It depends on how big you want the design to be on the shirt. If you are using photoshop, always create the file at atleast 300dpi. If you know how to use Illustrator or some other vector program, same 300dpi but it would be easier to make the design bigger or smaller.
Its completely up to you how big or small you want to create the design.
Yimmy... he is right but.. I figure 12 inches is decent size for back of shirt.. cars and surfers are always bigger but 12 is good starting point.. so I pretty much always make my document 12X12.. also you can take the color palette you normally use.. the document size, the 300dpi... etc.. and make a template and name it like 12X12 template.. then the first time you hit save do save as and change the name to whatever you are working on... then you always have the same base to start from.. not complicated or needed but handy.. good luck...
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