From Decoration to Dollars
We've all seen them. Shirts with huge, thick screenprints, weighing down a shirt that looks like it's cut to fit a refrigerator box. Tees with gaudy, neon designs that would have been embarrassing in 1983. Decorations so poor that not only is the logo unintelligible, to look at it is to stare at the very heart of Comic-Sans, white-text-on-yellow-background madness.
No one likes staring at madness, comic-sans inspired or otherwise. So whether you're intimately involved in the design process or just interested in lending a learned eye on your clients' artwork choices, brushing up on your knowledge of printing and decoration techniques once in a while is a good idea. Below a few design experts share some insights on decoration trends and methods so you remain a lean, mean, imprinting machine.
A chemical process where the original dye of a shirt is sucked out and replaced with a new color, color discharge sees a lot of use in fashion-forward pieces or designs with fine line work.
WHERE IT SHINES: Decorating light-weight apparel. Steve Kanney, general manager for Target Graphics, Naperville, Ill., explained that because it adds no weight to a tee since it's just swapping dyes, it's a great way to decorate lighter weight tees without compromising their feel and texture.
A HANDY TIP: "You've got to start with a good garment," said Kanney. "If you don't want it to be a car washrag, you've got to spend an extra dollar on the shirt, make it a more fashion-forward garment to start with," he said. "If it's not a good garment, you could give them out, but they're going to be out in the back yard mowing the lawn in it."
The famous dye process that helped define the look of a generation, tie-dye is still stylish today and seen many places in the promotional industry.
WHERE IT SHINES: Standing out. Nathan Brown, president and owner of Dyenomite, Hilliard, Ohio, explained that his company has a large end-user base in teen spiritwear markets, where bright, two-tone tie-dye patterns can be a stylish replacement for athletic uniforms and colors. In a similar vein, he noted that tie-can be a good choice trade shows, fun-runs or even restaurant uniforms, all places people are either trying to stand out or create a fun-yet-unified look.
A HANDY TIP: When working with a tie-dyed garment, keep any copy or logos you add simple. "As a rule of thumb, just use a large, one-or-two color print," said Brown. "The print doesn't have to be overbearing, just let the tie-dye pop and the print can be very simple." For print colors, he suggested sticking to black or white.
Digital printing removes a lot of the mechanical and setup costs associated with traditional screen printing because no physical templates are required. However, it can also be more expensive on very large runs, though this is changing as technology advances.
WHERE IT SHINES: Short runs and variable printing. The lack of minimums and setup charges can make digital printing very affordable for small runs, and also enables variable printing. "Digital printing allows CafePress to offer simple variable printing," said Marc Cowlin, director of public relations, CafePress Pro, San Mateo, Calif. "For instance, if a client wanted 200 T-shirts with one consistent logo, but a different persons name on each one—we can do that without difficulty," he explained.
A HANDY TIP: Don't be afraid to ask for samples. The sample creation process is easier with digital printing, so checking that your 600dpi high-res photo montage came out okay should be no problem.