Why is it so “cotton-pickin” hard to buy a custom T-shirt?
The Simple answer… because it is complicated. It is kinda like buying a house. You want the big house with a lot of rooms and a big porch? “You are “gonna” have to pay for those options.” Like buying a house, making a T-shirt is a process. You start with the land or in T-shirts … the T-shirt. It is best to take in to account the budget and particular difficulties associated with the project. In T-shirt terms, the color of the shirt, where on the shirt you want the decoration, and how many colors you desire to use all come together, like the cost of a custom house, to establish price. The more options you want, the more it cost.
All this said, there are some guidelines to think of when planning a T-shirt project.
- Silk screens are one of the biggest factors in T-shirt printing. They cost around $20 to make. You need one screen for each color and location. This can add up. For example, a job with 24 T-shirts and 4 silk screens will have $80 dollars in cost to divide between 24 shirts. That is $3.33 per shirt in cost added to the T-shirt project. The more color and locations you use, the more it cost. If you have a large order say 240 T-shirts, then the cost is not much of a factor. $.33
- The garment you choose can vary in cost by a lot. Project that require a tight budget are no problem. By utilizing good sourcing techniques, a suitable garment can always be found. Be clear about what you want. If it is a through-a-way promo T-shirt tell the vendor. If you want the latest cool fashion T-shirt tell them. But remember that the cool fashion Tee is expensive. It is common to find a $6.00 swing between T-shirt costs.
- Art is not a JPG you found on the internet. Yes, a T-shirt company can make something for you from that, but crap in … crap out. It is always best to get good art for your vendor, so that your project looks great. After all, you are spending a lot of time on this and you want quality. What is good art? Good art is computerized, sized to the size you want printed on the shirt, and hi res. Good art is usually in Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, or some program that is compatible with your vendor. If you do not have good art, then you will need budget for the art. You should expect to pay around $25.00 to $35.00 per hour for that service. Some companies include an hour in the estimate. This is a place where you can negotiate a lower cost if you have acquired the good art yourself.
Here is where it get foggy. You just got the plan together for this shirt. You got good art, picked a cool T-shirt, and know how many you want. What is it gonna cost me? Well there is no way to get that answer with out calling the vendor and asking for a quote. You should call three companies and get a quote from each vendor giving them the same design information. Pick the one that can show you quality design, printing, and T-shirts and give you a quote in a couple of minutes. It is easy to quote a job when the customer knows the detail of what they want. If you do not know what you want, the vendor should be helpful in education you on the available options. Look for a vendor that has a catalog of goods online to review and ask them what they recommend for your budget and design requirements.
Don’t be shocked to find out that what you asked for is more than you though. Most people have not considered what a complicated mess ordering a custom T-shirt can be. But do not loose hart. There is always a way to deliver you project.
Beware of the internet company with the super cheap package deal. No matter what, the cost factors do not change. If it is a cheap deal from some out of town internet guy then the probability of finding a local T-shirt guy that can do the same thing is good. If you want a $3.95 T-shirt, it can be done in your town. Look at the detail of the package and ask for a quote referring the vendor to the cheap internet guy. Ask for competitive pricing.
It is not just silk screen printing anymore. One way to kill the cost associated with a custom T-shirt job is to get rid of the silk screens. This is the digital age and T-shirt printers have digital printers that can make one T-shirt at reasonable cost. They are usually $19.00 t $35.00 in cost plus art work if you need it. If you buy a quantity of them, at some point the cost will exceed that of silk screen printing. So beware that the quick and easy way is expensive. You might get what you need, cheaper, another way.
The moral of the story… call for help. A good T-shirt vendor can save you hours of time and frustration when you are trying to get a T-shirt project done. Let a pro advise you on the best way to get your project finished on time and on budget.