I decided after years of being a web/digital only designer that it was time to get back in touch with that kid who drew on all his school papers, with that artist who cannot stop creating. It was time to make real things again. I decided I wanted to learn how to screen print. As it happens, when learning a new skill, failure is inevitable. Mistakes will be made. We largely learn how to do what we do by a series of missteps. We all learn, succeed and fail. But you only really fail if you don't learn from that failure and continue on your path. In listening to the Adventures in Design podcast, the host, Mark Brickey said “Screenprinting is something you can learn in a day but will take a lifetime to master.” I really took this to heart though I do tend to forget it when something goes wrong on press. For me, and I have heard this from others, I have never done something so satisfying and infuriating at the exact same time as screen printing. But I can assure you the pros far outweigh the cons.
Honestly my first few forays in printing both flat stock and textiles went pretty smooth (thanks to the excellent tutelage of my good friend, Robb Leef) Printed off off some Christmas Cards that went flawlessly, some shirts for a local BBQ joint and a buddy who is a guitar instructor and a few multi-color posters. Had a few hitches with some of the multi-color posters but worked them through. I’ll be doing a post on a few of the things I have learned over the last year in screen printing. Keep an eye out.
So let’s talk shirts. I have only done 1 color shirts on dark fabric up until this point. Waterbased Green Galaxy Comet White on Anvil 980 100% Ringspun Cotton T’s. Ink went down like butter and looked great. Cured them with my ghetto coil flash dryer. They still look great months later and after many wears and washes. Feeling confident I decided I would print some shirts and take them and sell them at Creative South 14 where I was a sponsor and a vendor this year. My first time ever doing such a thing.
Talk about a humbling learning experience. Running my first ever merch table. After all, what good is learning a new skill if you don’t put it to practical use? Those first posters I ever printed I brought and sold at Creative South. I came home with a few leftovers but they were snapped up pretty quick at the conference! It was humbling to have someone want to spend their hard-earned money on something I made. Not a feeling I am used to. Looking around at the other designers/vendors I honestly felt out of my league, but it is that exact feeling that has me pushing to do more and to do it better.
There was one pretty big slip up that happened. I made some T-Shirts with some hand lettering I had done with one of my mantras on it. “Just Create.” After doing those first few runs of shirts here at home for friends and local businesses with great success I felt confident. Those shirts looked great and have held up well. I thought I had the process down and was excited to have almost sold out of all the shirts! But when I get home I was getting reports of the shirts washing out on the first wash. Ugh. Cue upside down tummy feelings. After a lot of trial and error and research I figured out the issue which was a combination of air getting into my ink which cascaded down into the curing process messing everything up. I was so upset. Of course the first batch of shirts I sell to people, friends, peers are the ones that go south. Which leads to another valuable life lesson. Mistakes will happen. It is how you react to those mistakes and fix them that really counts.
I ordered the exact same amount of shirts and reprinted the entire run. I have tweeted, posted to Facebook, and emailed those I can remember getting the shirts and sending them free replacements. You spent your hard-earned money with me and I do not take that lightly and I want to make sure you are happy with your purchase and you know that I will do what is needed to take care of you all.
So far only a few people have come forward and I have sent their shirts out to them, but I know there are a lot more out there. So please get in touch with me, get me your information and I will send you a replacement Just Create shirt. Thank you for your understanding and letting me make it right.