I’ve been trying out various print-on-demand services to sell my art through, and I’ve gotten the chance to try out a few different popular services. I recently wrote a blog post about which of these platforms are best for artists, in my opinion. So I’ll be approaching this review from not only a buyer’s standpoint, but a seller’s.
I currently sell through three platforms: RageOn, Society6, and Etsy (Printful), and while the shirts from Society6 and Printful that I own and am reviewing feature my art, the ones I have from RageOn feature art from one of my favorite collage artists, Larry Carlson.
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About the Products I’m Reviewing
This shirt is their Unisex Ultra Premium Double Sided cut-and-sew sublimation shirt, featuring one of Larry Carlson’s Astronomica designs, “Grande Temple”, featured here in size XS.
These are their Unisex All-Over-Print shirts, featuring my “Light Bridge” design, shown in sizes Medium and Small. Society6 has only one option for all over print shirts, which are always printed double sided.
Printful has many options for sublimation printed shirts (get introduced to all of Printful’s available apparel brands here). The one featured here is a Women’s LA Apparel T-Shirt in Medium, printed on both sides with my “The Rush Aesthetic” design. I will refer to this as the LA Apparel shirt for most of this article.
Read more about the Basics of Designing for Sublimation Printing.
One thing that is always tricky about ordering online is making sure the items fit you. Size charts can be unreliable, and we all know that a small from one brand is not the same as a small from another brand. I’m a size 4, and the shirts that fit me are an XS from RageOn, a Small from Society6, and a Women’s Medium from LA Apparel.
The women’s LA Apparel runs about what I’d expect a women’s clothing line to run, even if it is a bit small. LA Apparel also makes a Men’s version of this shirt, and the sizing runs a bit larger, about the same as Society6’s shirt. RageOn and Society6 both run large, with RageOn running the largest. The advantage of Printful/LA Apparel is that you have the option for Men’s or Women’s sizing, not just unisex.
I took some pictures of the shirts from the various brands stacked on top of each other so you can see the differences in size. The picture on the left features two sizes of Society6 shirts (Medium and Small), and the LA Apparel in Medium. As you can see the LA medium is a bit smaller than the Small Society6. The picture on the right shows the LA medium on top of RageOn’s Extra Small. The RageOn XS is roughly the same size as the Society6 Small, with the Society6 shirt being a little bit longer.
Here are a couple photos of me wearing the shirts. The one on the Left is the LA Apparel Medium, and on the right is the RageOn Extra Small. As you can see, both fit me about the same, a little baggy. If I wanted a closer fit I could easily go down a size in the LA Apparel, but I’m stuck with RageOn’s XS.
It’s pointless for your artwork to look fuzzy, grainy, or dull, so print quality is one of the most important factors in determining a quality print-on-demand service. Society6’s print quality was often a bit fuzzy, not only on products like pillows and backpacks, but also their shirts. There were some white areas under the armpits on Society6’s shirts, but nothing too big.
RageOn prints seem a little brighter and clearer. The RageOn shirt I have is an Ultra Premium cut-and-sew style, and so the design is printed on flat fabric which is then cut and sewn together, eliminating white areas around the shoulders, armpits, and sides, as is common with all-over printed shirts. The details on the shoulders look really nice with this printing method because the designs wrap around the shoulder.
Printful’s printing job so far is the best, I got really crisp details and bright colors, and was really happy with the overall quality. I got some of my “Splat Monster” leggings in the same order, and I didn’t wanna take them off. The teal on the leggings came out a bit lighter than in my printfile, but overall I was pleased with the vibrancy and detail of the printing. Here’s a picture of me wearing the shirt and leggings:
I have a feeling the thickness of the shirt has something to do with how much the ink will bleed (which is one factor in the blurriness of images), and LA Apparel’s shirt seems to have the least bleed, and happens to be the thinnest. I could feel the ink on the surface more on the LA Apparel shirt than the other brands, since less of it was absorbed into the fibers themselves. One problem was that there were large white areas under the armpits, and small white streaks at the shoulders, more so than the Society6 shirts. Due to my design being mostly white, these are really hard to see, but with darker designs would be much more noticeable.
Outside of print quality, the next most important factor in the quality of the shirts is the material itself. RageOn’s Ultra-Premium is super soft and breathable, but I’m unsure whether it is the same material as their standard quality (judging by the images on their site, I would say RageOn’s “Standard/Premium” are about on-par with Society6). The material is thick and definitely has a premium feel.
Society6’s shirts are soft, but a lot thinner. I can see the design through the inside of the shirt. Since the material is polyester, it is not exactly breathable, and feels very heavy despite the thinness. Between the sizing running large and the odd weight of the fabric these feel a little cheap compared to other options.
Printful offers a large selection of sublimation-ready tees to choose from, and I went with the LA Apparel Women’s Sublimation tee. This tee is thin but soft. Despite its thinness, it is not sheer and I didn’t really notice the design showing through the inside, and I was able to wear a black bra underneath without it showing through. The weight of the tee is something I would expect to buy from a department store, but is noticeably thinner than other sublimation-printed tees available from other sites.
There are a number of variables in play when determining the overall value of a sublimation printed t-shirt. One factor that is especially important to me as a seller is the profit margin of the items. For shirts, RageOn and Society6 pay out about the same, with Society6 paying more for basic All-Over Print Tees, and RageOn paying more for their Direct-to-garment printed products and double-sided tees. Printful allows sellers to set their own prices without paying membership fees like RageOn does, and also offers a lower production cost, allowing sellers to earn more per item.
Keeping that in mind, what is the overall value for consumers? RageOn’s prices are higher than most of their competitors, but they offer higher quality products. Society6 may have a price point that is more accessible to many consumers, but seems to sacrifice quality. I think that Printful offers a great value to artists, and as long as care is taken when selecting products to print on, to customers too. Printful’s quality to cost ratio is really high, and the clothes I’ve gotten from my Printful shop have made me the happiest. I’ve analyzed these three Print-on-Demand services a bit more in-depth here.
I think that when people buy products created by artists, they want to know that the artist is keeping a good portion of profits; only keeping some peanuts when the bulk of the sale goes to the website hosting their shop. Printful ensures artists receive a fair share of profits from their business not just by offering reasonably priced product options, but by allowing artists to control their storefront and brand identity. This means Printful can focus on being a kick-ass print-on-demand service, and less on being an e-commerce site themselves (Printful allows you to sell their products through e-commerce platforms such as Etsy, Shopify, BigCartel, and more).
My definite favorite is LA Apparel from Printful. I was just so amazed with the print quality, first of all. Everything I had received from Society6 made me wonder if my image files were high enough quality. Printful answered that question by showing me how -crisp- my artwork could be printed on fabric. I wish I could have a more relevant review of RageOn’s all-over-print tees, but their prices are so high as to be prohibitive, and I haven’t bought any of my own products from them (but when I do it’s probably gonna be this hoodie with my favorite design).
Despite the thinness of the LA Apparel shirt, I liked it the best because the quality of the print was just so good. I think this is the most important factor overall, because with wearable art, it really is about showing off the artwork, and if the art doesn’t look good, I don’t want to wear the shirt.
As I mentioned earlier, Printful offers many options for sublimation and direct-to-garment printing. I read through the available reviews and selected the LA Apparel model for its quality and fit, as it seemed like the best option. There were cheaper options, but I have not tried them (mostly due to the fact my size was out of stock!). I have gotten to check out a couple of their Bella+Canvas direct-to-garment printable shirts, and the quality is really good with those as well.
Soon I will be doing more reviews, most likely of different T-Shirt offerings and leggings from Printful, so stay tuned!
Liked one of the shirts you saw in this post? Follow these links to find them and more!
- “The Rush Aesthetic” LA Apparel T-Shirt from Printful on Etsy
- “Splat Monster” All-Over Leggings from Printful on Etsy
- “Light Bridge” All-Over-Print T-Shirt on Society6
- “Grande Temple” Ultra-Premium All-Over-Print T-Shirt by Larry Carlson on RageOn
If you’re an artist interested in selling with Print-On-Demand services, check out this review I did of Society6, RageOn, PrintAllOverMe, and Printful!
What factors should you consider when choosing a supplier for your eCommerce store? Printful wrote this helpful guide!