Screen Printing is unique among printing methods. It can vary from a printed medical circuit, to a 14 color simulated process masterpiece on a t-shirt, to a 100 screen fine art serigraph. While the print process is very similar, squeegee, mesh, ink, and substrate, it’s the art that we use to make the screen that is unique to the product being printed. Textile printing of all the print techniques encompasses many different types of art. From solid spot color, to 4/C process, to simulated process printing. The choices of mesh, emulsions, squeegee, press print sequence and press adjustments can be overwhelming. Even if a shop manages to find it’s own ‘recipe’ of mesh counts, emulsions and press controls, the way the print is engineered in the art department determines how well production will run and how well the design sells. Too often the hand off of art to production is not managed well. If the art department doesn’t know what works in production then profits will suffer. If print production doesn’t know how to communicate in art and RIP terminology to the artist and separator the prints may not achieve the quality of the original art. No matter how good the art department or production manager skills are, print engineering begins the moment artwork is received. Almost any t-shirt printer or ad specialty printer has been handed a business card or is sent the logo from an email signature when the customer is asked for artwork.
Rule #1: Business Cards and Web Logos are not acceptable forms of artwork for T-shirt separation. Recreating art is very expensive and time consuming, yet too many times an art file is provided that won’t work. For today’s apparel printing we need digital vector art, or a bitmap version that is twice the size of what is needed for the final print at a resolution of 150 dpi minimally. Or 300 dpi if it is to final size, especially if halftones are to be used in the print process where tonal transitions need to be smooth and dramatic in the final print. The more data in the art, the easier it is to use filters and separation techniques that yield good positives for your screens.
So let’s say the customer has provided art, at a decent resolution. To the customer this can be a photograph of the subject with a very busy background and they want to add their boat name. Is this really art work you can use? Well yes, but you will spend a ton of time in Photoshop trimming out the subject matter from the background as well as formatting it with type and playing with the layout. This is another area where the customer may think they have provided art when he really has just provided a component to make the final art. Customers like this can be shocked when they are told how much it will cost to create their concept before separations begin. Ignoring the amount of art labor to produce the job can eat up all the ports you might have been able to make.
2013 ISS Long Beach Show Shirt