Ray from Lowdtown wrote another good article about setting up your artwork for screen printing. I put in two comments below.

What I’m real confused about is the printing method. I’m just about to have a real small launch and I don’t do ANY designs. I’ve hired an artist to do my designs, but if I’m not mistaken he has to do them a certain way for it to be able to be printed. So my first question is, What exactly are the guidelines I need to give to my artist.

My second question is once I get the artwork, What are the steps I have to take with my printer for setting up artwork for screen printing? Do I have to buy the brand of shirts I want myself and tell them the colors to print the shirts on? And should I go with a local printer or have it done online?

Thanks Ray for the info,
Jenny K. The Up-and-Comer : )

Setting up artwork for screen printing: File Type

Hey, glad you like my brand. Here is my advice; it probably varies from printer to printer, but from the 3-4 printers I’ve worked with in the past, this is the method I’ve used that usually works.

First of all, it depends if you’re working in Photoshop (raster) or Illustrator (vector). Vector’s are scalable to any size, so in the case of vector images, all you really have to do is specify the color and the size of the print on the shirt. I’ve learned that it’s always a good idea to show a mock-up image of a t-shirt so that the printer has a pretty good idea of how large the print should be.

In the case that it’s a raster image (ie. done in Photoshop), you would need to have the file of at least the size of your print (ie. 16″ x 24″ or whatever) and have it at 300dpi. The dpi is very important because if you don’t have it at 300, it’ll most likely come out blurry. 300dpi is usually for print and 72dpi is usually for web, so if you receive a file at 72dpi, tell your artist that it’s wrong!

Setting up artwork for screen printing: Preparing the file for Print

If you have an experienced artist, he or she should probably separate the colors for you, but if it’s not separated, your printer should be able to handle it. In terms of colors, the best way to get the most accurate colors is by using a pantone color book. A pantone color book is a special book that most, if not all printers use that have the same exact color swatches. That way, even if the design’s colors may look different from monitor to monitor, if you have it properly labelled with the pantone number, there should be no mess ups.

Note from Jon Kruse:

Many printers don’t want the files separated. Good printers will know the best way to separate the files and many designers don’t have the training to do this. Contact your printer! I would suggest Storenvy, tell em Jon Kruse sent you and they’ll hook you up.

It also varies from printer to printer if you need to buy the blank shirts or not, but I personally like buying the shirts myself. That way, you can buy samples to see which blank is the best for your brand. Also, some printers tend to mark up the price of the blank to get a cut of profit off of that, so you should be careful about that.

Local versus outsourcing is always a debate as well. I currently work with a local printer and I love it, because I get to see samples and stuff in person, and it cuts out the shipping cost as well. However, I’m pretty fortunate that I have a great printer nearby, but there may not be good local printers in your area. In the case of that, outsourcing to well accredited places would be ideal.

Note from Jon Kruse:

From my experience a lot of local printers are just that, local printers. They print shirts for schools and churchs but when it comes to doing a 9 color print on black and making it super soft it would be fairly difficult to find a local printer that can do this. I haven’t had very many problems getting my shirts printed in another state. I try and get all my designers to send in pantones but even when an artist doesn’t do this I have enough faith in my printer that they will chose colors that go with the design.

Hope that helps, thanks for your questions.

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