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1. What to consider when looking for a graphic designer for t-shirts

7 Ways to find and hire the best graphic designer for t-shirts

The fashion industry is highly saturated, making it challenging to stand out against the competition. The custom t-shirt market yields customers from all walks of life, meaning it is an incredibly lucrative business venture - you need quality designs to establish your brand as exceptional.

If design creation is not your strong suit, don't sweat it. Graphic designers are relatively easy to find and offer various services and skill sets at prices that fit your budget. However, we don't recommend paying the first designer you find and expecting the best outcome. It takes time, research, and clear expectations to find a graphic designer who will fit your brand and style.

Reputable graphic designers know all the current t-shirt trends and the design elements that will attract more customers and sales. If you need a professional graphic designer to help elevate your brand and t-shirt designs, this post is for you.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Working with a graphic designer who has a design style that aligns with your brand will make the design process seamless

  • Freelance platforms like Dribble, Upwork, and Fiverr can connect you with talented graphic designers for your t-shirts

  • Open communication, respect, and flexibility are key to maintaining a productive working relationship with any graphic designer

What to consider when looking for a graphic designer for t-shirts

There are a few essential considerations to make when looking to hire designers for a t-shirt design. To find the best talent that will meet your needs and develop a healthy working relationship, keep the following factors in mind.

Design style

Save yourself time and energy and hire t-shirt designers with a similar aesthetic or vision for your t-shirt designs. This will make it much easier to communicate your inspiration for the t-shirt line and allow the illustrator to showcase their talent and ideas as an artist.

Explore various t-shirt designers' portfolios to find the styles, graphics, and designs that resonate with your vision for the clothing you want to sell. Graphic designers want to create designs that challenge them to use specific skills and create art that inspires people. Finding an artist who aligns with your vision is the best way to showcase their talent and get your desired designs.

Brand identity

Connect with a freelance designer who understands your brand identity and sees the vision for not only your t-shirt line but your company's overarching story and identity. Share your brand guidelines, from colors and fonts to the voice and message of your brand, to give shirt designers an immersive experience as they create t-shirt designs for you.

Whether the project is a simple logo design or a more complex graphic design, understanding your brand identity, from the color palette to your values and mission, will help a t-shirt artist to create visuals that feel harmonious and in alignment with your brand.

Designer reviews

Customer reviews are helpful on many levels; first and foremost, they can help you detect any red flags an illustrator may have and determine whether they are the right fit for you.

Reviews can also show the designer's quality of work, professionalism, ability to meet deadlines, and communication style.

If you aren't entirely confident in a designer after meeting with them and reading their reviews, try offering a small paid design project rather than jumping into the t-shirt designs. This will give you a better idea of their work ethic and quality without wasting anyone's time or money.

Seven ways to find the right graphic designer for t-shirts

It's time to find the talent to take your t-shirt business to the next level. Here are some of the most effective ways to find t-shirt designers in your own community and via online platforms.

1. Online communities

online community

There are a lot of great resources online where you can find a niche designer, like a t-shirt artist or a graphic designer who works on a freelance basis. Online communities like Dribble and Toptal help connect all kinds of creatives (graphic designers, web designers, and more) with clients that require artistic talent but don't have massive budgets.

You can browse an artist's portfolio and see their work to determine if they are a suitable option for your t-shirt designs. These communities have effective filtering options so you can determine your budget, project scope, and other keywords to find the perfect designer to hire.

2. Design agencies

If you'd rather pay an agency to do the heavy lifting for you, this is another viable option to find t-shirt designers who will fit your style. Agencies will gather intel on your design needs and connect you with a graphic designer or a specialty t-shirt designer that can knock your project out of the park.

3. Freelance platforms

freelance platforms

Conveniently enough, some freelance platforms have a t-shirt design section where prospective clients can filter through various artists until they find a style they like. This is how the freelance platform Fiverr works. Browse as many artists' profiles and portfolios as you want, then make your selection based on their skill set, style, and reviews.

Another platform to find solid graphic designers is Upwork, where anyone can post a job listing and select a graphic designer to hire. In the job listing, you share the scope of work, deadline, budget, and other expectations. Designers will send you proposals based on the project, their skills, and what they charge, and you can choose who you move forward with.

If you have a straightforward task like a custom logo design, you can select an artist on the platform who offers logo packages with a predetermined price and timeline to make things easier.

Freelance platforms are fantastic resources for small businesses looking to connect with talented graphic designers for their t-shirt designs (and other work). These platforms can save time and money by removing the need to sign a contract with a design agency or weed through an abundance of portfolios that don't mesh with their shop's style.

4. Social media

For freelancers, social media is one of the most powerful platforms to showcase their talents and connect with potential clients. As a prospective client, find groups you can join on Facebook by typing in search terms like "freelance graphic designers for hire" or using hashtags on Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter to find designers in your specific niche.

Many artists make it easy to access their social media profiles from their digital portfolios, websites, or their profiles on Fiverr and Dribble. They may showcase even more of their creativity and personal stories on social media, so be sure to explore their pages to get a good feel for their art, style, and background.

5. Referrals


You may have a friend or previous colleague who knows of a great designer in their network and would be willing to make a referral for you. Referrals from your community can save you time and energy, as they've already been vetted, and you can have confidence in their abilities.

6. Design contests

Host a design contest on your shop's social media accounts where you share your t-shirt design ideas, and ask designers to submit their original work. Announce the reward for the winner to build incentive and excitement around the contest, and make sure you promote the designer once you choose a winner.

You can also utilize 99Designs to host a contest, asking competitors to complete a simple logo design or something more in-depth. Design contests can cost you a significant amount, but you're nearly guaranteed to get an awesome design with an impressive ROI.

7. In-person

in person

Attend local events and meet-ups for graphic designers where you can network with artists in real life and share your design needs. Ask about their style, inspiration, and expertise to determine if anyone is a good fit to create your t-shirt designs.

Try to collect a business card from every designer you meet so you can reach out at any point if you need their services and want to work with them.

Tips for working with graphic designers

Once you've found a freelance t-shirt designer you want to work with, upholding your end of the bargain by being a respectful client is essential. Explore the following tips to ensure a healthy working relationship with any graphic designer that you come into contact with.

1. Provide enough information

Put together a document or presentation that correctly articulates your brand's identity, vision for each shirt design, ideas for graphics, and any other visual content you want to share.

Additionally, include information about the t-shirt styles, fabrics, materials, or any other clothing you'll be selling and the colors and sizes of the clothes in your online store. Knowing your target audience and demographic(s) will also help graphic designers begin brainstorming different t-shirt designs and styles during the design process.

Let the designer know where the t-shirts will be printed from so they can make any modifications to the designs as necessary.

2. Communicate openly and clearly

Once you've conveyed the vision of your t-shirt designs, your brand identity, and any other important details, work to maintain an open and transparent line of communication with the designer.

Hop on a phone call or Zoom meeting so you can articulate your expectations, concerns, and preferences for the project. Doing so will ensure you stay on the same page with the designer and that your needs are met. Allow the graphic designer to explain their design process, communication preferences, and other relevant project information.

Open communication is essential for both the artist and the business owner; it facilitates a healthy working relationship and will ensure that both parties know exactly where the other person stands and how they can meet their needs professionally.

3. Respect their skills

Once you've selected a graphic designer to work with, trusting and respecting their creativity is of the utmost importance as a client. Your opinion certainly matters, but you must give them the space to showcase their unique skills and expertise.

There's a reason you selected them as your designer, so allow them to flex their creativity as an artist and create amazing designs for your t-shirt business.

There's a certain level of control that many business owners need to feel secure. Still, there's a reason you hired a professional to handle this essential piece of your business. Trust their vision and don't micromanage or nitpick their work. Doing so may create an unprofessional and unproductive working relationship, and you'll soon be back at square one, looking for a new graphic designer.

4. Be flexible

While you may have a very distinct design in mind, remember you are working with an expert in the field.

Be as open and flexible as possible to any ideas or suggestions your graphic designer makes for each shirt design, logo, or other visual element in your apparel offerings. Perhaps they suggest unique fonts or graphics you don't think will sell; have an open mind and see what the final product looks like rather than immediately rejecting the design.

They will likely make recommendations that will improve your merchandise's look and foster inspiration for other designs. Trust the process and who you hired - they're the expert for a reason!

Design eye-catching custom t-shirts easily

When selling t-shirts, offering a captivating, beautiful design should be at the top of your priority list. The design sells the shirt, so it's necessary to find qualified t-shirt designers who can create stunning visuals that will sell like hotcakes.

Offering beautiful designs and graphics will establish your t-shirt store as a credible, quality shop, drive sales, and increase your profits. What's not to love about that?

Are you up to the challenge and want to take a swing at graphic design? We respect the hustle. Use Gelato's Design Editor tool to practice your hand at design and see what you can come up with. Gelato makes it easy to design and sell custom t-shirts for a profit using a convenient, sustainable, and reliable print on demand service. Get started today!


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