Print On Demand (POD) Platform Pros & Cons

Direct-to-garment Print-On-Demand (POD) t-shirt printing options are fantastic. Back in the day only screen printing was available. And to get a good prince per t-shirt I had to buy 12, 24, 144 tees.

POD means I don’t have to purchase in bulk and I don’t have to carry any inventory. From a graphic designer’s point of view, each POD platform has pros and cons, especially when uploading 12 designs and applying them to 12-24 unique garments. It’s a lot of work.

Specs: RGB, 300dpi. Minimum dimensions differ depending on POD.

Print On Demand (POD)RedbubbleTeePublicThreadlessSpring (TeeSpring)BonfireSpreadshirt
Human modelsYESNONONONOYES
Replace/update artworkYESYESYESYESYESNO
Display specific garment colorsNOYESYESYESYESYES
Artwork uploads to top-center of print areaNOYESYESYESNONO
Artwork uploads at 100% sizeYESNONO
Re-position artwork *per* garmentNONONOYESNONO
Back Print?NOT-shirts onlyT-shirts onlyAll garmentsAll garmentsN/A
Sleeve Print?NONONONONON/A
Multiple art files on same print area?NONONOYESYESN/A
NotesArtwork must be minimum 2000 x 2000, even if art is smaller than these dimensions.Bad: Designs not listed by category on front end, just listed by garment. Good: Can add design to just one item or "Apply changes to all products."Slow-ish interface.Cannot replace artwork; Must delete listing and start from scratch. Ugh.
  • Bonfire
    • This is great: Multiple art on front and back print areas
    • This is great: Front and back print areas
    • This is great: Choose garment colors (max 5 colors)
    • This is great: Ability to replace artwork with new artwork file
    • This is great: Artwork position can be altered per garment
    • This is great: Ability to set retail price
    • Not so great: Beyond defaults, must add each individual garment style
    • Not so great: Beyond defaults, must manually choose each garment’s colors
    • Not so great: Artwork must be positioned per garment
    • Not so great: Limited to 5 garment colors
    • Not so great: No human models modeling t-shirts
  • RedBubble:
    • This is great: RedBubble has human models modeling the t-shirts
    • This is great: Ability to replace artwork with new artwork file
    • This is great: Easy to share individual product pages to social media and/or download product images and links. Profile Dashboard > Share your work
    • Not so great: After updating artwork with new artwork, must re-choose all products and re-position artwork.
    • Not so great: Cannot select which garment colors go with which artwork. This means site visitors see dark-colored art on dark-colored tees and light-colored on light-colored tees. This makes the user experience (UX) ugly.
  • TeePublic:
    • This is great: Allows me to choose which garment colors go with my artwork.
    • This is great: Artwork is placed at 100% size on the product and is pre-aligned at the top of the print area. This is awesome and something I wish Spreadshirt did
    • This is great: Ability to replace artwork with new artwork file
    • Not so great: No human models modeling t-shirts
  • Threadless:
    • This is great: Allows me to choose which garment colors go with my artwork
    • This is great: Ability to replace artwork with new artwork file
    • Not so great: No human models modeling the t-shirts
  • Spreadshirt:
    • NOT SO GREAT (in fact, this is a huge UX fail): To replace/update artwork on existing product(s), the existing artwork design must be deleted. And you must start all over. And you lose ALL of the work you did adjusting artwork on individual products. This is ridiculous! The other POD services listed here have easy-to-use replace mechanisms. (Reply from Spreadshirt support Aug 19, 2022: “Sadly, you cannot replace the artwork. You’d have to upload it as a new design and create tags, products, description, etc again.”)
    • Not so great: Sometimes must wait 3-4 days for a human to approve artwork.
    • Not so great: Artwork is placed on each garment at 50-70% the size of the original artwork. This means you have to adjust the size and placement of your artwork on EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT. This is a real nightmare
    • This is great: I can select which garment colors go with which artwork
    • This is great: Spreadshirt has human models modeling the t-shirts
  • Spring for Creators (formerly TeeSpring):
    • Not so great: No design categories. All garment styles are displayed on the storefront with no option to list garments by design. It’s just a giant jumble of all garment styles and all designs. Ugh!
    • Not so great: Artwork must be positioned per garment
    • Not so great: Must add each individual garment style
    • Not so great: No human models modeling t-shirts
    • This is great: Artwork position can be altered per garment
    • This is great: Ability to set retail price
    • This is great: Choose garment colors
    • This is great: Option to apply design changes to all products within specific garment listing

Placement of artwork in print area during initial upload

Threadless, TeePublic, Spring for Creators (formerly TeeSpring), and Bonfire auto-place artwork at the top-center of the print area. And the artwork is 100% size (my 12″x16″ artwork was 12″x16″ in the print area). Redbubble and Spreadshirt do not auto-place artwork at the top-center of the print area, but instead place it somewhere below the top-center. Also, Spreadshirt reduces the artwork from its original dimensions (my 12″x16″ artwork was reduced 50-70% in the print area).

Artwork orientation: vertical vs horizontal

Vertical rectangle oriented artwork (ie: tall like a doorway) looks great when it’s auto-placed at the top-center of the print area. However, if the artwork is designed in a horizontal rectangle orientation (ie: wide like a car windshield) then the artwork might print too high up on the garment and need to be re-positioned on the garment.

Artwork minimum size requirements for upload

Some POD sites require a minimum size in dimensions in order for artwork to be successfully uploaded.

Spring for Creators: No warning message when uploading a 3000px (wide) X 1500px (tall) @ 300dpi artwork file.

Threadless: Error message: “OOPS! THIS FILE WON’T WORK! Submission error: Size must be at least 2000x2000px”. Since the artwork being uploaded is 3000px (wide) X 1500px (tall) this means the file isn’t tall enough. To fix this simply requires an artwork file that’s 2000px tall, even if the extra space contains no artwork.

Re-positioning artwork: Garments in a Category vs Individual Garments

If horizontal rectangle oriented artwork is auto-placed at the top-center of the print area, it might need to be manually re-positioned to be a bit lower – so the final graphic prints in a nice-looking spot on the garment. Some PODs allow re-positioning on each individual garment style. Other PODs limit re-positioning to an overall category of garments (t-shirts, v-necks, tank tops, etc). This re-positioning per category is a problem because while re-positioning a horizontal rectangle oriented graphic on a standard t-shirt looks great, it might mess up the positioning of the graphic on tank tops.

Re-positioning artwork

Redbubble re-positioning: Re-positioning artwork on the Classic T-shirt (in the Standard Print Clothing product category) ends up auto-re-positioning the artwork on all the other garments in the Standard Print Clothing product category (v-neck, tank tops, racerback tank tops, baseball 3/4-sleeve, long-sleeve, hoodies, sweatshirts). Still seeing how much I like/dislike this approach. While the re-position looks great on a standard t-shirt it, looks less well-placed on a tank top.

TeePublic re-positioning: Re-positioning artwork on the T-shirt ends up auto-re-positioning the artwork on all the other garments (hoodie, tank, crewneck, long sleeves, baseball tees, kids, kids hoodie, kids long sleeve t-shirt, onesie). Still seeing how much I like/dislike this approach. While the re-position looks great on a standard t-shirt it, looks less well-placed on a tank top.

Threadless re-positioning: When re-positioning artwork, Threadless has a warning that states: “Changes to this image will apply to all apparel.” Sure enough, when I re-positioned the artwork just for the T-Shirt – Regular garment, it gets re-positioned on all of the remaining men’s, women’s, and kids garments. There’s no ability to re-position artwork per garment. Still seeing how much I like/dislike this approach. While the re-position looks great on a standard t-shirt it, looks less well-placed on a tank top.

Spring for Creators (formerly TeeSpring): Ability to re-position artwork on a per-garment basis – without the re-positioning being applied to all other garments (like on other POD sites). This is excellent to re-position artwork on each garment!

Front & Back Print Areas

  • Bonfire: YES
  • Spring (formerly TeeSpring): YES

Multiple Artwork On Same Print Area

  • Bonfire: YES
  • Spring (formerly TeeSpring): YES

Continue Shopping Link During Checkout

  • Bonfire: YES
  • TeePublic: NO

List Garment Styles By Design

  • Bonfire: YES
  • TeePublic: YES
  • RedBubble: YES
  • Threadless: YES
  • Spring (formerly TeeSpring): NO

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