I watched a printer once spend just over an hour hunting for a spanner. We’ve all done it; I myself spent almost a month on a quest for the mystical alan key, not sure if I’d ever see my family again. At the time there were four of us in the print shop, and after a few sums I realised that if we all made an effort to camouflage our tools, we could get rid of nearly £16,000 a year – and this didn’t include scratching our backsides or staring into the middle distance. So if you’re going to make a commitment as I have to cash evaporation, whatever you do don’t get one of those wall mounted tool organisers.Perhaps even more elusive though is the artwork film, the transparency – the clue, is in the name. Now there are some loons out there who believe in filing your artwork after the job…nonsense. How on earth are you going to waste a morning searching for something see through if Mr Anorak’s put it back in its correct file? The best bet is to leave all artwork lying around – hopefully it will then either be damaged by thinners, or blow under the dryer and get frazzled. Remember, artwork films are £15.00 notes, don’t look after them and you’ll never get trapped on some nasty retirement boat in the Mediterranean.Which reminds me, that beautiful sea green a customer will want you to match one day. Now we’ve all had ink reps wandering in banging on about colour matching systems, scales, recipes – does the sign out there say ‘Delia Smith’s T-shirt Shack?’…. I don’t think so pal. Any self respecting printer is an alchemist, who can mix ink with one eye shut in a dark room. Using advice from his Uncle Frank who was a squeegee legend, the force, and a sprinkle of monkey dust, it should take a few days, and culminate in one knife of black too many and a nice concrete colour. That way you can waste a load of time and blow fifty notes worth of ink – double points.
It’s the mastery of these dark arts that makes us screen printers misunderstood, and sworn enemies of that lot in the office. They have a nasty habit of wanting systems, production plans and job sheets, or paper aeroplanes as they’re known in the game. These are all the enemy of the sworn loot blower – you can’t start a job and then happily discover half the stock is missing, use the wrong artwork and deliver it late if they’re sticking job sheets all over the boxes. We like to have a chat about what colour the bloke had last time, ‘He had expanding base in the blue’….’what are you on about, we used discharge, water based and glitter’. These debates would vanish with a CRM system, and we just don’t talk enough as it is.The above however are mere appetisers on the frittering menu; for the main course ladies and gentlemen, we have Screen Surprise. That’s the look on your face when you watch your emulsion drop off, your mesh rip, the image over expose, the screen block, the pin holes appear and the fourth colour won’t line up with the other three (one of which is on back to front). Now this can all be avoided by taking your time and following the old step by step procedures, so this is the one area where a mad panic is required to guarantee success – if we can lose sixteen large spanner hunting, just think what we can achieve with a dodgy bulb in the light source.
The other great advantage with screens is you may be working with people who know what they’re on about. If the management are from an embroidery background, no bother, you merely inform them that the fandango rod has sheared off the Geneva wheel, and some wizard who’s time sheet begins ‘Got out of bed £100, brushed teeth £200′(and that’s before the dreaded travelling time)needs to be summoned immediately. But if the Gaffer has ever had ink on his or her hands, it’s not as easy, so avoid the haze remover and deploy the ghost image tactic; it’s hard to argue with.Play your cards right though and you won’t need any of these cunning business strategies. Merely choose the right garment distributor and you need never worry about where to stock pile your cash……..’Yes the computer did show we have two thousand T-shirts in medium, in the banana yellow, and we did realise you needed them to print for an event which has now passed. Sadly we only had my Grandad’s vest, which is regrettably now on its way to Norway. Would you like a tracking number?’
On the off chance you can’t find this calibre of supplier though, I’ve tried and tested the above ploys over seventeen years, they’re guaranteed.
Next month, how did I get in this mess, and where’s the fire escape. Until then, check your trainers for ink before you go to the in-laws.
t-shirt printing, screen printing and embroidery
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