According to "Advertising and Popular Culture: Studies in Variety and Versatility" by Sammy Richard Danna, "The first promotional t-shirt appeared in 1939 at the motion picture debut of The Wizard of Oz. The wizard's image was emblazoned on the chests of all who attended the celebration." However, the roots of the technique began just under a thousand years earlier.
The earliest examples of printing through a stencil applied to stretched fabric was the Song Dynasty of China, circa 1000 AD where it was used for reproduction of paper currency. By the 19th century, as silk became readily available via trade with Asia, the process was popularized in Europe. By 1902, a multi-color machine for printing household items was patented by Antoine Alma Marie Vericel, and the following year a patent was filed by Hiram Codd Joseph Deeks for a rapid method of creating a stencil using wax. By 1909 a patent for photographic emulsion coated onto stretched fabric was filed by John Clark Udall. Early in-roads to the modern textile printing industry began by 1915 with the printing of team pennants in Detroit and New York, and with the advent of plastisol ink as a durable and easily workable material in 1959, the garment printing industry was officially born.
The first thing we need is the art that is going to go on the garment. If you have "camera-ready" art or a digital file of what you want printed, great! We are off to the races. However, if you have only sketches, vague ideas, or a low-resolution image that you copied from the internet, then we must get the art prepared. If you like, we provide a full-service art prep and logo design for an hourly rate. If you are a DIYer and feel comfortable with our online Design Studio, it is completely free of charge to use. There are thousands of pieces of royalty free clip art available, and over a hundred fonts. All designs are fully customizable, elements can be moved, and colors can be changed. When you have completed your design, just save the image to your free account and we will automatically get an alert! If you are a full-on graphics wizard, we can also use your vector images (*.AI, *.SVG, *.EPS and sometimes *.PDF) or high-resolution (at least 150dpi) Photoshop file for source files. It is very important to note that when graphics from the web are used as source files, that the edges are susceptible to "stair-stepping" and will give an unacceptable result when the image is enlarged.
Garment and ink selection are the next important phase of our project. We deal with many suppliers nationwide, and we can supply much, much more than what is available in our online store. If you don't see the type of garment you are looking for, please let us know and chances are we can get it very easily. We resell the garments below retail, so chances are that we can provide a more attractive price point and simpler purchasing process than if you sort the garments yourself. When you are letting us know what you are looking for, it is best to rate your requirements from most to least important. Do you want a super-soft shirt? Light or heavy weight? Do you want the ink to be a vintage look or super sharp? Is the item for a one-day event, or is it a daily wear or designer item? We can offer our best suggestions for all these facets of your project. We also have options for our different ink systems. We use both plastisol (classic screen printing) as well as water-based and discharge (softer but less predictable and/or opaque).
Once all our ducks are in a row, we can get the job written up with all the specifics and will send you the invoice. Once this is paid (under $500 is required to be paid in full, over $500 we accept 50% deposit) we will provide you with a final mockup which must have written approval. Once we have final art approval then we can get the shirts ordered and get you on the schedule! We accept cash and local or business checks and can accept payment online directly through our invoicing system. Our normal turnaround is 7 to 10 non-holiday business days. We offer a rush service upon management approval at a sliding fee scale depending on how close the due date is.
We use standard colors as mixed by our ink manufacturer. Please view the color chart for an approximation of what the exact color look like. We have color cards available in-house with the exact hue on color chips. Due to differences in monitor brightness and hue, as well as differences between reflective and emissive light and the effect it has on tonal value, DO NOT use the color chart online as an absolute guide. Please see the placement guide provided here to tell us where you would like the image to be placed on your garment.
Once the order is complete, you will receive either an email, text, or telephone call to let you know. If we don't reach you or hear back, we will try contacting you in multiple ways to make sure you know as soon as your order is complete. If you prefer us to ship, we can ship to your location for a $20 flat-rate per package.
Shoot us an email or give us a call. We have been doing this for a long time and will be able to answer just about any question you might have.