Rejected and Dejected: Overcoming a Tee Design Setback By MJ

When you create a shirt design, it’s like baking a delicious cake. You’ve painstakingly measured out your ingredients, agonized over the flavor combinations, and delicately decorated until your creation was finally complete.

So when you get the bad news that your favorite t-shirt site doesn’t want anything to do with your design, it’s both crushing and confusing.

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What do you do?

First on your list should be to re-evaluate your work. Look at it critically, and ask yourself the tough questions:

Does this concept make sense?

Not every mashup is created equal- if you’ve combined two things that most people don’t think go together, they might not want to wear it (would you eat a peanut butter and ketchup sandwich?). It could also be that the subject matter is too obscure, the humor relies on an inside joke, or it’s just plain hard to read.

Is the artwork on par with other prints?

Sometimes it’s hard to see the flaws in your own work. But if you want to make your designs the best they can be, it pays to look at them with a critical eye. Think about both style and craftsmanship. It’s never a bad idea to take a look at the gallery and see what we’ve accepted in the past.

TEEVIL TIP: Sometimes turning a design upside down can help you to spot flaws!

Does this design fit in with the site’s character?

Every site is different. Some t-shirt companies aim for pop culture, others make slogans their bread and butter, while some focus on pure art. If you’re trying to get your awesome Fresh Prince of Bel Air slogan printed at a site that prefers detailed illustrations of whales, you’re in for an uphill climb. Nothing is impossible, but knowing your audience can definitely improve your chances of getting a piece printed.


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When you’re asking these questions, don’t just rely on your own judgement. Ask friends, fellow designers, and t-shirt fans what they think. TeeFury’s forums can be a good place to get feedback if you’re unsure why your design isn’t successful.


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Once you think you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to address it. Get back in there and make improvements. When your design is looking better than ever, you can resubmit and see if your luck has changed.

But what if there’s not a problem with the design?

This is more common than you might think. No site can print every submission they receive, so there will always be times when something pretty cool has to be overlooked.

TEEVIL TIP: You know those artists who seem to get printed all the time? They’re usually people who submit more designs than average, too! Rejection happens to everyone, but you can increase your odds of a print by submitting a lot of quality work.

When your design is good but still didn’t make the cut, you have a few options.

Contact the site

If you’re sure your design is a winner and need more feedback, sometimes it’s worth reaching out to the site to see what happened. An art director, curator, or other staffer may be able to give you more feedback on why the decision was made.

TEEVIL TIP: If you contact site staff, be patient! Sending multiple emails about the same issue can delay a response.

Rework the Design

Sometimes a design can work if a few things are changed. That’s why we recommend getting in touch with us at TeeFury to see how your design might just work. You never know when one or two things need to be tweaked to have an amazing design.

Once you know that you’ve given your design every chance to succeed, it’s time for the most important step…

Move on to a new design!

Don’t get hung up on the one piece that didn’t make the cut. If you can make one great design, there’s no reason you can’t make two. Or twelve. Or two hundred!


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  • buckd4wg

    Just a thought, but maybe a page with rejected designs on, which allows user feedback in the hope of improving those designs might be a good idea perhaps? Might help aspiring artists learn valuable lessons about what they need to improve, etc.

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