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Graphic T-shirts: Tips for Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

Published on: Nov 17, 2015

Graphic t-shirts are fashion-forward and promotional, and quite possibly the easiest and most cost-effective way for artists to get their vision out into the world. Whether you are a semi-professional artist looking to make some extra money and win some fans, or you’re a pro looking to raise the visibility of your designs, finding the right digital printing company to get your artwork on apparel is the best way to take your work to the next level.

The art itself needs to speak loudly, but you already know that. What’s less obvious to many artists is that printing quality and fabric quality make a world of difference in how your design lives and breathes. Direct-to-garment printing is the technical backbone to support your creative work.


There are plenty of cheap bulk printers that will print your design and send you a finished shirt. That’s great for many beginning or casual artists, but serious artists and designers may find that something is lacking. Generally, there is very little control over quality with large bulk printers, and mistakes are a pain to get fixed because it’s hard to get personalized attention. Typically, t-shirts are thin and rough, which can ultimately affect how your design looks and how long it lasts.

Creating your t-shirts with a local printer gives you control over the factors that produce quality:

  • – Choice of fabric, including pure cotton and blends
  • – Choice of yarn gauge or softness of shirt – you want shirts that people want to wear often!
  • – Different inks and printing processes best suited to your design
  • – Chances to adjust your design for best value (for example, tweaking colors or layout for best use of opacity)

Since you’re working with your printer from start to finish, you’ll have access to samples of your design before the printing starts, and plenty of chances to make sure you get what you’ve intended with your artwork.

As an added bonus, designs printed on higher-quality shirts tend to last longer, even through washes. Would your art be as beautiful with the kind of cracks and fades that happen with cheaper shirts?

Why Digital Printing Makes Sense for Artist T-Shirts

  • – No minimum runs – cost-effective whether you’re starting with small runs or ordering hundreds
  • – No set-up fee
  • – Unlimited colors per design – no matter how complex your art, DTG can make it happen
  • – Print almost anywhere on the shirt – front, back, sleeves, or spanning any of those in combination
  • – Use a variety of file formats – AI, CDR, EPS, TIFF, BMP, JPEG
  • – Print up to 14×16 inches

Tips for Best DTG Results

  • – Work with the highest resolution digital images possible. You can preserve quality when scaling down, but now when scaling up in size.
  • – Consider using a single figure or part of a larger image.
  • – Add your name and/or contact details when it makes sense.
  • – Discuss color and fabric options with your printer to make sure you get the highest-quality representation of your work.