It Takes Imagination
“We make suggestions instead of doing whatever the client says, as if we’re mindless robots just printing the stuff.”
Rich Santo, Culture Studio (asi700559)
Dollars to doughnuts, an essential mandate of Culture Studio and other decorators is to elevate a print. That means addressing the forehead-smacking requests (customers who want sublimation but don’t wear polyester, for example). But it’s also suggesting needed alternatives while walking the line between quality and price. In Culture Studio’s case, that could be substituting full-color discharge for sublimation, or replacing an all-over design with a jumbo print and additional printing on the sleeves. Says Santo: “I think that’s where our value is added. … [We make suggestions] instead of doing whatever the client says, as if we’re mindless robots just printing the stuff.”
Printed T-shirts are at their best when decorators utilize their expertise. Fabrics and logos provided by the distributor and end-user aren’t always a perfect match, and apparel print design is very different from traditional graphic design, says Davenport. A small element of a design left unchecked can create a tremendous headache in the printing process and ultimately add unneeded cost. “If we’re not brought into the [creative] process,” Davenport says, “we have to sometimes go through great pains to achieve a graphic with near 100% accuracy.” Motion Textile has increasingly been asked to develop a concept at the very outset, which can ensure the best results.
Beyond the ink, decorators can prove their value by acting as a brand manager. Places like Golden Goods shape an idea by getting into deep brand discussions with distributors and end-users while determining the audience and purpose of the apparel. From there, it will focus on certain verbiage or elements that continually appear in the conversation and company’s marketing. The supplier specializes in distressed center-chest prints, but Scult says that valuable real estate may be best reserved for a slogan or message. The company’s logo can then be featured as a button or on the inside with tagless printing. It’s a simple goal: make something people want to wear. “Our passion is to deepen the connection between brands and their fans,”