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  • Tshirt design business

    I wasn't sure if this is the forum to post this question, but I hope any experienced person can give me advice on Tshirt design and the business.

    I would like to start designing my own tshirts, but I don't know what I need to do to secure a screen printer. How do I go about "looking" for one? Being a novice, how do I compare what is a "good" or "bad" screen printer? What is the difference between regular prepress prep to tshirt prep in regards to sending files to the screenprinter?

    I want to be able to print on high quality materials, not "iron on" type stuff.
    I've seen cafepress, but it seems those are of that quality.

    I don't want to spend an arm and a leg to just "test out the market" for my designs, so I need some advice from experienced folks on what "not to do".

    Anyone with experience, please advise.

    Thanks!
    bob

  • #2
    bob,

    prepress and screen setup work off the same principles. prepress uses plates, and screen printers use screens. obviously the ink is different, so make sure you ask your screen printer for a swatch book.

    when setting up your file, make sure everything is black. when they burn the screen, they require the shape/text/graphic to be totally black. of course, this makes your design look like one giant black blob...so you need to put all your individual elements on seperate layers.

    (actually, you dont need to do that, but if you know how to...and you know how to set up the file to trap the colors, then the screen printer has less work to do)

    if you dont own any graphics programs, and are doing everything by hand with pen and ink, then simply submit your renderings to them. make sure you are using dark india ink on transparent paper.

    always submit your designs the exact size you want them. the printer doesnt want to resize your artwork (or in some instances, cant). so, make sure you measure out the size beforehand.

    like any other printer, you have to print in bulk to get the most for your money. this is usually around 100 shirts. also, you are required to find your own shirts to print on. often times, a screen printer will offer to sell you blank shirts...but usually they are cheap and low quality. i suggest www.americanapparel.net.

    try to keep all your designs solid black. gradients can be tricky if you dont know what you are doing. stay away from thin lines and small details (the same goes for standard printing as well, so im probably not telling you anything you dont know).

    as long as you understand the screen printing process, and design accordingly, you will be just fine. good luck with it, and post some of your tshirt designs!

    matthew~
    Last edited by typographics; 04-05-2006, 12:47 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by typographics
      bob,

      of course, this makes your design look like one giant black blob...so you need to put all your individual elements on seperate layers.

      always submit your designs the exact size you want them. the printer doesnt want to resize your artwork (or in some instances, cant). so, make sure you measure out the size beforehand.

      like any other printer, you have to print in bulk to get the most for your money. this is usually around 100 shirts. also, you are required to find your own shirts to print on. often times, a screen printer will offer to sell you blank shirts...but usually they are cheap and low quality. i suggest www.americanapparel.net.

      try to keep all your designs solid black. gradients can be tricky if you dont know what you are doing. stay away from thin lines and small details (the same goes for standard printing as well, so im probably not telling you anything you dont know).

      as long as you understand the screen printing process, and design accordingly, you will be just fine. good luck with it, and post some of your tshirt designs!

      matthew~
      Matthew,

      thanks for all those great tips. More stupid questions from a tshirt-inexperienced designer....

      how do i go about "looking" for screen printers in my area. Is it a simple matter of opening the yellow pages?

      i was talking to another graphic artist who was going to get started in this as a side biz, and he was too selfish to give me his contact, because "he was getting such a great deal". I told him, I wanted to get some printing done and he said he'd only tell me if he was the middle man, because he was getting such a great rate from this guy per shirt.

      i think its bogus that some folks think you are a "threat" to their business when I know my tshirt "niche" was not going to even be in his "specialty".

      anyhow, where can i find a quality printer that won't either overcharge me or lowball me?

      what about printing minimum of 100 shirts. what are the "sweet" points from startup to printing "too many"?

      anybody here care to share their business tips or at least their work?

      is this business idea of mine a pipe dream? I mean is it a dime a dozen type of thing and not worth my time and effort?

      i ask because i'm struggling to make it as a graphic designer (been out of work for a year w/ only a few gigs here and there in between) and wanted to do something else to make some other $$$.

      any books or websites you guys can recommend?

      thanks for any help you can offer!
      bob

      Comment


      • #4
        Here's an oldy but goody. Still on our bookshelf
        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/096...lance&n=283155

        As for file prep, while its good to know the process, most screen printers like to make their own traps. They know what works on their press. I always submit files for silkscreen in color but constructed in such a way that they are easily separated. My vendor doesn't complain and doesn't charge me extra for file prep (but there is always one helluva setup charge!). I don't do t-shirts though. If I outsource it's big 4-color hard stock.

        Comment


        • #5
          bob,

          a friend and i started a tshirt business about a year ago. we love tshirt design, but didnt want to make it our top priority. we do it as side work. very minimal. we have a store in OKC that sells our designs, as well as some other local venues. nothing huge.

          i do all my screen printing in house, as opposed to outsourcing. i purchased all the equipment for around $2,500. its a pretty nice set up. its a four color machine and imaging system. this allows me to print the exact number of shirts i want. that way, i dont have too many made...and they end up just sitting in a box somewhere. i can make one or fifty. in my opinion, thats the best solution.

          however, you many not have twenty five hundred dollars burning a whole in your pocket. in that case, simply find someone local. look thru the yellow pages. just like anything else, shop around!

          if you are going to print mass quanitites of shirts, get a wholesalers licence. this allows you to buy in bulk...at discount prices. a penny saved is a penny earned.

          i wouldnt consider this a pipe dream. if your designs are hot, and people want to purchase them...this will be a fun adventure for you. however, i wouldnt get your hopes up, at least not at first. it will probably be a slow process.

          get a website. for sure, because that is where most of your sales will come from.

          also, find some local mom and pop shopes in your area. ask them if you can put your shirts in their store. if they say yes, they will usually ask for 10% of sales. (or some percentage). thats okay though. its worth it.

          send some letters to local churches, schools, businesses, etc.. and let them know about your abilities. you may get a phone call asking for quotes. (be able to show them examples of your designs). low ball your prices to start out. you want to start relationships with people. get your name out...etc...

          you could also rent a booth at a local flee market, or boat show, or whatever. those places are always full of people wanting to spend money. even if your shirts arent related to the event, you will still make money. (assuming your shirts are cool of course!)

          keep good records of your supplies (for tax purposes) paper, pens, ink, screens, prints, etc... are all tax deductable if you have a business set up with the state, which i would also recommend. it only cost like $30.

          um...thats all i can think of right now. hope that shed some light on your questions.

          matthew~

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by typographics
            bob,

            i do all my screen printing in house, as opposed to outsourcing. i purchased all the equipment for around $2,500. its a pretty nice set up. its a four color machine and imaging system.

            matthew~
            I'm thinking I wouldn't mind coughing up $2500. I've spent it on other things that I don't enjoy, so why not I figure.

            So my next stupid question is this, where do I "shop" for a setup like you did? What's involved in "doing it yourself"?

            I took screenprinting in college years ago, and we had a screen where we did it by hand. I'm assuming this setup you have is connected to a computer, correct?

            Is it easy enough to work out of a 1 car garage?

            I don't know what I'm doing so I don't want to get ripped off on purchasing a "system".

            Thanks Matt!
            Bob

            Comment


            • #7
              bob,

              the best place to buy screen printing equipement, believe it or not, is ebay. there are a number of businesses that sell "packages" with all the hardware you need. just type in "screen printing" in the search field, and you will find something in your price range. you will also find other add-ons that you may want to purchase.

              here is what you will need:


              printing press: get a four color press. these come in a range of prices. you dont need the huge fancy ones, unless you have the money for them. i got a fairly standard carousel. it works really nice.

              screens: most "packages" come with four screens. but you will probably want to pick up as many as you can afford. why? because its better to leave your design on the screen for future prints. washing out your screen, only to reburn the same design, is a waste of money and resources. also, buy the metal screens. the wood ones can warp and get fairly nasty after awhile.

              blacklight: this is how you burn the image to the screen. pretty typical and straight forward. this also comes with most kits. just make sure its big enough for the size screens you have.

              power washer:
              this is used to "blow out" your screen, to expose the image and make it ready for printing. i bought one from Target for about $60. dont get a high psi washer, because it will destroy your screen.

              flash dryer: lots to choose from, but you only need a basic one to start out. again, mine came with my "package" i purchased. works pretty well. the best ones are the conveyor belt machines. but they are super expensive.

              dark room: this is something you provide yourself. i use my closet. it has to be totally dark! no light what-so-ever. the dark room is where your screen drys after you coat it with emulsion. this process takes a couple of hours. if you have a fan blowing on the screen, it will take less time.

              others:
              obviously, you will need your basic supplies. ink, squeegees, chemicals for washing your screen, t-square for lining up your art work etc... again, if you buy a good kit, all of these things will be included. ink can be expensive, but it will last you forever! the amount of ink that actually ends up on a shirt is very very little. just look at ink as an investment. you can buy ink online, but i purchase my ink from a screen printing supplier in town.

              you can definatly do all of this in your garage. no problem. i do all of my screen printing in my apartment, which is definatly smaller than a house. so you should have plenty of room to work.

              also, the kit that i purchased came with an instructional video, showing the process from start to finish. so if you are unsure of the exact procedure, you can watch the video and refresh your memory. there are lots of videos on the internet also. just do a google search.

              that is my wisdom for the day

              matthew~

              Comment

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