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7 T-shirt design trends for 2023

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7 T-shirt design trends for 2023

Get ready to feed your creativity with the newest trends in t-shirt design for this 2023.

These are some of the concepts and styles that will mark the design of t-shirts this year: 

  • pop culture 
  • love for art
  • self expression
  • bold graphics 
  • vibrant colors

As an online seller, you must be up to date with what is happening in the world and how it can impact graphic design trends . Creating on-trend designs can be a valuable strategy to expand your brand visibility and increase sales in your ecommerce.

That’s why the Printful Design team, our experts and trend-spotters when it comes to graphic design, shared the following insights with us for the first time. Ready to be used whenever you feel like you need inspiration for new designs!

In addition, we leave you some design tips for each trend to spark your imagination. Hands on the shirt!

1. Influences of the kitsch style of the 90s

After several years revisiting the fashion of the 90s, from the decade of bright and metallic colors, urban fashion returns to rescue the kitsch aesthetic.

Kitsch is synonymous with overflowing creative expressiveness and to some extent extravagant, whimsical and unusual . 

The Oxford Dictionary of Art defines kitsch as “art, objects or designs considered to be in bad taste because of their excessive tackiness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated ironically”. 

All you have to do is think of impossible color mixes , maximalist compositions and unexpected interpretations of popular icons . Surely several examples come to mind…

Kitsch designs can be objectively “ugly”, but they fit well with some urban subcultures and with younger generations who like to express themselves with humor and something against the grain.

How to create kitsch designs straight out of the 90s

If you want to design kitschy t-shirts, you just have to save your most sophisticated efforts for other projects. Instead, he finds inspiration in ’90s pop culture . And don’t be afraid to go too folkloric!

If you don’t remember anything from this decade, reach out to the media and explore posters, mood boards , and any graphic testimonials about ’90s clothing. 

Here are some examples, but remember not to infringe copyright and image copyright. A nifty way to reference elements of pop culture is to create your own illustrations or designs from favorite icons in your niche .

Let your design be a  mosaic of fun and nostalgia . You won’t go wrong if you use Comic Sans, floral patterns, geometric shapes, bright colors (or more muted if you want to project a more grunge image ) and even Nickelodeon-inspired illustrations. The more “weird” your design is, the better. Make this your mantra!

And if you don’t know where to start, why not explore our ’90s-inspired clipart’s?

As a sample of what you can find in our Design Builder , here’s a kitschy compilation of our design elements.

2. Self-Care and Spiritual Inspirational Graphics

If your niche is interested in spirituality and self-care, you are in luck. This trend has become very popular on social networks in recent years and continues to spread rapidly. Post-pandemic seems to bring  real wellness and self-care vibes , much like what Pinterest is predicting for this year .

The spiritual-themed t-shirt trend can be easily adapted to many styles. It can be through designs full of love and light , messages with inspirational and mental health phrases , something more psychedelic and geometric symbolism and even with dark aesthetics that give off a certain witchy energy.

And if it’s something that fits your brand, don’t overlook the opportunities that tarot and astrology provide either. Can you imagine launching a collection of t-shirts inspired by the signs of the Zodiac ?

How to create spiritual designs for your t-shirts

Detect which are the concepts and ideas that your audience is looking for the most and incorporate these keywords in your product designs, as well as in the titles and descriptions. In this way, you will have a better chance of attracting new customers to your store .

To get more inspiration for your product designs, you can use the Etsy search engine (it works even if you don’t use this marketplace) and do the searches you need to detect the most popular keywords for each concept. Do the same on social media, and don’t forget about Pinterest, which is always a source of inspiration!

3. Psychedelic art and bold colors

Visual psychedelia dominated graphic arts and fashion from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. It was the era of artistic fluorescence, anti-war music, and the exploration of altered states of consciousness.

The current malaise and turmoil is manifested in political polarization and economic inequality. And this, coupled with the climate crisis, makes everyone, especially the younger generation, more stressed and anxious. Did you know that, according to UNICEF , one in five children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, among others?

Similar to the spirit-themed t-shirt style, psychedelic graphics transport us to spaces between imagination and reality . They put our senses to the test and, either thanks to certain visual effects or the use of bright colors, they stimulate our perception.

How to create psychedelic designs

Some typical elements of psychedelic themes are kaleidoscopic patterns, swirls, paisley or paisley prints, bold colors, flowing lines, faded effects, and bold graphics . 

References to peace, love, nature and other positive messages in groovy typefaces also play a big part in the psychedelic t-shirt design trend.

Get inspired by these keywords and let your imagination run wild.

Do not forget that tie-dye t-shirts are closely related to the psychedelic trend and that they will continue on the crest of the wave this 2023.

4. Bold, solid and decorative typefaces

Typographic T-shirts can be cleverly creative: sometimes just a phrase or word that connects with your audience is all it takes to have your new best seller . The designs together can be shocking, playful, inspiring, nostalgic… and any other adjective you think will make your customers buy from you. 

The trend of using bold and decorative fonts is going to be popular in 2023 because there is a growing demand for solid and structured (ENG) type styles . And with 2023 set to be a fiercely creative and expressive year, a transition is underway towards more experimental typographic styles with unusual shapes, variable fonts, and clipped fonts .

For the 2023 trend, you can understand “daring” in two ways. Your typography can be bold, as is the work of Katherine Hamnett . This English designer and activist is characterized by her t-shirts and sweatshirts with big and bold designs with powerful messages . 

“Bold” can also simply mean strong and lively. And to align with this trend you would only need to accentuate your graphics and illustrations or create pure typographic designs using decorative fonts .

How to create designs with typography that stand out

If you’re new to the world of typefaces and aren’t yet comfortable creating your own, our Design Builder currently has over 700 fonts available . He plays around with the ones you like best and tries out the arc, outline and shadow tools . You can also create typographic designs for free with Canva .

When choosing a font, keep in mind the other trends this year. For example, this year Spotify’s latest Wrapped campaign features heavy typography paired with a bright saturated color palette inspired by ’90s club flyers, music videos and magazines. And see how the 22 blends in with the text? Now that’s funky !

Explore how you can bring these ideas to your t-shirt designs to win over your customers. And  don’t focus only on using strong letters, also expressive ones . Think about how the shapes and colors of the design will help you emphasize the message you want to convey. This way, you’ll be telling a story to your customers, and people will love figuring things out and absorbing the meanings.

Fonts that are flexible, vivid, illustrative, and animated in nature allow for more experimentation. Is it because ’90s nostalgia brings with it childhood memories and longings to explore the great outdoors?

5. Return of the punk aesthetic

Thom Browne channeled the punk spirit in his Spring/Summer 2023 show . The intense eye makeup, the black lipstick and the general air of rebellion indicate that the punk aesthetic will be very present in the fashion of the coming seasons .

To really understand the punk aesthetic, it’s important to take a look at its roots. The punk style served as a “theater of provocation” in the 1970s. That is, it is closely linked with a non-conformist lifestyle .

Over time, tattoos, piercings, metal studs, and spiked accessories became common fixtures in punk fashion. Everything that was punk was designed to annoy and outrage. Especially, exalting individual freedom above the mainstream.

To this day, punk still likes to be brash and loud . And for that, sometimes just a pair of jeans and a simple T-shirt are enough… but with a well-studied design.

It is ironic that punk, with all its anti-message, is making the rounds for the haute couture of today’s fashion. Times change and today the rebellious base of punk is exposed on the catwalks , whether the representatives of this subculture like it or not.

We may have lost sight of what it originally meant to be punk, but her stunning, edgy look has left an undeniable mark on today’s fashion and society.

How to create t-shirts with punk style designs

If your store has an alternative streak, don’t overlook this trend in your t-shirt catalog as it has a lot to offer. 

You can create a punk aesthetic design with either awkward  mixed media collages, messy fonts, newspaper clippings, and anything else that evokes your angry style. 

And feel free to get inspired by modern punk by looking for punk fashion designers. For example, Vivienne Westwood, an English fashion designer, shaped punk fashion and dictated the aesthetic canons of the movement that we still know today.

6. Surrealism

Surrealism is the balance between the rational vision of life and the power of the unconscious and dreams . 

As technology advances and we start to see more art made by artificial intelligences, the new trends for 2023 explore new creative boundaries and take us to mesmerizing and unimaginable landscapes. 

Surrealism became an avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought beauty in the unexpected, the strange, and the unconventional . Its main spokesman, André Breton, said that surrealism was a means of bringing together the conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would join the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surrealist”. 

If you see picturesque surreal landscapes in your dreams, you have an exceptional imagination. Now imagine incorporating elements loaded with symbolism into works of art that evoke sensations typical of a waking state. Boom!

How to create t-shirts with surreal designs

To get inspired and create your own surreal t-shirt designs, check out the works of artists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Leonora Carrington and Man Ray. All of these artists created powerful images by combining unlikely shapes into unimaginable landscapes . 

If you look at his works, it seems that the artist put together things that at first it would not make sense to relate. And this makes the work of art become a dream: a whole that makes sense emotionally, but not logically .

Your t-shirt design doesn’t have to be some cutting-edge new piece of art, but familiarizing yourself with the ideology and artistic style can help you figure out how to translate these ideas into your designs. You will get a successful surreal design if you let your imagination flow without trying to create something certain.

7. Collage and mix of artistic techniques

Let’s face it, most of us with smartphones and computers spend a lot more screen time for entertainment than the recommended 2-4 hours a day. Our lives are deeply embedded in the digital world. So in 2023, designers and artists will make a new effort to merge digital illustrations with photography . 

This playful and whimsical mix-and-match trend will dance with bright colours, dreamy illustrations and playful patterns for an explosive contrast of disparate elements.

These types of collage designs stimulate the imagination and remind us how much creativity and magic we harbor in our minds.

How to create t-shirt designs with mixed artistic techniques

Creating t-shirt designs with a mix of techniques obviously involves using more than one medium to create the design. You can include various illustrations, spots of color, fragments of a pattern, and multiple layers that, combined with a photo, create something fresh and exciting . 

But your design doesn’t always have to have a photo. Your collages can incorporate:

  • Hand drawn illustrations combined with digital elements
  • Collage of graphic elements
  • Watercolors combined with typography
  • Designs and elements with 3D effect along with other planes
  • Multilayer designs with transparencies and overlapping elements

Add Pinterest to your list of sources of inspiration. It is a fantastic platform to discover designs and works of art with different artistic techniques. We suggest creating your own Pinterest boards for this trend and all the others you like on this list.

Start your creativity!

Now is the time to channel your inspiration into vibrant new t-shirt designs that your customers will love in 2023.

Last tip! If you’re having trouble coming up with T-shirt design ideas, we recommend a tactic (with an unflattering name) often used by writers: the brain dump .

Sit down and start designing whatever comes to your mind. Do not think about specific ideas or techniques, let your emotions, ideas and subconscious thoughts flow. In this way, you will learn to unleash your ideas more quickly, without criticism. Then, later on, you can organize your designs and create something you’re happy with. Et voilà , there you will have your design!

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