We love customizing t-shirts, but it doesn’t have to stop with a great design and screen print. Making a personalized fashion statement with a great t-shirt, an imaginative mind, and a pair of scissors has been a popular trend for some time. We’ve scoured Instagram for proof of how versatile the simple t-shirt can be and we’ve found some brilliantly creative examples. Check out what we’re calling the Best DIY T-Shirt Mods on Instagram! Thank you to everyone who gave us permission to use their fabulous pics!
This post is meant to be a spotlight featuring t-shirt designers we feel have influenced the t-shirt design and printing industry and to hopefully introduce new fans to their artwork. Many of the designers are multi-talented meaning they may not have started with the intention of lighting t-shirt culture on fire, but their design aesthetics translate really well into t-shirt art. They are featured in no specific order
Lots of professional artists would just be happy working but not this guy, he left a corporate artist gig to become a freelance artist only doing the type of designs he appreciates. After having been ignored by the record labels he reached out to merchandising companies and found a back way into the hearts of some of the biggest band and artist names out there. He’s designed for Deadmau5, Eminem, the Foo Fighters and even brands like Adidas. According to his 2010 interview with Go Media, Geoff gets his inspiration from other graphic artist like Chad Lenjer, and Angryblue as well as 50’s iconic pop art.
Jimmy Heartcore, otherwise known as Jimmy Breen has been involved with the designing graphic tees for a very long time. He’s owned several businesses including the now defunct Heartcore Clothing brand. Don’t worry though, he’s still designing phenomenal t-shirt art and illustrations and working with a handful of choice record labels and brands such as Sleeping with Sirens, Young the Giant and the Wu-Tang Clan.
An entrepreneurial spirit spurred Johnny Cupcakes to create the first ever bakery inspired clothing brand. His very original concept was initially launched because of the nickname coworkers had given him, Johnny Cupcakes. The original t-shirt design was a combination of his nickname with a heavy metal edge. What is most inspiring about this t-shirt designer is his passion to have fun with brand and come up with different ways to insert cupcake imagery within the bounds of popular and iconic references. His brand goes beyond the design to create an entire experience with the way the t-shirts are displayed in his retail store and pop up stores when “on tour.” He has essentially built a Cult of Cupcakes as he shares his experience, passion and entrepreneurial spirit with fans around the world.
Obey is much bigger than a clothing company, it’s an ideal that began with Shepard Fairy a designer, artist and idealist from South Carolina. He started his career in art at the Rhode Island School of Design where a sticker intended to make viewers question their views and belief systems turned into the iconic Obey Giant. He turned his passion for underground based art into a business of t-shirts and stickers. He later co-founded the design studio BLK/MRKT which focused on guerilla marketing for major brands. His body of work expands to pretty epic proportions including multiple Times Magazine cover illustrations, President Barrack Obama’s “Hope” poster as well as numerous design donations to non-profit organizations. He collaborates with designers Mike Ternosky and Erin Wignall to realize his vision in the clothing aspect of his story.
Isaboa is otherwise known as Joe Carr publishes under his brand, Antiquated Press. He’s been working with pen and ink always and finds that his creations translate well to t-shirts. His work can be found on commercial products and illustrations as well as a handful of artist community themed t-shirt sites like Threadless and The Shirt List. His work is highly detailed and imaginative and he likes to create his own prints using intanglio printmaking. He’s been an invaluable contributor to t-shirt culture and furthering the t-shirts as art movement.
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing the very charismatic and enterprising owner of Beard Monster. Austin Pressley owns and operates his business out of Peachtree City, Georgia specializing in handcrafted beard care oils, balms, and washes along with mustache waxes and complimenting gifts and accessories. This DesignAShirt patron piqued our interest quickly as he offers uniquely formulated products for a very unique breed of clientele, the free spirited and unequivocally masculine bearded man.
What inspired you to start Beard Monster?
Austin Pressley- I've always worn long hair and facial hair. I learned about beard oil and tried it, and liked the results. When I looked into the ingredients and realized it was made of olive oil and fragrance, I was flabbergasted. Did I just pay $20 for a bottle of olive oil?! I wanted to make a better product for a better price, and knew that with a little effort, I could.
Which product was the first ever offered?
A.P.- Our beard oils were the first products we offered. I introduced our five main scents at the same time, along with a sample pack with a small bottle of each. We were originally selling on Etsy, and our first sale came through a couple of days after we opened up.
What if any, are your views about beards as a form of self-expression?
A.P.- Beards are as unique as the hair on our heads, and can be every bit as useful for self-expression. I think beards have become an important part of the expression of our identities as men, too. Grow them long, or keep them short if you choose. Braid them, stick flowers in them. Let them express who you are. I've always been a bit wild, so I have always had long hair and some degree of beard. But a beard can reflect the opposite, with a shorter, neater trim. There's a lot you can say with your beard that you can't really express with a smooth face.
You have a passionate fan base, what is about your brand that compels such devotion?
A.P.- The Beard Monster brand appeals to what some might call a "niche." Every other beard product company out there sells men on the idea that with their product, you'll become a dapper, well-coifed gentleman. As though every bottle of their beard oil came with an Armani suit. That's not the kind of guy I have ever wanted to be, and not the kind of guy my lady (and business partner) is interested in. Other beard companies try to appeal to the bearded man's desire to be George Clooney. We appeal to the men who would rather be Rob Zombie. The public has responded, I think, because that's a lot more men than anyone thought.
Why do you feel beards have made such a strong comeback in recent years?
A.P.- The "metrosexual" movement was something of a rejection of traditional notions of masculinity. And rejecting tradition in favor of a new way of thinking is great! But I think when men started "manscaping" and slipping on pink cardigans, we were going to far in the opposite direction. A lot of guys (myself included) saw that and pushed back. I didn't feel the metrosexual thing, and I showed it with long hair and a big beard. When a lot of guys started doing that, the trend pushed back toward a more traditionally masculine look. It's ultimately about accepting ourselves, I think. Be yourself, and express who that is with your look. And if you embrace the fact that you're a man, a mammal, and therefore a hairy beast, then grow out your mane and be proud of it.
Do you formulate your own oils and balms or work with a team?
A.P.- It's all me. My gal is my partner in crime, and she helps with making our products and shipping them, but the recipes all come from my twisted little brain.
Does beard etiquette exist and if so, can you detail what that involves?
A.P.- There's a quote that I see pop up a lot online: "When two beards cross paths, the larger beard has the right of way." It's funny, but it does reflect a kind of truth. A study I read (yes, I read studies about beards - I swear I'm not boring) said that with a nice beard, you're more likely to receive compliments from men than women. And it's true. I do receive compliments from women, but more often it's other bearded men who pass me in the grocery store and nod and say "nice beard, man." And I do the same. Beards are one of the only things guys always seem comfortable complimenting each other on. I don't know if that's an etiquette so to speak, but bearded men certainly have a sort of kinship.
We see you have retailers as far away as Brazil. How did that aspect of the business evolve?
A.P.- Honestly, our retailers have approached us. We started getting inquiries as our social followings grew, and we typed up a set of wholesale rules and began sending that out to anyone who was interested. We keep saying that we are going to get to work approaching some retailers, but we stay so busy with our own retail that we don't really do it. We just make the wholesale deals when interseted retailers ask about it.
What is in the works at Beard Monster?
A.P.- Right now I'm unrolling 5 new fragrances (one of which was anounced last week - the Witch's Brew, a coffee scent). I've also created a couple of new products that I will roll out in time. We are about to overhaul our beard kits as well, with some new tools that will make them way more complete. We're sponsoring a competitor in the Southeastern Beard and Moustache Championship in May, and we'll be going up there to cheer him on as well.
What purpose do the custom t-shirts serve?
A.P.- Beard product companies have a lot to do with expression and identity. The company you prefer speaks to who you are, and so there's a lot of brand loyalty. People want to wear the shirt of the company they buy from. We used to get a lot of requests for shirts, stickers, hats, that sort of thing. So we figured if our customers were asking for them, we better provide!
One of them is Michelle, who makes creative t-shirts for her site: IntentionLove.com. Here's an interview with
What was the inspiration for starting your business?
The inspiration for starting my business began with love. True love starts from the inside and expands out. I wanted to remind myself of this every day. I hand embroidered my first LOVE t-shirt. Friends asked me where I bought it which lead me to making t-shirts for them. When the website www.IntentionLove.com was created making each t-shirt by hand was taking too much time so I turned to DesignAShirt.com for help. Screen printing allows for fun and creative ideas to flow and to produce high quality t-shirts.
What have you learned about t-shirt designs during your journey as a t-shirt designer?
Inspiration for the designs come from the desire to express life from a place of love verses fear. Events occur that inspire a design or just a thought about a statement that expresses love. I was sitting around a table with my sisters when we came up with the men’s t-shirt that states, “Get Your Love On.” I think this might be my favorite t-shirt. The organic cotton, perfect blue t-shirt looks amazing on the guys.
All of the t-shirts are organic cotton. I have looked high and low for t-shirts that have style and wear well. I love what I do. I receive amazing feedback on the t-shirts and always look forward to the next design. Currently www.IntentionLove.com is small but slowly t-shirts are added.
So, I encourage everyone to check back regularly and to like our FB page www.facebook.com/intendlove. On both the website and FB page people will receive updates for the latest styles as well as inspiring quotes and stories for everyday life.
DesignAShirt.com offers custom design assistance for our clients who need a little help with creating their personalized t-shirts (see here for more details about our custom t-shirt design services). But some of our clients need a little bit more help from designers. Often, they are re-doing the entire look of their business (or non-profit group) -- by revamping the logo, website and staff uniforms. When that happens, DesignAShirt.com often works with these designers to get the right results for their clients.
One of them is Stephanie Liebold, Creative Director at Bold Avenue. Here is a quick interview with Stephanie, who has worked with DesignAShirt when ordering up items for her clients. See more of her designs here
How long have you been freelancing?
I started my business in 2005 and went full time in 2008.
Why did you start to work on your own?
There were many reasons both personal and professional. It was a way to take control of my schedule and to put me on a path toward future goals. I also felt that there was a different way to treat clients than what I saw from some designers. I feel my role is to educate clients and help them make an informed decision, but not to talk down to them or act like my solution is the only possibility. There is a friendlier approach that recognizes the client as an expert in what they do. We have a lot to learn from each other.
What is your typical day like?
A typical day might involve brainstorming t-shirt ideas, designing a business card, sending out invoices, meeting with a potential client at a coffee shop and maybe randomly running into another contact who needs design work, as well.
What is your typical customer like?
A small business owner or organizer of a local event with a lot on their plate, who needs a designer to make them look good and make their life easier – on a budget, of course!
What are the advantages of going with a graphic artist like yourself?
A couple big advantages are design expertise and excellent, personalized service.
What kind of advice to you give to clients who are looking for a great tshirt design?
Find someone who knows what they're doing and who you have a good rapport with. Good communication is essential!
What do you look for when picking out a printer for tshirts for your clients?
Quality and commitment to service. I offer my clients above-and-beyond service, and I need the rest of my team to be on board with that philosophy.
What kind of advice to you give to clients who want a total rebranding? – what gives them the most bang for the buck?
Find a great designer, be honest about your budget and then let them work their magic! Offer input without micromanaging.
Do you have some examples of a kewl tshirt design you have done recently?
What are the biggest challenges you face with coming up with a totally new look for your clients?
I always strive to make sure I'm not just coming up with a neat design but one that solves a problem for my clients. The challenge is not just coming up with something that looks great, but something that truly functions for them.