The Los Angeles women who turn blanks into artistic collections
We caught up with Deluxe Screen Printing Inc in Los Angeles to share the magic of transforming blanks into art. I was over the moon to find a women-owned, artisan screen printer locally, and I was taken by their hustle, enthusiasm and passion for the art of T-shirt design.
We joined Elsie Acevedo and Chris Slivar for Screen Printing 101 and a tour of their downtown Los Angeles facility, “where stuff gets made.” A big American flag decorated the wall.
Deluxe has been in business for 10 years. Avecedo’s and Slivar’s love for screen-printing and T-shirt design began in the 90s, when the two women met at Total Enterprises, both designing and selling private label collections and screen-printing services.
Acevedo is the owner and heads up sales. Slivar oversees operations. Together, they make an ideally balanced team with their extensive fashion background in screen printing. Here are some insights they shared.
What They Say Brands Need
You’ll need camera-ready artwork and a quantity of tees to figure out the process involved and provide a quote, Acevedo and Slivar explained. Upon review of the artwork, they recommend ink techniques to bring your artwork to life. Deluxe offers full-service with only a 25 piece minimum per style. You can preview various brands and styles in their showroom to touch and try on. You can also provide your own tees as well.
What Makes Deluxe Unique
“We are tiny and mighty!” said Slivar. The brand’s doors are open to a wide variety of businesses, since minimums to get started are 25 pieces.
“Our clients include high end labels, bands, wineries, local and national brands, vegan, fitness, lifestyle, mom and pop, and everything in between,” Acevedo said. Some of their recognized clientele includes Rock-a-bye Baby, Ian Bagg Comedian, and artistic collaborations such as Ellie Knaus’ Atomic Moms x Artist Madeline Donahue.
Why They Are So Passionate
The duo said they love seeing new lines pop with great stories. “Anchors & Asteroids” features sketch drawings created by the founder’s 9-year old daughter, including “A” for Amy Winehouse and “R” for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Launching a small online collection, the line gained popularity and is now in showrooms and stores.
“We are super grateful,” Acevedo said. “We work with brands that begin with small orders and grow with us, now printing hundreds of pieces per style.”
From Start to Finish
First, a company picks a brand, style, and color, they explained. They guide on ink techniques, as that makes a product unique.
Some popular processes are foil, puff, plastisol, water base and discharge printing. Water base, an eco-friendly and water-soluble ink, is great for light fabrics and beloved by high-end boutiques for its super soft feel. Discharge and water base are used when you don’t want to feel a plaster of ink on your chest. Plastisol is the most economical and standard ink type. Puff is raised, making a simple shirt really creative and fun to touch. Foil and metallics are used more when you want to be flashy and stand out.
Ink will react differently to different T-shirt fabrics, whether it’s tri-blend fabric or a cotton. Not all ink types work on all fabrics, so consulting with Deluxe is recommended. Ink choice adds another element of wild originality. Finally, add a custom printed label for a seamless collection.
Once the order is processed, a digital mockup will be provided for the brand’s approval. Once approved, it goes into production, and the magic begins. Each print is hand printed for quality. High volume orders have the option of being printed on their fully automatic press.
A Bit of Advice
You don’t have to have a fully flushed-out idea to create a collection, Acevedo and Slivar said. Inspiration can come from social media, such as Instagram, or websites, such as 99designs.com or makersrow.com.