring up a wealth of results. You can browse through the design ideas and save the ones you like to your own board.
Pinterest is easy to use, and it will help you organize your ideas so you can easily find them later. You can also follow other people’s boards to see what inspires them.
This is a hub for designers from all industries, including custom apparel. You can search through the thousands of designs on Behance to find inspiration and even connect with other designers if you’re interested in collaborating on a project.
You will find thousands of high-quality designs from professional designers on Behance. They might as well call it Inspiration Central!
Think of Dribbble as Behance’s sister. While Behance has more of a laid-back community feel, Dribbble is oriented toward professional networking.
For 11 years, Dribbble was an invite-only platform. It recently removed the invitation requirement in 2021. Even today, it is still a relatively exclusive network of designers. You’re bound to find high-quality work on Dribbble.
This platform is dedicated to inspiration for graphic and logo design. You can search by color or keyword—and you can even browse through the featured designs for inspiration.
Designspiration has a browser extension, so you can easily save inspiration to your account from any webpage. It’s like Pinterest, but specifically for design inspiration!
6. Google Images
A simple search on Google Images will also turn up an ocean of results. You can find what you’re looking for in just a couple of clicks.
Of course, we are only recommending Google Images for inspiration—not for design assets. Never take any image, font, or asset from the Internet without verifying that they are free for commercial use and don’t require any additional licensing to use them.
7. T-Shirt Magazine
T-Shirt Magazine is at the top of our recommended reading list. It’s wonderful for educating yourself about new trends and techniques in custom apparel.
Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned pro, you’ll think of new ideas each time you browse T-Shirt Magazine. Every page is filled with beautiful photography and informative articles.
If you like to watch videos, YouTube is another rich source of inspiration. You can find thousands of t-shirt design videos that show you how to create various effects.
You can also find inspiration in the comments section of some of these videos—other designers often share their ideas, too.
9. Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe is the holy grail of creative programs. It birthed Photoshop, Illustrator, and a whole suite of creator tools. You can check out the designs featured on the Discover page of the Creative Cloud website to get ideas for your own custom apparel.
10. Online tutorials
(P.S. Online tutorials will not only give you inspiration, but they will make you a better designer by teaching you new techniques! You should diversify your skillset if you want to have a competitive edge in your niche.)
Excited about your new designs? Let’s put them into production.
Why choose Scrappy Apparel? Because we make the custom apparel process a piece of cake for our customers.
We perfected our Brand Building Process (BBP) to ensure that your journey is smooth sailing from pre-production all the way to delivery.
Your designs are eager to be printed, so why wait?