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Blog / Style & trends / 26 Creative Tote Bag Design Ideas That Sell

Style & trends

26 Creative Tote Bag Design Ideas That Sell

26 Creative Tote Bag Design Ideas That Sell
Sandra Ķempele

By Sandra Ķempele

10 min read

If you’re looking for some fresh tote bag design ideas, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog post, we’ll explore lots of ideas—from bold patterns to minimal drawings—to inspire your next tote bag design. Whether you want to appeal to a niche audience, explore new trends, or promote your brand, there’s a tote bag design for every occasion.

Ready to gather some inspo? Read on for 26 design ideas to spark your creativity!

Creative tote bag design ideas

 

A good way to get your creative juices flowing is to picture who you’re designing for. Having an audience in mind can help create purposeful, unique designs. From music fans to art buffs, here are some creative ways to capture people’s interests. 

Globe-trotters who frequently travel to new places and want to carry around a piece of their memories will enjoy a travel-themed tote bag design, like a vintage world map. 

It’s also fun to capture a particular feel of a place. This Golden State tote bag features some of the major state symbols—the California poppy, the California redwood tree, and the famous grizzly bear. 

The best thing? With some research and the benefits of custom tote bag printing, you could adapt the design for any state you like!

A music-themed tote bag will appeal to a wide range of music fans, regardless of whether it’s pop, rock, metal, or classical music that they’re into.

For design ideas that appeal to different interests, one way to go is to customize the minimalist music player design. It’s a familiar aesthetic that’s easy to personalize to suit particular tastes. Alternatively, get creative with sheet music, like this design spelling out “Music” with different music symbols. 

music tote bag design

Source: illustratedidentity

Book lovers will have a very practical use for reading-inspired tote bags. When carrying around books, make sure the design reflects the joys of reading. For example, this illustration with a little girl in reading glasses shows what it’s like to be immersed in a good book.

reader tote bag

Source: FlyPaperProducts

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Tote bags are perfect for expressing your views without saying a word, especially when it comes to showing support. Case in point: it’s a great way to carry around your love for a sports team or your passion for the game. 

Baseball fans will appreciate this “Love Baseball” tote, but you can get creative and offer a wide design range that also appeals to basketball, volleyball, and football fans.

baseball tote bag

Source: TrendyCraftTX

Astrology has become an obsession among Gen Z shoppers and is now a huge industry with far-reaching social media trends. The astrological signs play right into Gen Z’s love of personalized products and speak directly to their personality types. 

Even clothing brands like Stradivarius have released an astrology-themed tote bag line. If you’re keen to attract a Gen Z audience, it’s worth leaning into this niche interest and making it a part of your shop offering. 

Let’s not forget how practical tote bags are, so why not let their true purpose speak for itself? Take inspo from this design boasting “Art supplies” written in vivid, bright colors. This way, artists can have a place for their tools and supplies while repping a bold, artsy design.

art supplies tote bag design

Source: JAVisuals

A tote bag for your plant shopping adventures? Yes, please. This design with botanical illustrations of different plants is the perfect bag companion for plant lovers. 

If custom illustrations are not your thing, you can win over plant enthusiasts with a simple design and clever use of color. Try picking a couple of green tones (like olive and sage green), make sure they go well together, and let the colors be the centerpiece of your design. 

If you’d like to appeal to a fashion-conscious audience, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the latest fashion trends. Customers might be looking for popular motifs and prints on all kinds of accessories, including tote bags. 

As an example, let’s explore the mushroom print trend that’s become popular in the last couple of years. Famous designer brands, including Alexander McQueen, have been adding mushroomy looks to their designs. This trend follows the rise in psychedelic-inspired styles and the so-called “dopamine dressing” which is all about optimistic fashion and bright color choices. 

Drawing inspo from pets is a fun way to create unique, artsy designs that appeal to both cat and dog people.

To add personality to your design, incorporate elements that reflect the playful, independent, curious nature of pets. For instance, this tote bag has transformed a functional shoulder strap into a whimsical black cat’s tail.

cat tote bag design

Source: ESDesignStore

Simple tote bag design ideas

Having a simple design can make a tote bag truly versatile. Typography, symbols, and art—these are some of the key influences shaping minimalist tote bag designs.

10. Minimalist 

Minimalist designs aim for simplicity. They emphasize only the most essential design elements, making it a popular choice for shoppers looking to invest in wearable, timeless pieces. 

This tote bag features a reversible design with two different expressions: happy and sad. It’s a clever, simple design that’s made up of simple dots and a curved line, which can be flipped depending on the mood.

For your design, take advantage of simple and popular symbols, like emojis, to convey a direct message in a minimalist fashion.

smiley face tote bag design

Source: Lazy Oaf

It’s also a popular choice to opt for typography or words that are positioned in a visually appealing way. Signs like the “ampersand” are especially popular in minimalist typography designs. 

Short, snappy words like “Ok!” and “Cool!” are also favored design choices. What’s more, big and bold letters are great options to use as promotion, like company swag with brand names on totes.

Abstract line drawings are simple, elegant, and expressive. They’re also a trendy design choice for minimalists because of their muted style, which gives some flair to an outfit without being too flashy.

line drawing tote bag design

Source: BHUROfficial

A classic design choice is to go for geometric shapes—lines, circles, and squares. To add a twist, think about shapes that form optical illusions, like this impossible triangle. This way, even a simple design can become a conversation starter. 

geometric tote bag design

Source: ToteLaVie

Picture this: you’re walking down the street and see someone carrying a tote bag that says “Be kind.” Wouldn’t that make you smile and maybe even inspire you to do a nice thing for someone else? That’s the power of positive messages. They can lift your mood and the mood of those around you. 

So why not design a tote bag with a positive message? Start by brainstorming uplifting phrases or inspiring quotes. You never know who might need a little encouragement or a friendly word. 

In their origins, tote bags were introduced as an environmentally-conscious option, an alternative to plastic bags. Typically, shoppers who care about the environment will have a wide range of tote bags to grab on the go.

If you align with eco-friendly practices and want to cater to this audience, try to include a spirit of activism in your designs. For example, this tote bag highlights that “There is no planet B” and encourages people to take small actions every day to protect the environment.

eco awareness tote bag design

Source: TheLibraryCloset

Who doesn’t love a good joke? In addition to making people laugh and feel good, jokes on totes can also be great conversation starters. 

Humor makes for great gifts that combine function, creativity, and laughs in one awesome package. Plus, it’s a great source of inspiration for multiple new designs—as long as you have plenty of funny jokes up your sleeve. 

funny tote bag design

Source: MoonlightMakers

Embroidered tote bag design ideas

If you’re thinking about creating tote bags for occasions like beach trips or summer picnics, choosing an embroidered design is the way to go! Embroidery naturally elevates a simple look. 

You could also try out designs that address a specific customer need. For example, selling tote bags with custom embroidery for special occasions (weddings, graduations, anniversaries, etc.). Explore more examples below.

It’s a good idea to embrace that carefree summer vibe when designing tote bags for carrying beach essentials. Think about using colors that are bright and warm, like yellows, oranges, and reds for your designs. For example, a simple embroidered typography design that says “Summer” will embody the cheery spirit of beach days.

As an alternative, you could go for a bright blue design inspired by the ocean waves, like this tote bag with blue floral embroidery. 
 

Picnics and tote bags go hand in hand when it comes to summer fun. Tote bags are practical for carrying around food, so why not go all in on the food theme for your design? 

For inspo, check out this fruity tote bag with colorful fruit embroidery that pops against the beige canvas. The juicy oranges, crispy green apples, and yellow banana embroidery details make for a fresh and fun way to carry picnic essentials. 

embroidered tote bag design

Source: tinythreads

A trusty tote bag can be a good companion even on your morning coffee run. For early morning errands, go for a design that’s bright and cheery with an uplifting embroidered message like “Life happens, coffee helps.”

coffee tote bag design idea

Source: Mummelito

Custom embroidery is a personalized and thoughtful way to celebrate a milestone. Plus, by selling designs that appeal to a specific niche (like weddings, birthday celebrations, and baby showers), it’s much easier to relate to your customers’ needs.

For example, a “Bridesmaid” tote bag is a great way to show appreciation and love for friends who are supporting the bride by carrying around wedding essentials (and snacks!).

bridesmaid tote bag design

Source: Asos

All-over print tote bag design ideas

For bold designs, an all-over print tote is perfectly poised to become a stylish customer favorite. It’s an awesome way to show off your custom artwork on a tote bag or have fun designing funky seam-to-seam patterns.

A classic animal print can add some flair and attitude to your tote bag design. Don’t know where to start? Pick a well-loved pattern like a leopard, zebra, tiger, or snake print. You could also try going for something more unusual like a giraffe, cheetah, or cow all-over print. 

animal print tote bag

Source: ODAproducts

One of the most fun ways to create a unique tote bag design is to go for floral patterns.

When it comes to spring and summer, floral arrangements are great for adding a pop of color to any style. Floral patterns are often the go-to design choice for beach bags and large totes. You can opt for colorful, abstract floral designs, or even mix and match different types of flowers.

flower print tote bag design

Source: MrsFishkin

Retro floral patterns have become so popular that they deserve a special mention. But how do they differ from other flower motifs? 

Looking back to the 1960s psychedelic prints, retro florals stand out because of their abstract shape and defined, black outline. Colorful flowers are then laid out in a busy, repeat pattern—a perfect fit for all-over tote bag printing. 

retro floral tote bag design

Source: HannahsGiftHaus

Ready for more psychedelic design influences in fashion? Heart prints styled into swirly lines or shapes with loose, floaty forms make up another trend to consider. This retro-inspired funky style goes beyond Valentine’s Day celebrations and will appeal to shoppers looking for a splashy, modern look.

heart print tote bag design

Source: Urban Outfitters

Another much-loved summer trend that’s not going anywhere—gingham print. It’s a cute design choice for picnics or nature walks that can be made your own. Think about adding a quote or an inspirational message for a unique, multi-layered design. 

For a summer style, choose light pastel tones like pink, yellow, or lime green.  

A variation on the gingham print, a checkered pattern in darker shades is a versatile tote bag look. For a classic style that works year-round, pick brown, maroon, or navy blue shades. 

The black and white checkered pattern could also be a fun choice, especially if you’d like to imitate a chessboard pattern. Why? To appeal to a growing audience of chess enthusiasts (here’s looking at you, Queen’s Gambit fans!).

checkered print tote bag design

Source: KityBoofHats

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Final thoughts

Hopefully, this list of ideas has sparked your creativity and inspired you to come up with your own design ideas! To make the most of this creative process, dare to experiment with colors, patterns, and fonts to create unique, eye-catching totes.

If you’re unsure about your design skills, it’s worth trying out Printful’s Design Maker. With free access to different fonts, clipart, and templates, it’s never been easier to turn your ideas into reality and preview how a design looks on different types of tote bags.

Now on to you! Let your creativity soar and have fun designing.

author

By Sandra Ķempele on Jun 26, 2023

Sandra Ķempele

Guest author

Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.

Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.