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Most popular 5 t-shirt design elements

Everyone has a “favorite t-shirt”. And that is because the design on it makes it meaningful to the one who wears it.  Wearing a t-shirt that means nothing is not cool.  We tried to figure out which are the most popular t-shirt designs elements, and we tried to explain a little what’s the reason

for their fame.

The skull iconography has gained a lot of fame along with the promotion got from different culture genres, starting even from old times (everyone knows Hamlet’s famous skull scene). Usually, the image of a skull is associated with death, but the skull carries with it a more complex symbolism, and has gathered more along it’s way nowadays. Due to free imagination of designers, we find the skulls combined with almost any elements.
T-shirt designs portraying skull staples have revealed states of mind changing from the violent meaning “dressed to kill” promoted by the pirates signs,  heavy metal/punk merchandise (Sex Pistols, Alice

Cooper) to a more soft one, seen in the goth culture, where the skull t-shirts meant a nice close-up to death, melancholy and defiance against society discrimination. That state of depression of the skull meaning also changed along with pop/rock culture (Avril Lavigne), and associated with the pinky trend of emo style, it reached our days in a plenitude of styles and, no matter what style is promoted by the usage of a skull t-shirt design, it will always be popular. And… don’t tell me you never had a skull t-shirt!

popular 5 t-shirt design

Despite the outrageous popularity of wings, nowadays t-shirt designers have tried their best to create new and unique designs, in order to be meaningful and inspirational.
Most of the times having deep spiritual symbolism, with
religious connotation, wings t-shirt designs refer to liberation, freedom, connection between earth and sky, and on a higher ground, between human existence and spiritual. The most common designed style is that of the feathered angel wings, standing as symbols for innocence or innocence lost, symbol of guidance and protection, peace or eternal salvation. But the

wings don’t always emphasize the good nature of the spirit, but the evil one, as seen in many t-shirt designs with bat wings,
following a demonic or vampirist style. Having less religious substrates,
the butterfly wings, raven wings or tribal wings (very popular in goth tees), express supremacy and  freedom. All of them, in all styles sumarize the fascination for flying creatures, be they earthly or mithycal.

popular 5 t-shirt design

popular 5 t-shirt design

popular 5 t-shirt design

popular 5 t-shirt design

If we take into consideration the overwhelming popularity of tattoo industry, it’s no wander  it expanded so much, becoming a very important source for t-shirt vector art designers who follow the public’s interest regarding iconography, and use tatoos as t-shirt designs. Most tattoos designs are desired mainly for their absolutely crazy colors, for the glossy look, of for what they represent. These are seen especially on white t-shirts, in order not to loose any detail. The heart, the dragons, tribals, achors, the wings, are just few voguish elements that successfully stick again in t-shirt designs, under the shape of tattos this time. I think tattoo industry and t-shirt designs’ sustain each other, both of them having something to gain: the popularity of their own creation.

Derived from back ages custom of medieval knights or nobleman’s necessity to distinguish from other family, the heraldry, or royal emblems carry along the pride of belonging to a family with a glorious history behind. The royal identification was recognizable by cresting their particular stylized design onto their armour, shields, flags, red wax and so on. Through time, these heraldic elements became more complex, embelled with additional ornaments, frames, flourish elements, ribbons. We see today many of these blazons on t-shirts, as a sign of superiority and their main idea is that of belonging to a noble rank. The heraldry t-shirt designs are a common item for lovers of history, revealing the fascination for medieval glory and prestige.
The most common heraldry t-shirt design symbols are: armour boards, sword, kingdom ornaments, helmet, royal crowns, guards, ribbons, eagles, lions.

popular 5 t-shirt design

popular 5 t-shirt design

T-shirt designs that use typography as main element are the best attitude tees,
dependind on the message, of course. Unlike the other t-shirt designs, in this case the resources are endless. And it is not as simple as it seems, because typography is an art itself, and everything matters, starting with the font, size, colour, spacing or paragraphing. The most common are the funny sayings,  famous quotes, and, lately, (we see them everywhere), personalized t-shirts with a  message expressing likes or dislikes.
Typography is not used only for a message, many times we see illegible writing, but carrying a special visual effect. The power to combine and impress is only in the hands of the designer.

popular 5 t-shirt design

popular 5 t-shirt design

This is not actually a top 5, we couldn’t decide on the order, so…we’re open to suggestions. And also…please feel free to share with us if u have a favorite t-shirt, and what makes it so special.



  1. ez-kun 20/01/2009

    great post~!

  2. Satyr 21/01/2009

    wooo..nice post
    I love tattoo designs on tees, they look great
    I’m thinking about a tattoo design that would be like ” vasile + maricica = love”..done in one colour…green :)))) ( my fellow romanians know what i’m talking about :)) )

    Just kidding..great post :)

  3. Kevin 21/01/2009

    Fantastic choices! Another couple of design trends I’ve seen a great deal lately are zombies and birds. Of course the birds go hand in hand with the wings you mentioned.

  4. sssilent_rage 10/02/2009

    Kevin, thank you for the comment. I’ve also noticed that zombies have become popular. I’ve found the craziest idea about zombies on Emptees, who made up a t-shirt design containing 50 zombies created by different designers. ;))

  5. sssilent_rage 10/02/2009

    Satyr, I ca bet there are t-shirts out there with that tattoo design, made by a “vasile” with “love” for “maricica”… lol.. I hope not. Tx for the comment :)

  6. Great info, cool blog!

  7. insidiousDesign 22/09/2009

    Wow. These are some really nice designs! Those tattoo designs in particular are breathtaking.

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  18. craftydawg 02/10/2010

    some nice points you’ve made hear, found a site in the UK that have a whole spread of tattoo inspired work http://www.tribalplanet.co.uk check out their Emperor Eternity rhinestone Tees for men and women, better than Ed Hardy IMO and less than half the price

  19. seedless clothing 05/10/2010

    this is very nice article..
    great post..
    i love the design and tattoo..
    may you post great one..

  20. [AcCeL]lycanz 17/10/2010

    i’m t-shirt printing from philippines i love tattoo dsign and i will copy then print the shirt ^^,har-har

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  25. tony t-shirt 20/04/2011

    NOt sure what everyone is seeing here. These designs are horrible and tired. Rehashed skull/wing/cross/clipart collage tees, tattoo design tees are so overly played out. And how many tee designs will feature some eagle crest of an unnamed European country? Besides, have you seen the types of people who wear this garbage? I can tell you many rock a faux hawk and aviators and like to drive BMW’s while bumping crappy techno music. Gross.

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  27. Joen R. T-Shirt 04/12/2012

    I’m not a fan of those t shirts. However I would like to know who created the background of this website? I love it, and if you could tell me who did it I would be delighted! Cheers

  28. Oana 05/12/2012

    It is actually created by the designers of Tshirt Factory : http://www.tshirt-factory.com. We are glad you like it, so browse the site maybe you see something you fancy.

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