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The Top 5 Art Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

(April/May 2016) posted on Tue Apr 19, 2016

Many times, mistakes that show up on press can be traced back to the very first stage of the process: the artwork.

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By Thomas Trimingham

A lot of shop owners get down on themselves when errors happen in production, forgetting that a certain amount of variability comes with the territory. Especially when you do a lot of custom screen printing, the art, job setup, and printing parameters can be different on every order you do. When no two jobs are the same, it’s not really a surprise if the artwork doesn’t come out well a certain percentage of the time and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem in your art department. Sometimes, the best you can do is address the most common issues in your shop and be prepared to troubleshoot others as they come up. In a sense, your goal can be to raise your percentage of successes rather than focus on how many errors are happening.

One of the top ways to accomplish more in your art department is to look for areas that consistently cause problems. These will be different from one shop to the next, but certain issues are typically at the top of the list and chances are that at least some of the five common ones covered below are still plaguing your shop. The key to making progress in these trouble spots once you identify them is to focus on specific ways they can be avoided and develop procedures to counter the issues before they show up again.

#1 Poor Prints from Low-Resolution Originals
This is an extremely common issue. Clients continually supply artwork that was designed for the web, found on someone else’s website, or otherwise developed for internet display. Web-based art is 72 dpi at the actual screen size, and was never intended to be screen printed. When such artwork is enlarged for a full-sized shirt design, it will be pixelated as well as difficult to prep and edit.

The best and most common way to address this concern is to immediately contact the client and see if a better version of the artwork is available. Unfortunately, a lot of times the answer is no, leaving you with several choices. You can recreate the design yourself or send it out to someone with the skills to do the work, attempt to edit it, or refuse the job.


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