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Dissecting the Horror Shirt Market

So I'm up to my eyeballs in market research… scrolling through store after store, page after page of "horror shirts" and let me tell you what I think… I'm starting to feel like I'm stuck in a bad horror movie myself.

It's not that I don't love horror, obviously I do, but the repetition, the lack of originality, the sheer bleh of most of these designs is enough to make even the most devoted fan want to scream. Everyone is just producing the same shirts as everyone else, and it’s hard to find “horror apparel” that is not “horror movie” related.

Let me grab my scalpel because I’m about to perform an autopsy on the horror apparel market.

Why are so many shirt designs so uninspired?

This is what I’ve dissected:

Overused tropes and clichés

We're talking blood splatters, kitchen knives, screaming faces, and generic monster silhouettes – it’s like the horror equivalent of fast food. It's predictable, it's been done a million times before, and it's just plain boring most of the time. It could be so much better.

Lack of originality and creativity

It feels like many designers had their brains eaten by zombies and aren't putting any thought into it. They're churning out the same old, same old without putting their own spin on the genre.

Poor design execution

Even a good idea can be cursed by bad execution. We're talking things like poorly chosen fonts, unbalanced layouts, and artwork that looks like it was done in MS Paint.

Lack of diversity

Search “horror shirts” and you’ll be swarmed by horror movie shirts. The same old horror movie characters that have been on shirts for 30-40 years. Want to find horror merch that’s not horror movie related? You could try searching “Halloween Shirts” and it’s even worse… every “scary” shirt design is so effing cute and cartoonish and mainstream-dollar-store-halloween-decoration-like it's enough to make me vomit. That’s not horror.

Following the herd

So many people just want to copy everyone else to make a quick buck, not realizing how much work it takes to run a successful store, so they pump out loads of repetitive designs in hopes of attracting buyers, and end up just flooding the market with more of the same because they see everyone else doing it. Be original! Try something new. Walk your own path!

Not all horror fans are looking for the same thing. Yes, I know, people love their horror movie shirts… but some just want subtle references and dark humor, while others crave graphic imagery and disturbing themes. Some people just love skulls.

“Designers” who don't understand their target audience are bound to miss the mark, or they just do what’s easy, make more shirts with horror movies on them, as if that’s the only thing horror lovers love.

Everyone wants to drink from someone else’s fountain of blood.....

Many designers are not horror lovers, they just latch onto whatever is "trendy", look at what everyone else is doing, reproduce it, and hope to earn one of those elusive "passive incomes"... until they realize.....

Breaking into the Print on Demand (POD) market is like trying to win the lottery – the odds are not in your favour, especially when running your own store and website as opposed to joining an online marketplace like Etsy, Red Bubble, or Tee Public (to name a few).

Believe me, I know… I actually wrote about why I choose to go it alone, instead of using an established marketplace in my post about the ways Etsy, and the like, kill creativity, HERE.

It's a saturated sea of mediocrity, and it's hard to get your head above water when everyone else is just churning out the same generic garbage. While those platforms do offer an established customer base with high traffic, they also come with a whole other set of challenges.

Competition is fierce

You're literally up against millions of other sellers, on the same website, all vying for the same eyeballs, and so many of them are producing the same stuff. If found, you’re one distraction away from being forgotten.

Fees can eat into your profits

Etsy, eBay, Red Bubble, and other online marketplaces can take a pretty hefty cut of your sales. After the costs of production, shipping, merchant fees, your time, why give another slice of your already low profit margin away?

Standing out is a struggle

I just searched “horror shirt” and got 92,745 results. Try standing out in that steaming dung heap. People will only scroll through so much shit.

You have no control

At the end of the day, you don’t own your shop. They control the search results, ads, algorithms, etc. They own your store. If they shut down one day, your entire business is gone.

So here's the thing, Deadites….

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the uninspired, mass-produced, quantity-over-quality mindset that dominates the horror shirt market. I'm tired of seeing the same old tired designs churned out year after year. We get it.. Michael Myers keeps coming back! Freddy never dies. Ghostface... wazzuuuup!

That's why I've decided to create horror shirts that are original, creative, and true to the spirit of the genre. And I'm going to do it on my own terms, on my own platform.

It's not going to be easy. I know I'm going to have to work extra hard to get my designs seen and build an audience, but I believe in myself and my vision, and when I have that audience who know where to find me, it’s my shop that I own and manage myself. No one can take that away from me. And I believe that there are horror fans out there who are tired of the same old crap and are looking for something different too.

About Me

I'm Blair, an artist and horror t-shirt designer. I'm passionate about creating unique and original designs that horror fans will love. I believe that horror t-shirts can be a great way to express yourself and your love for the genre, and I'm committed to creating designs that are both stylish and horrific.

I created The Horror Market as my portal to my inner darkness. I needed a place to separate my horror passions from my other artistic endeavors… a place where nightmares are stitched together with digital screams. Somewhere I can conjure up darkness infused with forbidden AI whispers*. When you enter my shop, embrace the chill that clings to your soul.

I hope you found this blog post enjoyable. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to check out my shop here - The Horror Market

*Some of my designs are created using AI software, and then edited, sometimes heavily, in photoshop. Every design has been, to some degree, refined, edited, stitched together from multiple images, fixed, etc, by me… some take me hours to complete until I’m satisfied.

I am, however, leaning into more designs featuring my own original, hand made artwork, either pencil drawings, acrylic paintings, or my own original digital designs. AI is what started me on this pathway, but it has led me back to my own art again.

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