Ten years ago we ventured into the unknown world of Live Screen Printing. At the time, no one was really doing it so our gauge on whether or not it would work was… well, there was no gauge. We were attempting to build an entire business around something that had zero proof it would actually be successful. All we knew was that we had a solid idea, the skills to pull it off, and the drive to make it work.
Today, a decade later, we are doing over four hundred events a year. To say we’ve been extremely fortunate is an understatement. We owe a giant debt of gratitude to all the incredible people who have supported us along the way, and all the brands we’ve been lucky enough to work with throughout the years.
As incredibly exciting as these past ten years have been, we couldn’t have gotten to this point without lots and LOTS of practice. As cliché as it is, practice really does make perfect. We’ve had to fall and pick ourselves back up more times than not, but those falls have taught us something each time. That’s why, in the spirit of learning, we wanted to show you how we make the magic happen. From prep work to the event itself, there’s a lot that goes into live screen printing.
Here’s a little inside look into how we do what we do…
PREPARATION IS KEY
Some say that “eighty percent of life is just showing up”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really apply to live screen printing. Depending on the type of item we’re printing on, as well as the designs themselves; prep work is usually inevitable. We never want to walk into an event blindly, so we typically spend the days leading up to it practicing the activation.
Reasons for prep work ranges from types of ink we’re using to pre-printing tags and brand logos onto the items. For example, before we went to Tik Tok’s “For Black History” event in Hollywood, we pre-printed hundreds of denim jackets with the Tik Tok logo.
You may be asking yourself: “Wait. if you’re ‘live screen printing’ why are you printing stuff BEFORE you’re actually live?” That’s a solid question. What it usually comes down to is twofold: time and branding. Typically when we’re hired to work an event, a company will want their logo/branding on the items we’ll be live printing. This is completely separate from the design(s) they want to be printed live.
Whenever we’re live, we want to make sure guests of the event are given their items in a timely manner, and not wasting their time waiting in line. No one wants to wait a long time for a t-shirt when there’s food and drinks to be had! So in order to save time, we tend to pre-print any branding that the company wants on their items. That way, the items are ready to go for guests once they get to our booth. They only thing they have to worry about is choosing which design they want live printed.
Pre-printing is far from the only reason we do prep work for our live events. Sometimes we’re asked to print on an item we’ve never printed on before, and like anything you want to get good at doing: practice makes perfect.
This past April we were asked by The Fields Restaurant to do live printing on clear, PVC tote bags. While it may sound simple, printing on plastic bags can be quite tough. ESPECIALLY live. That’s why our Production Manager Mike hit the floor and practiced until we knew we could pull this off. Lucky for us, Mike is a master problem solver and came up with a system that would make this activation possible. Check out photos of the bags below!
pack it up, pack it in…
Once we’ve got everything prepped and ready to go, it’s time for everyone’s favorite activity: PACKING! Lugging our equipment around as often as we do can be quite taxing, but practice has certainly made for a smoother operation.
Most of the events we do call for a specific type of screen printing ink. Before everything gets packed up, we need to get all those inks ready to go. Our live team will either grab something off of the ink wall that’s already prepared, or mix something up.
After the inks are ready to go, we gather all our road-ready equipment and pack it up. Depending on where the event is taking place, we either transport the equipment ourselves or ship it to the event destination.
live from [insert location]… it’s family industries!
Over the last ten years, we’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the country. Life on the road is a rollercoaster, but it’s like a rollercoaster in Disneyland; it never gets old, it’s always a good time, and there is very little motion sickness.
Every event is different, but load in and set up always take place before the festivities get going. After everything’s good to go, that’s when the fun begins. It can get pretty nuts whenever we’re live printing, especially at large scale music festivals like Lollapalooza and Stagecoach, but that’s kind of why we love it. We feed off the energy of the crowd, and that’s what keeps the work interesting after all these years.
Depending on the activation and item being printed, our live team can turn an item out every thirty to ninety seconds. That’s why we’ve been able to take events on like the grand opening of Toyota’s headquarters in Plano, Texas where we printed five thousand shirts in four hours. Our heads were spinning and our arms were tired, but boy did we have a great time! That’s why we’re always down for a good challenge. The more, the merrier.
THAt’s all folks!
HOPE WE SEE YOU ON THE ROAD!
For more information on Live Screen Printing and all the other awesome activations we do, head over to our website: