6 basic artwork rules for screen printing

Selling t shirts can be a satisfying and lucrative exercise, I was fortunate to spend some time with a fellow who owns a contract screen printing Dallas shop. We spoke at lengths about what it takes to be successful in this business,  you need to prepare well or things will go wrong.  Here are a few points to remember when getting your design to print:

1. Design the artwork in the correct format.

When designing for screen printing one has to consider the end result of what the print will look like or what you want to achieve. Communicate with your printer for guidance before you start designing or you will end up paying  more or having to redesign. Screen printing is not like digital printing as it is done in stages, thus the artwork needs to be prepared differently. More info can be found in this post of which software to use.

2. Convert all fonts to curves.

If your design includes fonts and you’re using a vector program, always covert to curves. This will ensure that the artwork will look exactly like you intend it to. Please note that this will prevent later editing so it is best to save a copy that is not converted to curves as well.

3. Do a print out or computer mock .

Get a set of t shirt models/ drawings and place your designs before doing your positives.  You will get an idea of what your end result will be. Use it for scaling and positioning your artwork. If you have a physical sample of the t shirt, do a print out and position it on the actual t shirt. You can send either of these to your printer as a reference. More guidance = better results.

4. Provide your artwork in the correct size.

Do not expect the printer to be your desktop designer and scale things for you. Ensure that you scale the artwork yourself and state that the scale provided is as is.

5. Work with Pantone Colours.

Invest in a pantone colour chart and always design in pantone colours (if not working with photo images) so that you know what the colour will look like before it’s printed.  This will ensure that if you need to do reprints that the colours will be the same as before. It also allows you to have your goods printed at various printers and achieve the same results. Never use the colours on screen as a reference because the printer’s screen may have a different setting/ calibration.

6. Ask for 2 physical sample prints of the t shirt.

You will be charged for setting up and positive costs but it’s always better to do 2 samples. Don’t let the excitement of doing a run make you cut corners. Print 2 samples and if you are happy with both of them, let the printer keep one and you the other. Sign an agreement that the samples is as the run should be.

The Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup is a great launch period for all you aspiring designers. We will have tourists that are eager to get great gifts for family and friends back home.  Be sure to use anything and everything about South Africa in your designs but of course sticking to the rules regarding Fifa trademarks.

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