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5 best theme ideas for t-shirt designs

This list with theme ideas for t-shirt designs is based on two things:

  • Number of searches in Google, Bing and others.
  • My experience in selling all kinds and designs, both on brick and mortar stores and online stores

So, if you have doubts about what kind of designs may be more successful, this can help you.

Let’s start.

1 – Artistic designs

By artistic designs, I mean themes that have no particular interest, except the art and taste of the designer.

With this theme, you have to be yourself. Don’t think of what people want.

Make the designs you like, using lettering, photos and other design items.

The market for artistic designs is huge. An of course, this is a good thing.

Bu unfortunately there are two problems.

First, artistic designs tend to be very expensive to print on a t-shirt. And this happens because printers will charge you for the numbers of colors your design has. Expect to pay higher costs if your design has more than 3 colors.

Secondly, there are too many designers trying to sell artistic design t-shirts. It means you’ll be having a hard time promoting your brand or products.

In this business, there’s a rule: The more specific your design is, the easier it is to market it.

Artistic designs are not very specific. In fact they are very general.

If you choose to make artistic designs, you’ll have to spend more time promoting it. But if you have success, the profit may be very huge.

Trumpet - black heat transfer on a grey background

2 – Cars and motorcycles

This is a very specific theme. People are searching all the time for t-shirts with cars and motorcycles prints.

And you can be more specific. You can become an expert on vans, or vintage cars, or whatever you think people want.

Be careful when using car and motorcycle brands. Car brands are registered. And copyright is a tricky issue in the t-shirt business. It’s difficult for me to say what you can and cannot do.

Again, pay attention to the number of colors on your designs

citroen 2cv vintage car - black and white heat transfer on a sky blue background

3 – Movies and tv series

These t-shirt designs are very popular, and customers are willing to pay good money for a t-shirt with their favorite movie or TV series.

But there’s a big problem. Every movie, TV series, and characters are registered. You cannot use them. At least you have to be more discreet.

If you use designs and words that can make people guess what movie or TV series are, without saying the name, it’s very unlikely that any of those copyrights owners will make anything.

If you have a good imagination, you can create movie and TV series that people want to buy.

And if you are willing to pay for copyrights, you can contact the owners of the movie brands. But it is quite expensive.

4 – Touristic

Touristic t-shirt designs are the ugly duck of t-shirt business. But I think it is very unfair.

T-shirts with touristic designs are one of the most sold themes. Probably, the most sold of all.

And it has two big advantages.

The first one is that cities and countries are not registered. You can use the name of cities or countries and you don’t have to pay for it. But attention, the names are free but some designs could be registered. Usually they are not.

But if you make an original design, you will have no problem.

The second advantage is also a disadvantage. Touristic t-shirts are usually sold on physical stores, not online stores.

This means you don’t have a strong competition from online stores, but you have to sell the t-shirts in a physical space.

5 – Funny and text

Funny and texted t-shirts are the ones that have words and phrases or funny designs.

Although the competition is high, the market is huge. So, this is probably the best t-shirt designs you can use on your t-shirts.

Your imagination is the limit, and you can use most of the popular designs already done, because they are not registered.

Another advantage is that this designs, usually use few colors, one or two. This means cheaper prints.

I love school, when it's closed for vacation - white heat transfer on a blue background
This is one of our funny designs. You can find this design in “heat transfers”

Other theme t-shirt designs

There are, of course, hundreds of themes. Some are good choices, others are bad.

Just remember, you have to balance the market demand (people searching for) and easy to market (the effort in time and money to sell).

See our amazing designs in “heat transfers”