Why Direct To Garment Printing Didn't Work for My Brand

To put it simply, colour. Most DTG machines available to the average consumer (me) lack the capacity to produce color with fidelity. It was that or the range of colors was limited to the point where I couldn't accomplish my intentions with an item of clothing. Color is incredibly important when creating visual products or pieces. Color resonates with people whether they are conscious to it or not. People subconsciously pick up on intent and color is one of the fundamentals of visual language. There are different whites, grays, and blacks and they all say different things. Visual language is married to the subtle and changes in the subtle can cause ripples that will completely distort the message of your work.

I was super pumped about using DTG services being a one man clothing company. I was stoked that I could just focus on design and have others produce my designs and possibly even ship them to customers for me. I did research and selected a few companies to try samples from. Initially starting with a shirt printed with a machine's color swatches, I'd go from there. I spent many hours reconfiguring my designs to meet the color range of a company's printer. I hungrily waited for new samples to arrive in the mail, so I could be one step closer to launching my brand. Unfortunately all the results left me feeling deflated and much poorer. The shirts just felt lifeless, the colors were empty and the shirts looked like they were made by a machine - without love. Another way to describe it was that the DTG shirts I had made lacked vibrancy and looked mediocre in comparison to what I could create with my traditional screen print setup and discharge Inks.

Ultimately it was a good experience learning what I didn't want to be incorporated into my clothes and also realizing when you have a shit design. I feel like DTG machines have their place in the screen printing industry. I still think the idea of them is cool and could be used in tandem with hand methods to create something interesting. Though when it comes to buying or creating something truly unique I don't think they are the answer. 


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