Funny Yearbook T-Shirt Design Ideas to Motivate Staff & Make Them Look Good, Too

yearbook shirts

If you’re looking for a simple way to motivate your staff while also marketing your book, yearbook shirts are the way to go.

Let’s face it: Nearly every school team and club uses clothing as a status symbol. There’s the vaunted letterman jacket, the basketball warm-ups with metal poppers on the pant-legs, the paint-spattered smocks of budding artists.

Outfitting your staff with yearbook shirts is an easy way to give your team some star treatment.

The key, of course, is to make them worth earning.

You can do that in two ways: Reserve them for your core staff and make them cool.

You can’t just hand them out to everyone who walks by the yearbook room, and you can’t just recycle the same idea year after year. You most definitely can’t just slap your school’s name and mascot on a crew-neck and call it a day. Your yearbook shirts need to be an extension of the students behind the finished product (and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to incorporate your theme). Kids should want to wear it: those who don’t have one should be green with envy. And that’s only going to happen if you put some serious thought into the design.

This post will give you all the fresh ideas you could ever need to come up with memorable yearbook staff t-shirts that’ll keep kids smiling (and maybe even convince more to join your staff next year).

The Case For Yearbook Shirts

If we haven’t sung the praises of yearbook shirts enough to convince you that you should already be placing your order, consider this: They’re more than just a piece of closing. To prove it, here are three reasons yearbook staff t-shirts are worth getting:

Boost Morale

People high five the quarterback when he throws a game winning touchdown. The lead in your school’s rendition of Hamilton will be showered with applause as the show draws to a close. But that yearbook editor? The photographers?

The truth of the matter is that making a yearbook is a thankless grind. Everybody’s the equivalent of a set designer or an offensive lineman (at least in the eyes of your general school population).

Cool yearbook shirts can boost morale during the doldrums of the school year, the times when your staff’s forced to stay late finalizing the design and deciding which photos are cool or funny enough to make the cut. Though seemingly inconsequential to an outsider, to those in the know a staff shirt is a representation of hard work and camaraderie.

Free Advertising

Why is Nike so popular? Because that swoosh is inescapable. Brand recognition doesn’t have to be limited to big companies, though.

Spend time on design, come up with something unique, and kids from outside your yearbook staff will take notice. This doesn’t just help to advertise the yearbook, it can also inspire other members of the student body to join the yearbook staff next year. (But let’s not get it twisted: selling more books is a great thing.)

Design Practice

Page layouts and photo editing allow the artists on your yearbook staff to develop or hone skills they know they want to work on and improve. T-shirt design lets them delve into a whole different skillset and express their creativity a little differently.

By letting your staff have a hand in designing your yearbook shirts, you also give students the ability to work in a medium they’ve likely never been exposed to. A design created for a t-shirt is much different than one made for a cover.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that you’ve got a few fashionistas among your ranks.

Yearbook Shirt Ideas to Get You Started

The way we see it, we can’t let you and your yearbook staff have all the fun. So, we spent some time coming up with some ideas ourselves. One thing you’ll notice in our yearbook shirt ideas is that they’re mostly inside jokes for members of your team.

Here goes:

"crop it like it's hot" yearbook shirtsyearbook shirt ideas: leading pun so fontsy yearbook t-shirt yearbook staff t-shirt idea: headlines pun yearbook shirt idea: helvetica pun yearbook staff t-shirt: i beat deadlines  "I bleed yearbooks" yearbook shirts

How to Design Your Own Yearbook Staff T-Shirt

Steal like an artist

At its most fundamental level all good art is “inspired” (read: stolen). Maybe you saw a great design on the side of an Astrovan. Heard a turn of phrase in the hallway.

Inspiration can come from anything. Make sure your finger is on the cultural pulse of the school: if something seems to be “having a moment” (and holds the attention of teenagers for more than a week), see if you can incorporate it into your t-shirt design.

Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t be afraid to borrow from other creative work.

The internet is your friend

We call this the lazy man’s version of being attentive. The internet is an excellent place to research potential t-shirt designs. Sites like Pinterest can give you an infinite number of examples.

Just don’t rip them off completely (that wouldn’t be any fun at all!): modify any idea so it’s unique to your school and staff. Speaking of your staff…

…Use The Creative Minds You’re Already Working With

As we touched on before, allowing your staff members to have a hand in designing their yearbook shirts is a great way to motivate and excite them. And best of all, there’s a super simple way to get as many student ideas for the staff shirt: have them offer rough ideas on the yearbook staff application.

Simply include a t-shirt template and some basic instructions on the application and see what they come up with. This is incredibly low stakes (and could very well result in some silly designs), but it’s an awesome way to get the kids’ creativity flowing and gives you yet another avenue through which to come up with a phenomenal t-shirt.

Once you’ve got a healthy smattering of ideas, give the kids you’ve picked for design roles a crack at coming up with a second draft. Odds are, with student involvement, you’ll come up with something unique, something eye catching. Something that makes the kids wearing them stoked to be a part of your staff and leaves onlookers chomping at the bit to complete next year’s application.

You’ve Got Your Design: Now What?

There are dozens of online options, most of which will save you a fair bit of money (especially if you’ve got a big staff: bulk orders offer lower cost per unit). We recommend two online vendors:

  • CustomInk. They’re super easy to use, have great options on materials and group purchases, and even have a some ready-made templates for you to customize. We like them so much we use them to print our company shirts.
  • Zazzle. Zazzle offers a storefront capability that lets you put your yearbook shirts and other swag on sale. When someone buys a shirt, they handle printing and shipping. So, you have nothing to worry about. We set up a store so you can check it out.

Of course, almost every town in America has a local screen printer. If your school does a lot of business with a local shirt shop, it might behoove you to contact them and see if you can work out a deal.

We like this option, too, because you can get an idea for the look and feel of the shirts you’re ordering in person instead of just relying on what you can see you computer screen. And who doesn’t love supporting a local business?

Regardless of how you order your shirts, be sure to ask your staff about their preferred sizes, and order a handful of extras for latecomers.

Yearbook shirts, like the letterman jacket, are a symbol of student involvement. Of community. It can’t just be thrown together and the design can’t just be recycled year after year. Spending time on shirts each is incredibly important. With these design tips in mind, go forth and prepare to create the best staff shirt your school’s ever seen.

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