The T-shirt as a Blank Canvas: RushOrderTees Featured in Wearables Magazine Annual Fashion Issue
September 18, 2019
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Earlier this summer, Wearables Magazine contacted RushOrderTees and invited us to participate in their annual fashion issue. They tasked seven different custom apparel companies to come up with a floral-themed T-shirt design inspired by the idea of “the T-shirt as a blank canvas”.
And ours was to be digitally printed, aka DTG (direct-to-garment). One of our specialties!
They sent me some blank white ladies T-shirts: the Next Level Boyfriend Tee, in three different sizes. Soon I went to work creating a design specifically for these shirts and within the parameters of the project. Fast forward two weeks and we printed the shirts. More on the print process coming up.
Fast forward another month and these shirts were worn by a beautiful model, photographed, and featured in the pages of the Wearables Magazine September issue. They even used my butt print for their Contents page.
An online version of the article also appears on the ASI website.
About the design process
Whenever I get to do something creative and open-ended, it’s always fun but sometimes the challenge is that it’s too open-ended. In other words, the fewer the constraints or rules, the harder it can be to decide what to do. You run into a creative’s version of the paradox of choice.
Luckily, this project had some constraints.
Initially, I wanted to do something inspired by old Japanese lithographs. I’m a fan of the minimalism and beauty of this style. But I stumbled on the first designs, and I started rethinking what I wanted to do. These lithographs, although visually appealing, were old looking and used mostly dull and muted colors.
Even if done well, would it showcase an original design and our digital print quality? Not really.
I crumpled up that idea and threw it in the trash. Metaphorically speaking.
Sometimes you have to cut your losses when something isn’t working and start over. Some people say you should always throw out your first idea. Some people say throw out the first ten. At this point, I didn’t have nine more ideas to throw away.
So it was time to go back to the drawing board. Literally.
I’m a big fan of astronomy, so I thought about how I could work that in. So once I had some flowers I was happy with, I brought the outlines into Photoshop, then I visited NASA’s Hubble Telescope photo page for some inspiration. I downloaded some awesome galaxy photos, brought them into Photoshop as well, and started playing around with coloring.
Using the interior of the outlines to create selections, I was able to modify the colors of the galaxy image in just those areas. So what you are looking at is a single photograph, but with the colors adjusted in certain areas. I also bumped up the saturation and the brightness of some of the stars.
Once I was happy with the front, I thought about adding a back design. I had another drawing of Hibiscus flowers that I hadn’t used, so I gave them the same treatment but with a different galaxy photo. I also used slightly different colors to differentiate it from the front. As for the print placement, why not mix it up and do a side butt print?
About the printing process
When it comes to digital printing, nobody does it better than our DTG department. With our state of the art, high definition Kornit printers, and our dedicated staff who have mastered this print method I knew we would hit this out of the park, and I was not disappointed.
First I consulted with our resident expert and digital printing manager Dave Lyman. After looking at the design and getting briefed on the project, he told me he was going to run a few tests on other white tees so we could determine the best settings and technique.
Watching Dave prepare and print these test shirts was a great learning experience for me. These machines have many different settings that can be used for different types of designs, colors, and garment types. One size does not fit all. There many factors that go into a beautiful digital print; it’s a lot more than just pushing a button.
He explained how this allows us to give customers the best possible print for the particulars of their order. Sometimes a print needs to be overly-saturated, sometimes more pre-treatment needs to be used, etc. Once we settled on the ideal settings, it was time to print the shirts.
The results were eye-popping. The vibrancy and depth combined with the detail were incredible.
Thanks to Wearables Magazine and ASI for including us in their annual fashion issue. It was an honor and a lot of fun.
If you’re interested in getting your own digitally-printed T-shirts, we have no minimum order. Connect with a Project Specialist through chat, or call (800) 620-1233 to get some expert assistance. If you’re good to go, just upload your artwork to our Design Studio and get your order started right away.
About the Author
A graduate of the Multimedia program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Imri Merritt is an industry veteran with over 20 years of graphic design and color separations experience in the screen printing industry.