We’re delighted to introduce Graham Ryan who will be blogging for us, giving hints and tips on hand painting t shirts as well as showcasing just what can be done with a blank tee. We love his stuff and know you will too. So without further ado, over to Graham……

There’s a lot of cool stuff being done to t-shirts nowadays.

A lot of fantastic companies like Threadless & TeeFury to name but two – companies selling wearable art at prices that don’t make them the exclusive purchases of Footballers, Stockbrokers or the trendier echelons of royalty.

What they sell, though, is mass produced.

What I do isn’t.

hand painted t shirt

One of Grahams favourites creations, the buzzy bee


My stuff is unique. Each and every t-shirt is a one-off. I paint straight onto the cotton using fabric paint or a mixture of acrylic paint and a fabric medium. And I paint exactly (or as near as I can get it) what’s in my head.

The story started two years ago during an incomprehensibly dull trip to Llangollen, and during one of the many times it bucketed it down we (me and t’missus) bobbed into the local art shop. We chatted to the owner for a while and painting came up whereby this fella said, “Don’t get acrylic paint on your t shirt coz you’ll never get it off.” While waiting for him to add “Boyo” and run around flailing a leek – which he never did, bloody stereotypes – a faint ding sounded in my head (the lightbulb shop was shut).

So I tried painting on a couple of polo shirts when we got home. And the results weren’t that bad – enough that it gave me confidence to get really stuck in and give my imagination free rein.

My influences are sci-fi, fantasy, music, television and anything I think might look cool on cotton – which, I suppose, is anything and everything except Jeffrey Archer.

fabric paint dragon t shirt

Work from two years ago Vs today



Since I first started I’ve sold quite a few t shirts for people of all ages with notably different designs and using many and varied techniques – I’m entirely self-taught, too,  so all my bad habits are mine alone – and seem to keep picking up commissions on a regular basis. Also, I only use quality t-shirts that I buy from Qtag – Fruit of the Loom, man, why buy anything else?

As a man hurtling towards the age of 40, I’d love to say I wish I had done this sooner. But I didn’t have the patience, the technique or the imagination any earlier. So, I’ve arrived at the right age, just with very little hair.

I’m having a whale of a time and I hope it never ends.

Let us and Graham know what you think of his designs by commenting below or tweeting @qtag or @BigGsAwesomeTs