"We sell art, not t-shirts."-Mission statement at Elite Team Supply

I'm willing to bet everyone of you reading this got into screen printing not for your love of screen printing, but for your love of art.  Screen printing is an art form, and the t-shirt is our canvas.  Especially when starting out, we are everything, including the art department.  Whether it's using clip art, text, or completely original hand drawn art, we all started by learning Corel Draw, Illustrator or Photoshop to get our business going.  The majority of us bought the same clip art packages, did the same basic art and nothing set us apart.  Our company realized very early on that if we wanted to compete and break into the industry, our art was going to be the key.  After all, a t-shirt is just underwear until you put art on it! 

Art is what sells the shirt.  Whether it is a full color sim process job with a mermaid, or a one color with just text, the way that art is laid out, the colors chosen is what sells that piece.  Art is what separates you from the other guys.  Every time I get asked what makes us different from the other printers by a potential customer, I mention that we are an awarding winning shop, but it is always the same....our art.  Between myself, and my main artist Jeff Fiorucci,(who is one of the most talented artist and separators I have ever been around), we separate ourselves with great art, and of course the ability to print that great art (more on that later).

We are all not blessed with great artistic ability, or that artists eye for laying out designs.  We've all printed some stuff that we just shook our heads at.  My favorite is to look back five years and see how much we have changed.  Trends change, our talents change, our staffs change.  But if you really want to be on the leading edge, you have to have access to a talented artist and separator.  A great artist can make you look really good.  A great separator can make you award winning.  It is a key part of the system to producing top quality, high end prints, and arguably the most important position in our industry.  A small shop can easily compete with anybody if you learn to put out great art.

Once we have
that great art, the magic starts with separations.  There are great products on the market to automate this step and get you started.  I personally prefer "hand pulled" seps at the moment, but our ISS CMYK winner was ran with Ultra Seps and tweaked from there.  Either way you go, everything starts with those separations.  Outputting those seps is a debate for some, but as long as you have great density on the output, great results will follow.  There is also the debate of round vs elliptical dots, but we won't get into that right now, just know we use round.

In the next blog, we will discuss executing great art and what it takes to produce those high end prints.  Be sure to use resources like Facebook groups, The Shirt Board, and Linked In to find artist and separators.  Not everyone has a budget for high end art, but most artist have loads of pieces already done that they can put together quickly and inexpensively.  If you want to do some work on your own, sites like badbonezdesigns, greatdanegraphics, and shutterstock all have great pieces of stock art that you can piece together and add text and backgrounds to.
  Take some time and play around in Photoshop to learn the tricks the pros know.  And remember, sell art...no shirts!



02/21/2017 5:16am

I am very impressed with your art. I need to buy some products from you soon.

04/06/2017 7:04pm

I'm so impressed by your strong passion in doing the thing that you really love. Art is definitely in everything that we see. I really admire how you set your mind like if you ever going to compete in the industry, your art will and always will be your key to the success. I'm really looking forward to see you all breaking the industry. Keep selling and promoting art to everyone. This is a very worth read blog. I really like this kind of articles because it just inspires me and motivates me to be a better person than who I am yesterday.

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02/25/2017 3:38am

I think what makes the shirt more expensive is the art printed on it. We didn't pay for the shirt, we paid for the art. This article is so witty. Instead that they put art on the shirts, they put it on the underwear. I like that unique idea of yours. I can see that people will buy it because of its uniqueness. And yes, those underwears will serve as their reminder that you don not sell shirts but art.

03/07/2017 12:55am

Your posts about art and artists are so useful for me. I'm a beginner in all that)


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    Antony Sharples is the owner of Elite Team Supply, an award winning print shop in Northwest Ohio.  Elite Team Supply is the contract side of the business that specializes in true process and sim process printing.


    December 2016


    Screen Printing

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