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 from brash, 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.
This new independent club-wearer brand
Acid87 – a self-described “musical underground favourite” – has launched a new site, a new range and a new T-shirt that follows on from Ben The Illustrator’s theme of spreading positivity.
The newest T-shirt comes under the Music Unites title. It takes inspiration from the seminal 1987 anthem
Acid Track. You can get specialist T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies for men and women that aim to bring back “the vibes” of the 80s and 90s.
The brand is inspired by DIY culture and “the sounds of the Roland 303”, the brand is only at the start of its journey, and you’ll probably spot it on the dance floor of nightclubs in Berlin and Ibiza.
Our pick: Acid87 brand logo T-shirt is available for £22.50.
Illustrator Ben O’Brien (aka
Ben the Illustrator) is all about "bringing smiles" and a "positive, creative outlook" with his work, and after concerns over world leaders "turning their back on love" over the last year, he set out to redress the situation.
Ben’s saving grace is
Coup – a heart-felt initiative selling a selection of limited edition T-shirt prints to raise money for charities. Commissioned artists, including Andy J Pizza, Bubi Au Yeung and Matt Johnstone have chosen the charities.
It’s been a little tough getting Coup off the ground, so a T-shirt purchase is greatly appreciated, and might we say £20 is rather affordable.
Ben has released “a bumper batch” of six T-shirts all in aid of children’s charities including Make-A-Wish, Tackle Africa and Unicef so far. Check out the artists, charities and T-shirt designs in
our extended feature.
It’s been a little tough getting Coup off the ground, so a T-shirt purchase is greatly appreciated. Keep an eye out, as next month six more T-shirts will be released all in support of human rights charities in April. The tees are screen-printed in the UK by
Threadless, which we’ve mentioned separately in this feature for their other collaboration with artists.
Our pick: Design by Matt Johnstone for Unicef. You can buy it for £20 here.
The Family Store
I stumbled upon The Family Store after a wrong turn took me onto the most-crowded-street-in-Brighton. It made the unfortunate jaunt worthwhile – though those wishing to avoid the thin, perma-rammed Kensington Gardens outside can check out its wares online at
A single-year-old venture by those behind T-shirt line The Illustrated Mind (who appear on this list later), The Family Store offers tees by that label plus others including Good Day Club and Ball and Chain Co – plus sweatshirts, pins, artwork, books, comics and even some carefully curated vinyl.
Ball and Chain Co are behind the wonderfully The Smiths-esque 'The Society of Misery and Regrets' line, which includes the T-shirt shown here.
We're also big fans of their branding, which was 'designed' by David Shrigley.
When we first came across 3rd Rail at the now-sadly-missed
Pick Me Up Festival last year, we we mighty impressed with their diverse selection of gorgeously designed T-shirts by artists such as children's illustrator Felicity Marshall and Tom Mac, not to mention beautiful screen prints by Hattie Steward, Archie Proudfoot and Alec Doherty.
And we weren't at all let down by their other products when we checked out their website. You can check out their
printing website for the brands this wonderful bunch of illustrators and artists supply.
Our pick: Design by Felicity Marshall for £25. Buy it here.
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.
Our pick: 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.
Our pick: buy from AnyForty.
Some of the world’s most influential designers and illustrators such as Supermundane, Hey Studio, La Boca, Sawdust and Cachetejack helped to launch the
50/50 campaign raising money for charity.
Update: The campaign is now finished, but you can enquire after the T-shirt designs if you're really keen to get one to see when they'll be back.
50/50 is a collection of 50 bespoke T-shirt designs by 50 artists - that were on sale until March 18 - with half of the proceeds going to UK charity Trekstock.
Trekstock provides support for over 100,000 young adults facing cancer in their twenties and thirties in the UK. The team offers advice and guidance on the impact of treatment on plans to start a family, and provides access to cancer rehabilitation specialists to build physical activity and emotional support.
The 50/50 campaign is put together by London creative merchandise platform
Everpress is an online platform that delivers directly. With Everpress anyone can set up a bespoke campaign page and collect pre-orders for a limited period.
The platform began in 2016 out of a desire to simplify the production and distribution of selling merchandise. Mainly focused on designers, illustrators and the music industry, Everpress aims to allow these professions to sell T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts directly to their individual communities and fans with no upfront costs.
our feature on the 50/50 project, including 15 of the best designs and their illustrators.
Our pick: Design by Supermundane aka Rob Lowe.
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 because we're not sexist) 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.
There are some great Steven Spielberg-inspired designs by James Rueben and Jack Teagle. If you’re a big fan of Ridley Scott's
Alien films, then you’ll love The Illustrated Mind’s Aliens and Other World’s collection.
Our pick: Designed by Jack Teagle. Buy here for £25.
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.
Our pick: 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.
Our pick: 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.
Our pick: 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.
Our pick: 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.
Our pick: buy from Society6.