Achieving the Wow Factor
Christian Audigier makes it look so easy. Granted the exclusive rights to the designs of Don Ed Hardy (aka the Godfather of Tattoo) in 2004, Audigier launched what has become the explosive Ed Hardy brand of apparel. Dubbed “street couture,” the Ed Hardy line has collected an eclectic following along the way, covering the gamut of music powerhouses from Pop queens Madonna and Britney Spears to rocker Brett Michaels and hip-hop’s Kanye West.
Armed with dip dyes and rhinestones, the Ed Hardy line adds edge to an otherwise contained look. Nevertheless, the behind-the-scenes process of giving a basic T-shirt the “wow factor” isn’t always full of glitz and glam. After all, there is a method to the madness. And as novice distributors test the promotional product waters by shopping for dependable screen printers to decorate the number-one wearable in the industry, there is much to consider.
Tom Vann, founder and CEO of, Naperville, Illinois-based Target Graphics, recommended finding a screen print shop that will offer a tour since nothing can replace seeing something carried out firsthand. “Distributors always come out with a great appreciation for just how much goes into garment screen printing. I often tease that folks think printed T-shirts grow on the ‘T-shirt Tree’—alluding to the misinterpretation that printing T-shirts is quick and easy,” he said. “Certainly it is not rocket science, but it does involve a process.”
The process, he continued, requires adherence to a specific set of standards, including:
• Order processing
• Production scheduling
• Art preparation
• Art approval
• Screen making
• Ink mixing
• Press setup
• Quality control
• Packing and shipping.
Once a distributor selects screen printing as its preferred decorating method, the degree of complexity depends on what is trying to be accomplished. For instance, on a basic level, T-shirts are fairly simple products. Choose a high-quality brand, and have it printed. Vann noted the majority of printers will use plastisol ink and 100 percent cotton for fabric.