Calligram T-Shirt Designs: Get Designs, Elements & Inspiration for this Design Style

Last update on Oct 05, 2023 by Juan Pablo Sarmiento
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T-shirt calligram designs are a creative and innovative way to express words or messages through typography and images. Calligram is basically a word-based drawing, where the letters of the words form the shape of the drawing. However, thanks to the emergence of multiple trends, calligrams have recently gained a lot of popularity in the world of fashion and design. 

T-shirt calligram designs can be used to convey a wide range of messages, from inspirational quotes to funny metaphors, and have become a way for people to express themselves through their clothes that has taken over their name. The designs used for this technique can be rather simple or minimalistic, or complex and elaborated, and they can be done using a variety of fonts and colors palettes. 

The main advantage of implementing these designs, as we have mentioned, is how they allow people to wear their own personal message on their clothes and share their ideas and opinions in a fun and creative way. Whether they are looking to make a bold statement or just add a little personality to their wardrobe, wearing a t-shirt with a calligram design is the way. In this article, we are going to delve into how you can make the perfect calligram design for your t-shirts, and we will recommend some creative bundles that you can use as tools.


What Are Calligram Designs?

A calligram design is a type of art that combines words and images to create a visual representation of a word or phrase. In a calligram, the words are arranged in a way that forms the shape of the image they represent. The word “calligram” itself comes from the Greek words “kallos” (beauty) and “gramma” (letter).

In fashion, calligram designs have become popular on t-shirts and other clothing items. T-shirt calligram designs can be used to express personal beliefs, political views, or simply to add a touch of creativity and humor to an outfit.

Example of calligram design


What Uses Do Calligram Designs Have?

Designers can use calligrams in various shapes to create unique and eye-catching designs. These are some of the uses you can give your calligram designs:

  • Branding: Calligrams can be used to create a unique and memorable brand identity for a business or organization. By arranging words or images in a way that reflects the brand’s personality and values, designers can create a logo or visual identity that is distinctive and effective.
  • Advertising: Calligrams can be used in advertising to attract attention and convey a message in a creative and engaging way. By using words or images to form a shape or object that is relevant to the product or service being advertised, designers can create an eye-catching and memorable ad.
  • Art: Calligrams can be used as an art form to create visual representations of words or phrases. By using words or letters to form images or objects, designers can create unique and thought-provoking works of art.
  • Fashion: Calligrams can be used in fashion to create designs for t-shirts or other clothing that feature words or phrases arranged to form an image or object. Through the use of calligrams, designers can create stylish and meaningful clothing.
  • Communication: Calligrams can be used in communication to convey a message in a creative and engaging way. By arranging words or images to form a shape or object that relates to the message being communicated, designers can create a memorable and effective communication piece.

Examples of calligram designs in different applications


Why Should You Include Calligrams on your T-Shirts Designs 

Using calligrams in t-shirt designs can offer a number of benefits for both designers and consumers. These are some of the benefits of using calligrams on your t-shirts:

  • Unique and eye-catching designs: Calligrams can create unique and eye-catching designs on your t-shirts that make you stand out from the crowd. By using words or phrases to form a shape or object, designers can create creative and visually appealing designs.

If you’re looking to create a unique and eye-catching calligram t-shirt design, this pack of abstract t-shirt designs is perfect for you. The bundle contains a collection of over 100 vector based graphic designs, each of them being precisely crafted using vibrant abstract shapes. Files are delivered in Ai, EPS, and SVG vector formats, but also come in high-resolution PNG files with transparent backgrounds.

With this pack you can create your ideal t-shirt, since it has such a wide variety of designs you can even design calligrams using not only words or phrases but also smaller elements that are related to the big concept and design, like the ones below:

As we have mentioned, calligram designed t-shirts are a way to express your own ideas and perspectives when you wear them. You can share, without the use of words, what type of music you like, what your favorite movie is, what you think about a current problematic, and basically anything. An example of this, is the t-shirt below:

Following that same idea, here is a very good example of how you can design sports-related designs for those who not only love watching their favorite team but they also love wearing something that identifies them as their fans, without the need of wearing a logo or the team’s name:

Not only has it been scientifically proved that our brains are wired to process visual information more quickly and efficiently than text, which means that someone wearing a t-shirt like the three below will probably catch someone else’s attention easier than someone wearing a t-shirt filled with texts; but also a design that is perceived as visually pleasing is more eye-catching.

  • Memorable and meaningful messages: Calligraphy on t-shirts can convey memorable and meaningful messages that resonate with consumers. By arranging words or phrases to form an image or object, designers can create designs that communicate a message or idea in creative and engaging ways.

To design memorable and meaningful calligram designs, this bundle of urban t-shirt designs contain the perfect designs for creating memorable and meaningful calligrams. This product includes a wide variety of design elements, including typography, shapes, textures and patterns, all inspired by street and urban art culture. Said designs are available in a variety of formats, including PSD and PNG.

  • Versatility: Calligraphy on t-shirt designs can be used to create designs for a wide range of occasions and situations, from casual wear to special fancy events. By using different words, phrases, and images, designers can create calligram designs suitable for a variety of settings and situations.
  • Personalization: Calligrams on t-shirts can be customized to reflect a person’s interests, beliefs or personality. By using words or images that are meaningful to the user, designers can create custom designs that are unique and meaningful.

The vector t-shirts calligram set is a collection of 20 high-quality graphic designs, each available in a vector format that can be easily edited and customized. The designs contain a range of styles and themes, including nature, animals, music and more. The files come in layered CDR, EPS and SVG formats. This means that you can adjust the size, color, layout and other aspects of the design to create a personalized calligram that fits your specific requirements. You can modify the fonts, colors, and other elements of the design to create a truly personalized calligram that reflects your individual style and preferences.

Since this set allows you to customize your designs due to the fact that each file comes in layered vector formats, you can even use different colored and sized fonts in order to create a more distinguishable design like the ones below, where the text that makes up the hair of all three historical personalities have a different color than their faces.

When wanting to use more colors that are brighter, you have to be careful about the designs’ readability and their easy understanding since from far away they can be perceived as something completely different. In this article we will discuss the things you have to avoid in order to make the perfect calligram design but you can take this two t-shirts’ designs as examples on how to effectively use many bright colors in your designs.

Sometimes it is very difficult to achieve the figure or image that we have in our mind with only text diagrammed in a certain way, that is why this set includes other elements other than fonts that will help you complement the text and thus be able to have the desired result, for example in this t-shirt with a Star Wars design, graphic elements such as curves, letter backgrounds and circles are used.

These are some examples of more t-shirts with calligram designs inspired by movies or TV shows like Star Wars, Pokemon, Kung Fu Panda, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and many more. In this set you will find absolutely all the necessary elements to design calligrams this polished and produced.

In addition, you can convey a much broader message about the tastes or personality of the wearer of the shirt with designs like the one below. In this design, multiple phrases or words are used that all speak of the same thing: a vintage or old school lifestyle. Likewise, the image that is formed with these is that of an old car and what this does is reinforce the concept that is to be transmitted. This is an example of something more elaborate, but that is easy with this set of calligrams for t-shirts.

How to Design a Calligram for a T-Shirt

There are many types of calligrams that you can use on a t-shirt, from completely visual to a more text-based design, here we explain some of the types you may use on t-shirt designs:

Word-based Calligrams

These calligrams are created by arranging the letters of one word in a way that forms the shape or silhouette of an object or image related to the meaning of the word. For example, you can think of the word “coffee” arranged specially, so the letters form the shape of a coffee shop. 

If you have in mind to design a t-shirt with this type of calligram, this set of the font families display, ligature, script and signature fonts will fit your needs perfectly. This is a collection of high-quality fonts that uses special characters that combine two or more letters to create a unique design. This set is perfect to design word-based calligrams since you will be using only one word or two, which means that the fancy and elaborated details of the fonts may help to make the desired shape.


Text-Based Calligrams

This type of calligrams are created by arranging sentences or phrases in a way that they form an image or object. These can be a little bit complex and may even require the use of multiple font sizes and styles. For example, a poem about a bird can be arranged in the shape of a literal bird.

Since in this type of calligrams texts are longer, it is highly recommended to use simple and easily readable fonts like the ones included in the genera sans-serif font family. This is a versatile and modern font set that includes 40 styles and 4 variable fonts that were designed using a combination of clean lines, geometric shapes and modern design elements to create a sleek and contemporary look. 


Picture-Based Calligrams

This type of calligram is based centrally on an image or photo and uses words or phrases around it, complementing it, to create a message that goes hand in hand with the meaning of everything. For example, an illustration of a tree with the words “grow” and “bloom” arranged inside like the branches and leaves. Since this is the most commonly used calligram design type, there are many design bundles that can help you create the perfect t-shirt. Here are some of them: 

The complete Singel font family includes over 900 characters, which means it provides a range of light to bold weights, as well as true italics, that guarantees many options for creating unique and visually striking calligrams. Since in the case of picture-based calligrams, the words are accompanying an image, italics and detailed fonts like the ones included in this set work well. The fonts come in a desktop presentation with TTF and OTF files formats and in web fonts presentation with EOT, WOFF and WOFF2 files formats.

Another option for those designs aimed at the youngest members of the family or simply more playful designs, this fun fonts for kids pack is a collection of whimsical and playful fonts that can be your ideal option. With a variety of fun and colorful designs, this font pack provides a wide range of options for creating a playful calligram design. The pack includes a range of font styles, including bubble letters, hand-drawn designs and cartoon-inspired fonts that are delivered in OTF formats.

Fun Fonts for Kids Pack – 130+ Display Fonts in OTF Format, 25 Font Families in Multiple Styles

And if what you are looking for is a more trendy, cute and handmade-style design, this pack of 50 vector inspirational/positive print quotes might be your perfect match.  Each graphic in this pack features a motivational or positive quote, combined with visually appealing design elements such as patterns, shapes and illustrations that are delivered in separated transparent PNG files and SVG files for each quote.

Typography-based calligrams

This type of calligram uses typography to create an image or object. This means that letters, words and phrases are arranged in a way that forms a specific shape or object. For example, the letters of the word “music” arranged to form the shape of a guitar or any other instrument. 

In this type of calligram, it is also common to use sans serif fonts that are readable and simple. But that does not mean that you should use boring fonts for your designs, you can use the type of fonts that are included in this Kapra Neue pro font family. It is a collection of 96 sans-serif fonts that can be used to create typography-based calligrams with different styles, from bold and impactful to more delicate and elegant designs. The fonts are delivered in OTF file formats, and they feature small caps, cyrillic and latin script characters.  

Logo-based calligrams: These calligrams use a company or brand logo as the basis for the calligram. The logo may be manipulated or adapted to form an image or object related to the company or brand. For example, imagine the Coca-Cola logo manipulated and arranged to form the shape of a soda bottle.

What to Avoid when Designing Calligram T-Shirts

  • Overcomplicating the design: A calligram is a type of typographic design that uses words to create a visual image. While it is very important to include details to create a recognizable image, overcomplicating your design can make it hard for people to read it or understand it from afar.
  • Using fonts that are difficult to read: The typeface used on a calligram t-shirt is one of the most important aspects of the design. If the font is too small or too decorative, people will have a hard time trying to understand the message.
  • Ignore negative space – Negative space refers to the area around text and images in a layout. Ignoring negative space can make your layout look messy and confusing. It’s important to use negative space effectively to help guide the eye and create a clear visual hierarchy.
  • Using too many colors – While it’s tempting to use too many colors in a calligram design, using too many can make the shirt look overwhelming and overdone

Example of mistakes when designing calligrams

To avoid making these or other similar mistakes when designing the calligrams for your t-shirts, you could use tools like these t-shirt mockup templates, which will help you visualize and showcase your t-shirt designs beforehand. The templates include various t-shirt styles, sizes and colors. You can use this t-shirt mockup templates to not only see how your design is looking, but also to check if everything is fully distinguishable and readable. The files come in layered and organized PSD format, so you can easily place your designs and even change the t-shirts’ colors. 

Juan Pablo Sarmiento

System engineer from the National University of Colombia, with special interest over entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity and well-being.

Several projects and startups launched in over 20 years of experience.

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