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2 questions, I'm probably asking for two different companies.
What's the cheapest to get made?
(If you want to print for yourself or friends 1 to 5 pieces?)
What's the most profitable for designers / creators?
(Have any of you sold or made profits with any custom shirts?)
both depend on a lot of things
one color? four colors? what kind of tee? why am i here?
so custom ink is good for yourself or a small run... what about if you want to sell your "designs" or make profit with an online store?
Buyer Beware...a vast majority of "custom tee print shops" are using "digital printing" instead of "silk screening" to save them money. The digitally printed t-shirts look great the first time that you wear them...but soon as you throw them into the washer & dryer...the imagery on the t-shirt starts to flake-off and, fade and or discolor.
^^^ This. I got some made with direct print and they're honestly pretty shit. And, don't even think about using a black shirt.
If you want to make some money, learn how to screen print. I used to print my own shirts all the time in the early 2000's. Just one off things for myself. Just get a bunch of old shirts to practice on, and you'll get the hang of it.
Make sure that the "custom tee shop" that you select...uses real "silk screening" to create your your tees.