Design insights & tutorials.

Designers’ Guide to the Apparel Printing Industry

Turquoise Flag-Tip

printed t-shirt

Over the last couple of years the GoMediaZine has been a cookie jar full of tips, tutorials & practical advice about designing for apparel. There have been in depth tutorials, lots of inspiration, a fantastic three-part series full of experience & advice – we even showed you how to ‘Make it look like Affliction‘. And just in these last couple of months, we showed you how to make photorealistic mockups of your apparel designs.

So by now you should have a few solid t-shirt designs under your belt (not yet? maybe some jealousy will motivate?). Maybe you’ve done work for a hot band and the shirts are already printed for the tour. More likely, you created a pretty gnarly design for your personal portfolio & need to get it printed.

Now you’ve got some decisions to make, and probably a whole bunch of questions.

  • What are some qualities of a t-shirt that actually sells?
  • What kind of file prep should I do before sending the file to print?
  • What are the newest printing techniques?
  • How do other designers get those huge pieces printed?

First of all, this post is not going to give encyclopedic answers to all of these questions. It WILL provide priceless insight from the front lines of the apparel industry that will get you heading down the right path.

Our Starting Line-up

I talked to five major players in the apparel printing industry to shed some light on that critical component – printing. Lucky for us, everyone was game and took time to share anecdotes & advice they’ve accumulated while working in the industry. A big thanks to everybody!

Corey Bramlett RTI Brands
Scott Millikin Sunburst Apparel
Nirav Dhruv NND Designs
Jeff Weisenberg JakPrints
Rodney Blackwell T-ShirtForums.com

T-shirt Trends to Watch in 2009

Knowing what’s coming around the corner is a sure way to stay ahead of the pack (stock drop ’08 anyone?). I asked what the view was from the front lines of the printing industry and got some surprising responses.

For example, we receive tons of emails from designers wanting to know where to find a good “All Over” printer to produce their huge design. The over-sized t-shirt has been extremely popular for awhile now in communities like emptees.

That’s why it surprised me when Corey from Raw Talent said that the over-sized t-shirts might be on their way out. He sees

“…designs pulling back from the large, over-sized, gaudy prints (a la Affliction/Ed Hardy) to a more subtle piece that still makes as big of a statement.” - Corey Bramlett

Nirav Dhruv from NND echoes Corey with the decidedly simple answer “Simple sells”. Styles go through cycles too, and it’s quite possible that these guys will eventually be proved correct. Most of the time an influential group will spin an old style in a new way. Every so often something truly original comes along. And Scott Millikin from Sunburst Apparel wants to see more of it.

I think the t-shirt lines with the most original ideas will come out on top. Affliction uses a lot of belt, post printing with glitter inks, foils – things like that. The people that can take an idea and just run with it like Affliction and Ed Hardy will always help inspire a million other designers to see what they can do. – Scott Millikin

wings

Now I don’t think Scott wants any more Affliction clones. He wants designers to follow their lead & momentarily take over the industry with something new.

Luckily new (and cheaper) technology should make the cool techniques available to a much wider audience, increasing the chance for some new style to emerge. Like purevolume & myspace gave garage bands an international audience – new & cheaper print processes will let young, broke designers get into the t-shirt industry. Jeff Weisenberg of Jakprints puts it best:

Many of the specialty processes that were once reserved for the larger companies will available to the everyday customer. Foils, 3-dimensional prints, custom tag printing, all of these options have been made available to the 15 year kid who wants to start an apparel company with little start up money. What was once reserved for companies like Alphanumeric and Echo, younger designers are able to come to a company like Jakprints and produce a product that rivals these mammoth companies. The street level customers are giving larger companies a run for their money.
-Jeff Weisenberg

Phew! So much optimism, and more to come! Rodney from T-ShirtForums.com went all Karen Carpenter when he said the T-shirt craze has only just begun. Freshmen clothing lines start your engines!

There are many t-shirt brands, printers and suppliers who have yet to take full advantage of what the internet has to offer. The more that “get it”, the more choices us t-shirt junkies will have when shopping for cool t-shirts online or finding a great t-shirt printer.
-Rodney Blackwell

Optimism & excitement about the future of the online apparel industry seems to be a persistent theme among the interviewees.

Do you have an unusual artistic vision or a knack for hard-hitting cultural sarcasm? Your future apparel line could be part of the continued growth predicted by industry veterans.

They’ve Seen it All

Social design portals like Emptees & Threadless are a great place to see a lot of shirts & get ideas. But think about the guys running the print shops. They’re browsing inspiration all day, every day. Plus, they see it from a different angle – they see the good, the bad, and they know which designs actually move off the shelves. They work with fantastic veteran designers and complete newcomers. When I asked them what advice they would give to a young designer, they didn’t hold back.

Understanding the limitations of apparel print techniques while still maximizing the potential of the medium was an overriding theme echoed by the experts. T-shirts are not posters, brochures, or websites. You’ve got to account for the medium.

A formal (or industry) education is the best thing a designer can have in their arsenal. It is very unfortunate when an artist’s vision does not line up with technical capabilities. The more knowledge of these capabilities by the designer and how to apply that knowledge to their designs will result in a better product as well as a more efficient and effective production experience.
-Corey Bramlett

Jeff Weisenberg shares some specific things to avoid when designing for apparel. These are the kinds of things that might take a designer a few strikeouts to learn – so take notes!

The biggest mistake young designers make is not taking into consideration that a t-shirt is not flat. A t-shirt is 3-dimensional and you must think about what graphics and placements would look like when the apparel is being worn. Be aware that extremely detailed areas in an image may be lost when applied to the t-shirts. Also – use the color of the apparel in your graphic! You may be able to save a couple bucks by using the apparel color instead of adding another ink color. - Jeff Weisenberg

A couple of the guys really underscored the importance of knowing your audience & designing for a niche. Here’s what Rodney Blackwell had to say:

Know your niche. Whether you’re into robots or funny slogans, the more you can master your “thing”, I think the better off you’ll be in the long run. -Rodney Blackwell

File Prep Tips from the Pros

Yes, this is a complex topic that could fill several other posts. Still, I was curious what kind of major problems screen printers would like to rant about if asked. Following these basic tips will save you time & money – and make sure that your vision actually makes it to the presses.

Vector-created art is by far the best. Any Photoshop file must be at least 300 dpi. All text should be converted to outlines. Submission on a template is always best. Make sure all designs are the correct size, or if vector, the correct size is noted. Make sure all ink colors/PMS are noted in the art file. It is also great to see special notes noted in the art file. -Corey Bramlett

Jeff Weiseberg wisely suggested that you invest in a Pantone guide. I checked around, you can grab one on eBay or Amazon for between $30 and $70 – a worthwhile investment.

ebay pantone book

Make it Look Like That: A Guide to Apparel Printing Methods

So you see a shirt on our portfolio and think “That’s impossible to print!” Well, actually, it can be done – you just need the right process (and budget!).

There are enough techniques, processes & options out there to make your head spin like the girl in the Exorcist. Personally, I am pretty clueless about the all the different processes, compatible materials, average costs – everything. There is a lot to learn, but if there was one point that resonated among the printing experts, it was take the time to understand this stuff.

For a very detailed knowledge base of apparel printing techniques, check out this section of T-ShirtForums.com (resume head spinning & swearing in other languages). If you’re starting from scratch all of this info probably seems a little daunting. So I asked our panel to narrow it down for us – what are the main techniques that are gaining popularity?

Here are the trendy techniques according to Corey Bramlett:

Soft-hand (Discharge, Water-based, and fashion base) is by far the most requested and produced by us. Over-sized printing is obviously very popular.
The best way to choose is to get as educated as possible about the techniques and processes.
We even offer a really cool service call we call “Print Architecture” where we help designers “build” their piece maximizing the effectiveness of our specialty methods.
-Corey Bramlett

I asked Corey for some more details about “Print Architecture”, but didn’t hear back in time. I’ll update the post when new details emerge. I actually stumbled upon a great resource on one of Raw Talent’s subsites, FashionLab. This Methods Page categorizes print techniques with designer-friendly lingo, making it pretty easy to understand.


Scott Millikin from Sunburst added:

Right now I think the big trend is foils, glitters, metallics, studs, bling-bling. You can do pretty much anything; it just comes down to price. -Scott Millikin

Back in January, Rodney Blackwell participated in the The Imprinted Sportswear Show at Long Beach. He suggests that one of the best ways to learn about printing techniques is to attend a trade show & see the stuff demonstrated in person (not to mention cracking jokes & shaking hands).

At these shows you get to see all the different t-shirt printing techniques up close and personal. You can see all the specialty screen printing inks and how they are used to make cool effects on t-shirts. You’ll see the advances that digital printing has made. You’ll see how plastisol heat transfers and vinyl heat transfers can be used to create some of the same effects you see on high end brands. On top of that, you’ll get a first hand look at the latest fashion blank t-shirt brands and styles, with a chance to feel the quality first hand. This can be a HUGE help when trying to find that perfect blank t-shirt to compliment your designs.
-Rodney Blackwell

Ready to take the next step in learning about printing techniques & methods? Try reading through Pros & Cons of Each T-Shirt Printing Method.

premium subscriber benefits rss

Ok. So who wants to print my 14 color design?

Not all print shops are created equal. You’ve probably discovered this while shopping around and wondering how everyone else does it. Well, the printers that are part of this interview are here for a reason – they’re at the top of their industry. If you need some crazy complex print professionally produced, look no further than:

This is not a complete list. For that you’ll want to head over to T-ShirtForums for their running list of printers able to handle complex designs..

The (second to) Last Word

I couldn’t pigeonhole this tip into a category, but it seemed pretty darn valuable nonetheless.

Okay, here’s who actually get’s the last word — YOU! I’ve asked our great panel to keep an eye on the comments & swoop in to answer your questions or ideas. We’re up & running with the new Disqus Commenting Service, so let it rip! Questions! Resources! Experiences! Recommendations! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

  • threads not dead book

    Download your free chapter of our best selling strategy guide.

    If you enjoyed this post, you'll love Thread's Not Dead written by Go Media's own Jeff Finley! Start your own clothing company and become the next Mark Ecko, Obey, or Johnny Cupcakes! Learn how to dominate the graphic tee business and become the next legendary t-shirt designer. Live the dream!

About the Author, Adam Wagner

I'm a marketer, designer, armchair singer/songwriter, wannabe theoretical physicist/philosopher and recent college grad trying to pack as much living as possible into each day. Working at Go Media makes this pretty easy. Catch me on Twitter!!
Discover More by Adam Wagner

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Simon H.

    Woaw. So complete and interesting. I have to digest the infos before reacting :-D

  • tony

    successful*

  • Adam

    this is a great post. came at a great time with the types of readings i've been doing lately.

  • http://www.assaultblog.com Tim

    We got involved in this industry just over a year ago and alot of what is said here is true–thankfully the trend is pulling away from Affliction/Ed hardy style shirts for a few reasons, my two reasons being that I associate those two styles of shirt with total douche bags, and two the economy.

    The shirts we always put out have some sort of message, it's not a shirt, it's not a blatant in your face message, but they're more like paintings that have a theme and a meaning to them that the artist is trying to say while not being too overbearing.

    It's always important to have some sort of messaging in the design, or else it's just that: skulls and wings like Affliction. The t-shirt printing industry is in its infancy and it's an incredibly creative medium BECAUSE of all the limitations with printing–that's what makes it challenging and interesting! I'm going to write a full blog about this since I'm taking over this comment box…

  • Adam_Wagner

    It's great that you love the industry because of it's challenges – that point of view resonates with me. And yes, it does sound like you've got a blog post in your heart about this topic! Go for it!

  • pixel8

    Fantastic read (as always), cheers Adam. Can you suggest/recommend quality apparel printers in the UK and whether or not you knew of 'trade shows' as suggested by Rodney Blackwell doing the rounds here also?

  • Adam_Wagner

    I'm unversed about UK printers, but I'll ask around!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/integralapparel Rashaun

    Amazing how many of the rules I broke when I first started! EEEK!!

    Great article and respect the hell out of all the people listed.
    It's good to know we are slowly shifting to full front and all over prints, it was getting tired! Let's not go back to side prints though!

  • tony

    great post though adam.

  • http://www.frontierlabel.com johnflowers

    It is so awesome to know that it is not just apparel printing deals with these concerns. I work with printing custom labels and stickers, and a lot of the requirements and prep are the same. I got a lot out of this post, even though I work in a different sector of the industry.

  • facebook-44407748

    Affliction and Ed Hardy are some of the tackiest shirts on the market. They are an example of what NOT to do. Frankly, most of your readers probably wouldn't be caught dead in that gaudy garbage.

    Anyone who wears Affliction or Ed Hardy is a bona fide douchebag.

  • rodneyb

    I know of one in the UK http://www.october.co.uk that does great fashion screen printing. There's probably more, but that's the only one I've come across so far.

  • http://www.soultank.com pixel8

    Checked it out, and they sound good, bookmarked so will have a good read tomorrow, cheers rodneyb

  • Kristof

    Great post!
    I am falling in love more and more with apparel design, but despite my nightfulls of reading and my second design being printed in the next week, it's not easy to get experience with nearly no own budget and little possibilities. So I'm always thankful for hints and tips like these!

    At the moment I do shirts for local bands (or at least I start to) and try to find a compromise between printing costs and the ability to put down my ideas how I imagined them.
    I live in a rather small town in Austria and theres not a lot going on in the shirt printing business around here – but It's hard to estimate if it's an opportunity or a problem.

    I think the biggest issue is to get to try things out without having direct connections to the print business – the only printer I know personally only does one color screenprints (with quite mediocre details) & flock/flex, so I don't really know where to start.

    So being able to get insights on possibilities and guidelines for file prep always makes me a little more optimistic ;)

  • http://www.firelabstudio.com Aaron

    Very informative man, thanks! I'll have to visit the link references thoroughly.

  • http://cynicdesign.deviantart.com cynicdesign

    Here, here.
    I come from a graphic design for print background that's been virtually replaced by the web/screen industry. That's a great medium for a designer but apparel is where heart takes me. It's great to hear that it's not too late to get into the apparel industry.

    As a primarily web based designer it's hard to get the practice and know-how to be competitive in apparel- especially as a beginner- and I found this article to be really helpful, and more importantly, inspirational.

    Thanks Adam.

  • EpicMedia

    GREAT INFO! Being in apparel design every day I've seen alot especially start-up brands gone wrong quickly. Three things to remember, 1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. 2. BE PATIENT 3. DON' SPREAD YOURSELF TO THIN TOO QUICKLY. keep up the great work!

  • facebook-653013856

    This post has ton of great information. I think that I'm finally ready to get into appeal design and I have been researching and reading as much as I can.

    Just a heads up…I noticed that the JakPrints link at the end of the post has the url typed in twice so it gives an error. ;-)

  • http://www.peaktshirts.com Screen Printing

    Great post my friend. I have been in apparal design most of my life, and you are right on the money. I will pass this post onto my colleagues :)

  • Johnnie

    Amazing post. I am glad I found this at this point in my life. I've been wanting to get into designing and selling my own shirts and have been looking around and reading a lot. This post has some great links and resources. Thank you for this!

  • http://www.unikink.com UnikInk.com

    Awesome post. I do disagree with this statement :

    “Some inexperienced designers assume that the latest thing can be printed domestically in a low volume run. This assumption is very incorrect. To be successful, you must have the knowledge of production.”

    We provide all of the services seen on some of the top brands around. We provide multi color oversize and all over printing, waterbased, discharge, and soft hand inks, along with many textured and metallic inks, foil, flock, studs, custom shirt distressing, relabeling, hangtagging, and polybagging all at a 100 piece level. By far the most helpful resource I have found in the past years is http://www.t-shirtforums.com. They usually have a thread for any question that could be asked, and if not, they are quick to help you with anything you are unsure of.
    Justin Vaughn
    President/Art Director
    Unik Ink Specialty Printing
    http://www.unikink.com

  • http://www.piado.us/ Chris

    Wow! Very good article Adam!
    Apparel printing is a field in which all the secrets of the trade seem to be only shared between friends or people that are truly in the industry. They don't seem to be written anywhere too explicitly. But this is awesome that you spend the time to compile all the info above and tackled this subject. I personally learned a lot!

    I would also like to suggest / ask if you (anyone) could share some sample artwork (.psd and/or .ai) that is print ready. Just to get an idea of what the printing companies are expecting to receive from the designers.

    Also, any insight on printing prices?

    Thanks again Adam for writing the article, and all the rest of you that share your experience w/ us.

  • Adam_Wagner

    Thanks for finding that link error – feeeexed.

  • http://modati.com Sarms

    Get over it.

    Affliction and E. Hardy promote excess, near-frivolous expenses, and abundant wealth, so naturally their clothes will resonate with those messages.
    What made their designs tacky is the countless imitations that were executed poorly, that's what kills a good idea. They have good ideas. They know their market and sell to them very successfully.

    Coming from a printer's point of view, some of the things they do are incredible with all over prints, hand drawn graphics, and foil treatment. While their particular style is fading, they deserve credit for their hard work.

    Lastly, stop judging people on their t-shirts.

  • rodneyb

    Hi ccchr, sometimes what one screen printing company will expect or “prefer” will differ from the next one.

    I always suggest that you start a dialogue with your specific t-shirt printer to ask them what type of file prep they prefer. Some will say “bring me any high resolution or vector graphic that you have”, some may want a specific file type, or some may want separations already done.

    Printing prices vary based on a few factors. So it's hard to give a ballpark without knowing any of the variables like:

    - Quantity that will be printed (the more you order per design, the less the cost per shirt)

    - Number of colors in the print (with screen printing, the more colors in the design, the higher the cost per shirt)

    - Number of print locations (fewer print locations usually means a lower cost per shirt)

    - Garment color to be used (printing on white is usually less expensive that printing on black or dark colors)

    - Garment style/brand to be used (if the printer is providing the garments, the costs for brands and styles are higher than the cost of other brands. So Gildan will cost less than an AmericanApparel blank)

    - Specialty printing (all over, oversized, foil, and other specialty type prints are usually charged at a premium because of the extra setup time and production costs for the printer)

    Change any of those variables and your costs could be anywhere from $4 per shirt (or less to $15 a shirt (or more)

  • http://www.werdink.com matt sykes

    Very Informative for those out there who are looking for info on how to break into the industry…although I totally disagree with this statement and have few of my own words to offer:

    “Right now I think the big trend is foils, glitters, metallics, studs, bling-bling. You can do pretty much anything; it just comes down to price. -Scott Millikin”

    This is the past, and only really applied to one group of designers in the first place. With the re-birth of the eighties all that is now out.

    What’s in right now is BURN-OUT, DISCHARGE, SUPER FASHION SOFTS, & ECO-FRIENDLY WATER BASED INKS, some foiling but used very moderately in small doses

    Designers don't want to feel the print on the garments any longer they want the t-shirt to feel like a t-shirt with a bass ass print you can not feel against your skin or to the touch. The softer the better….

    Eco-friendly items are about to explode. The industry as a whole recognizes this and has made a huge effort to step up to the plate with lead free PVC free phthalate free non-carcinogenic ink systems. Apparel Companies are developing lead free, organic cotton & recycled apparel lines.

    These are just a few of the trends you should be looking out for, I have been printing samples garments and test runs for companies like RALPH LAUREN, POLO, CHAPS, AMERICAN LIVING, DKNY, COACH, J CREW, and many other smaller names here in NYC several seasons before the release of such garments. Almost every designer that walks into my shop looking to produce their line wants a soft non-feelable print some big images & some small. As far as street wear goes Jumbo is still in but fadeing ….soft colors and bright popin neon’s are holding on strong.

    It may be different in other places in the states but this is what’s happening in NEW YORK.

    Matthew Sykes
    Werdink
    Brooklyn NEW YORK

  • http://www.werdink.com matt sykes

    Very Informative for those out there who are looking for info on how to break into the industry…although I totally disagree with this statement and have few of my own words to offer:

    “Right now I think the big trend is foils, glitters, metallics, studs, bling-bling. You can do pretty much anything; it just comes down to price. -Scott Millikin”

    This is the past, and only really applied to one group of designers in the first place. With the re-birth of the eighties all that is now out.

    What’s in right now is BURN-OUT, DISCHARGE, SUPER FASHION SOFTS, & ECO-FRIENDLY WATER BASED INKS, some foiling but used very moderately in small doses

    Designers don't want to feel the print on the garments any longer they want the t-shirt to feel like a t-shirt with a bass ass print you can not feel against your skin or to the touch. The softer the better….

    Eco-friendly items are about to explode. The industry as a whole recognizes this and has made a huge effort to step up to the plate with lead free PVC free phthalate free non-carcinogenic ink systems. Apparel Companies are developing lead free, organic cotton & recycled apparel lines.

    These are just a few of the trends you should be looking out for, I have been printing samples garments and test runs for companies like RALPH LAUREN, POLO, CHAPS, AMERICAN LIVING, DKNY, COACH, J CREW, and many other smaller names here in NYC several seasons before the release of such garments. Almost every designer that walks into my shop looking to produce their line wants a soft non-feelable print some big images & some small. As far as street wear goes Jumbo is still in but fadeing ….soft colors and bright popin neon’s are holding on strong.

    It may be different in other places in the states but this is what’s happening in NEW YORK.

    Matthew Sykes
    Werdink
    Brooklyn NEW YORK

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/deep_design Lance

    I also disagree with this.
    Whilst there are growing numbers of d-bags that wear these type of shirts, these brands (especially affliction) are responsible for pushing the print industry to where it is currently.
    Not to mention the amount of talent and original artwork that is involved in most of there shirts. You can tell when someone slams some stock vectors together as aposed to producing a piece of art from scratch…

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Michael Thomas

    This is a brilliant tutorial. Just watched the video and the T-shirts look real. Great to show clients. I have done a few t-shirt designs, and I always just use a t-shirt vector and design within that.

  • http://Dir-T-Shirt.com Scott

    What a great post to reference for new and experienced t-shirt designers. We are getting up and going with our t-shirt designs and this post was extremely helpful. Thank you!

  • tlaquatra

    Adam you still spelled successful wrong in the second, Black quote box! Just helping out brother! Again, good post.

  • Adam_Wagner

    Ha! You know – I tried to find the flub the first time using ctrl+f. Now I see why that didn't work! Thanks Tony.

  • Cat_tee

    Awesome post Adam! I just shifted over from print & web to an apparel design company about 6 months ago. I had to very much learn on the job – so it was great to finally find a post that had a lot of great resources and also reaffirmed a lot of what I've been doing already. Thanks for sharing the knowledge!

  • http://www.treeandleafclothing.com Dusty

    The t-shirt industry is amazing in that it has so many different demographics. Many of you, like myself, run our own line of clothing while also printing contract work for schools, churches, fraternities…and so on. I've found that by printing such an absurd amount for others that you can really see what the trends are, but at them same time; see what trends are being beaten into the ground (When all the church youth groups and high school clubs wants an afflictionesque tee, you know the trend will be struggling in the fashion industry.) Also the abuse of bright colors has hit the skate/urban industry and pushed even harder for black tees.

    This post is great. We've been printing for 3 years and have grown in size since the day we self-taught ourselves to screenprint in our garage. Now we own our own retail store, have our clothing in stores, have an extremely successful online store, and a fully functional and extremely busy contract printing company. The work is tremendous, and it really sucks at times; however, I wouldn't trade it for any other 9to5 job.

    Get in there and bootstrap, scrub the tar out of those screens, and breath the fresh screen-printing chemicals! Onward and upward tee industry! (Note, I'm only 23. Anyone can be successful in this if they work, and work, and work, and work, and never stop working for it.)

  • tlaquatra

    Anytime sir, anytime.

  • Kyle Melton

    I have this post bookmarked so I can come back and keep referencing it. Thanks for the information!

  • MechMykl

    I have a friend who is interested in designing in the vein of To Write Love On Her Arms, but his knowledge ends when he finished the art in Photoshop. What's the next step for a pretty basic raster graphic?

  • James

    I find this post very helpful and agree with many points made. I will find this very helpful in the upcoming months…

  • nikki

    Your post has been featured on March's “Nerdiest of the Net!”

    http://www.blog.designnerd.net/nerdiest-of-the-

  • http://forthelose.org Ralph Damiano

    Really nice post here, great work.

  • Chris

    I've been designing apparel for over a year now and every single mistake they mentioned I've made, multiple times(bless our printing company). It's funny to see how much you can learn in just one month, let alone a year or more. This article is extremely useful knowledge even if you're a seasoned vet in the industry. I'm excited to see where apparel design goes from here, and even more excited that I continuously learn new things each day. GoMedia has been a stable in my growth and deserves so much more than just a few words of praise. Thanks alot Adam and all of you at GoMedia.

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Mat

    Its a bit intimidating that there are just so many potential choices for designs and the method of printing.

  • NIX3D

    I felt lost on how to do this type of work. Everyone I talked to said a lot with out saying anything. I've been an avid reader of this site for about 5 months now and between this site and school, I feel like a sponge. This is like another class each quarter and I'm super excited to attend.

    Yeah this sounds super cheesy, but it's true. Huge learning tool and very influential. At least for a design student.

  • Leo Torres

    Hey There,

    I am a screen printer/designer from Mexico. Since many of the designers may not have access to the printing sites your mentioned (either by budget or location) I provide additional tips for classic screen printing:

    1. If you are going to print over dark clothing add an extra layer (or background) that includes all the separations in a single shape. This way you make sure that printers don't have to lose time making this for you AND you can add some extra effects here (like a bigger outline)

    2. Take into consideration PANTONES. Really important. Some designers don't understand that hues change from screen to screen. Is always better to specify the color you want to avoid unhappy surprises.

    3. Traditional Workshops can only print 6 colors (4 in the worst case) including the background mentioned above. So if you can't pay all direct colors you will have to stick to CMYK printing (just like in offset)

    4. Solids are preferable. Although it's our holy duty to deliver quality printing take into account that depending on the quality of your file, gradients may look like halftones even with the finest techniques.

    5. Special effects are not good for details. FX inks require that printers use low count thread screens so the ink passes through easily. Charge and Burnout may work though. But don't count with 3d effects.

    6. Make sure the workshop has an oven (or dyer if you prefer the term). Many screen printers still use heat presses to cure ink. This will give a not so desirable plastic and glossy finish to your design. So ask first.

    Well, those are quick tips for really really low budget. Remember that this process is becoming artisan's job every time. So it also may increase the costs for large productions. From 20 up to 200 pieces this process should fit any designer.

    Oh, and finally. Please. Don't use more than one (maximum two) effects at the same time. It does not only look bad, it's harder and may bring some nasty consequences to the garment. Thanks.

  • http://licentious-inductor.blogspot.com/ Armitage

    I'm looking to get into this but I'm not really eager to start doing fulfillment (inventory, shipping, customer service, etc). I was looking at on-demand printing like SpreadShirt and CafePress. Would a service like that destroy my margins? Is there an easier way to handle fulfillment that I'm not considering?

  • http://blog.spreadshirt.com LindsaySS

    This is a really great post about t-shirt design – thanks for including so many links. I just wanted to mention that a lot of the designers who use Spreadshirt like to use our platform because they can test different designs with out having to spend any money up front. Check out this interview with one of our shop partners for more of his thoughts on getting started with Spreadshirt. I also wanted to include a link to a page that describes our different printing technologies. http://www.spreadshirt.com/us/US/Service/Help-1
    Thanks!

  • Raymond Skate Legends Coleman

    Great info I have alot of work to do!!!!!

  • http://www.frankyaguilar.com Franky

    Awesome Post. I have so many ideas!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/BajeDrift-Motorsport/819480062 BajeDrift Motorsport

    This was a great article.
    I'm actually trying to diversify what I produce and would probably like to see a tutorial for the watercolour designs I've been seeing here. The printer I use only does 6 colours, so I'm assuming that watercolour use will be difficult to integrate.

    I'm currently trying to use halftones to mimic gradients, thanks to a tutoriial I found here a while back :)

    Thanks again for the great read!

  • Liz

    Great post! I wish I would have read things like this when I started my company 1 1/2 years ago!! Very informative!!

    Liz
    OriginOne
    http://www.iamOriginOne.com

  • Jeff

    I have sooooo many designs that I would say are impossible without doing a full fabric print…

    http://thrashatl.deviantart.com/gallery/

  • Jeff

    I have sooooo many designs that I would say are impossible without doing a full fabric print…

    http://thrashatl.deviantart.com/gallery/

  • Jeff

    Great information, I'm just getting started…check out some of my designs!

  • http://twitter.com/norance Nora Villarreal

    Great article!

  • http://twitter.com/norance Nora Villarreal

    Great article!

  • http://gadgettechblog.com/ Gadget_Blog

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    gadgettechblog.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rio-Cartman/744188237 Rio Cartman

    cheers man…perfect timing!!! Dope links too!
    keep up the good work!

  • Name

    Everyone of the people interviewed expressed the importance of knowing technical information about printing.
    Can someone suggest a book that explains the method of printing from the basics. Perhaps even the history of the print industry.

  • InkBrigade

    If your needing a screen printer that's high quality and affordable. Give us a look. We're called Ink Brigade and we're in Portland Oregon.

    Check out or site or give us a call 503-451-0001 or http://www.inkbrigade.com

  • Scott

    I love you.

  • http://www.mikestevens.com/ Mike Stevens

    Great read! Thanks for including the links.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • http://www.teezy.eu Giannis

    Many useful tips.
    Will try and use them on my shop at http://www.teezy.eu
    Thank for the info.

  • http://www.ghdhair-straightener.org GHD Hair Straightener

    It’s great that you love the industry because of it’s challenges – that point of view resonates with me. And yes, it does sound like you’ve got a blog post in your heart about this topic! Go for it!

  • Anonymous

    Since bartering printing is a competitive, and frequently overcrowded,
    industry, it should appear as no abruptness that some companies accept
    in actuality bankrupt their doors in contempo times.

     

  • http://www.dealsbell.com/store/vistaprint/ vistaprint coupon code

    This is really one of the best guide I read about the printing industry. This is really become helpful for lots of people like me.

  • http://www.ivoryprint.com IvoryPrint – Folders Printing

    hmm… thanks for interesting inforamation

  • Md.Shiekh saadi

    I am a screen printer/designer of Bangladesh

  • http://www.printingray.com/vinyl-sticker-printing.html vinyl stickers

    I’m the user of t-shirtforum and like Rodney at all. )

  • http://www.northport-printing.com/custom-printed-labels.html flexo printing company

    Printing quality & colors also matter in the cloth printing. So that it could easily attract the customers.

  • Tray Day

    Does anybody have any recommendation on how to research market trends for the graphic t-shirt industry