Custom Shirts A How To Guide
Crazy at it may seem the creation of a military design or graphic for shirts, hoodies, dry fit shirts or anything you can conjure up really is simple if you understand the design and printing process jsut a little. This blog article is specifically geared to offer ideas, suggestions and assistance as you navigate through the minefield called custom shirt design and printing.
Creating a custom military design and shirts is like playing 4 quarters of football!
There is a pre-game warmup, a 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, half-time, 3rd and even a 4th quarter. And if all of this is accomplished correctly and you work as a team member and not as an opponent you will win the game and here is why.
Warming Up – The Pre-Game Preparation!
How do you cross the end zone and win the game? Easy. You warm up and make sure everything is prepared before the game even starts.
When it comes to design make sure you know what you want and leave the guessing games out. As a military person you are at times working with civilians, possibly former military and learning the rules of the road is like going back to bootcamp only without all the yelling. Here are a few simple things to keep in mind as you prepare and get ready for custom designing.
1. Know what you want. Communicate what you want for the front and for the back of the shirts and apparel items. Describe it so a 3rd grader would understand.
2. Do you like a certain font? Recommended sites for finding a font you like could be dafont.com. This helps save time and reduces cost having your artist look up something and guess what you want. Tell them what you want and save time.
3. How many items do you want? Keep in mind if you order fewer items than what was quoted the price could easily go up. Likewise if the quantity increases expect the price should come down.
4. If you have a desired date you need everything in hand by let your team know. As professionals you are working together to accomplish the same goal. If your team does not know then they will not understand your needs. Be reasonable with your expactations. Quality takes time and excellence takes a little longer.
5. What kind of shirts or apparel items do you want? Be clear you want cotton, 50/50 cotton poly, dry-fit, hoodies or other items. Be clear.
6. APO/FPO or domestic address. Be sure to let your team know what name and address you want your items shipped to.
7. Last but not least. Play for the success of the team but don’t play to play if you are serious about design and getting quality. If you are not serious or playing games and trying to get something for nothing then seriously hit the road. You are wasting your time and the time of others who are professional. Work with them. Don’t abuse them.
Now that you have stretched and gotten all the kinks out the 1st Quarter can begin. You have received your quote and understand the details of the custom design and printing and you are ready to get started. Most company’s in today’s marketplace require a deposit. This is not unusual. Why do they? Let’s sum it up this way. Nobody likes to work for free! It’s pretty simple. The deposit does 1 thing mainly. It separates professionals from gamers. If you are serious about quality and design then a deposit is nothing more than a professional gesture of interest and a serious desire to get shirts and apparel. No deposit then you are playing games and again its time to seek business elsewhere cause you are wasting everyone’s time.
The sketch – it’s your playbook!
Deposit completed. Copy that. Now it’s time to receive the sketch. As simple as a sketch might be its worth ten times its value! Why? Because its the playbook. It tells you everything you will ever want to know about how your design is going to look farther down the field. Now is the time to make sure things are all present and accounted for so later on the design can be done correctly and efficiently for you. Now is the best time to make sure things are correct.
Sketch approved! Now its time to get things rolling and moving ahead. So what comes next?
1. Confirm your quantities with your team. Remember if your order quantity lowers the price will go up and if you order more expect a price reduction. Now is a good time to ask about bulk discounts. Questions asked would be like what quantity do I need to order to qualify for the next price break?
2. Now is the time to arrange payment. Now that the sketch is approved the real work begins getting your design created with all the color and detail you requested. Your team is about to invest hours if not days creating your custom design. The payment you are making is to pay for the work and time they are about to take creating a wonderful design for you, ordering the items from the factory so they are ready for printing. All these are expenses to your team. Paying them allows them to do their job for you and have everything prepared and readied for you.
3. Communication. Keep the lines of communication open. If you are taking leave, going to training or possibly entering River City let your team know. If you are half way around the world your team will want to reach out to you with your design seeking feedback. If you are going to be away make sure someone else is available to receive the emails and communications so no time is lost. This can often result in a delay leading to printing so helping your team move the football down the field is important. Keep the signals coming in from the sidelines. Civilian address? Send it so they have a way to reach you.
4. Final colored and detailed artwork on its way! When you get the colored draft review it. Look it over and make sure you check every detail. Taking the time now to review the design will save pain and suffering later if you miss something.
5. Get your changes back or approval back to your team quickly. Don’t sit on it. The longer you wait the longer it takes to get your items printed. The clock is not running just because you have artwork. You need to send your approval back and put it into the hands of your team mate. Pass that football!
The design is now advancing down the field. Sketch and final art are approved. Now its time to move into the final stages of production. The 3rd quarter is important. Here is the best time to double check the information, review and make sure things are moving forward as planned. Recommended are to confirm the order details now that the order is nearing production.
Have you told your team everything? Have there been any last minute chnages like an address or other detail you want to be sure they have. Now is the time to do it. Tell them. Many people make the decision in the 3rd quarter to order more items. The design might have been so good that you are now reevaluating if you ordered enough. Remember that price break? Now is the best time to order more and take advantage because of even better pricing. Your order is getting close to being printed so take advantage of this time can be a wise decision. Let’s review the 3rd Quarter checklist.
1. Quantity. Color. Sizes. Apparel types. Are they correct?
2. Name and address for shipping. Do you need your order rushed? Be prepared to pay for rush services or expedited shipping. Regardless now is the time to ask your team mates for help if you need it.
Your order now is moving to production. Apparel has been ordered and is ready to go, screen and films are being created, art is being finalized and prepped, physical counts of the sizes and colors are done and confirmed and things are prepared for the printing. Every company averages between 7-10 business days unless you have arranged for a different production date.
Expect to receive a digital proof prior to production. This is the last step in the process and this is a last opportunity to review the details and make sure everything looks right. Review this proof and send back your reply as soon as possible. Delays at this stage of production can cost several days if your reply is not received timely. Why is this? Production schedules change daily if not hourly and your team mate wants to keep on schedule but if you delay then your order gets assigned a new production day and this can cause delays for you. Keep this in mind. You always want to pass the ball and keep it with your team mate as much as possible. Don’t have them waiting on you!
The most successful experiences when it comes to ordering custom shirts and apparel is to arrive at the goal line with your team. They are there to accomplish the same goal. Providing the best in custom design, quality of printing and excellent service. If you work with your team and not against your team you will achieve success. Communication and professionalism are the two most essential qualities for a successful order.
2. Work together as a team not as opponents.
3. Work together for the best of success.
4. Ask questions.
5. Work with experts and not the garage shop down the street. Best piece of advice is don’t sacrifice quality for price. Price always loses to quality and the sad truth is that discovery of poor quality comes after delivery and not in the 1st Quarter.
6. The difference between great and incredible is a good cup of coffee. 5 bucks can make a difference. Remember that the next time you order a shirt that will last you years verses the cup of coffee that is gone in under 5 minutes.
7. Art is everything. Get great art when you can afford it otherwise its a shirt with a cut and paste special.
8. Communicate. First and last this is the most essential ingredient in getting great custom shirts!
9. Follow your core values and put integrity at the front of the list. Follow through.
10. Enjoy the process. This is creative and fun. This is not curing brain cancer. Enjoy.