Saturday, August 22, 2009

T-shirts are where dust bunnies come from

Dust, dust everywhere, but nor a shirt to print. That's what it feels like sometimes when you try and organize shirts in a warehouse. Piles and piles of shirts that have been left-over, misprinted, returned or simply unfolded laying around waiting for their turn to be discovered. Like waves in the ocean they continuously rise and fall depending on the season in colors that reflect like the sun off the surface of the water unconciously blinding me, keeping me in a daze. I swim from pile to pile moving the shirts and refolding them like a jeweler cutting diamonds, knowing that each shirt will eventually find a home. Each shirt will eventually be matched with a design and a person then shipped to some Godless place on earth to be worn in all it's defiant glory. But why is my home here amongst these balls of lint; when will I be found? Is God punishing me for being a smart-ass and mocking this universe by making use of sarcastic humor as if it is a dominant force in our existence like gravity? How long must I swim in these cotton piles sorting them through mounds that never have a bottom? How long must I pay for the Albatross I shot? My Leviathan is within these cotton strands and I exist only to make them real. There is no escape to another realm and as Godot I must wait, and fold shirts, until I understand.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Banking On Obama

I should pay more attention to the Health Care proposal currently being discussed nationwide, but as far as I'm concerned I'm Banking on Obama as much as this design which is spray painted stencil design on checks. Most of the negative criticism sounds like people who are worried about their own health coverage, but my understanding is that the people who will be most affected are the ones who don't have health coverage to begin with, like myself. Of course the people who are in a
health care program care about the details like death or marginal care, but if you have nothing then anything is better than that. I'd die anyway or be financially destroyed if the slightest ailment comes my way, so why would I want to argue about if they are going to pull the plug, when I wouldn't even get a plug without some sort of coverage. Just pass something, then fix it later. If we can afford bombs, new cars and bank bailouts, then we can afford to do something about the lack of affordable health care we provide our citizens.

Monday, August 10, 2009

As summer winds down... Back to School winds up, up, up

Back to school sales are redundant. I agree that shopping for kids is an important part of taking care of them, but does it really have to be a major deal? Basically, sales slow down over the summer and any excuse for markdowns is justified to increase sales, but I just get sick of the jargon, like it's gonna make me spend money. School cost enough money already and especially if you have a kid going to college. Currently we are having a sale on Gildan White t-shirts and hopefully your kids needs 10,000 of them. The bigger boost to sales comes when people are back in school and at their jobs where they can spend their days shopping on the internet instead of working and buying lots of useless and semi-useless decorated garments like t-shirts from Check out our sale prices on Gildan White t-shirts for $1.40/ea, woo hoo.

Finished North Carolina and am doing States that are sentimental for some reason or another at this point.

One Nation Under a pull-down menu; One State at a Time

Which brings up a good point. This country, the United States of America, is t-shirts compatible in a backward way. I mean it is the only country that had ever based it's government on a Creed, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", created political cartoons to motivate or scare the shit out of people to join them in fighting with "Join or Die" and built it's nation off of cheap cotton and cotton subsidies. What more can you expect than a culture that creates great slogan t-shirts and thank God that I can do my part to keep the American Dream alive. Give me t-shirt or Give me Death!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Have you seen this Clown?

Of course making negative or ambiguous images of Obama may be racist and insensitive, but it is about time. Political cartooning does not go hand in hand with restraint, but restraint is what has gone on with criticism of Obama in many corners of the zeitgeist. Sure there are the standard opponents to anything the man, as President, has done. But a street level posting of a clownish Obama with the ambiguous phrase underneath may be sacrilige (msp), note to fix later. Socialism, may be a joke reference anyway as Obamas policies are more capitalistic generally. Personally I think his War policies are misguided, but the point here is that his image has been whitewashed generally by the regular critics because of his sympathetic views to liberal doctrines and this poster marks the end of that in some way. It's not clear what the poster means either, so that is what I like about the message. Obama deserves the same amount of good-hearted mocking that every President gets, which includes pasting a Hitler moustache and in this case forcing him to inadvertantly wear Whiteface makeup under the guise of a clown. This is also funnier than the images that show Obama as Abraham Lincoln when he has done very little besides getting elected to earn that reference.

Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don't mind the maggots

I had previously done the New York design and I don't have time to update it today, so I am applying this prior work to my quota of one State t-shirt a day and just updating an older webpage with this design here:

New York State Flag T-shirt

This older method with the attached cart allows the design to have text added to the design, which is a pain, but a nice option. I still have to print the design which takes longer, but maybe I could start airbrushing or spraypainting the additional text below or on top, like graffiti, of the design.

Here is another New York parody t-shirt:

New Dork City T-shirt

and another I skull / hate New York making fun of the obvious I heart New York t-shirts:

I hate New York t-shirt

And have you seen this?

maybe that deserves a new post

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another State Bites the Dust - Pennsylvania revamped

Here is the newest addition to the updated t-shirt portfolio. I had done this design prior, but at a lower resolution so this design should print better. Here is an image of the old one shown below. Once again Royal Blue seems to be the best color for the background t-shirt associated with this design. However, you can change the color of the shirt for this design by going here:

Pennsylvania State Flag T-shirt

While reviewing the news and wondering if the Cash for Clunkers program is effective, since the end result should be a lower overall market price for vehicles in the future to deflate the current pricing and less of a demand in the future as prospective car buyers jump into the fire now, while it is hot. Now I am pondering ways to make a Cash for Clunkers t-shirt program work. If I combine it with the State by State system I can have people mail in their old State t-shirt and get a new one for Free, as long as they cover the shipping and handling cost. This may be a good way to end the summer and jump start the domestically inspired State By State t-shirts that I am working on too.

Don't Mess with Texas - Texas State Flag T-shirt added to mix

Today I added Texas to the list of State by State completed Flag designs. You can find it here:

Texas State Flag T-shirt

Navy seemed to be the right color for this item.

While reviewing the State Flag t-shirts I noticed a big inconsistency with some of the descriptions on my main website. In some cases it said Free Shipping and No Taxes for t-shirts shipping to Texas. The not taxes is correct, but I have since modified my website to allow the customer to pay the shipping, which then allows me to advertise the price of the shirts at their core value. The other issue that is a surprise for customers is when they find out about the screen setup cost of $30 per color for their design. To simplify matters I reviewed my pricelist and worked in the price of shipping and screen setup for custom printing.

Pricelist for Custom printing without setup cost and without shipping cost:

Pricelist for Custom printing t-shirts and blank t shirts with the setup cost included in the printing prices and with Free Shipping for domestic orders:

Obviously the shirts appear cheaper on the above listed chart, but there is something to be said for simplicity. I added the setup cost into the screen printing side of the chart and added the shipping into the blank t-shirt side of the chart. In this way the customer can still buy the blank t-shirts and receive free shipping. Since we only print on shirts that we provide then the shipping cost are included with any custom print job too since they are buying the t-shirts from us.

I currently don't have a shopping cart setup on the new "all-inclusive" price chart, but I am going to point it to a different server since these pricing schemes are way to confusing if they appear in the same shopping cart. I notice many of my online competitors offer free shipping, but generally their price points are higher than mine so it makes sense. I have been shipping more often with Fedex lately and need to update my shipping rate chart with the new pricing I am getting, however, with the Free Shipping offer it seems that I may have to just eliminate the price chart completely.

Lately I've been expediting more often with Federal Express and the rates are high, but not as bad as they used to be. Maybe the lower gas prices are showing up in the shipping rates. As long as the economy remains slow I suppose that gas prices will remain lower than the highs. Theoretically if all the new more fuel efficient vehicles people are buying help lower the overall amount of gas that people use then the net result should be lowere demand and thus lower prices for even a longer period of time. In this way we should continue to expect a contracting
business environment as people use less resources and by definition become more conservative in their expenses. What more could we ask for than slow economic growth to help the environment?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Good concept - bad designs ; State by State update of United States T-shirts

I did a rough concept design of state flags for the United States a couple of years ago using clip art flags and creating a web interface to sell the shirts on. My idea was that as they sold I would print them. Not so. The interface was good, at and it allowed the potential customer to change the background shirt color, which isn't that hard and I used American Apparel shirts which have a good color range and they are Made in the USA. The problem was most states have colorful designs and as I got a few orders they just sat there getting old as I pondered how to make the design printable with anywhere from 3-6 colors on the average flag. In the end the customers weren't happy and I had a backlog of unfinished work. When I finally spoke with the customer I offered the design as a modified design, less colors, and not exactly what was shown on my website as a design, which usually resulted in a cancelled order. Some of the items got printed after much adoo and a few of the States looked pretty good, although they aren't what was being shown.

The point is that t-shirt printed doesn't easily reproduce artwork exactly as you see it on the web. It's easy to find a picture on a website and/or have an image that you like that was designed for a poster or business card, but they can't magically jump on a t-shirt, even for a t-shirt printer, without a significant amount of work. Also the expected demand for a product is usually less than what was expected and the orders don't just flow to create a demand instantly on the web. There are a few exceptions to the rule and they relate to t-shirt transfers and digitally output image systems that may be direct printed to the shirt. I no longer argue about the quality of those items, but they often wash out and the cost for larger production runs are still high. That said you can get individual shirts made with those types of systems as long as you are willing to pay, I just don't do that type of thing since I am a screen printer or sorts.

The solution is now to rework the designs, as I should have in the first place, and put a little D-stress, eliminate some colors, use the background color of the shirt to match the color of the flag and reduce the overall work required for screenprinting to a 1-2 color job. By modifying and recreating the artwork by reducing the number of colors in each design that will allow me to do small production runs when the time comes. So I am working on one State per day to modify and adjust the designs so that they are printable and represented on the web as I plan to print them. The customer can still change the color of the shirt and we will still use American Apparel, but the shirt will best resemble the respective State flag if it is on the color of the flag for that state. I've shown a few images above of what I started with and what they look like now.

The relevance of this is global for potential custom printing customers. Full color artwork when applied to screen printing t-shirts is usually too complex to simply print it on a shirt. Not to mention expensive and a huge waste of energy to spend hundreds of dollars on screens to make something look exactly like the original. Most artwork can be modified and simplified to work on t-shirts, but it requires that someone familiar with t-shirt printing separate the design into printable colors and in the end it will cost less. Nobody likes to pay for artwork, even me, but unless I spent my time modifying these designs they were unworkable and therefore my business for this State by State Made in the USA t-shirt concept wasn't flying. Now it has a chance and it also has a chance at being profitable since the shirts won't cost as much to make. Most importantly the shirts look better with less colors and they don't have an overwhelming amount of ink on them.I'm not going to do a new flag design today since this post will count as my day's work on this project. To view the States I've completed go here:

Arkansas State Flag T-shirt

Nevada State Flag T-shirt

Arizona State Flag T-shirt

Washington State Flag T-shirt

Ok, I couldn't resist and I had to update this design today for California.

California State Flag T-shirt