Earlier this month I decided to print a tee shirt. Not only did I end up with a cool shirt but since I engaged in a creative and stimulating mental activity, I gave my intellectual wellness a good workout.
All of the steps seem simple enough: create a design, print the design onto a transparency, make a screen, burn the design onto the screen, and squeegee the design onto a shirt.
The execution of these steps…not so simple.
The design needs to be manipulated, so it translates correctly. The transparency image must be opaque. The mesh has to be stretched and glued banjo skin tight. The photo emulsion needs to be evenly applied. The screen exposure time has to be determined. The squeegee pressure and angle should be consistent. Each of these processes relies on the other and each has a major impact on the end result.
I enjoy printing tee shirts because it is a challenging and creative endeavor, which builds on many of the skills I’ve developed throughout my graphic design career, including my current position on Trion’s Communications Practice. On this team, I create a wide variety of media including animated videos, websites, html emails, open enrollment guides, postcards and infographics that our clients use to communicate employee benefit information to their employees.
Working with an old school process and medium is a rewarding and inspirational change of pace from my daily computer based projects. There are plenty of things to learn and hands-on skills to master—in the graphic design world and beyond–which is good news for my intellectual wellness.