“A good graphic starts with a good font,” explains Mertens. “The easiest way to wreck a design is poor font usage. Apparel-centric fonts that model retail fashion trends are critical. You can’t just slap a desktop publishing font into a T-shirt design and expect it to look good. Font selection is critical.”
Here are a few current font trends to keep your eye on:
1. Script fonts
“A current trend is handwritten script fonts,” Mertens says. “These are definitely in the ‘cute’ category and a spinoff from the home decor industry.”
You can use these elaborate, flourish-filled fonts in three-word statements or in large formats since they’re a bit busy. “They convey a feeling of happiness and light-heartedness,” says Carolyn Cagle, owner of Strikke Knits Embroidery.
Achilles adds, “In addition to T-shirts, I’ve illustrated a number of children’s books and book covers, and right now hand lettering and calligraphy is a big force in that corner of the market. Script fonts give a personalized vibe, a veracity to the story as if the book’s plot is taken right out of the author’s or brand’s handwritten diary.”
2. Serif fonts
“Banks and legal firms value stability and confidence so they most often use traditional, solid-looking serif typefaces,” Achilles says.
For businesses, Cagle has been using serif fonts as single word or letter images. “However, using a very bold sans serif font and inserting images inside of them results in a great screen-printed image,” she says.
3. Graphic Old English, Celtic, or medieval-style fonts
“These are huge with microbreweries and tattoo artists,” Cagle notes. “We’re also creating a lot of single words in Celtic typefaces paired with graphic woodblock images or Celtic knots.”
4. Retro fonts
“Typefaces that communicate the ‘70s or ‘80s vibe are in,” Mertens says. “Another popular style in that vein are comic book fonts that emulate the fonts used in the logos for the Marvel and DC universes.”
5. Relaxed, relatable fonts
Service industries can use a wide variety of typefaces but they are usually more relaxed and relatable faces since these companies deal directly with customers and want to project friendliness and broad appeal. “I’ve designed T-shirts for a theater company that teaches children and teen improv troupes,” Achilles says. “Those designs are always fun and bouncy, mimicking the students’ humor and energy.”
6. Block athletic typefaces
“These fonts are always timeless,” Mertens says.