Art Tees Make a Statement

The t-shirt has a long and storied history beginning in the 19th century, where the early predecessor to the contemporary tee was worn primarily as a work garment by miners and other industrial workers whose work required ease of movement and materials that would keep them cool. The t-shirt soon evolved into an important part of American culture after the United States Navy issued t-shirts to all of its sailors for wear underneath their uniforms. They were practical garments for this purpose because they were easy to make, easy to clean, and lightweight.

But it wasn’t until Marlon Brando donned his famously sexy, form-fitting t-shirt in the film A Streetcar Named Desire that the t-shirt became fashionable as a stand-alone, street wear garment. And there has been no stopping it since.

From the sixties on, the t-shirt became a way for the wearer to express his beliefs or share ideas with messages and statements emblazoned across his shirt. Bands and musicians embraced the t-shirt as an affordable means to promote their music and commemorate tours. Variations on the classic tee design appeared, including long-sleeved, sleeveless, and numerous types of collars such as v-neck and crew neck.

In the nineties, designers started creating t-shirt styles to flatter the female form and more variations followed, such as cap sleeves and form-fitting, long body cuts.

In the 21st century, the tee is still going strong. The latest trend in t-shirt fashion is the “art tee,” a trendy and stylish way to combine original, designer art with the classic t-shirt.

Art tees often feature bold, outrageous, or artistic designs that are based on original artwork from painters, illustrators, tattoo artists, and more. Designers and artists use the t-shirt as a blank canvas upon which their art can be displayed. True designer t-shirts use the highest quality materials and state-of-the-art printing or silk-screening techniques to ensure the shirt will last and the image will stay vivid. It’s not uncommon for the fabric to be treated to appear soft and worn, like a vintage tee. Oftentimes the design will fill the entire space, rather than the traditional printed tee which only features artwork in the middle of the chest or back. Art tees can feature silk-screening that extends to the sleeves, collar, and around the back of the shirt.

Typically, a print house or manufacturer will strike a deal with an artist and produce a series of tees featuring that artist’s designs. Sometimes they will be limited edition. The cost will probably be more than the average t-shirt, but paying for quality and supporting alternative artists and print houses is worth it.

Nowadays, with over 2 billion t-shirts being sold world-wide per year, and chain stores such as Old Navy and Wal-Mart having a wide variety of inexpensive graphic tees, it’s becoming more difficult to find tees that stand out from the crowd. High quality art and designer t-shirts make a unique statement and say a lot more about the wearer than a generic, mass-produced shirt.

Bring out your funky, artsy side with a unique designer art tee such as those available at, featuring tattoo, alternative, and pinup-inspired art tees.