Memorial Shirt Design Ideas

Memorial Shirt Design Ideas

Losing someone we love is a difficult experience, and it's important to find meaningful ways to remember them and preserve their memory in our hearts. Memorial shirts, also referred to as RIP (Rest in Peace) t-shirts, offer a personal and significant method to pay tribute to our departed loved ones. These shirts not only provide comfort and solace during the grieving process but also serve as a tangible reminder of the cherished memories we shared with them. Good Ink is a custom apparel company that regularly helps families and individuals print custom memorial shirts. In this post, we’ll be exploring common memorial shirt design elements and layouts to help you find inspiration for your own memorial shirt design.

What Are Memorial Shirts?

A memorial shirt or RIP shirt is a type of clothing item that is designed and worn in remembrance of a person who has passed. It serves as a tribute to honor and commemorate the deceased. Memorial shirts typically feature images, text, or a combination of both that represent the person being remembered. These shirts are often custom-made and personalized, incorporating elements such as dates, names, quotes, or symbols that hold special meaning related to the memorialized individual or occasion. People wear memorial shirts as a way to express their love, respect, and ongoing connection to the person being memorialized. They can be worn on specific occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, or memorial events, or as a personal keepsake to preserve the memory of someone or something meaningful.

Why Create Memorial Shirts?

There are several reasons you may want to consider creating a memorial shirt for a loved one who has passed.
  • Tribute and Remembrance: Memorial shirts serve as a tribute to honor and remember a loved one who has passed away. They provide a tangible way to keep their memory alive and offer a sense of comfort and connection to the person.
  • Emotional Expression: Wearing a memorial shirt allows individuals to express their emotions, grief, and love for the person being remembered. It can be a form of catharsis and a way to cope with the loss or impact of an event.
  • Unifying Symbolism: Memorial shirts can serve as a unifying symbol for a group of people who have experienced a loss together. They can be worn by family members, friends, or community members, fostering a sense of togetherness and solidarity.
  • Personal Keepsake: Creating and wearing a memorial shirt can be a deeply personal way to hold onto the memory of a loved one. It can provide a source of comfort and a physical reminder of their presence in one's life.
  • Fundraising or Awareness: Memorial shirts can be used as a means to raise funds for charitable causes or to raise awareness about a particular issue or organization associated with the person being remembered.
Overall, memorial shirts offer a tangible and meaningful way to honor and remember individuals or events, allowing people to express their emotions, maintain connections, and create lasting tributes.

Common Memorial Shirt Design Elements


Important Note

We’ve included tips and design information for printing photos on shirts because this is something that has historically been commonly incorporated into RIP shirt designs. As screen printing professionals, we do not recommend using a photo in your shirt design. You can read more about this recommendation further below.

It’s very common for memorial designs to feature a picture of the loved one as a way to celebrate the departed. The idea is that a photograph could immortalize your loved one on a shirt forever. A picture featured on the shirt can also help friends, family, and community members connect in a meaningful way. If you choose to use a photo in your shirt design, you’ll want to select your photo with some considerations in mind. First and foremost, you want to make sure you choose a flattering photo. The best photos tend to be ones where the subject is healthy, smiling, and well-dressed in good lighting. A portrait photo tends to be better than a group photo to keep the focus on your loved one. You can use an older photo from when the deceased was younger, but you may not want to go too far back. Some younger family members or newer friends may not recognize the deceased if they appear too young. If your loved one had an iconic look or a specific article of clothing they wore regularly, it would make sense to use a photo that includes that article of clothing or style to create a sense of warm remembrance.

Frame Styles For Photos

There are a few different ways you can frame photos in your design. A hard edge in a square or circular shape is the most common way photos are framed on memorial shirts. If you’d like the photo to blend into the background, you can apply a soft edge to the photo. You may also consider using a distressed frame. Distressed frames apply grunge textures to create added visual interest in the photo frame. When you frame your photo for your design, you’ll want to crop the photo as close to the subject as possible. Cropping helps to keep the focus on your loved one and can also be used to eliminate distracting elements or other people in the background of the photo.

Design Tips For Photos

There are a few things you’ll want to know as you decide on a photo to make your shirts look as good as possible when they’re printed. Image quality is a large factor that affects the overall quality of the print. It’s easier to see imperfections when they’re printed on a physical object as opposed to being displayed on a screen. At a minimum, the image used in the design needs to be 200 DPI (dots per inch). If your photo was taken on a modern smartphone, it should be fine. Most modern smartphones are built with high-resolution cameras. If you’re going to be scanning a physical photo into a digital file, you’ll want to scan it at 300 DPI or higher. In the age of social media, it might seem convenient to be able to grab photos from old social media posts. However, photos published on the web are compressed with lower resolutions to make them load faster. We do not recommend using photos from social media, because they will look pixelated when you print them. Instead, it’s better to find the original photos used in the post on a phone or on a camera SD card. If you’re having trouble finding a high-resolution photo of the deceased, you can convert a low-resolution image to grayscale. Converting an image to grayscale can make the pixelation somewhat less noticeable in the print. We often recommend using grayscale for memorial shirt designs regardless of image quality, because you’ll save money on your print order. Grayscale images also provide your design with a timeless, classic appearance.

Why We Don’t Recommend Using Photos On Shirts

Good Ink has been helping businesses and individuals print custom shirts since 2016. In that time, we’ve printed thousands of shirts with varying design elements. As screen printing experts, we do not recommend adding a photo to your shirt design for several reasons. First and foremost, a photo is very expensive to screen print onto a shirt. Each inch color used in a print requires the use of a separate screen to apply the ink to the shirt. Photos (even black and white photos) require the use of several screens. Good Ink requires a minimum order of 100 shirts to screen print photos because they’d otherwise cost an astronomical amount per shirt. Creating custom shirts with photos is still possible with smaller order volumes using a digital printing process, but the process is still expensive for photos and the resulting shirt won’t be very comfortable to wear. The printed photo will feel like a heavy sheet sitting on top of your shirt. It’s better to avoid photos altogether in your memorial shirt design. You’ll save money on your print order, and a more minimalistic design will allow you to wear your shirt for more occasions. We recommend creating a design that utilizes text and icons without photos.

Add A Catchphrase Or Common Saying

Did your loved one have a catchphrase or something they said all the time? It might make sense to incorporate this saying into your shirt design. If you’re having trouble coming up with something your loved one would say, you can use these prompts to try to jog your memory:
  • How did they greet you in-person or on the phone?
  • Is there something they would regularly say to lift your spirits?
  • Was there a common reaction they had when they were happy or surprised?
  • Was there something they regularly said at family gatherings or at the dinner table?
Write down any sayings that come to mind as reflect on the prompts above so that you don’t forget them. You can then use the best saying in your shirt design.

Use A Favorite Inspiration Quote Or Message

Did your loved one have a favorite quote from a movie, song, book, or poem? You could weave this quote into your design to make it an even stronger visual representation of who your loved one was as a person.

Incorporate Life Details

You could just use a photo or iconography for your shirt design and stop there, but most memorial shirt designs include some important life details. Details of your loved one that you may want to consider including in your design include:
  • Full name
  • Birth date and death date
  • Credentials, accomplishments, or roles (i.e. mother, brother, Tour De France Champion, PhD, etc.)
  • Names of children and family members

Focus On A Hobby Or Career

Think about your loved one's hobbies or professional career. You may want to incorporate elements of their interests and skills into the design. Did they ride motorcycles? Maybe you can include an illustration of a motorcycle with text underneath the illustration. Were they a plumber? Maybe you can add a plumbing wrench with wings to the design. Using illustrations to represent interests can be a great alternative to using photos. 

Add Common Memorial Design Elements

Illustrations are often accompanied by several common design elements. Memorial shirt designs regularly include one or more of the following elements:
  • The gates of heaven
  • Angel wings
  • Flowers
  • Clouds
  • Doves
  • Hearts
  • Candles
  • Angels
  • An angel halo
  • Wreaths
  • Banners
  • Butterflies
  • Crosses
  • A crown
  • A stairway
  • Trees
  • Stars
  • A gravestone
Of course, you don’t have to use any of the elements above in your RIP shirt design. These elements are merely offered as suggestions to help you build out your design further if you’re trying to figure out what else to incorporate into your design.

Choose An Appropriate Font

Font plays a large role in creating the overall look and feel of your design. You’ll want to choose a font that is appropriate for the occasion and conveys your message in a meaningful way. Typically, this means avoiding fonts that are overly bold, cartoony, or difficult to read. The following fonts are commonly used for RIP t-shirts:
  • Montserrat
  • Helvetica
  • Times New Roman
  • Garamond
  • Baskerville
  • Futura
  • Cinzel
  • Allura
  • Alex Brush
  • Great Vibes
Script fonts like Allura, Alex Brush, and Great Vibes work very well for memorial shirts. Script fonts are often paired with a san-serif font like Helvetica or Montserrat to create an interesting contrast in the design and emphasize certain elements. Once you’ve chosen the perfect font or group of fonts, you can add text to your design. Text that is commonly printed on memorial shirts includes:
  • Life isn’t forever, but love is
  • Gone, but never forgotten
  • R.I.P
  • In loving memory
  • In memoriam
  • Too great to be forgotten
  • Always with us
  • Always in our hearts
  • Your star shines on
  • Only the good die young
  • Rest in heaven
  • Our beloved
  • Gone too soon
  • Rest in power
  • Love is eternal
  • In the arms of an angel
  • Forever remembered, forever missed
  • Forever in our thoughts
  • Your spirit lives on
  • In loving remembrance
  • A life well lived, a soul deeply loved
  • Forever watching over us
  • Love transcends time
  • In the presence of angels
  • Your legacy lives on
  • A light that will never fade
  • In the embrace of eternity

Selecting A Shirt Style & Color

The style of shirt and colors you choose should complement your design and complete the overall look of your memorial apparel. T-shirts are the most popular choice for memorial shirts, but you may want to consider long-sleeve shirts or sweatshirts if you expect colder weather for your memorial event. We recommend selecting unisex shirt sizes to make sure the shirt will fit everyone in attendance. Color is largely a personal choice. Good Ink offers shirts in a variety of colors and any color can be used for a memorial shirt. White tends to symbolize purity and hope while black signifies grief. We recommend muted tones or natural colors like grey, green, and blue if you want to use a color outside of black or white.

Create & Design Your Memorial Shirts With Good Ink

Good Ink is a custom screen printing shop that can help you print custom shirts and apparel for events like memorial services. Our team will work directly with you to make sure your design looks great printed on our apparel. We can custom-print t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, hats, beanies, and more with a minimum order quantity of 10. Need help creating or formatting a design? Our in-house designers can create or edit a design for you to realize your vision. You can get started with creating your custom memorial shirts by designing online or by requesting a quote. You can also contact our team by calling (616) 294-8884.
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