Written and designed by: Raji Purcell
Edited by: Deborah Singer
Photography: Caroline Moore
My mind was buzzing with creative inspiration from the opening talk by Jeff Finley, so I was very anxious for another designer to speak. However the next speaker was not a designer but rather the head of a printing company. As most designers know, when dealing with print (or in this case apparel design), a strong relationship with a good printer as well as an understanding of their process is crucial. With this in the back of my mind, I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting and valuable the talk was.
Jacob Edwards is the founder of Jakprints in Cleveland, OH. His effect as the second speaker at WMC Fest was nothing short of impressive. For years I’ve been seeing Jakprints ads in Juxtapoz Magazine, flaunting their beautifully technical t-shirt prints. This gave them an almost legendary status in my mind, which Jacob lived up to when he displayed many of their shirts during the speech. Recently, I had the opportunity to take advantage of their services. I was very satisfied with the results.
Here’s what happened:
Edwards began his speech by detailing Jakprint’s range of services for individuals and companies alike, explaining that they have a vast array of products to choose from. He even gave an example of a unique product called a Favicard, which is a social networking business card that looks like a favicon and has a QR code on it.
He explained that Jakprints was started due to his personal need for printing. He was in a band and wanted some cool shirts but was turned off by the high cost and mandatory quantity every printer required. Instead of going to a printer, Edwards made his own shirts and created a catalogue that he brought on tour. He eventually spent so much time fulfilling orders from his catalogue that it became his business. Edwards’ mission became supporting the artist and their brand by offering them any sort of printing service they need, with the exception of design.
One of our decisions when we started was to not do any design ourselves. We whole heartedly believe that our job is to support all of you,” Edwards said.
He then switched gears and turned to the real meat of his talk. Instead of giving the whole history of Jakprints he began a show and tell about what JakPrints offers to artists, designers, and bands. He discussed the importance of designing with the medium in mind from the get go. With this, he also outlined the different services that Jakprints has to offer to it’s clients.
You get creative and you can either start smart or just start. And whatever that result is going to be in the end, you or your client will have to deal with it.”
Edwards recommended clients to start by identifying the audience (men, women, toddlers etc). He then recommended identifying the genre of the audience (punk, metal, pop, etc.). After you establish this you can begin looking at the actual object you are printing on. This may seem like a no brainer process because you are printing on a shirt, however places like Jakprints offer 60 different styles of shirt to print on. You then ask yourself what kind of shirt is right for your audience and genre of audience.
After determining who your audience is and the style of shirt you want for your design, it is important to then understand the limitations of the product. Edwards stressed this point and explained a mistake a lot of people make is designing a shirt and mocking it up on a product that it can’t be printed on. Even worse would be the mistake of showing this mock up to a customer and everyone falling in love with something impossible. So knowing your design’s parameters in context to the shirt style/material is important. The most important point that Edwards made was,
“If you can make a shirt work in black and white, you win!”
Essentially saying that if you can make your design work in one color you will have one of the most flexible designs, able to be printed with multiple processes, and on any type of shirt.
Edwards then discussed the eco-friendly side of screen printing which Jakprints also offers. In his opinion, a client is either eco-friendly or not. He feels if you are going to do it, go all the way.
Less is more, and less is always going to have less of an impact.”
He also explained that going green involves doing the math. For example using a water-based ink for 12 different colors is just as harmful as using a plastisol ink.
Edwards closed the talk by advising the audience to keep in mind how costly it can get to have a variety of products. He explained that designs should be kept simple in order for them to be produced on different products.
I definitely walked away from his talk with insight about t-shirt printing that I never had before. I feel now, as a designer, I can make wiser decisions next time I design a t-shirt. Edwards’ talk really helped me consider the planning that should be involved with designing apparel.
Listen to the Talk
As I watched every talk, I kept Garage Band open on my MacBook and recorded everything I could. So the quality of the mp3 below may not be the best, but you can get an idea of what it was like from my perspective in the front row. Bootleg version!