Because I’m anticipating a large cost in shipping combined with the fact that i’ve never done any real printing before, Taben suggested that I look into a small local t-shirt shop that recently opened in the area where we live. He drove me over to the place where I was able to ask some questions to the owners and even get some sample prints to look at. They also had some other pre-made sample prints which utilized various methods of printing.

The highlights of the info that they generously provided me:

– For a very complex-color design like what I’d want to do, they suggested what is called DTG (Direct to Garment), which basically prints the colors directly onto the shirt. This is very flexible, but depending on the number of shirts ordered and market prices it could run me between $14-22 per shirt. Because the pledge amount the shirt gets introduced is $90, I think this is actually quite reasonable. I had originally looked online for our cost estimates, but the problem with trying to do the t-shirt/printing stuff online is that I’d have to pay for shipping to our home, then I’d have to pay shipping AGAIN to get it to the pledge donors! Why pay the post office more than I have to?

– Transfers are cheapest; this is what was used to make the shirt I wore in the video. The disadvantage of this is that the material feels like polyester and can peel. You also have to stencil out any “transparencies” by hand unless I’m mistaken. I’ll consider transfers for simpler shirt designs.

– I brought up concerns of knowing what the design will look like when printed, as I obviously don’t want to buy 50+ shirts and have the colors not turn out okay. While the t-shirt shop owner does not have a DTG printer in the store, they do have a partnership with a vendor who does. They said they’d see if I couldn’t get some kind of sample print… I told them even a small thumbnail print on scrap cloth would be enough for me to judge from.

– Although it doesn’t help me now, they did give me a heads up on other methods of printing that may be extremely useful down the road. For example, heat pressing is a good and low-cost way to get simpler designs onto apparel. I think they also mentioned screen printing for 4-color designs… again much cheaper than DTG. This means that perhaps for any garment printable I’d sell, I should consider roto-scoping my renders and re-coloring them to best take advantage of this low cost print format.

If it is one thing I learned, is that printing is waaaaayy more complicated than the average person probably thinks… and I’m really glad Taben pushed me to go to a vendor to talk to them about it. The vendors I visited were very helpful and even offered to take care of shipping for me (“We can set it up so that you just call us, tell us what’s needed, and we’ll send it their way!”).

As for the poster, I don’t think it’ll be nearly as complicated as the t-shirts so at least I have that much.