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What is a Graphic T-Shirt?

What is a Graphic T-Shirt? Graphic clothing has been a pillar of fashion trends for decades. This clothes resurgence has been interpreted differently throughout the design world, showing up on...

What is a Graphic T-Shirt?

Graphic clothing has been a pillar of fashion trends for decades. This clothes resurgence has been interpreted differently throughout the design world, showing up on items that were once considered plain or accompanied pieces. However, no graphic clothing pays homage to the original fad more than the graphic T-shirt, which became increasingly popular throughout the mid-20th century and has yet to see a decline in interpretations. They line the racks of every major fashion brand, from the high-end to the average. 

At Coney Island Picnic, we like to create graphic tees that you can’t find just anywhere. In this post, we’ll take a look at this staple piece, the styles that define it, and everything else you want to know about graphic T-shirts.

What makes a Graphic T-Shirt?

Most tees start out with cotton as their base material. There are plenty of reasons for this: it’s breathable, soft, and cool on the skin. Plus, this fabric can take on dye, which provides a blank canvas of every color of the rainbow and then some. From there, graphic tees are emblazoned with some kind of unique design, which could be a picture, a phrase, or a combination of both. 

These prints can be simple and dainty, but graphic T-shirts have also often been a catalyst for change in fashion. These pieces also provide staple concepts recognized worlds over, such as the iconic I ❤ NY. In recent years, luxury brands have embraced the silhouette of a T-shirt with nothing more than a logo. Band shirts are also a commonplace graphic tee, sometimes created exclusively for tours or album releases.

In short, a graphic tee must be a T-shirt shape with a torso and short or long sleeves, with a print of some kind on the front or back. 

Who wears Graphic Tees?

Emerging in the mid-20th century, graphic tees were only worn by a select group of people. This would follow suit throughout the decades until these tees became more of a mainstream concept.

The great thing about graphic T-shirts is that they are now made for everyone. With creative minds coming together to design many different types of tees and designs for them, you’re hard-pressed not to find a graphic tee for someone in your life. These pieces are standard in the streetwear scene, but it’s also pretty easy to dress them up and turn them into office wear. The embrace of versatility has broken the mold on what is considered a graphic T-shirt and opened the floodgates of interpretations, allowing everyone to wear a piece representing their ideals, thoughts, or morals.

What styles are there?

Just like any staple fashion piece, graphic T-shirts have evolved into their own styles. This type of streetwear lends itself to many different kinds of interpretations thanks to the simplicity of what it is rooted in. Below you’ll find some of the graphic tee styles that we focus on at Coney Island Picnic. 


As the name suggests, these tees are more on the artsy side of what a graphic T-shirt looks like. This style can be subversive as it tries to correlate a point and tends to depict a fuller scene rather than a few combined prints. Artistic tees use a few different colors, patterns, graphics, and fonts to create their complete image.


Since it’s all around us, nature proves to be a constant inspiration for graphic tees. Nature shirts are a staple at CIP, and for a good reason; there’s so much to connect to and discover. This is especially true as we look at our habits and how we treat the earth. Our earth graphic T-shirts focus on simple yet actionable messaging and prints. Living in harmony with each other and taking care of the planet we love the most? That’s a win-win for us.


Wearing your heart on your sleeve might not be the move, but how about on the front of your fit? Our T-shirts with positive messages focus on connections, peace, and just about anything else that makes us feel good. Expression is present in the clothes we wear and the styles that rule our wardrobe, so adding these feelings to a graphic tee was a no-brainer for us.


It’s no surprise that our psychedelic tees have an out-of-your-mind vibe. They focus on getting thoughts and feelings out of your subconscious and into your conscious way of being. This psychedelic style is evocative of decades past, when riding the wave of hallucinations and embracing concepts through your mind's eye was as important as living in reality. 

How do you wash Graphic Tees?

To keep your fit looking as good as when you first tried it on, you have to care for it properly. Since most graphic T-shirts are made from cotton, they can all follow a similar wash process to keep them looking good. A cold water cycle in the washing machine, followed by a hand stretch and being laid flat to dry, can help elongate the life of the fabric but also ensure the graphic doesn’t crack or peel from the heat of the dryer. 

If you’re in a rush and want to wear your graphic tee sooner rather than later, once in a while in the dryer won’t hurt. But, when it comes to oversized T-shirts, we always recommend the flat dry process to retain the shape you want. 

As an added tip, if you accidentally bought the wrong size tee, cotton can be stretched larger or smaller depending on how it’s washed. A hot water cycle could get it to shirk, while a cold cycle with plenty of stretching might give you a size up.

We hope that if someone asks you what graphic T-shirts are, CIP is the first thing that comes to mind when you have to show them what’s up. Interested in learning more about our styles, design process, or whatever else comes to mind? Drop us a line.


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