Arts & Crafts in Bloomington, Indiana, which is held the Saturday and
Sunday of each Labor Day weekend. Each February, committee members are asked to
submit possible images for the event’s annual T-shirt.
it with vertical lettering inspired by the beach shirts of my adolescence in
the 1980s. It was the height of fashion to have a long-sleeved T-shirt with the
lettering of the particular surf shop running along the sleeves. I used Lightroom
to increase the contrast of the linocut a bit so it would read better as a
|A forest green t-shirt will now be the backdrop for my image.|
When your design is chosen, you are in charge of the T-shirt production for the year — soliciting bids, dealing with the imagery, considering the numbers and types of shirts, as
well as supervising delivery and distribution. I have never put anything on a
T-shirt before, but employing the Busey family motto I thought “How hard
can it be?”
forced to grapple with many trade-offs:
T-shirts is to promote our fine art festival, so we really want fine art on the
T-shirt. This can mean many colors and gradations, all of which add additional
costs to the printing of each shirt. In traditional screen-printing, each color
is an individual screen and is printed separately. There was an option of a
Direct to Garment process (which is used for printing photographs on textiles)
but the textile artists on the committee felt very strongly that they wanted
traditional screen- printing.
T-shirts that are now sold are a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers. They
feel softer and more drape-y than the traditional 5.3 – 6 oz cotton T-shirts.
The thinner shirts might feel better, but also seem see-through, which might be
objectionable to some people. Other people object to the boxy stiffness of the
100% cotton men’s T-shirts. My compromise was to order a percentage of women’s
T-shirts, with the intent of creating some specific signage and labeling to
make sure everything sells.
promotional item, and are considered somewhat disposable in the United States.
In my city, the most popular college-town bar orders 2,000 shirts per week
during the university school terms. I use my family’s worn out T-shirts as rags
for my studio. I spent some time reading about the labor records of the
factories that produce the T-shirts most often used, and it was a sobering
read. This also doesn’t take into account the production of cotton and its
environmental problems. At least the shirts will be locally printed.
of the risk of entrepreneurship as when I plan for an outdoor event. In the
four years I have participated in this festival, we have had searing heat, high
humidity and torrential rains. One year the remnants of a hurricane came to
visit. When it is very hot, people don’t like to shop, and they don’t want to
buy heavy T-shirts. When it is raining, it is hard for the information booth to
adequately display the shirts. Poor sales of shirts means more boxes in a
committee member’s basement, and T-shirt costs not covered.