February '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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t-shirt design 101 | area in a design on screen can be easily (too easily, I would say) filled with a blend, with the click of a mouse. However, even a very good printer cannot reproduce a blend the way a computer monitor can. The designer needs to ask if the blend is essential, explaining that blends cost more and don't look as good as on the computer screen. Or, in some cases, are simply unnoticeable—i.e. if there is a blend in a two inch space from yellow to orange to red, that blend is mostly going to look orange to anyone observing it printed on a shirt. The Inverse Color Rule I guarantee that, if you were to look in your T-shirt drawer (you know, the overstuffed one?) and rate the shirts from most to least favorite, your preference would not be based on the number of colors in the design. I have a friend that says "the more colors, the worse the design." Another told me "the more skilled the designer, the less colors they have to use to make a good shirt." I don't know if the inverse rule holds, but I do know that more ink colors doesn't necessarily make a better shirt. Whenever possible, keep it simple—not only for less expense, but for better effect. My company is known for reproducing artwork using multiple screens; we have a 16-color press at our disposal. But I still think it should only take a few colors to make a good shirt. Often, it only takes one. Last Row in the Eyechart Most people don't have that good of eyesight, so don't put an integral part of a design in type that looks borrowed from the smallest line of type in an eye-test chart. If you can barely read something when it is printed out on paper, you are not going to be able to read it on a person walking down 64 | Printwear PW_FEB13.indd 64 Red-on-blue prints can have a nauseating effect. Adding a white background can ease this visual issue, but can also result in a heavier-handed "bulletproof" print. the street. Small type may be fine for a photo credit or artist's name, but doesn't fly to make a joke or express ideas to the world. Loud and big; subtle and small It seems obvious, but apparently it is not: consider subtle ink colors when the design is big and not-so-subtle colors when design elements are tiny. A subtle tone-on-tone design that is 18" high certainly does not appear the same size as an 18" lime-greenon-yellow print. The converse is also true—1" high dark gray type on a medium gray shirt isn't going to be readable. This is also a case where you have to imagine a real person wearing a real shirt; that computer mock up isn't going to give you the best idea of the final result. Billboards Are Not Us Just because marketing wants consistency in branding doesn't mean a billboard or print ad should be slavishly printed on a T-shirt. Clothing is substantially different than most other forms of advertising. continued on page 91 February 2013 1/18/13 10:10 AM

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