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Hi everyone! The tattoo studio I own is getting ready to celebrate it's 10 year anniversary, and I've had each of the 3 artists design their own t-shirts for the event. I've been doing a lot of pricing/researching, and it seems to me that for the same price it would cost me to have the shirts made, I could invest in a printer, CIS, Press, and either Jet opaque, or JPSS (depending on color), to do the work myself. This would alleviate some of the problems I've been encountering, but could also present some others, which hopefully the experience on these boards could help with! I'll try to keep this to the point:

1- At least 2 of the designs are going to be based on custom paintings. When I've tried to have these done DTG, there was no end to the headaches involved, as it seemed impossible to find someone willing to take the time to help with the photoshop aspect of preparing the design. Couple this with the time it takes to have repeated proofs done, and you understand why I'm inclined to do it myself. DTG is, however, very pricey.

2- I've experimented with a sample pack of some transfers printed on a Canon MP560. The best transfer I've seen on Lights (100% Cotton) was called "Everlast" from Coastal Business. I tried the JPSS as well, but I was using a hand iron, and for that reason alone, the results were inferior. The "hand" of the prints was acceptable, but there was a noticeable ring around the image due to our quick trim of the designs, since we were just testing. This ring was more noticeable the darker the fabric of the shirt.

3- I also tried some Opaques, but encounterred two problems; First, the design was stiff (understandably) and wrinkled, and second, the corners of the design peeled either immediately, or after several washings.

In the interest of keeping this short, I'd appreciate some input on the problems I've seen so far. Would a heat-press eliminate the wrinkles or the edge-peel of the opaques ? Also, since a cutter (or plotter, not sure of which tool I'm thinking of) creates another jump in the start-up price, have you found it acceptable to do a manual trim close to the design, or do some papers, such as JPSS, when pressed, create an acceptable border?

Hopefully this has been clear for you, as there are about 300 questions running through my head about this whole ordeal :) I would be eternally grateful for any information you may have, Thanks in advance!
 

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Hi ChiaChuck, youll def want a good heat press..at least a 15x15",
Buy a used Top name press if funds are short ,youll get all even heatand pressure distribution(alot of pressure for transfers).
A plotter/cutter is the same machine, a pen tool for plotting and a knife tool for cutting, Some cutters have Optical registration, so you print reg marks on your paper with your image then line it up on your cutter where the cuuter reads the reg marks and cuts the outline.

Dark transfers need to be peeled off and placed onto the garment...so i think alot of cutouts might be hard to lift and place on shirt,
Lights on the other hand need to be mirrored b4 printing and the transfer goes on the shirt for pressing...so in essence,you have a carrier sheet where thye dark paper doesnt.
Dark transfers wrinkle so may need to be ironed inside out carefully.
I hear alot of good things about jpss, tho' ive only tried Paropy and havent had enough washes yet to give a good opinion
Dark transfers will have a heavy hand compared to light transfers.

I really dont have alot of xp with heat transfers but read alot about them on these forum..so this info is based on my limited knowledge and what I think I know.
I wish I had a tattoo shop, I think tees will go hand in hand in your biz...and I would consider screening your designs if you cant find a decent dtg printer.
 

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I suggest you look into sublimation. The colors really "pop" on light shirts. You would need a heat press, Ricoh printer and sublimation inks. The richness of designs from Photoshop are bar-none when sublimated. There are limitations and upfront expenses, but your shirts could sell for top dollar. Check out conde.com for more info.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
@Gerry- Thank you for clarifying my plotter/cutter confusion :) . I plan on investing in a good press for this, I'm just trying to gauge how much of a difference (and what kind of difference) I can expect to see between pressed transfers and the ones I've tried with a hand iron. We hand ironed 4 different papers on white/gray/blue shirts, and 2 different opaques on a black shirt, and the blue (it was a medium blue, but it had a definite impact on the design using non-opaques).

As you noted, T-shirts do go very well with my business, and I've been looking into this for a long time. My biggest problem, however, is that high detail airbrush, or oil paintings cannot be screened (far too many gradations) and when I try to have them done DTG, I seem to be dealing with people who tell me the design must be photoshopped some specific way, and we end up lost somewhere between my ignorance of Photoshop, and their unwillingness to do it for me... I don't mean to sound rude, but as an artist, I have to expect the same level of care to go into the execution of my design on a shirt, that went into painting it.

It is also worth noting that, buying the equipment and doing it myself will alleviate all these problems when we decide to do short runs on new designs, promotional designs, and any other ideas that spring to mind in the future.

@vgary- From what I've gathered, sublimation is for light colors only. The main design we've had problems with is an image of an angel and demons fading into view from a pitch dark background. This design is intended for a black shirt. On a visit to a local art-supply retailer, I noticed their transfer section carried images which were seated on a clear film, similar to regular heat transfers, but with the border already trimmed. They weren't mirrored either, so I was wondering if anyone ad a head's up as to what they might have been?

Thank you for the replies so far, though, every bit of info is always welcome and appreciated!
 

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You should contract your jobs out to a small company where the people will appreciate your business enough to work with you to "make it happen!" Tattoo art is a growing segment of our industry. DTG technology has invited many people into the decorated apparel market who previously worked in other media.
It has never been easier for a photographer to put his work on clothing, or for a small brewery to have it's image etched into the pint glasses. My point is this; technology trumps craftmanship every time.
 

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I plan on investing in a good press for this, I'm just trying to gauge how much of a difference (and what kind of difference) I can expect to see between pressed transfers and the ones I've tried with a hand iron. We hand ironed 4 different papers on white/gray/blue shirts, and 2 different opaques on a black shirt, and the blue (it was a medium blue, but it had a definite impact on the design using non-opaques).
One of the reasons that you may not have gotten good results with "hand ironing" is that for transfers to work correctly they need 3 things, 1 proper even heat, 2 proper even pressure, 3 proper duration of 1 & 2, you really need a heat press to get good results with any transfer.

As you noted, T-shirts do go very well with my business, and I've been looking into this for a long time. My biggest problem, however, is that high detail airbrush, or oil paintings cannot be screened (far too many gradations)
I can't think of a better companion business for your shop then some form of tee shirt sales.

and when I try to have them done DTG, I seem to be dealing with people who tell me the design must be photoshopped some specific way, and we end up lost somewhere between my ignorance of Photoshop, and their unwillingness to do it for me... I don't mean to sound rude, but as an artist, I have to expect the same level of care to go into the execution of my design on a shirt, that went into painting it.
Unfortunately a good working knowledge of photoshop is a must to be able to recreate the artwork you want, and depending on which printing process used knowledge in Illustrator is also required. I'm not sure you would ever be happy with any of the printing processes all of them have their merits and limitations, but IMHO DTG would get you closer to the detail you require, still it has it's limitations in printing fine detail and is only as good as the source file is prepared.

It is also worth noting that, buying the equipment and doing it myself will alleviate all these problems when we decide to do short runs on new designs, promotional designs, and any other ideas that spring to mind in the future.
I agree, doing it yourself would be your best bet, but before I spent that kind of money I'd try again to find a DTG printer in your area that would work with you to create a few samples, in the mean time you need to develop skills in Photoshop, if your ever going to do it your self you will have to learn some graphic program, buy a book, take a few classes, watch videos, lots of ways to learn but it'll be essential to your success.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One of the reasons that you may not have gotten good results with "hand ironing" is that for transfers to work correctly they need 3 things, 1 proper even heat, 2 proper even pressure, 3 proper duration of 1 & 2, you really need a heat press to get good results with any transfer.
I expected as much. I dabble in Airbrushing as well, so a heat press isn't a bad investment for the shop. How much better will opaques be "melded" ( for lack of a better word) into the shirt using a press as opposed to hand ironing? I'm only trying to gauge future experience a bit, as I've seen first-hand what hand-ironing does, as well as seeing several videos online which show an opaque being pressed. (not first-hand, so impossible to judge)

Unfortunately a good working knowledge of photoshop is a must to be able to recreate the artwork you want, and depending on which printing process used knowledge in Illustrator is also required. I'm not sure you would ever be happy with any of the printing processes all of them have their merits and limitations, but IMHO DTG would get you closer to the detail you require, still it has it's limitations in printing fine detail and is only as good as the source file is prepared.
Yeah, I figured any stack of materials I'd be purchasing would be crowned with a copy of "Photoshop for Dummies" :) I'm sure I'm not alone in being a perfectionist about this type of thing, either, so part of my reason for doing this is to alleviate any headaches others would have dealing with me as well ;)

Thank you for the information, my head still hasn't exploded, so we're getting somewhere!
 

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My point is this; technology trumps craftmanship every time.
I could not disagree more. I know plenty of photographers who have purchased the latest equipment but can't take a decent portrait to save their lives. They don't understand what the technology can and can't do for them. As a photographer and screen printer, I know that technology, including DTG, is NOT a panacea and craftsmanship trumps technology.

But I won't hijack the thread any more than I already have.
 

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I expected as much. I dabble in Airbrushing as well, so a heat press isn't a bad investment for the shop. How much better will opaques be "melded" ( for lack of a better word) into the shirt using a press as opposed to hand ironing?
Opaques work well, we have a digital printer and any heat applied vinyl we have ever used has been printed with solvent ink, while it does work well personally I don't like the hand of any heat applied vinyl, even the thinnest opaque still has a hand and while it suites it's purpose we were never happy with it, that said it's been over a year since we have tried any and I'm sure there are new films in the market place that perform better then what we used.

Yeah, I figured any stack of materials I'd be purchasing would be crowned with a copy of "Photoshop for Dummies" :) I'm sure I'm not alone in being a perfectionist about this type of thing, either, so part of my reason for doing this is to alleviate any headaches others would have dealing with me as well ;)

Thank you for the information, my head still hasn't exploded, so we're getting somewhere!
LOL! yea I know, my wife is the photoshop/illustrator expert, I struggle along and get things done but require her approval, she too is a perfectionist.:)

Like I said it would complement your business, there are so many talented tattoo artists who know how to put a concept on paper and develop it into a unique design in ink....it's very similar just done on a computer with the aid of software.

Hope this helps.
 
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