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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Screen Printing on Nano Tees and other Ring Spun Apparel

Hanes Nano brand was released to appeal to a fashion-forward audience. The ring spun cotton makes it ideal because of its soft nature and introduces a vintage feel reminiscent of a favorite old t-shirt. Many t-shirts that are 100% cotton or a cotton polyester blend can feel a little rougher on the skin. Cotton fibers are twisted together to make yarn and then woven into cloth. When creating ring spun yarn, the process is different in that as the yarn is being twisted, it is also continuously thinned. The diameter of the ring spun yarn will determine how strong and soft the final woven material will be. 

Ring spun yarn also makes the short fibers of the cotton stick out which introduces a challenge to screen printers known as fibrillation. These fuzzy fibers go mostly unnoticed until you try to lay ink down and the customer washes the product a few times.  Not enough ink and the result will be a furry look and quickly fading color vibrancy. Too much ink and the printed area will feel like a lightweight plastic badge. This is where experience and smart judgment calls come into place. 

When a customer chooses a product and finalizes the design, the artist and the screen printer must collaborate on what screen printing mesh size to use and the methodology of the actual print. A lot of technicalities have to be considered to achieve a great screen print including the mesh tension, proper calibration of the press, angle of the squeegee, and even speed of application. The mechanics can be further complicated by the number of colors required to complete the design. 

A delicate balance must be struck. Today’s custom t-shirt consumer demands what the Hanes Nano tee satisfies, a soft and stylish tee. And the best screen printers understand the complexities of printing on ring-spun materials and succeed in printing a long lasting and great looking design. 

We've retained many of our highly qualified screen printers for five or more years. The sharing of knowledge and ongoing education fosters a top notch crew that consistently produces exceptional screen printed apparel for our clients. Choosing the Nano tee does not mean trading comfort for a quality screen printed design and the color selection is impressive.

Start-Ups, Logos, and Swag

You have come up with a product or idea that will be successful, congratulations, that’s just the beginning.  Now you face the struggle of coming up with a meaningful branding strategy. The first angle of your branding strategy should be to examine whether your logo concept makes a statement and conveys the essence of your product or business.

How do you achieve this? Successful logos that stand the test of time are simple. They can be featured easily on t-shirts, mugs, business cards and other marketing collateral without being rendered minuscule or unreadable. Ideally your logo will be useful in conveying your ideology without the viewer having to guess what type of business it represents.

Take a look at competitors, not just local, but national. How do they represent themselves? What aspects of their design make sense and provide meaning?

Avoid being overly literal. This is an area that can be very difficult particularly if you’re in an industry where it’s hard to translate a concept into a visual such as Internet technology.  Most of the biggest brands in that industry opted for specialized fonts versus graphical elements. The big exclusions are of course, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corporation. Even so, the simplicity of the graphics makes the logos timeless.

Overly Literal Internet Business Logo

Of course when you’re just starting out, money is tight and spending a ton of it on logo creation doesn't make a lot of sense.  Today, almost any creative task imaginable can be made easier with software and online services such as our create your own t-shirt design studio. Creating a meaningful logo can be very simple too.

We've researched some online resources that are pretty simple to use plus they are affordable or even free. Typically you see other services being pushed in conjunction with the free download like business cards and websites but those additional services are not mandatory. Check them out below.

When you’re ready to offer your customers swag to promote you, our concept is simple, offer something useful like a t-shirt or a tote bag. We all love branding but keep in mind that people don’t want to be a walking billboard. Try adding a lighthearted industry relevant saying to make it more desirable. Keep it simple and subdued. If you wouldn't wear it, why would anyone else?

1. Online Logo Maker

This is our favorite because it allows you to download your art at whatever size you choose for free AND you can upload elements to the design studio.

2.  Logo Maker

Fairly easy to use, high-res files are $49.


3. Graphic Springs

Trendy fonts, quality graphics $39.99 to download. 

4. Logo Yes

Wide variety of fonts and clip art, $40.00 file purchase.

A few honorable mentions that require a higher level of skill but are nonetheless very cool: 

Fat Paint

Flaming Text

The Snarkiest T-Shirts of Superbowl XLIX

How is it that a championship team can mock the losing team via custom t-shirt in what seems a matter of hours or days? If you’ve ever wondered this, then you are not alone. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has made a side business of selling t-shirts that memorialize the Seattle Seahawks narrow win over the Patriots in October of 2012. Post-game banter between Patriots star quarterback, Tom Brady and Richard Sherman include a captioned tweetpic of Richard Sherman chatting at Tom Brady, “U MAD BRO?” 

Over two years later, the teams go head to head during Super Bowl XLIX and this time, the Patriots narrowly beat the Seahawks launching a fairly funny  revenge t-shirt with the slogan, “U SAD BRO?” Further revenge t-shirt taunting came in the form of Patriots team member, Lagarett Blount holding a tee  with “Bitch Mode” as a slogan playing off of Seattle Seahawks running back, Marshawn Lynch’s, nickname, “Beast Mode.” T-shirts are like bumper stickers for the body; you have to be mindful and hopefully respectful of the eyes that could potentially see your message.  As for this year’s Super Bowl, so much for sportsmanlike behavior.

Although most professional teams order their championship tees before the game even begins, they typically only order for the members of the team and post-game screen printing begins for the masses once the winner has been officially proclaimed. Ever wonder what happens to all of the championship t-shirts that are printed for the losing team? They are donated to third world countries. Prince Amukamara, the Giants quarterback of Nigerian decent tweeted a hilarious (although obviously photoshopped) pic of his cousin back in Nigeria wearing the discarded Seattle Seahawks championship tee.

The Most famous T-Shirt Designs of all Time and their Creators

Do you ever give any thought to the artists behind some of the most famous t-shirts of all time? Most people relate design to the product, band or brand without realizing the time and talent it took to create some of the most memorable designs of all time. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain and give credit where it’s due.

Rolling Stones  

The iconic tongue and lips logo that has graced the front of tees since 1971 was originally designed by a student attending the Royal College of Art. John Pasche was initially approached by Mick Jagger as the rocker did not feel the label supplied graphics represented The Rolling Stones. Since then, he went on to supply custom works for greats like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Judas Priest, Paul McCartney and David Bowie. He is also the recipient of many esteemed awards including multiple achievements from D&AD, the Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design.

I Heart NY

Milton Glaser produced the original incarnation of this incredibly infectious, simplistic design in a taxi cab. As part of a campaign to promote tourism in the late 70’s, the already well-established graphic designer and proud New Yorker handed over the design on a pro bono basis. It’s hard to imagine New York without this logo. Since its initial design, countless t-shirts have been sold and I heart [insert town name here] have been copied across the world.

Che Guevara 

Ernesto "Che" Guevara is a tough one since we don’t truly know when or where he was iconized in screen print ink as a fashion statement known as Che Chic. We do know however that Jim Fitzpatrick an Irish artist who tended towards left wing activism wanted to commemorate the Marxist rebel before and after his death. A psychedelic poster was originally published and later Fitzpatrick created a two color, simplified print which we now see everywhere. He never sought compensations in royalties because he wanted the story and of Che to live on but has recently had second-thoughts regarding the commercialization of his iconic image.

Smiley Face

Most recently, we’ve been familiarized with the smiley face icon as it was embroidered into the decades encompassing film, Forrest Gump. However, the real story is far more lengthy and commercial driven. In 1963, a graphic artist and ad man was commissioned by The State Mutual Life Assurance Company to come up with a graphic to lift employee morale. The graphic was a hit and the company produced thousands of buttons initially. Since neither Ball nor State Mutual protected the design, others copyrighted the mark with some adjustments and made a mint. The Smiley face made it onto t-shirts when French journalist Franklin Loufrani registered the mark commercially. His son took the business to staggering heights reportedly reaping more than $130 million a year through licensing. 

Keep Calm and Carry On 

This design makes it onto the list as one of the youngest and oldest designs. It was commissioned by the British government in Pre-World War II days as a series of 3 propaganda posters meant to bolster spirits and unify their citizens. The crown is a graphic replica of King George VI’s crown and the typeface was uniquely created to make counterfeiting the posters difficult. Ironically, Keep Calm and Carry On was printed but never released as it was intended to be used only under the direst of circumstances such as invasion. The copies were forgotten until almost 50 years later when one was uncovered in a used bookstore in a recent order of antique books. One of the owners like it so much, she had it framed and it took on a life of its own. Now we see replicas, parodies and customized versions on t-shirts and more across the globe.