Silk Screen T-Shirt, How to Make Them and Sell Them

Scott Smith Sep 19, 2023
13 People Read

Title: The Colorful Evolution: A Deep Dive into Silk Screen Printing


Silk screen printing, also known as serigraphy, is a captivating art form that has played a pivotal role in shaping the history of textile printing, particularly when it comes to iconic items like concert T-shirts. In this article, we will embark on a journey through time, exploring the fascinating history of screen printing, its evolution, techniques, and its enduring influence on contemporary T-shirt styles, all while keeping the vibrant world of hippie festivals in focus.

The Origins and Evolution of Silk Screen Printing

To truly appreciate silk screen printing's significance, we must start with its roots. The history of screen printing can be traced back to ancient China, where stencils were used to transfer ink onto fabric and other surfaces. However, it wasn't until the early 20th century that modern screen printing as we know it began to take shape.

Screen Printing Techniques: An Artful Craft

Silk screen printing involves creating a stencil (or screen) by blocking out areas on a mesh screen, leaving open spaces for ink to pass through. The ink is then forced through the screen onto the substrate (in this case, a T-shirt) using a squeegee. The result is a beautifully printed design that's both durable and vibrant.

Over the years, screen printing techniques have evolved significantly. Traditional methods often used silk screens, hence the name. However, today, screens are typically made from polyester, nylon, or other synthetic materials, which are more durable and cost-effective. These advancements in screen technology have allowed for greater precision and efficiency in the printing process.

A Glimpse into Screen Printing History

Screen printing's journey through history is a captivating one. In the mid-20th century, it gained significant popularity as a means of mass-producing posters and textiles. Its versatility allowed it to be used for everything from promotional materials to fine art prints.

One of the turning points in screen printing history was its association with the hippie movement. Hippie festivals, with their free-spirited and artistic vibes, became a hub for the spread of screen-printed T-shirts. These festivals often featured hand-crafted, colorful, and sometimes politically charged designs that mirrored the counterculture's ideals.

Hippie Festivals and Concert T-Shirts: A Symbiotic Relationship

Hippie festivals, with their emphasis on individuality and creative expression, were the perfect breeding ground for the concert T-shirt phenomenon. These events brought together a diverse array of musicians and artists, each with their unique message and style. Concert organizers saw an opportunity to capture the spirit of the event and the essence of the performers through custom-designed T-shirts.

Concert T-shirts, often featuring psychedelic colors and intricate designs, became cherished mementos of these events. They served as a canvas for the visual representation of the music and the counter-cultural values of the era. Many of these vintage concert T-shirts are now collector's items, not only for their association with music legends but also for their artistic value.

DIY Screen Printing: A Hippie-Era Tradition

One of the key aspects of the hippie movement was the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos. This mindset extended to screen printing as well. Artistic-minded folks began experimenting with screen printing at home, creating unique designs and embracing imperfections as part of the artistic process. DIY screen printing allowed for greater freedom of expression and contributed to the eclectic and vibrant designs associated with the era.

Vintage Concert T-Shirts: A Window into the Past

Vintage concert T-shirts from the 60's and 70's era hold a special place in the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts. These shirts are not just clothing; they are artifacts that tell the story of a cultural revolution. The designs often feature iconic album art, memorable lyrics, and imagery that encapsulates the spirit of the times. Owning a vintage concert T-shirt is like owning a piece of history, a tangible connection to a bygone era of music and rebellion.

These classic rock 'n' roll bands and their iconic album covers are commonly featured on silk screen t-shirts.

The Rolling Stones - Their tongue and lips logo is instantly recognizable.

The Beatles - The "Abbey Road" album cover or the band's name in various styles.

Led Zeppelin - Their iconic "Zoso" symbols or the Hindenburg disaster image from their debut album.

Pink Floyd - Album art from "Dark Side of the Moon" or "The Wall."

AC/DC - The lightning bolt logo or "Highway to Hell" imagery.

The Who - The Bullseye logo or images from the "Quadrophenia" album.

Jimi Hendrix - Artwork featuring Hendrix's face or his famous guitar.

Queen - The band's name in their distinctive font or the cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Aerosmith - The band's name with their classic wings logo.

You can search online for images of silk screen t-shirts featuring these bands to get a better idea of what classic rock 'n' roll t-shirts look like. Additionally, you can check out vintage clothing stores, rock merchandise shops, or websites like eBay and Etsy to find classic rock 'n' roll t-shirts with various designs and artwork.

Festival Apparel: A Canvas for Expression

As we fast forward to contemporary times, the influence of screen printing on festival apparel remains as strong as ever. Music festivals continue to be a vibrant platform for self-expression, and T-shirts are at the forefront of this creative outlet. Today's festivalgoers can choose from an array of designs, from intricate mandalas to bold, abstract patterns, all thanks to the versatile world of screen printing.

Contemporary T-Shirt Styles: The Legacy Continues

In the present day, screen printing has evolved into a sophisticated art form with a multitude of applications. The technology has advanced to the point where even the most intricate and detailed designs can be faithfully reproduced on a T-shirt. Contemporary T-shirt styles are a testament to the enduring appeal of screen printing.

Designers and artists continue to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with screen printing. Water-based and eco-friendly inks are becoming increasingly popular, aligning with the modern emphasis on sustainability. As a result, the appeal of screen-printed T-shirts extends beyond music festivals to everyday wear, as consumers appreciate the artistry and durability of these garments.


Silk screen printing, with its rich history, intricate techniques, and deep connection to cultural movements like the hippie festivals of the past, has left an indelible mark on the world of fashion and self-expression. From its humble origins in China to its pivotal role in the counterculture revolution, screen printing has demonstrated its enduring appeal. As we continue to embrace contemporary T-shirt styles that owe their existence to this age-old craft, we are reminded that screen printing is not just a method of printing; it's a means of telling stories, preserving memories, and expressing our unique identities. In an ever-changing world, screen printing remains a colorful constant.