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!