STEP 1 ART
My screen printing journey started back in 2011. I was still doing government contracts right after separating from the military. I remember sitting at my desk, monitoring my computer for incoming projectiles that would land in the base in Afghanistan. As I sat there I knew this was no longer the life for me. It was boring and I was currently on my 5th deployment out of 6 in total. So I decided to start searching for what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I started by picking up books and reading about business as often as possible. Once I discovered that Screen Printing was the route I wanted to take, I quickly jumped on YouTube and started watching as many screen printing videos as I could find to include Ryonet, and Catspit Productions. The first thing I realized was that good screen printing starts with good artwork.
The program that came with my first screen printing system was Corel Draw X5. I currently use Corel Draw 2018. I have played with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and found they are very powerful and well written programs. They do so much that in my opinion is not necessary for screen printing and the learning curve was extremely high. Corel Draw is perfect for beginner screen printing because it has all the power that you need with a very user friendly layout. The reality is that if you are starting a screen printing company and you're not already an artist, chances are that you may never be an artist. That is not to say you can’t become one eventually. But if you are starting a business then you're not trying to be a graphic designer, you're trying to be a business owner. And once you get to a higher level in running your business, as I now have done, you hire more talented people to do custom art for you.
One method of getting custom artwork is by asking your local screen printer or using a free lance service like Fiverr. I used Fiverr very early in my career and actually still use some of the designers I met years ago. If you do decide to use this route understand it can take a while to find a good designer and always vet them with small jobs and work your way up to the higher priced gigs.
Make it a point to ask for custom work if you decide to use your local screen printer, otherwise you are likely to get stock clip art. Lots of companies sell templates that are editable and for most clients that works well. It's important to understand that custom work costs money and there is no way around this. Although there are ways to significantly reduce the amount that you spend. Like I previously mentioned a good source for artwork is Fiverr you can get some really great artwork from very talented people but it may take time and money to find them, but when you do find them you can get great pieces of Artwork for around 50 dollars. Some places like 99 Designs that hold design contests charge around 300 dollars and up.
Another place is to hire an unpaid intern from the local community college or even pay them if you can. Building a good relationship with your local community college will keep you in the loop on new talent in the market place. Bottom line spend the money on great artwork and get it in an .EPS file so that it can be read by any program. If you get an AI file which is an Adobe Illustrator file, or a PSD which is a Photoshop file, and your local printer is using Corel Draw, the file may not transfer over very well but then again that's not your issue.
My company Sua Sponte Design uses both programs to avoid that issue all together. It is also important to understand that although artwork may look really killer on the screen, it doesn’t always look the same once printed on fabric. That is just an unfortunate effect of the transfer process. Also remember T-shirts are supposed to be viewed at about 12 - 20 Inches away. That is the typical distance people stand apart from each other when talking. The fact is, your design will sell not based on how bad ass it is, but how well you market that design. The next part we will talk about is color separating your jobs and getting them to film.