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Personally I'm inclined to the view that anyone who needs to ask whether or not to outsource printing, needs to outsource. You'd know if you could do it yourself.

Longterm you may want to learn to do it yourself (for satisfaction or maximising profit), but short-term there's no need (and longterm if you're successful you wouldn't be printing them yourself anyway).
 

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MinusBlindfold, while I also disagree about the admirable/character comments (although I think I see what you're getting at), I am right there with you on the thrill (and benefit in flexibility) of doing it yourself.

The feeling you get from designing the shirt and the thrill you get from printing it yourself and seeing it followed through to the finishing point really aren't the same.

This is one of those don't-know-what-you're-missing until you try it situations.
 

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I commented earlier that "I think I see what [Minusblindfold is] getting at", so I guess I might as well elucidate that.

In "creative" businesses & endeavours (and by "creative" I mean a business in which something is created, not necessarily the usual meaning, in other words "when you're making something") there are often two approaches: the practical approach, and the artistic approach (not mutually exclusive I know, but humour me a little). For example some people build a house by putting together the correct elements until they have what is considered a house. Others take their time, craft every segment to perfection, and put their heart into the building. For practical reasons the first approach may be considered better, but there are few people who wouldn't rather live in the second house if all matters were equal (which they're not).

One is a builder, the other a craftsman or an artisan. Morally speaking they're no different, and one is not better than the other, but chances are you have a little more respect for the artisan who takes their time to make things perfect.

Personally I'm a person with a romantic bent, and someone who misses artisanship in everyday life.

If an artist designs a shirt and has someone print it they may be an artist, but they're not likely to be an artisan. If they are there to supervise the printing and make all the choices - they just don't do the actual printing because they don't have that skillset - that is one thing. But by handing the order off to someone else and leaving it in their hands (i.e. here's my artwork, I'll be back to pick up the finished shirts), they lose something. It's not bad that they're doing that, it just means something is lost to the romantics who care.

I like it when, as much as possible, an item is created by one person, or failing that a tightknit team working closely together (e.g. I don't differentiate between the Coen brothers making a film, and Robert Rodriquez making a film - both are artisans, and the Coen brothers work so closely together they might as well be one person).

As an aside, I would regard someone who sewed the shirts they print on as a better artisan than the rest of us - it just almost never happens (because it's ridiculous from a practical standpoint). Granted it's a sliding scale - if someone went so far as to make their own inks from scratch I'd say they were the better craftsperson for it, but had done something so impractical I might lose some respect for them as a human being capable of rational choices. In the case of printing your own t-shirts... it's really not that impractical. If you're successful enough that it is, print your own prototypes.

(I visited a very successful local designer last month who creates printed handbags. She still has a full print setup in her officespace, and she designs and handprints all her prototypes herself - only once she's completed a design is it given to someone else to replicate [fairly normal in the fashion world I guess] - personally I really enjoyed the fact that despite running a huge business she was still involved to that degree - were I to buy one of her products I could know that she had handprinted this design [if not this particular bag] and checked it until she was happy with it - her work is better for it)

A lot of people here have commented on how much they hate big business (e.g. Walmart) and would rather deal with your local corner store - part of that is about customer service and keeping money in the community, but part of it is about retaining these small touches that are lost when business is put first and quality takes a back seat (however slight).

If you print the product yourself you have complete control, and in theory it'll be a better product for it (okay the reality is you're probably not as good a printer as your local professional printer, and since you are so close to the design you may not always be able to take a step back and make the right decisions, but in theory the artist who stays with their design from start to finish should be able to subtly craft every aspect to perfection to produce the best possible outcome - and as MinusBlindfold said sometimes there are things you can do (and easily even) that an outsourced screenprinter just won't do for you).

So here's the problem...

Do you not respect an artisan more than someone who says "good enough"? Do you not find what they're doing 'more admirable'? Personally I do. I'd rather have a ring made by a jeweller using the utmost skills of his hands than one smelted in a factory. Clearly this is subjective - you may prefer the factory finish.

Point is, to me those who follow the entire process of shirt creation are better artisans, and the better someone is at that the more I 'respect' them. That person is statistically more likely to create a product I wish to wear/endorse.

The problem is when you say "I find it more admirable" you imply that you find something else less admirable. That really isn't the case though. Those who don't print themself are just on the baseline (nothing wrong with that), whereas those who do are attempting to raise the bar. Now obviously we could get into specifics where such and such self-printer sucks and such and such outsourced printer is unusually hands-on and excellent.... but those specific exceptions don't change the generality of feeling. It's not meant to be objective.

Hard to get this across without insulting/offending anybody but hopefully you see what I'm getting at. The most important thing to remember is that I'm not saying anyone is a better artist, businessperson, or person than any other - what I'm saying is that they're a better artisan, and that I personally (as you may or may not, as is your wont) value artisanship very highly. Some people will think this is an outdated sentiment with no place in this modern world, others will agree with me.

So while I never would have chosen the words MinusBlindfold used, I agree with the gist of what I at least think he's saying.
 
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