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Ever wonder how your t-shirt is made? What goes into that logo you had custom made and ordered for your company softball team, exactly? Well the long and short of it is ‘a lot.’
After selecting the right t-shirt color, your t-shirt design is printed on your shirt through a method called silk screen printing. This is actually an ancient painting form started in East Asia around 1000BC, implementing a woven mesh over an ink-blocking stencil with the design.
Fast forward to the early 20th century; silk screen printing was an effective, time saving means for mass producing posters and flyers. Utilizing a silk screen and experimenting with various components and mediums to produce the desired results. But it was Andy Warhol who popularized screen printing as an artistic technique with images of Campbell’s Soup and of Marilyn Monroe.
Originally dubbed silkscreen printing by the westerners who adopted it because silk was used for its low permeability, prior to the polyester mesh currently used. This option was originally implemented to increase screen longevity. It is also a more rigid material, useful for producing clean lines.
A very skilled art, techniques are ranging depending on the desired effect. For example, there is a practice whereby printing the lightest color first to darkest OR the smallest print area to the largest area. This minimizes ink build up and gives you a cleaner, crisp design. This and other nuances make the practice best left to the experts, or at least the experienced.
Silk screen printing is now more popular than ever. Be it for your bar softball league, flag football team or family reunion, customizing t-shirts is now more accessible today than ever before. And with advances in the practice, it is now as reliable and predictable as ever before.