Screen printing is a reasonably accessible business, especially if you’re an artist or graphic designer and want to transition into something more hands-on.
Working as a screen printer requires a vast knowledge of colors, images, and how light reacts to objects and surfaces. However, knowing the technicalities of it all won’t get you anywhere unless you take action and put your ideas into practice. This means dedicating time, money, resources, and effort to start your own business.
Screen printers create designs by transferring them from one surface to another using stencils called screens. Learning how to screen print can be challenging, but once you understand the process, it’ll become second nature. If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to start a screen printing business from scratch, read on for some valuable tips and tricks that will help get you there in no time!
Get to know your equipment.
The first thing you should do when considering screen printing is to familiarize yourself with the equipment used in the process. You’ll need a screen printing press, some ink, two stencils – a master stencil and a registration (or “cut”) stencil, fabric, a squeegee, screens, a stainless steel wash tub, a set of chopsticks for prying screens out of the wash tub, a drying rack, and a table or stand.
The screen printing press is typically the most expensive piece of equipment, but it’s also the most critical since it provides the pressure needed to transfer the ink from the stencil to the fabric. There are two types of presses available today – hydraulic and manual. Manual presses are more affordable but also more challenging to operate.
If you’re just starting, it’s best to use a hydraulic press. Your ink comes in either a paste or a liquid form. This creates the design on the fabric once the stencil is pressed against it. You’ll want to look for water-based inks that are green and safe and that are designed specifically for screen printing.
Know Your Audience
Before you begin creating your screen printing business, you should know who you’re targeting. This will help narrow your designs and ideas and help you focus on what your customers may want. It’s important to remember that just because you’re creating t-shirts doesn’t mean everyone will buy them.
Certain people will be more inclined to buy your products than others. For example, live music fans would likely be interested in rock concert t-shirts, whereas bingo clubs may be more inclined to purchase bingo-themed t-shirts. You can also consider targeting groups that may not be as inclined to buy but could be influenced by your designs and ideas.
For example, you could create designs relevant to social justice issues and protests. This helps you create meaningful designs and puts your brand out there while simultaneously making a difference.
Decide on a Business Model
Once you’ve decided who you’re targeting, you should also decide on a business model. There are many ways to run a screen printing business, but the most popular among screen printers today is selling items wholesale and working with third-party retailers. Wholesale manufacturing involves designing and creating custom products that are then sold to retailers. These businesses will then sell your products to their customers at a higher price.
You can start by targeting local sports teams, bands, and music venues, or even online retailers that sell clothing. Retailers are businesses that sell your products directly to consumers. Many companies sell their products directly to consumers, including clothing stores, gift shops, online shops, etc. You can start by finding local companies that sell t-shirts and other clothing items.
Find a Location
Before you jump into creating designs and setting up shop, you’ll want to find a location that meets your needs and will allow you to start screen printing as soon as possible. You’ll want to find a large enough space to house a press and enough room for you to work. You’ll also want to be close to water and electricity. If you’re just starting, you may also consider renting a space for screen printing. This will allow you to begin as quickly as possible without worrying about building your own business from scratch.
Hire help if you need it
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting a screen printing business is trying to do everything alone. Even if you have a team of people working with you or helping you out, it’s essential to let go of smaller, tedious tasks such as washing the screens, stenciling designs, or helping customers choose their items.
If you’re pressed for time, consider hiring help with the cleaning and washing screens or outsourcing production to a manufacturer or supplier. You can also hire help with customer service and admin tasks or even hire someone to help with marketing and branding your business.
Establish your business name and branding
Before you start creating your designs, branding, and logos, you should first decide on your business name. This is important because it will help customers identify your brand and products when they’re out shopping for clothing.
Your business name should be unique, memorable, and relevant to your brand and products. It would be best if you also created a brand that speaks to your customers and what they’ll experience when shopping with you. This includes your business name, logo, fonts, colors, taglines, website, social media posts, and more.
Screen printing is a challenging but rewarding craft that allows you to create unique and customized clothing. To become a successful screen printer, you will need to upskill on the process’s technical details and find customers who will buy your products. You can do this by marketing your brand and products well through various channels like social media and offering consistent deals and promotions. When you take these steps, you will be well on your way to becoming a screen printing success!
When deciding on how to start a screen printing business, remember that it’s not an easy feat. However, you can make it happen if you’re passionate and motivated. Just remember to prepare yourself for a challenging ride, and don’t get discouraged if things are difficult at first.