This showcase presents examples of non-traditional decorations that may inspire you to pioneer alternative graphics of your own.
By Lori Leaman
As this example shows, tie-dyeing can enhance the effect of printed graphics, leading a viewer's eyes to the printed image or working in concert with the image to produce a larger, more vibrant graphic effect. And the ability of Not Fade Away's artists to blend designs into the tie-dye pattern has made the company a leader in this decorating technique. Since no two tie-dyed garments are exactly alike, each shirt the company produces is essentially a one-of-kind original.
Name of design: Set You Free
Company: Not Fade Away Graphics, Kingston, NY
Quantity of garments printed: 1000
Material or technique used: tie-dye with conventional plastisol print in four colors (yellow, red, black, and blue), plus a white under print and red drop screen
The look and velvet-like feel of flock graphics is bringing new life to this old favorite. According to Nick Quaranta, vice president of sales for Insta Graphics' printed products division, "People are asking for more dimensional types of things, stuff that gives graphics a little oomph."
The heat-transfer material and equipment supplier has taken the flock effect a step further by developing a flock transfer line that incorporates glitter in the adhesive. The resulting designs have the texture of flock plus a sparkling look that makes them ideal for children's wear and holiday graphics. The company is also working on a flocking system that can be directly printed onto garments.
Name of design: Glitter Flock
Company: Insta Graphic Systems, Cerritos, CA
Quantity of garments printed: samples only
Customer: prototype for new line of printing materials
Material or technique used: printable glitter adhesive coated with flock fibers
Leather is to the West what Bikinis are to Florida. And GS Sportwear, one of Colorado's largest garment printers, has capitalized on this reality by offering a convincing line of western-theme decorated garments.
The company has found that customers are drawn to the mock suede look and feel of the images, and are even more appreciative of the garments when they realize the effect was created with ink. GS Sportswear also works with other alternative decorating materials, including foil, puff, and high-density inks.
Name of design: Two Boots/Colorado
Company: GS Sportswear/div. of Golden Squeegee, Denver, CO
Quantity of garments printed: 5000
Customer: various western retailers
Material or technique used: mock-suede ink with additional plastisol colors, applied as a heat transfer
What better way to advertise your company on T-shirts than with a printed logo that literally "stands out" or a slogan that becomes reflective in the dark? Many corporate buyers are finding 3-D and reflective graphics to be ideal for getting their messages across, and Silverwing Productions has been quick to capitalize on the appeal of these alternative decorations.
Well versed in the latest ink technologies, the company determined that 3-D prints would be ideal for logos and other identification markings. Because these inks provide a thick deposit as well as sharp edge definition, they are ideal for text and other fine details. Reflective inks have also proven popular, particularly those that exhibit a standard color in daylight, yet still show brightly when struck by light in dark conditions. Besides custom orders such as this 7-Up design, the company finds reflective inks well suited for sport garments, including biking and running wear.
Name of design: Are U an UN?
Company: Silverwing Productions, Dallas, TX
Quantity of garments printed: 10,000
Customer: 7-UP Co.
Material or technique used: high-density (three-dimensional) plastisols on shirt front and reflective plastisol base with green pigment plus black ink on back
When Company X, a heat-transfer and private-label direct screen-printing company, first tried out a new reflective ink from its supplier, no one knew where it would take them. What the company discovered was that the near-metallic look of the ink attracted both customers interested in safety graphics, as well as those with novelty applications in mind.
The company learned that by printing a thick layer of the ink onto heat transfer paper, then applying the transfers to garments, the graphics provided a level of reflectivity ideal for policemen, firemen, and road-crews who worked at night. Printing the inks directly onto garments typically results in a thinner ink layer, which is less reflective, but still an attractive option for children's garments and novelty wear.
Name of design: Castle
Company: Company X, Columbus, OH
Quantity of garments printed: 500 Customer: 3M
Material or technique used: reflective ink, applied as heat transfer
* Unless noted otherwise, all photography by David Steinbrunner, Cincinnati, OH
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