Making your work into merch: print on demand services

So, you want to start printing your work onto products but don’t want the cost and hassle? ‘Print on demand’ websites might be the answer you’ve been looking for…

So how does it work? You upload your designs, they print and ship the products, they take a fee. Simple!

The majority are free to set up, the companies take commission on the items you sell. Most ‘print on demand’ websites have their own marketplace where you get your own ‘storefront’. This enables you to sell your artwork or photos on a range of different products such as mugs, t-shirts and bags, and reach their audience as well as your own. Others simply give you a storefront to market yourself or integrate fully with your existing website.

Compared to bulk ordering and shipping your own products, the profit margins can be a little slim with ‘print on demand’ (or ‘drop shipping’ as you might see it referred to). But, if you’re new to the merch game, or don’t have the time to do it “DIY”, then it is a great way to dip your toe into selling a huge range of different products with zero risk.

Still feeling a little apprehensive? If you’re like us, you want to sleep easy, knowing that the products being shipped on your behalf meet your high standards! No one wants their work associated with products that fall apart at the seams, or that are being made in an illegal sweatshop. With that firmly in mind, here’s our pick of our favourite merch printing websites…

Spreadshirt

Spreadshirt is one of the big hitters when it comes to print on demand companies. It has hundreds of thousands of users uploading their work to their marketplace globally and a myriad of products to place your work onto. As expected, they offer t-shirts, phone cases and mugs, but we love that you can also make home decor, kids clothing and accessories like hats and rucksacks.

Unlike some other big print on demand companies, it’s easy to find information about their suppliers and their treatment of workers. If that makes you happy, then this is a platform with a good reach and range of products.

We love… their pick of the top designers on their site, plenty of illustration eye candy there!

Teemill

If you’re concerned about the ethics of your supply chain then look no further. Teemill is a UK based eco-friendly t-shirt supplier. It’s the ‘print on demand’ project of Rapanui, a sustainable fashion brand. They have a ‘seed to shirt’ ethos and are Soil Association registered. From growing their own cotton, manufacturing their own shirts in a fair trade, eco-factory in India, and printing all their designs in the UK using eco-friendly dyes, they’ve got it covered.

They’re the on-demand printers of choice for The Wildlife Trusts and the Marine Conservation Society… that’s some good karma right there!

We love… the ‘Very British Problems’ Teemill shop which eloquently highlights Britain’s peculiar mannerisms!

Very British Problems Teemill shop.

miPic

London based miPic is an app and an online platform with products made exclusively in the UK. It offers products such as framed art prints, printed canvases, aluminium and acrylic printed wall art, as well as apparel, cushion covers and wallpaper. The nicely designed app means easy uploads straight from your device. Although it’s aimed at phone users it also works on iPad so it’s great for Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer for iPad users!

We love… a ‘rags to riches’ story! miPic got its first break by pitching to Sir Richard Branson and winning Virgin’s ‘Pitch to Rich’. They later launched after a successful crowdfunding campaign to launch their app.

Design by Humans

Design by Humans allows you to have your own storefront on their marketplace. Unlike other websites they also sell official licensed products for movies like Star Wars and Jurassic World. So your work is in good company. You can create and sell t-shirts and other apparel, phone cases, art prints, stickers and mugs. Design by Humans only uses t-shirt blanks that are guaranteed to be sweatshop free and claims its product quality is second to none.

We love… their charity section where 25% of proceeds of sales go to nominated charities.

Everpress

Everpress is a design led, London based company, with its roots firmly in the chic East London creative scene. Specialising and screen-printed t-shirts, their garment options are simple with their ethos centred around supporting creatives to monetise their designs and eliminate garment industry waste.

We love… how cool their website looks! If you want a stylish marketplace then look no further. We also love their blog full of case studies and insights into the processes of awesome designers.

Spoonflower

If surface pattern design is more your thing, then US based Spoonflower is a great place for getting fabric and gift wrap printed. Sell via their ‘print on demand’ marketplace or, with no minimum order, you can print your own for personal use or re-sell too.

It’s worth noting that Spoonflower is starting to actively seek larger audiences for its marketplace. So, you can opt in to having your designs listed by them via Etsy, Amazon and eBay.

Spoonflower’s ethical credentials are sound, with a strong sense of social responsibility and projects to empower their employees.

We love… how many different printed fabrics you can order, from denim to chiffon.

MerchT

This is the brainchild of Leeds based Awesome Merchandise and is a hybrid of a ‘print on demand’ service and a crowdfunding platform. Upload your design and secure 10 pre-orders in a set space of time to have your design printed and shipped by the company. Nice concept.

We love… that their t-shirts are screen-printed, where most ‘print on demand’ companies use digital ‘DTG’ (direct to garment) as it’s more cost effective for one offs or small print-runs. MerchT also refuse to use sweat shop labour produced materials or garments.

Print Aura

Print Aura allows you to integrate its platform into other ecommerce platforms you might be using, such as Etsy or Shopify. This makes it a different to other ‘print on demand’ websites as it doesn’t have its own marketplace, making it very much a ‘drop-shipping’ company. It’s ethical standpoint can be found here and of all the companies we looked at it offers the largest range of products.

We love… how you can integrate their service into your own site instead of creating another new storefront.


If you feel you need to pick just one ‘print on demand’ provider, then think again! As there is no risk or upfront costs you can upload your designs to as many sites as you like and reach different audiences—all it takes is your patience and time!

We are not affiliated with any of the websites listed in this article, information is a guide only and accurate at time of publishing.


Artist relations
Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.
Credits & Footnotes

Header image by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.