When it comes to cool graphic tees and illustrated T-shirts, we have your back - and we’ll cover it with beautifully designed t-shirts from great illustrators. We've scoured the internet for the best, most trustworthy and illustrator-friendly graphic tee websites and online stores.
Cost-effective, fun and a way to show the world the real you (even if the real you likes an odd combination of unicorns and cats), everyone needs a few great T-shirts – for those days where you want to look great but you have two minutes to get ready. Or just want to look great. T-shirts are after all a style staple, onto which you can staple your own personality - unlike the plainer bottom-half equivalent, jeans, on which ‘personality’ seems to mean ‘weirdly placed rips’. So it's important to get your tees to a T.
Graphic tees from illustrator-run independents are the more mature, better-looking cousins of the re-hashed high street style. So let’s move away frombrash, unfunny and screw-you slogan T-shirts and into the world of good design - whether you want tiny stores selling carefully selected products or sprawling art communities, with every taste possible.
When we first came across 3rd Rail at this year's
Pick Me Up Festival, we we mightly impressed with their diverse selection of gorgeously designed T-shirts by some super cool artists such as children's illustrator Felicity Marshall. And we weren't at all let down by their other products when we checked out their website. Though there isn't a massive range of products to order from their online shop, you can check out their printing website for the brands this wonderful bunch of illustrators and artists supply.
With such loving, humble beginnings – graphic-tee-obsessed Harry Garnham and designer (also graphic-tee-obsessed)
Matt Mckinney pooled £200 together to start their online store – you might imagine that Origin68 is the kind of outlet that carefully hand-folds its t-shirts, prints its own labels and stickers, before sending them to their customers with a kiss goodbye.
And you’d be right: after all Harry and Matt (and their network of people and businesses) create all their own T-shirts. As well as their tees, of which the
Human Being design is a favourite, Origin68 sell other gloriously hipster products – such as backpacks made of plastic bottles, notebooks made of stone and sunglasses made of old skateboard - which they source from carefully chosen, ethically aware brands.
We’ve been Origin68 fans for quite a while:
check out our piece on their collaboration with artists from the likes of Si Scott, Steven Bonne and Rizki Katamsi.
Image: buy from Origin68.
AnyForty caters a lot less to the hipster, and more to “steadily attacking the industry” with “the world’s sickest artists”, according to its website– that’s hip-hop to the rest of you. To complete its look, it did (of course) have a 3-month pop-up shop in Shoreditch and has just grown from there - into an incredible street t-shirt collection. Darker, angrier and more intricate than other typical designs in this list, AnyForty has forged a wonderful niche for itself. And all of this is run by one man. Thank you, Andy Wardle.
Image: buy from AnyForty.
Facets has some really, really cool designs from NYC-based Australian artist Justin Maller – and have branched into t-shirts. HELMETICA (pictured) is Facets’ collection of wearable art (aka t-shirts). There have been quite a few
T-shirt collections since.
Though the t-shirts are on the pricey side, you get more for it: a more durable, better-printed product. Oh, and some really cool, super-bright designs that really know what they're talking about, as Justin has been working in 'low-poly' before it was a thing.
Check out more of our thoughts on Justin's creations.
Image: Sentient Sentinel (left), Superior Tech (centre), Fools! (right)
Menswear (and-women-who-don’t-care-and-will-wear-men’s-t-shirts-anyway) brand The Illustrated Mind promises to represent new talent both locally and internationally. Though they were only set up in 2010, they have already collaborated with ridiculously cool artists such as
Pete Sharp, Jack Teagle and Pippa Toole. From wonderfully nostalgic 80s-inspired designs to the totally modern, we love The Illustrated Mind’s range and style.
Image: buy from The Illustrated Mind.
Original Penguin does a lot to things, including kids & baby products, and accessories and footwear for adults. And it does a lot of different T-shirts too - from plain (no time for them in this article) to graphic. It’s worth searching for the
graphic t-shirts, some of which are designed with illustrator Jeremyville (and are predictably lovely). Stocked in the likes of House of Fraser and Amazon, you can’t go wrong with the quality or gorgeous designs of Original Penguin tees.
Image: buy from Original Penguin.
Jamie Mitchell and illustrator Mark Callaby (you can learn more about this from their truly charming ‘about us’ page) worked with a bunch of illustrators they’re fond of to create brilliant products - which has now reached 35 artists across the globe, whose work for Ohh Deer has been picked up by the like of that tiny online store Asos. We can see why: the beautiful designs have a charming, compelling hand-drawn style that it seems everyone can’t get enough of.
Image: buy from Ohh Deer.
With offerings from over 15,000 global artists comes less pickiness for Design By Humans (DBH), but a massive range of t-shirts to make up for it - including (take a deep breath) cool T-shirts and cheesy T-shirts, nostalgic T-shirts and modern T-shirts, colourful t-shirts and black-and-white t-shirts, t-shirts entitled
‘SLOTH & SOFT DRINK’ and t-shirts dubbed ‘ Thinking of a Foreign Girl v2’, beautifully designed t-shirts and BB8 tribute t-shirts… Essentially, any T-shirt.
Though not all will be to your taste (especially if you’re not a Star Wars fan), Design By Humans (DBH) hold a standard of design through their application process to become a DBH artist. Collaborating with artists means DBH is the centre of the strong design community it has created – check out its
Tumblr and Pinterest.
Image: buy from Design by Humans.
Threadless is another great art community lover – so much so it lets artists set up an online store in minutes and set their own prices, a deal which has tempted over 35,000 artists and produced a mind-boggling number of products. The t-shirt company has grown into a wildly vibrant, creative hub and name in its own right.
They even have a book. And their design competitions stir the creative pot.
Though have been some
complaints about the quality of the T-shirts, that is not true about the designs themselves, which can be incredibly creative - and, occasionally, not-so-outstanding too. It’s certainly telling that its creative resources page offers advice on overused styles (hasn’t this friendly spaceman been burned into our retinas enough?).
With such a big collection, though, you have to expect varying quality, and it's important not to forget that
Threadless have some seriously cool artists on their side - including Tara McPherson's stunning Threadless shop.
Image: buy from Threadless.
Home to hundreds of thousands of artists around the globe, Society6 has resulted in a massive collection of dynamic artwork across a range of products - including some gorgeous t-shirts. Artists have their own store. If Society6 like their designs, they are featured in the main store too.
This adds some selectivity to the main store - and easy access to your favourite artists. Whatever the product (iPhone case, print or cushion cover), the quality is high. Society6 is another massive collection of high-quality, beautifully design t-shirts you could spend hours browsing.
Image: buy from Society6.