T-Shirt Design: Wearable Art that Brings in the Benjamins

If your inner artist is dying to bask in the spotlight, consider designing t-shirts in order to hone your craft AND make extra money. From the kitschy to the funky, t-shirt design could make you the next viral sensation…and a whole lot of cash, too!

To get the ball rolling with your design process, check out some of the best online avenues for selling your designs:


At CafePress.com, you can open and run your own online shop to sell the shirts you design. If a certain design takes off, you could always extend your offering to include mugs, stickers and more very easily because CafePress doesn’t charge up-front costs or hold inventory. You’ll get to customize the look & feel of your store, including logos, colors, photos and more.

Some of the perks of CafePress include:

  • The company handles all payments/processing
  • They also take care of all shipping logistics
  • They manage returns/exchanges
  • They utilize print-on-demand technology

As far as income, there are three main sources for CafePress: Royalties from items sold in your shop, monthly bonuses depending upon your shop’s success and royalties for anything that’s sold in the CafePress Marketplace that includes your design.

Design By Humans

If you’re looking for something a bit more in your face in terms of graphics and artistic expression, consider DesignbyHumans.com. Founded in 2007, Design By Human’s mission is to “bring artists from around the globe together to give them a platform to produce wearable art that tells a story, strengthens humanity and inspires life through creativity and design.”

In order to sell on DBH, you first need to submit your design ideas and have at least one chosen to be the Shirt of the Day. If you’re the lucky winner of this daily contest, you’ll be rewarded with $1,000 and 6 t-shirts to give to your family and friends! Even better is that you’ll then be eligible to become part of DBH’s Collective. This is an exclusive group of artists who now get to have their own DBH store within The Collective and can sell their designs on t-shirts to people all over the world. For every shirt sold, you’ll receive $2. Considering the global presence of DBH, one amazing design can net you tens of thousands of dollars!


If you like the idea of competing to have your work shine, you might also want to consider submitting designs to Threadless.com. Much like Design By Humans, Threadless holds a weekly contest for designers. Around 1,000 shirts are submitted for voting by the public to happen over seven days. At the end of the week, the staff reviews the designs receiving the most votes, chooses 10 to be printed, and rewards those designers with a cool $2,000 and $500 in Threadless gift cards (you could return the gift cards and take $200 in cash instead).  Another added bonus is that any time your design gets reprinted, you automatically receive another $500!


Good luck, Penny Hoarders!