From Cocktail Napkin to T-Shirt



As a custom screen printer, you learn quickly that numerous artwork sources will need to be converted so they are workable designs. You are likely to get art through emails, CDs, texts and possibly can see some hand-drawn sketches on napkins.

Now the issue with this is that it can become fairly costly because you can spend a good majority of your time trying to figure out what it is the client likes. What makes it even more difficult and the client being unsure of what they would like or constantly changing their minds. Also depending on the art your business can provide and the amount of design skills being asked of, you may need to consider contracting outside of your business to create the design.

A suggestion to help avoid spending a ridiculous amount of time and money on converting artwork, try and get the client’s approval on the design and request before placing any sort of production orders. The artwork-prep method needs to cover certain areas of the process. This can include the discovery phase, the analyzing of what you have versus what you might need, some trend research and even some rough or tight comp developments.


Discovery Phase

This stage is the start of this new project. You are trying to understand what the client wants, the client is trying to understand what you are offering, and really nail down on the communication between the two to bring to life what they have envisioned.

Maybe they are not very visual, and cannot clearly describe what it is that they are wanting though. Be ready with a few key questions that can clarify this for you, we’ll call these “discovery questions.” By having these questions ready you can help eliminate spending time on things and ideas that the client doesn’t like. They cover the basics and set groundwork for creating a few rough drafts from the artist. The entire goal of these questions is going to be defining areas that ultimately will minimize the amount of time spent on designs that won’t work.

By having an in-house graphic designer, you can make that communication even smoother by having the artist know their skills and present them to the client with the best possible design that could be created.


Analyzing Variables

There are a few factors that make each project different from another. Now, each job is going to have to be specific to what the client likes/ wants PLUS what the order itself is going to be requiring. Focus on what is going to give the client the best results, and by giving them the best results are going to help your business reputation and productions. It also helps build your customer loyalty because you are showing your care and focus is going towards your customers.

Another factor to analyze is your art abilities and maybe even consider what you may need to contract out based upon your abilities. While most companies will refuse to contract out, sometimes it is going to be the best choice from an economical position and may provide a better product in the end.

Researching Trends

Something that gets overlooked most often is artistic creation, especially when it comes down to looking for trends. This is going to involve looking at designs piece by piece and dissecting it to help you decide if it is going to be functional to your creations.

You can take one design, find inspiration through it and then later develop that inspiration into something using completely different elements. By researching trends and various designs, it helps to provide accurate and tasteful combinations.


Comp Development

Now there are ways that you can help provide quality designs for clients in a short-turn around. You can use a “tight rough” which is essentially a computer-rendered graphic that the client can choose to quickly accept. This process is fairly common for short-turn orders or even if the client had given the business creative freedom and was open to practically any design.

A method that is more complex when it comes to art is going to be a pencil comp of the logo and the layout to see how acceptable the client finds them. If you are able to avoid this step it can be a huge time-saver when trying to produce the product for the client.

Developing roughs are typically going to be created through CorelDRAW or even Adobe Illustrator as a way to layout typography and create graphics that can wrap around the text. These skills truly can take some time to become versed in this technology, and you never are going to stop learning when using these programs. Patience is going to be the biggest virtue when creating artwork, and especially when trying to help out clients with deciding on the best type of design for their purpose.

Here at BOLT Screen Printing we pride ourselves in creating quality custom apparel that brings your vision to life. We have assembled a team of professionals, who strive to understand your goals and assist you with out of the box advertising and branding techniques. We combine our knowledge of all things apparel with your project goals in order to provide killer gear and a stress-free experience.

With an ambition to create premium quality vintage threads, Bolt was born. From our passion of creating the best clothing for our clothing store Opolis and our customers expressing the desire to see their designs on our high-quality apparel we knew the next step would be to open Bolt. After being in the industry for over 13 years, we've perfected the process of turning amazing ideas into even better results. Contact us today by emailing us at our NEW email order@boltcustomshirts.com, or give us a call at 405-493-9557!


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