Extreme Orient T-Shirt Print Trend

June 29, 2019


Celebrate the Land of the Rising Sun with this dramatic and graphically detailed T-Shirt print trend.

Japanese inspired design is too strong to ignore, with references drawn from both ancient and modern traditions and Japanese street culture. Bold colors, exaggerated character designs, unique typography and detailed illustrations makes the Japanese design aesthetic instantly recognizable.

T-Shirt prints draw inspiration from traditional Japanese artwork, pattern and tattoo design. Symbolic creatures such as dragons, snakes, tigers and koi fish dominate and Japanese typography takes its cues from the modern streets of Tokyo, creating killer print combinations.

So let’s take a trip to the east and explore the most symbolic and timeless elements of Japanese design influencing this T-Shirt print trend.

1- Enter the Dragon

Arguably the most recognizable creature in Japanese iconography is the Dragon. Dragons are believed to bring prosperity and avoid evils. The dragon is also widely regarded as a symbol of fortune or royalty. Dragon illustrations are extremely versatile with their unique structure enabling dynamic print compositions, bold colors and powerful expression.



2- Irezumi- Japanese Tattoo

Japanese tattoos, called Irezumi have a long rich cultural history from aristocracy to the Yakuza - Japanese Mafia. The designs are powerful, striking and timeless. Japanese tattoo’s are distinctive for their dense detail, symbolic meaning and extensive color palettes making them perfect inspiration for T-Shirt print design.



3- Rising Sun

The rising sun is a recurring design element seen in many Japanese inspired graphics. This distinctive red disk is taken from the Japanese flag and reflects Japans strong connection to the sun. This symbolic element works best against monochromatic design elements, creating a highlight to draw attention.



4- Eye of the Tiger

The Japanese tiger tattoo carries with it the same traits we attribute to the real animal–strength and courage, but is also a protector against evil spirits. The tigers distinctive coat influences color and its fierce expression adds strength to T-Shirt print designs.



5- Koi Fish

Koi fish are of a large significance to the Japanese. They symbolize luck, fortune, abundance, and perseverance. Their beauty can be translated into T-Shirt print design in many forms with their fluid forms creating elegant print compositions.


6- Kanji Typography

Another recurring design element in Japanese inspired T-Shirt design is the use of both Japanese and English characters in typography. There are over 2,000 characters in 3 different scripts in the Japanese language. Kanji is the logographic Chinese characters along with Katakana, Hiragana. Print designs combine traditional characters with english font styles inspired by the shapes of Japanese Kanji.



7- Samurai

The samurai is a heroic and symbolic warrior in Japanese history. Usually highly illustrated in design, the Samurai is represented in it’s traditional heroic form or in a dark and menacing form for a more sinister twist in this T-Shirt trend.



8- The Great Wave

"The Great Wave of Kanagawa," a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai is one of the world's most iconic pieces of Asian art. The fluid movement of the great wave provides inspiration for print layout or as a design detail. Water, or waves, signify power and resilience.



9- Extreme Detail

It would be fair to say that minimalism does not have as large of a place in Japanese design as it does in many western design aesthetics. The story telling nature of traditional Japanese art and tattoo design lends itself to information packed and densely packed design compositions. Fine illustration, pattern, color and typography are combined creatively in T-Shirt adaptations of this story telling style.


(All images are sourced from DownloadT-ShirtDesigns and Pinterest. The images above are mood boards only and not for resale)


Check out our Extreme Orient inspired designs ready to download now

  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123376
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123369
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123354
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123373
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123372
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123279
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123370
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123375
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123371
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123237
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123374
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2121576
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2121041
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2121203
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2121210
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2121290
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2121557
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123261
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123377
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123378
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123379
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123380
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123381
  • downloadt-shirtdesigns-com-2123382

Find inspiration quickly with our digital library of 1000+ T-Shirt Designs & All-Over-Pattern-Print-Designs. Click here to view our range of designs.

comments powered by Disqus

Here are some kind words from our happy customers

  • Just wanted to say thank you to Greg and the team at Download T-Shirt Designs & Studio 1 for the incredible artwork you have produced for me over the last 9 years. You have consistently amazed me with your creative yet commercial designs and have been instrumental in helping us build our clothing business and go from strength to strength. You are the only team I trust when it comes to t-shirt designs.

    Alison Griffiths
    Apparel & Brand Development
  • I have been working with Studio1 & DTD now for nearly 10 years. I use DTD for instant designs plus I use Studio1 because I know that my design jobs will be completed efficiently, without question and with high quality results. Studio1 offers the highest level of experience, not only from my design expectation but thru to my production execution. I would highly recommend Studio1 if you are looking for a design service that will take your business to the next level.

    Leanne Chapple
    Headwear & Accessories Supplier
  • We supply the largest retailers in the world with printed accessories, so we need artwork fast so we purchase from Download T-Shirt Designs plus when we need something exclusively we use their parent company, Studio 1's dynamic team, which enables us to achieve world class results in design. From brief to completion, Studio 1 are professional, accessible & efficient. Studio 1 are the perfect extension to our team and go beyond the call of duty to get results.

    Mark Pawsey
    Accessories Supplier
  • We are a leading Australian surfwear retailer. We have an in-house design team that is struggling to keep up with the demand, so now that we have found you guys it's really helping with our work load. Having a balance between our design studio & your website full of quality T-Shirt designs that are ready to go is the perfect solution for us.

    Mens Surf wear
  • Your t-shirt designs are amzing! They are on-trend with current looks & are super value! I have just printed my first range of T-Shirt graphics that I bought from your website & they are selling fast!

    Michelle W.
    Kids Fashion Supplier
  • Hi, Just wanted to let you know that the last batch of designs that I purchased from your site have been selling extremely well. Sales are up by 300% on my previous batch that another team designed for me.

    Greg Sperling
    Viral Tees
  • Premiere had previously only used in house design teams, and I found that having a balance between in house design and an outside resource such as Studio 1’s website (Downloadt-shirtdesigns.com) is a breath of fresh air. Greg and the team are well versed at understanding my objectives, however with their knowledge of fashion and ability to forecast trends, the results are normally above and beyond initial expectations.

    Kidswear Supplier
  • We’ve been consistently using Studio-1 for graphics over the past few years, and have never been disappointed. Nothing is ever too difficult, too much of a problem for their team. The designs – whether bought from their existing designs on DownloadT-ShirtDesigns.com or briefed in for new art – are always on trend and of the highest calibre. And always with quick turn around too.

    Ryan Smith
    Mens & Womens T-Shirts
  • Nearly 12 years ago I found Studio1. One of my first presentations to major retailers in Australia and New Zealand with Studio1′s artwork had the immediate impact that was needed to get the buyers to sign off on the orders. From that time all those years ago to this day Studio 1 is the only graphic design company we use. I could not recommend Studio 1 anymore highly, not only are Greg and his team incredibly talented but to top it all off they are a great company to work with, nothings too hard, always willing to listen and most importantly always coming up with the goods.

    Sam Certo
    Apparel Wholesaler