5 Ongoing T-Shirt Design Contests

Are you a budding t-shirt designer? If so then you are probably trying to find ways to promote your designs and ultimately have them printed. Traditionalist would probably argue that the best way to get your tee design printed is to, well, print it yourself. This can be a time consuming and expensive process. Lucky for us we are a part of the interactive age of Web 2.0 where things can get done faster and easier.

Here I talk about 5 popular and ongoing t-shirt design contests. This can be a great way for indie designers to get their feet wet in the tee business. And even if you submit a tee design to one of these communities and your design does not get selected for print, you will still probably get valuable community feedback on your design. On the other hand, if your designs do get selected then get ready for a nice pay day!

Each of these sites have different rules and guidelines so be sure to read them before you submit your designs. Some of these sites retain exclusive rights to submitted designs whereas other sites allow the artists to retain exclusive rights.

1. Threadless. How it Works: The competition here is tough and the voting and comments during the selection process is brutal, but, if your design is selected you’ll be part of an elite group of Threadless approved t-shirt designers! Shirts chosen for print will be produced in limited amounts, once the print has sold out, it will not be offered for sale unless is is chosen for reprint (not all designs are reprinted). Selection Process: Submitted designs are posted on Threadless and users vote for their favorite designs. Threadless staff then go through the top designs and select which are to be printed. Rights: If your design is submitted and chosen to be printed as a Threadless then Threadless assumes exclusives rights to the design. Pay Day: $2000 in cash and a $500 Threadless gift certificate for each design chosen to be printed. Plus, you get $500 each time your tee design is reprinted. And finally if you’re tee is chosen for print you have a chance at winning up to $10,000 in the yearly Threadless “Bestee” Awards. Official Rules.

2. TeeFury. How it Works: TeeFury members are able to submit designs directly to TeeFury for consideration. When submitting your design they also suggest that you submit a link to your portfolio or website or anything that provides examples of your work. Shirts that are chosen are showcased on TeeFury for just 24 hours. Selection Process: Designs are selected by the TeeFury staff. Rights: The artists retains all rights to their designs and can do what they want with their designs after the shirt spends its time (max of 24 hours) on TeeFury. Pay Day: Artists are paid $1 for each shirt sold within the 24 hour period. Official Rules. 

3. Shirt.Woot. How it Works: You can submit your designs to Shirt.Woot directly here or you can enter the weekly Shirt.Woot Derby. Every Thursday new Derby themes are announced and the following Friday submissions are accepted. Selection Process: The three most popular designs as voted by Shirt.Woot users get chosen to be printed and sold to the world! Designs submitted directly to Shirt.Woot are selected by the Shirt.Woot staff for print. Rights: Shirt.Woot retains 60 day exclusive (cannot submit to other contests or produce commercially) rights for all art design submissions. Shirt.Woot retains a 180 days exclusive rights for all Best of Derby Nominated shirts. If with thin the 60 or 180 time span the shirt is not chosen for print the then Shirt.Woot waives exclusive rights, meaning the artist can do what he likes with the design. Shirt.Woot has exclusive perpetual rights to your design if it is chosen to be produced. Pay Day: $1000 per winning design and $2 per shirt sold after the first day of sale. Official Rules. 

4. Uneetee. How it Works: Artists submit t-shirt designs and if selected the tees are offered at Uneetee on a limited run basis. Selection Process: Unetee users vote for their favorite designs. Design stays up for voting for a a max of 21 days. Designs with the highest scores have an increased chance of being selected by Uneetee staff as the shirt of the week. Rights: Uneetee get exclusive rights to the design if the shirt is chosen. The designer cannot reproduce the winning design for commercial purposes. Pay Day: $750 ($750 guaranteed cash and $750 guaranteed commissions). If you sell more than the guaranteed run of 375 shirts than you can earn more than $750 commission (royalties are $2 per shirt). Official Rules. 

5. Design by Humans. How it Works: Designers submit art, this can be traditional paintings, illustrations, sketches, vector art, photoshop art, or however you like to design). If submitting traditional art then you must digitize your design (snap a pic of it). Design should be formatted and submitted either as a GIF, JPG, or PNG. Once your design is ready you submit it here. Selection Process: Design by Humans users vote for their favorite designs and designs with the most votes are chosen for print. Five shirt of the day winners are chosen each week ($750). Of the five shirt of the day winners, one shirt is chosen as shirt of the week ($1000). Each month, one of the shirt of the week winners is chosen as short of the month ($1750). Plus, designers get paid based on how many shirts they sell (1000 shirts = $500 up to 10,000 shirts = $5000). Rights: After 60 days of submitting designs artists are then free to o what they like with their designs. If your design is selected for print then DBH retains exclusive rights.  Pay Day: Up to $3500 plus residuals. Rights. Official Rules.


  1. Joomin says

    Hey Coty, any idea how much woot.tshirt pays to the designer, whose design gets selected for a particular day sale. Remember I am not talking about derby winner designers.

    I am a designer and I sent my query to woot but they never replied So I came across your site in Google search and asking this question to you.

  2. says

    Hi Joomin, I believe it is $1000 per design seelcted for the daily shirt and then $2 per shirt sold. The design selected is up to the Shirt.Woot staff.

    Jimiyo, who has also submitted designs for the daily sale confirmed this in an interview I did with him:

    “I love shirt.woot. They payout $1000+. Joel is fantastic, no, Terrific, to deal with and I truly enjoy the mentality of Wooter consumer base. Their approval is difficult to earn, and thankfully, somehow, I have been able to win a small portion of their acceptance.”

    Here’s a link to that interview:


  3. Joomin says

    I doubt… THey pay $1000 + $2 per tee from second day only to derby winers. See http://shirt.woot.com/whatiswoot.aspx#q7f

    Because if they do the same thing with daily tee designer then what is the difference between derby and daily tee. Daily tee gets sold in much lower quantity than derby tees. So woot is not fool to give same amount of money to daily tee designers as well.

    I think Jimiyo told you at Derby

  4. says

    Hmmm, let me double check this for you Joomin. I’ll jump on AIM and see if someone who has had their tee as the daily Shirt.Woot tee can verify the amount paid.

  5. says

    Okay, the payment is $1000 per shirt plus $2 for every shirt sold for designs that are submitted directly to shirt.woot and tees that are selected from the derby.

    Derby shirts are only sold on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The three most popular Derby tees are sold on these three days only and again, only one per day. The Derby is typically for people who don’t have much design experience and would like community feedback.

    Designer submitted shirts are on the site from Monday to Thursday, one design per day. If you’re an established artist then you can bypass the community vote and have the Shirt.Woot staff decide whether they want to post your design or not as the daily tee.

    If you find further information on payout please post here!

  6. Joomin says

    Ok found it at http://screenprinters.net/articles.php?art=330&mod=print

    Fast Facts
    – Shirt.Woot has sold more 100 designs to date (launched July 07)
    – More than 100,000 shirts have been printed
    – It has paid out more than $75,000 to artists

    Attention All Artists
    Shirt.Woot is always looking for never-before-produced designs to sell on its Web site. This is how is works, according to Joel Lewis, director, “We offer two contracts. Our more exclusive contract pays $250 to $500 for the first day depending on the shirt’s performance. There’s a flat guarantee of $250, but if the shirt sells more than 500 pieces, then we bump it up to $500. On an average, we sell between 400 and 700 shirts a day.

    “After the first day’s sales, we continue to sell the shirt through an ongoing ‘friends’ link, which we provide to the artist for posting to his or her site, blogs, etc. Any shirt sold on the ongoing basis earns $2 per shirt sold. In this exclusive contract we retain rights for that specific image, but the artist retains ownership of the design. To give you an idea, we have a couple of designers who have made upwards of $1,000 on the ongoing sales. To be fair, we have one who’s made $4 as well. It’s a fickle T-shirt world.

    “Our less-exclusive contract follows the same basic structure, with a little less up front money, but a more flexible rights arrangement. In this contract, we pay $125 to $250 for the first day’s sales and $1 per shirt sold after that. Under this contract we hold the rights for printing on apparel only and those rights return to you a year after we stop selling the shirt.

  7. says

    The payout is the same for both daily and derby shirts, currently $1000 plus $2 per shirt sold at the $15 price.

    I’ve done both and can verify this 100%.

  8. says

    Thanks for verifying this, MJ. You are awesome as usual!

    Joomin, I think that article from which you got those prices are outdated and are the pay rates from when Shirt.Woot just started out.

  9. says

    Hi Coty,
    Just wanted to add another contest to your list… Shirtscuffle.com. This website offers contests where winners receive $500, plus $1 for every shirt sold with a winning design.

    The designers original designs and battle others in the scuffle to have creations printed and sold. To enter, you must use the specified template (available on the website), it must fit the theme specified in the “category of the week”, and it cannot exceed 6 colors. Vist ShirtScuffle.com for full details. There is no entry fee.