Switching your print on demand supplier? Get in touch with us here

1. 11 Top mug design ideas

11 Best-selling mug design ideas for 2023

If you want to start your own mug-selling business, now is an ideal time to do it. Worldwide mug sales of all mug styles have a projected value of $44.21 billion by 2029. Even individual types of mugs show increases. For example, travel mugs have a predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1 between 2021 and 2028, doubling revenue to $24.69 billion.

As a more sustainable alternative to disposable coffee cups, reusable mugs will continue to grow in consumer demand. Consumers want to reduce waste and save money. Companies, such as Starbucks, today encourage customers to bring personal coffee cups. In fact, Starbucks aims to have customers use reusable cups for most of its sales by 2025. As more companies prompt customers to bring reusable cups, mugs will increase in popularity and demand. Even today, a mug makes a practical and eye-catching gift.

Now is the best time to tap into this market and start selling mugs as great gifts and keepsakes. To gain a position in the mug-selling market, you must offer unique designs people want. By differentiating your products with creative and popular mug designs, you'll increase sales and gain an edge over the competition.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Reusable mugs are popular gifts that provide practical use.

  • The market for mugs will grow significantly in the near future due to an increased eye toward sustainability.

  • Mug designs include minimalist, vintage, floral, pop culture, animals, seasonal, sports, quotes, geometric, food, and landscapes.

  • Starting a custom mug business is simple with a print on demand partner like Gelato.

11 Top mug design ideas

The variety of coffee mug designs reflects the diversity of the people who use them. From minimalist designs for those with simple tastes to pop culture references that provide a laugh, you have a world of mug styles to create. Consider offering your customers several design choices to ensure that you appeal to a broad audience.

1. Minimalist mug designs

During the 1960s, artists began using the term "minimalism" to describe art that emphasized simple, harmonious designs and eliminated subjectivity. The movement continued to rise in popularity in the 1980s and continued to contemporary times. Those who enjoy minimalist designs see them as a refuge from the excesses of modern life. Today, you see this style in Scandinavian interior design with clean lines and in the simple, sleek forms of Apple products, such as iPods and iPhones.

Minimalist mug design ideas typically have a solid color background with a simple word or shape in the foreground. For example, a white mug with a word or phrase in black, such as "coffee" or "good morning," would exhibit a minimalist design. Keep the overall design simple to maintain the minimalist aesthetic.

Custom coffee mugs designed with minimalist inspiration shine from their images' simplicity.

2. Vintage mug designs

Vintage mug designs

Vintage designs tap into nostalgia with images that elicit fond memories. They can include actual pieces from an era or new pieces with designs from another time. For example, coffee mugs styled to look like popular dishware from the 1980s appeal to those who want a vintage look.

In fact, vintage or retro custom mugs can produce feelings of nostalgia safer than the drinkware from the time, especially on designs from more than 40 years ago. Prior to that time, lead paint appeared in many applications, even housewares. Therefore, mugs with colorful designs from the 1970s or earlier likely have dangerous lead in the paint. Recreating these styles or similar designs on new mugs makes the drinkware nostalgic and safe.

If you want to incorporate vintage mug designs, use extra caution to stay within trademark and copyright laws, such as popular brand slogans or logos. Instead, create simple patterns, such as flowers or fruits, that don't have copyrighted images.

3. Floral mug designs

Flowers offer a bright pop of color to the landscape. When using floral designs on custom mugs, the images do the same thing. In interior design, 2022 saw a resurgence in the popularity of floral prints. The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of floral wallpaper print in one wallcovering store rocketed 215% in two years. Tap into this popularity of flowers with your mug designs.

Floral patterns or individual flower designs on mugs tap into the colorful appeal of flowers. When creating floral mugs, you may use a flower shape for a design or drawings of flowers. For example, a simple, multi petaled daisy can serve as a simple pattern to cover the design field with a fun, simple style. You may instead prefer a more realistic drawing of different types of flowers, such as roses or tulips, to appeal to those who like realism in the artwork.

However you choose to use colorful flowers for your coffee mug design inspiration, you'll find an audience that appreciates the colorful designs.

4. Pop culture mug designs

Pop culture references and memes have a greater impact on people than you think. Marketers found that millennials look at up to 30 memes on average daily. After integrating memes into advertising, user engagement went from 5% to 60%. Using memes on your mugs and other pop culture references will create more eye-catching designs that will get people talking.

Mug design ideas that tap into pop culture could include your variation on a meme or a drawn picture of a celebrity with a quote from them. Due to the fleeting popularity of many pop culture references, you don't want to create hundreds of mugs with high popularity this week and fade next week. Print on demand services for your mugs will ensure your customers get their orders quickly. Additionally, you don't have to handle excessive inventory that won't sell when the popularity of a meme or pop culture reference fades.

5. Animal mug designs

Animal mug designs

Both wild and domestic animals have places in people's hearts. A study identified the top ten most charismatic animals as those with the most empathy and interest from the public. These animals are gorillas, polar bears, leopards, giraffes, elephants, pandas, cheetahs, lions, wolves, and tigers. If you need animal mug designs, consider starting this list of animals.

You can also draw inspiration for your own custom mugs from farm animals, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, or pets, including cats, dogs, and birds. Create realistic or cartoonish images of animals for your mugs based on your brand's style and your customer's preferences.

With animals, you have hundreds of options from all over the world. Thanks to the large selection of options, you have almost innumerable choices for animals to put onto your mugs.

6. Seasonal mug designs

The Christmas season is one of the top times for retailers. Across the country, 85% of Americans participate in the holiday festivities and contribute to the $942 billion in holiday retail spending. Hence, Christmas-themed mug designs can be highly profitable to sell your custom mugs. However, don't neglect the rest of the year.

Seasonal decor for many may include the type of mugs they drink their coffee, hot chocolate, or tea from. In 2023, the seasonal decorations market in the United States had a retail revenue of $29.8 billion. This value represents decor for all seasons throughout the year.

You may create summery coffee mug designs, such as American flag designs for the Fourth of July or a sun for the warm summer vacation months. During the fall, pumpkins and autumn leaves fit with seasonal decor for October through November. Spooky ghosts and skeletons work well for Halloween designs. Of course, don't forget Christmas and winter. Simple snowscapes, Christmas trees, or Santa fit into the Christmas sales season.

Thanks to print on demand mugs, you can pivot your virtual store offerings by the season without worrying about inventories and wasted stock.

7. Sports mug designs

People around the world love sports. In the United States, 70% of Americans surveyed identified as sports fans. The numbers for global sports fans are even higher. Around the world, 77% of those between 18 and 24 and 35 to 44 are fans. Even 74% of people over 55 globally reported loving sports. Creating sports mug designs fits perfectly into the preferences of these fans.

When making sports designs on your mugs, you may opt for images of equipment, such as cricket bats or footballs. Another option is to create mugs referencing popular local sports teams.

By using sports as your inspiration for mug design ideas, you'll come out victorious in sales.

8. Quote mug designs

Quote mug designs

Quotes on coffee mugs can inspire or humor those who see them. If you want to use quotes, make sure to choose those that don't have copyrights on them or are trademarked slogans. To avoid infringing on these materials, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the US Copyright Office.

A simpler way to use quotes might be to select words from people whose works are in the public domain. For example, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Benjamin Franklin have great quotes to incorporate into your mug design. Some examples include:

With quotes on your drinkware, your coffee mug designs will speak for themselves.

9. Geometric mug designs

Simple geometric designs can be part of a minimalist mug or a vintage one. For example, you may create a retro-inspired mug that has colorful shapes in the design.

One source of inspiration for vintage geometric designs is the Memphis style. This style comes from the Memphis group founded in the early 1980s. Their work took inspiration from Pop Art and Art Deco designs to create the bold, colorful look that heavily influenced the style of the 1980s. Tap into this theme with a DIY polka dot mug design that you customize through a print on demand service.

Geometric designs can also be minimalistic. For example, instead of realistic images of sailboats, you could use a triangle over a semicircle to give the impression of a boat.

Using basic shapes on your custom coffee mug designs lets you tap into either minimalist or vintage styles without needing to have the ability to sketch realistic images.

10. Food mug designs

Everyone eats, and food images tap into thoughts of bounty, being cared for, and satisfaction. Of course, what food goes with coffee better than doughnuts? These treats act as part of a morning coffee routine. Plus, doughnuts, in various forms, from iced to eclairs, make colorful images for your designs.

Don't limit yourself to this breakfast pastry when looking for coffee mug ideas. Pictures of desserts, such as cakes or ice cream, work well on coffee mugs because many people enjoy their coffee with an after-dinner treat.

Also, consider seasonal foods, such as apple pie or s'mores for the summer months or a roasted turkey for Thanksgiving. These mug designs will likely have greater sales in the time leading up to their respective holidays.

With food images on your mugs, you can make your customers hungry to buy your drinkware.

11. Landscape mug designs

Landscape mug designs

Images of natural scenes have a powerful effect on mental health. A small study showed that those who viewed images of nature had their parasympathetic nervous system activated, which lowered their stress levels. Other studies bolstered the conclusion that pictures of nature could help people recover from stress.

Landscape mug designs can give those who use the cups a brief mental vacation when they view the images. These types of designs are typically wider than they are tall and show natural vistas, such as sunsets or mountain scenes.

Even if your customers don't know about the stress-reducing effects of nature images, they can still appreciate the beauty of nature with every sip of coffee when they drink from one of your mugs with a landscape design.

Design custom coffee mugs for a profit

Reusable mugs have both a high demand today and the potential for growth tomorrow. Boost sales in your ecommerce store with your unique collection of custom mug designs and other white label printed products. Integrating awesome ideas for mug designs into your collection lets you tap into the lucrative market of reusable drinkware sales.

To ensure that you get the most profits from your mugs, choose designs that customers will want. Offer seasonal options to drive sales during the corresponding times of the year. Make sure to know your customers and to use your personal brand when choosing design styles and creating images.

Integrate your ecommerce store with Gelato to effortlessly produce drinkware for your customers. With Gelato, you have mug and drinkware options that include travel mugs, magic mugs, enamel mugs, ceramic mugs, and slim porcelain mugs. More mug styles mean that you can offer your customers a greater variety of options.

Sign up for Gelato today for free to become your own boss and start selling customized mugs from your ecommerce site.

Mug design FAQs

What is the standard for mug design?

Standard sizes for mug designs depend on the type of mug you order. For example, if you want to put your images onto a white ceramic mug, you will need to resize the design to 200 mm by 96 mm (7.87 in by 3.78 in). However, if you select a taller 17-ounce steel water bottle, your image should be 87 mm by 110 mm (3.43 in by 4.33 in).

Find out more specific image sizes for mugs from Gelato at our image sizing information page.

How do you make your own mug designs?

When creating custom coffee mugs, you don't have to be an artist yourself. First, choose the design type that you want to put on your mugs. Next, sketch the design that you want onto paper if you can, or use design software to make the image directly into a computer.

If you don't have exceptional design skills, hire a graphic designer. They have the skills to balance colors, designs, and styles to create harmonious images that look professional.

Once you have the design in a computer file, you can upload it to the mug creator with just a few clicks. When a customer orders one of your mugs with the design, Gelato prints your custom design on demand at the location closest to the buyer to reduce shipping costs and environmental strain.

What can I use to customize mugs?

With print on demand services, such as Gelato, you can customize printables, such as mugs, tote bags, clothing, and much more. These services make creating your own mugs simple without the need for stocking up on dollar store supplies or nail polish to hand produce each of your DIY coffee mugs. Print on demand services ensure that your customers get professional results with every mug ordered.

Plus, you don't have to store an inventory because Gelato only produces your products after customers order them. Gelato's easy-to-use system integrates into your ecommerce store. Customers order their mugs, and Gelato prints and ships the goods directly to them as a white-label solution. Your customers never know that you used a third-party printer for your DIY coffee mugs.


Next steps

Start selling products with Gelato