RedBubble [Review]

by Andy on January 20, 2009


A few months ago I was contacted by Print-On-Demand/Store-front/Design Community site RedBubble to check out their service, unfortunately with me going to France it took me a while to actually make an order, and then there was a backlog of other reviews to do, and then the Christmas break, and then I left my homework on the school bus… which my dog then ate.


RedBubble have got a lot of great artists using their services, so you can find a lot of great tees and pieces of art (they do prints) just by using the browse function, or by looking at the best selling products for that week/month/all time, in fact one of the reasons why it took me so long to make an order was because I was struggling to pick which artists I should treat myself to (I don’t usually pick out the samples that come to HYAHQ). When I eventually did make my choices, Danger! by J3concepts, and Brain Tumor by bahgoesthesheep (to really test out their printing technique), I managed to make an error in my order.

With the Brain Tumor tee instead of being set to mens t-shirts by default as most of the other tees I looked at were, the artist had set women’s t-shirt options to be the default and I managed to miss it all the way through the ordering process. Is this a failing on my part, or do they really need to make the default options changeable by artists? Personally I don’t think it’s particularly necessary, but that’s probably because I don’t want to feel stupid. Mere minutes after I’d made the order and noticed the error I fired an e-mail off to customer support about it, but by the time they replied a few hours later my order was already being processed, which I guess shows how quickly they want to get orders out and remove the stigma that it can take a long time for an order to hit your door when you buy from a print-on-demand company. The customer service rep, Rhana, was absolutely excellent, and said that I should just give the girls tee to a friend and they’d send out the mens version to me free of charge. That kind of service is pretty incredible, and I feel it’s important to point out that there was no way Rhana could know that I was going to be reviewing their service as I didn’t disclose that until after the issue was resolved, and I used my Gmail e-mail address rather than my HYA one to ensure I was treated the same as someone who doesn’t review t-shirts. Oh, and I didn’t make the error on purpose so that I could test customer service, though it did work out rather well in terms of creating a more complete review, didn’t it?


Of course, when it comes to print-on-demand, the issue that most people are worried about is the quality of the product. Yes, it’s nice that you can upload a design and buy it (and other people can too), or support other artists that are using the platfrom, but if the tees suck then you might as well not bother. Happily, the tees do not suck, I don’t think you’d be able to guess that they came from a POD company, and they really show off the merits of direct-to-garment printing. I’ll let RedBubble explain the DTG process.

Direct to garment printing is a style of printing where designs are printed directly onto the t-shirts. The direct to garment printer is an industrial version of traditonal ink jet printing technology (think of the ink jet printer you have at home). This allows a wide range of colours to be laid down very quickly. One of the things we really like about this printing technology is that the t-shirts retain their soft feel – they don’t have that plastic feel that some printing processes can leave.

The t-shirts themselves are from AA stock, which is so ubiquitous in the industry that it’s getting pretty silly me even telling you about them. Basically, they’re good shirts and you don’t have to worry about kids in Asia being chained to sewing machines to make them since they’re produced in downtown LA, the only thing you really need to worry about is the guy in charge of AA being a bit creepy, but we can hardly blame RedBubble for that.

Each tee comes with a fabric tag (held on by a cute little clothes peg) with the name of the product and artist stuck on it, which again helps to personalise a service which I think some people build up as being very much unpersonal.


This experience with RedBubble has left me impressed, I’d happily use them again, and at ~£15 for a t-shirt they’re not too bad cost-wise either, though obviously the eventual price is dependent upon what the artist wants to earn from each sale.

Lots more images can be found in the gallery.

  • Rude Retro

    My experience with PODs has been pretty good and I have quite a few from Cafepress and Zazzle, one from Printfection too and not one I could complain about. I haven’t tried Red Bubble yet but they do have some great designers over there too.

  • henryv

    Good to know I’m not the only one to order a womens tee by mistake.

  • Andy

    That makes me feel a lot better too!

  • yanmos

    Very nice review!

  • James Lilllis

    Great review Andy

    Yeah, I dare say I own more RedBubble tee shirts than any other person in the world (around 60) and the printing at the moment is fantastic (it wasn’t always…). They’re awesome.

    But I’m slightly miffed you didn’t’ choose one of my shirts. Where’s the love…? Huh?

  • Andy

    thanks for the compliment James and Yanmos, one of the reasons why it took me so long to get this review posted was because I wanted to make sure I covered it properly and in a more in depth way than usual since I don’t usually review POD companies.

    James, I was actually very tempted by ‘joke’ (I loved the Dark Knight) or one of your Space Invaders designs, but I really wanted to get something by J3concepts since I’m a fan of his and ‘brain tumor’ by bahgoesthesheep was largely to test out the printing service (though I did like the design too). If they ever send me another coupon code I’ll be sure to pick up one of yours, and I’ll claim that I’m testing out their skills with text!

  • Paul McClintock

    Great review.

    I reason I choose to set women’s style as the default for all my tee’s is because they look better on screen. Overall I think the template design could be better, but it probably won’t change soon, so I’d expect to see a lot of people choosing to display the women’s tee’s by default for a while to come.

  • - – – – James Lilllis

    I forgive you Andy. I’m sure you just clicked those buttons in a moment of weakness.

    Of course, if you do get the Joker shirt you will become the coolest person in England (maybe just behind Rowan Atkinson).

    … and I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve, so I’ll be in touch. :)

  • Andy

    Thanks for the insight Paul, I guess that you’d want to make the mockup look as attractive as possible, and if setting it to womens as default does that then fair enough.

  • Sparks68

    Great review. I must admit, I’ve ordered a few shirts over the past 12 months and I’ve been impressed with every one. When the black shirts were introduced I was dubious, but they delivered again, even with Wjite text.

    The latest packaging is great and I loved the little peg and label touch. There are some great designs and I often look to see what is currently selling on the site.

    RedBubble – Keep up the great work
    Designers – Spread the word and support fellow artists.

  • ColinT

    Great in depth review!
    I have been extremely impressed by the quality of all the products I’ve ordered from RedBubble so far.

  • MuscularTeeth

    heeey RedBubble rocks !
    im glad you enjoyed the experience and yes customer support is second to none there.
    and like james lillis, i am mortally insulted you didnt buy a muscularteeth T.

  • dendoo

    heeey…why didn’t you purchase a dendoo tshirt??

    I love RedBubble. The quality is amazing and I’m most proud to be a part of the community. I think the latest packaging design kicks butt butt and they have the most amazing service. Good review and Sparks68 is so right: designers who have work on RB or who know folks with work on RB really have to promote, promote, promote!

  • o0OdemocrazyO0o

    Very very informative!

    I am a redbubbler my self and have only just now purchased from it – so in a few more days my partner can see her totally customised personal shirt for her birthday present! woo! I am more excited than her probably :D

    Thanks for the great blog… bookmark material!
    Peace -

  • Pingback: Merchandise | Dave Anderson()

  • Abthony

    I am glad to hear that RedBubble does a good job for its customers who purchase work from them But it is really unfair to the artist who participate on the site. I am on the site and I am constantly told I can not participate in groups and contests because the small minded people who run them cant accept other styles and subjects that put their work to shame. As an artist I cant recomend the site unless you do t shirt graphics or pretty little pictures of cute things like bunnies and still lifes. the site is very wishy washy with what it will allow and does not follow fair guide lines with every artist. I also can not recomend Fine Art America dot com for the exact same reasons. If any one knows of a good print on demand site that does not pull this crap with its artist I would love to know about it.

  • MJ

    Sounds like sour grapes to me, Abthony. It seems downright bizarre to blame the company for the fact that some specific users of the site haven’t included you in their groups. Part of the fun of RedBubble is that users can start their own groups, so you should try that instead of complaining that you’re not right for the groups others have created.

  • Abthony

    No its really not sour grapes I am just stating a fact so other artisits know what to expect from both the site and from the other artists. I really did not post this comment to get into an argument with any one and you are entitled to your own opinion but if your going to give reviews of the site it should be reviewed by people who use the site to purchase and by people who post stuff to show and sell. I have never bought anything from the site but it sounds like they do a great job as far as the sales end goes.

  • S. O’Daniel

    I had ABYSMAL customer service from Red Bubble. They sent me the wrong sized t-shirt (was supposed to be a Christmas gift). They finally answered my email (the ONLY contact option given) 2 weeks later and said they’d send another. Never heard from them again. And no refund. Just awful and disappointing.

  • democrazy

    @ S. O’Daniel

    Sorry to hear, I would keep hounding them,
    I buy and sell stuff on there and wouldn’t want it happening to me… I have always found them to be awesome, if I am not happy they have always fixed it asap and replaced etc without argument…
    Just keep at them… ;D

  • Bill

    There is a good story about RedBubble here. Their lawyers resigned because of the Neo-Nazi material being promoted on the site.

  • Yuv

    I’ve been concerned about their increasing reliance on Hitler related t-shirts. Recently their attorneys quit and refused to represent the company because the attorneys disagreed with the company’s promotion of Hitler

  • Jan Piller

    The nazi and hate material on the site is nothing compared to the kids t-shirts. This stuff being printed on kiddie t-s is a default thing on the site and many artists, I’m sure, are not even aware their vile designes are being sold on kiddie t-s. (and yes – people re buying this shit) But instead of fixing the default, the owner is asking people to “vote” on it.
    Some things just require a few brain cells – not a vote. It’s no wonder RedBubble is being torn to shreads on FirmSpy.

  • Antonio

    Thanks for the links to the Neo-Nazi material and the offensive children’s clothing. Is RedBubble unmoderated or do they allow this stuff?? what do other artists say?

  • Amber

    RedBubble dropped by law firm for its Hipster Hitler t-shirt range –

    Arnold Bloch Leibler, the well-known Australian legal firm, has ceased to act for Melbourne-based Red Bubble, an online arts community, after it was revealed that the company is selling T-shirts glorifying Hitler.

    ABL’s senior partner, Mark Leibler, who is also national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, issued this statement last week, which J-Wire publishes in full:

  • Ann
  • Ann

    CEO of RedBubble Martin Hosking has posted a response in the comments here about the Nazi tees story

  • Jane Boyd

    @Antonio – the other artists are leaving RedBubble in droves. More than a hundred have already closed their accounts – many more have withdrawn their work from sale. Their promotion and production of neonazi merchandise just goes too far. Any artist to remain associated with the site risks being labelled a racist.

  • red barclay

    i am thinking about ordering shirts at RedBubble. have some picked out already. just wondering if the sizes run a bit large or if they come smaller than expected. ive used other t shirt sites and have been disappointed to find that when ordering a large, it comes much larger than expected

  • democrazy

    @red barclay

    They use American Apparel, and the large isn’t crazy big. I think the measurements they have on the site are accurate. Else go find an AA brand Tee and try it on ;D

    One thing that’s good with RB (I sell a few shirts on there) is that if your not happy with the printing / quality they usually replace it without kicking up a fuss (only happened once)

    rock on…

  • Todd Riehle

    New Tees are awesome. But aware about sizes.

  • Marini Ballard

    My credit card was charged on Friday night. I never ordered anything. I need to talk to somebody about this. This caused me a lot of issues with my card being rejected for planned things this weekend.

  • Mrs Angry!!!

    I ordered a tee shirt on the 18th of september, and I’m still waiting for delivery despite them saying that they despatched it on the 22nd of September. I’ve emailed them twice and have only recieved an automated email in response. I would not recommend using this company, their customer service is appalling. I ordered this as a present for my brothers birthday and its now too late!

  • Maggie

    Does anyone know how you can actually make contact with Red Bubble – I placed an order some weeks back and dispite receiving a funky email telling me that my order had been dispatched, I’ll still waiting – have sent lots of ‘questions’ via their website and tried to respond to the email recieved, but no-one wants to speak to me. Disappointed….

  • Zootsa

    My order from RedBubble just arrived a month after I ordered it and the t-shirts are extremely low quality. These t-shirts are very thin. As thin as the cheapest Chinese t-shirts. Also the colour of some of the printing is wrong. Where there should be Red they have printed Orange.

  • Donaldite

    Did you ever receive it? I’ve been waiting over a month now since I’ve received the shipping confirmation. Very disappointed as well.

  • Donaldite

    Now I’m worried that my shirt might be a women’s size as well. Guess I’ll find out if it ever arrives. This company has horrible (actually non-existent) customer service. I’ve been emailing for a month and haven’t heard from anybody, and of course…they don’t have a phone number?!?!?

  • Yazzibabi

    Having Problems With Red Bubble? Call Red bubble at (408) 206-3224

  • Otso614

    Its been a month and havent recieve my shirt yet..wat tha heckkkk!,

  • Canvas Prints

    Red Bubble provides detailed review. Most of them are good stuff that you can understand. Huh, My child wanted to have some of this.

  • Blablabla

    The price you have giving here does not inc custom charges or vat. In Germany I have just had to pay 25% extra and reviews for the UK suggest the charges are closer to 50% crazy

  • Andy (Hide Your Arms)

    Hi, I couldn’t list customs charges because they vary from country to country so I can only give the base price in my review (which is pretty old now).

    Customs charges aren’t a blanket 50% in the UK. As with all orders from outside the UK there is a £15 value allowance, anything over that can be charges by HMRC for 20% VAT up to about £120 after which there is an additional duty to pay with is about 15% I think. There will also be an additional charge from the courier company for your ‘convenience’ of having them pay the customs and handling charges in advance for you. That might end up being 50% on a single t-shirt, but if you order £1000 of goods there will not be a £500 customs charge.

    RedBubble aren’t liable for customs charges levied on entry to a country, and it would be illegal for them to falsify forms suggesting that the value of goods is lower than paid.

  • Tyler

    Hello! This was written 5 years ago, I’m interested to know if the quality of print and service is still the same now. Let me know! Thanks

  • John

    What a horrible SITE! BUYER BEWARE! !!!!!!! They’ll just take your $$$$$ and leave you hanging! There is 100% no way to contact them they’ll post a BS phone # in Australia or derrect to there Web site BUT FIRST you have to have a order # oooppsss you didn’t give me one! At that point your SOL and you’ll have to cancel it through you’re bank.

  • John

    HEY it looks like they were good at one point 7 years ago!!!! Lmfao

  • Cecile Charles

    Nice review, as an artist with RedBubble myself (, having a review like this to refer customers to is excellent. I have had quite a few sales and none of my customers have complained, they have all been happy. Again nice review.

  • EM

    I’m still waiting on my order from that site. Supposed to have been here last month.

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