One would think an art form that’s over 100 years old like printing or screen printing in this case would be easy for a photographer. Sad to say it still hasn’t evolved much. Well, screen printing, anyways. Today, even though one can get custom t-shirt printing online and produced in other decorated methods such as digital printing, embroidery, sublimation, or even a transfer, it’s roots are still traditional. With all these avenues, screen printing is still the dominant method to get t-shirts printed, and it’s because it scales so well when printing 24 or more apparel.
One of the print shops I worked with in a Sacramento fundraising event was 7Prints, and they don’t see it going away anytime soon. For one, the ink has now evolved to have many options as well. The two common ones are plastisol, which is pretty grounded down plastic with solutions, and then there’s water-based. Although there is movement towards the greener water based inks, plastisol is still king. Plastisol now comes in PVC and phthalate free. The reason why plastisol is so popular is because, you guessed it cheap, and the savings can be passed onto the customer. Most printed t shirts are typically worn for specific purposes, such as family reunions, church, volunteers, the physical activities for team sports.
Back at the shop, where I sent them a high definition photograph of the President of a marketing firm. He did not want to spend the extra cost in producing full color t-shirts, instead opted for only 2 color. He also wanted his company logo printed on the same shirt as well. As much magic as they worked with the color separations, and graphic cleanup, it came out beautifully considering the colors of the photo was reduced to two and the resolution also scaled down a bit to be printed on the shirt material or substrate.
Embroidery and photographs? That’s a story for another day. Imaging using thread and needle to produce the resolution of the artwork? Wow, you actually have to see it to believe it. As you can see from this embroidery video they provided of a logo digitization, it’s pretty interesting.
As I travel through this path of photography for business applications, it has open up my eyes to a different way of looking at the world.
Special thanks to 7Prints for their time and courtesy in explaining the screen printing and embroidery process. Please visit them at http://7Prints.com for more information or additional services they provide.